AMERICAN HORROR STORY Recap: ‘Spooky Little Girl’
December 1, 2011 by Ben Phelps
The previews at the end of last week’s episode, “Rubber Man,” made it look like “Spooky Little Girl” was going to take a sharp right turn into Dan Brown-style religious conspiracy. I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to that, so I guess I was happy that it only took up the last two minutes of the episode, but what a strange two minutes they were. Billie Dean gives Constance a long spiel about “the Pope’s box,” which somehow leads to the explanation that Vivien’s half human/half spirit child will be the antichrist. The reveal wasn’t all that shocking, considering the conversation Vivien had with her ultrasound technician in a church a few weeks back (plus the fact that, well, what else could that baby be?). Thankfully, the rest of the episode focused on a differently mythology: namely, the Black Dahlia, aka Elizabeth Short, who (of course) died in the house.
“Spooky Little Girl,” other than proving Mena Suvari’s penchant for roles in works with the word “American” in the title, probably didn’t need to link yet another real-life horror story to the house. But that’s kind of the show’s MO at this point, so my real criticism of the episode is that it gave the bulk of the story to Ben.
First, he went out of his way to ask Moira to make Violet a sandwich, when he keeps making a point of not wanting anything to do with her. Obviously, this can be read as an indication that he does, in fact, want her. It can also be read as an indication that he is the laziest person ever and can’t even make his daughter a sandwich.
Then he meets Elizabeth, and agrees to start treating her, despite the fact that she has no insurance and no money. He assures her they’ll “work something out,” even though he resists her more lascivious offers, but when he walks in on her and Moira making out in his office, he tells them both to leave the house. Ben actually makes the right call this time, but Dylan McDermott’s stoic affect makes it hard to take him seriously.
Finally, Ben goes to visit Vivien, after learning from one of her doctors that she is carrying twins fathered by two different men (the rarest of rare conditions, and one that the doctor would normally never tell the husband about, so Ben got doubly lucky there). The scene in Vivien’s cell was one of the most awful yet, and that’s for a show that prides itself on the gruesome and horrifying. Ben gets to play the arrogance card (“You’re thinking, ‘Thank God he’s here, thank God he’s a shrink so he can get me out of here’”), the moral high-ground card, and the all-around asshole card, really cementing his status as World’s Greatest Therapist/Husband.
The sole bright spot in Ben’s storyline came at the end of the episode, when he finally realizes Vivien is, in fact, not crazy (although it’s only after he gets Morris Chestnut’s security guard to the house to confront him about the supposed affair). He recognizes his mistake in sending his wife to the asylum, and immediately sees Moira in her true form. He’s “seeing things more clearly” now, which I can only assume will lead to Vivien’s return in the near future (even if she may have actually been safer in the hospital).
The rest of the episode dealt with Constance, who at first was outraged at Tate’s soon-to-be fatherhood but then saw it as an opportunity for a new family with boyfriend Travis, and Hayden, who tried to come to terms with Ben not loving her by sleeping with Travis. Although the two women’s storylines don’t overlap too much, Jessica Lange and Kate Mara do share a dedication to fully embracing their roles, which, on such an over-the-top show as AMERICAN HORROR STORY, goes a long way.
It seems pretty clear at this point where things are supposed to end up, so the real question is whether AHS will subvert our expectations, or just arrive at the planned destination in the craziest way possible. Only four episodes left until we find out!
A few other thoughts:
- No Violet, and only brief use of Larry and Tate (and even Vivien). Instead, Constance got the spotlight to make up for her absence last week.
- Josh Malina, in a fairly throwaway guest role, played the dentist responsible for the Black Dahlia’s rape and death. But Charles Montgomery was the one who chopped her up!
- The general attitude toward women on this show is quite horrible. This week, we got Ben saying he just wanted Vivien to get better and come home so he could take care of her (because women can’t survive without their husbands’ care and attention), and a mea culpa from Hayden blaming her behavior on her pregnancy and hormones. Because women are just so crazy and have so many crazy womanly hormones, right, Ryan Murphy?!
What did you think of “Spooky Little Girl”? Did you miss Violet, Larry, and Tate? And, since it seems like every regular cast member is getting a light episode around now, are you hoping Dylan McDermott gets his week off sometime soon?
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