Horror Watch: American Horror Story – "Open House"

First off, please forgive me for lagging on this recap. I’ll keep it short and sweet because the following episode, “Rubber Man,” really deserves more attention than this one, at least in my opinion.

“Open House” starts in 1994 again, this time showing us a little more about Constance’s personal life. We learn that Larry is deeply in love with her and has forsaken his own marriage to be with her.  She asks Larry to do one thing, and that is to exterminate one of her other children, Bo, the deformed boy she keeps chained in the attic. I assume she asks this favor because she is facing charges of criminal neglect. Larry goes up to the attic and smothers him with a pillow.

Vivien is dead set (no pun intended) on selling the house, even if the offer isn’t that great. She values honesty so much that she discloses the sordid history of the home to the “Persian,” Mr. Escandarian, who comes in to see the home and is quickly enraptured by the young Moira’s flirtations. This helps us learn more about Moira’s vulnerabilities with men. When Mr. Escandarian (he later clarifies that he is Armenian but they continue to refer to him as the Persian) makes an offer on the house, Moira really believes that he is going to dig up the backyard to put in a pool, and doing so would mean that someone can finally find her bones and set her free to cross over. What she doesn’t know is that no matter how much she offers herself sexually, she’s not going to get what she wants. I guess a part of being trapped in the house includes being stuck in a cycle of bad choices with men. She tries to hold them responsible for their cheating nature, but she is just as much a victim and even sheds a few tears when they break their promises.

In a flashback, we see that Larry very coldly ended things with his wife for the sake of ending up with Constance. When he plainly told his wife to move back to her mother’s home in Ohio with their daughters, she locked herself in the room with the girls and lit it on fire. Larry broke the door down to find them in flames.

The home’s first owners, Nora and Charles, suffered greatly when Charles took their dismembered baby and put it back together, giving it unholy life. Nora went to see the child in the nursery and discovered something ghastly. She comes downstairs to praise Charles, but reveals that she couldn’t nurse the evil child. She also could not kill it. Charles falls to his knees in front of her and buries his face against her stomach. She shoots him in the head then takes her own life.

"We're damned, Charles, because of what we did."

Violet sees the deformed boy in the attic. Tate comes up behind her and tells her she’s now seeing the ghosts of the people who once lived there. He shows her a box full of pictures of the previous owners.

Constance breaks Moira’s heart with the truth about the Persian’s intentions for the property. They come up with a plan to get him to come over so that Moira can seduce him and she, Constance, and Larry can kill him so that he cannot purchase and then demolish the property.

Later, Vivien goes into Violet’s room to talk to her. Violet shows her the pictures she found and Vivien immediately realizes that the woman in the photos, Nora, is the same woman who had recently stopped in to view the home.

As I reflect on this episode and think about Moira’s choices, I can almost see that being stuck as a ghost on that property almost has very little to do with her bones being buried in the yard. When it’s the men who see her as she was when she was young, she knows she can leverage that and use it to her advantage. She simultaneously pretends to advocate for Vivien and be on her side by demanding she be able to help take care of her during her pregnancy. In their quiet moments together in the kitchen, she admonishes Ben and men in general for their duplicitous nature. She believes that it’s a woman’s job to clean up the messes that men leave behind, but really she’s espressing that she has cursed herself with that duty as some sort of repentance for her sins. Her feelings of guilt are what haunt her and when Constance gives her an opportunity to use her sexual prowess to seem useful, she jumps at the chance as though it will also give her a sense of revenge against men who lie.

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