AMERICAN HORROR STORY Recap: ‘Piggy Piggy’
November 10, 2011 by Ben Phelps
After tying up the Halloween two-parter last week, AMERICAN HORROR STORY was back to business as usual last night. That meant no Hayden, no Chad, no Larry, no gimp suit. Instead, we got Eric Stonestreet guest starring as a man with a crippling fear of urban legends (fitting that MODERN FAMILY had the night off), Sarah Paulson as a medium employed by Constance, and Vivien causally eating brains. (So I guess “usual” is relative.)
Both parts of “Halloween” were particularly strong because they felt cohesive, like all of the various story threads actually fit together to propel one whole narrative. “Piggy Piggy,” on the other hand, suffered from seeming like it was just four or five plots thrown together, since everyone needed something to do. If I had to come up with some connection, I might say facing your fears was an overarching theme, but it didn’t really resonate, nor did the episode have enough other crazy stuff happening to keep that from being an issue.
In the opening flashback, Tate’s backstory was more fleshed out, building on what we learned last week. The actual scenes in the school didn’t tell us much more than we already knew, but they did lead to the revelation of how Tate died in the house – his family used to live there themselves, and he was gunned down by a SWAT team in his room when they came to arrest him after the massacre.
Although Tate’s story in and of itself was kind of old news, it did lead to a good storyline for Violet, and some nice work by Taissa Farmiga. She finally figures out the truth about Tate, and that the house is haunted (which includes a run-in with the basement gallery of the house’s victims). But instead of freaking out, she gets sad (not depressed) and starts self-medicating, both with pills and by cutting herself.
Ben doesn’t notice the signs, though, even when Violet comes to him visibly upset, because he’s too busy being the Best Therapist Ever to Stonestreet’s Derek. Derek is particularly afraid of saying “here piggy, piggy, piggy” in front of a mirror, due to the urban legend that claims a man with a pig’s head with kill you if you do so. In the end, after counseling, he finally says the line in his bathroom but, in a cruel twist of fate, is murdered by a robber. The guest turn, though well acted, was pretty superfluous, and basically just provided more reason to wonder how Ben can even sustain a private practice at the rate he’s going. (Seriously, who would recommend him? Certainly not that one woman who tried to kill herself just to get his attention during a session.)
To keep the plot functioning, though, Ben kind of has to keep his practice, since it’s now the only reason he’s in the house at all. Vivien makes it very clear that They. Are. Done. She’ll let him be a father to their children, but their relationship is over, to the point that the most she will do is merely tolerate him.
Since she doesn’t have to spend her time fighting with Ben, Vivien is able to have some time to herself, which, of course, involves tracking down the ultrasound technician who fainted at the hospital (who just screams some stuff about a devil child with hooves and scares Vivien away), flirting with the security guard (who, thankfully, had sensitivity training and his own experiences with adultery!), and enjoying the food Constance brought over, which led to the strangest sequence of the episode. We’re supposed to believe Vivien just ate an entire raw brain because Moira told her it was for the good of the baby? No moment of hesitation or even a questioning look before digging in and eating every last bite? I understand being in denial about the haunted nature of the house and justifying staying put for financial reasons, but isn’t Vivien supposed to be the sanest one in the family? Or is this a hint that she may be going crazy, too?
So much of AMERICAN HORROR STORY doesn’t make sense, but that’s part of its appeal. Most of the characters are intriguing, the continuously deeper backstory of the house is always fun, and, most importantly, the show seems to know it’s completely crazy, and embraces it. It may not be a prime example of narrative plotting and development, but there’s a confidence in its entertainment value, and it shows.
A few other thoughts:
- Last week, didn’t one of Tate’s victims say he asked her if she believed in God before he killed her? That seemed to be missing in the flashback.
- Ben reassures Derek, “You’re in my house. You’re safe.” Has he been unconscious since he moved in, or something??
- In a similarly amnesiac vein, when Addy “forgave” Constance, did she just forget that her mother routinely locked her in a small closet full of mirrors?
What did you think of “Piggy Piggy”? Do you agree it was a step down from “Halloween”? Any reactions to Vivien’s brain-eating? And do you have any theories as to how Ben remains a working psychiatrist?
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