TV Recap: 'American Horror Story' Episode 110 - 'Smoldering Children'


American Horror Story Episode 110

"Smoldering Children"

Written By: James Wong

Directed By: Michael Lehmann

Original Airdate: 7 December 2011

In This Episode...

The police question Constance in Travis's murder. While at the station, the detectives mention that Constance was the number one suspect in the murder of her husband and maid. However, no bodies meant no murder charge and she was never arrested. Larry goes into the basement to retrieve the murder weapon. Travis is there, and is pleased to hear that his murder is gaining a lot of press - he has been dubbed The Boy Dahlia. Larry discovers that Travis is having a tea party with his daughters, and he sees his wife for the first time since her suicide. All three are charred and smoldering in an effect that is largely digital, but well done. He promises he will make Constance pay for what happened to them, but Larry's wife doesn't blame her; she blames him (completely ignoring the fact that she was the nutjob who killed herself and her kids rather than move out). So Larry takes the murder weapon to the police and confesses to Travis's murder. While in prison, he is glad to take whatever is coming to him, so long as Constance will admit to loving him. She refuses.

After a truant officer tells Ben that Violet has been absent from school for over two weeks, he promises to look into new schools for her. Tate overhears him calling around to prep schools, and Violet is upset, thinking she will be locked away like her mom. Tate promises to take care of it. While Violet waits for him in the attic, Tate dresses in the rubber suit and tries to drug Ben. They fight mightily, the whole time Ben desperate to reveal the face of his wife's rapist. Tate finally gets the upper hand, and just as Ben is slipping into an ether-induced slumber, he peels off the mask and sees Tate.

Tate returns to Violet with some pills and wants her to kill herself so that her parents can't send her away and they can be together forever. Violet is frightened by this, but says she will do it if they can do it in the bathtub. He consents, and the moment she is downstairs she runs, screaming for help. She can't find her dad, so she runs out of the house, into the street... and back into the house. Tate is trying to calm her down, but she runs back out to the street... and falls right back into the house (you know where this is going). Tate finally calms her down and has to show her something. He takes her into the crawlspace, and in a deep depression there, reveals to Violet her own corpse. She flips, and he explains that when she tried to kill herself a few weeks ago, despite his best efforts, she succeeded. He hoped that he wouldn't have to tell her, that it would be kinder to suicide together and he could ease her into the afterlife. She calms down remarkably quickly, and even offers Tate a smile when he tells her that they will be together, playing chess in that house forever.

Also: Ben apologizes to much calmer, much more stable, but still institutionalized Vivien. He believes she was raped. She doesn't want his apologies. Ben tells her that only one of the twins is his; the other is the rapist's child, which leads me to confusion. So Vivien only told people about the first rape, the rape of deceit, not the more forcible attack the night she was committed? And if Vivien is only supposed to be a couple months pregnant, why does she look "watch your shoes" pregnant? Whatever. Vivien softens towards Ben and he tells her she can go home in a day or two. She is eager to leave, but refuses to set foot in that house again. 

Dig It or Bury It?

This was a surprisingly slow episode. Not necessarily bad, just out of character for the series. The dead Violet plot point wasn't particularly shocking. When the truant officer showed up to alert Ben that she had been absent for 16 days straight, my first thought was, "She's a ghost." It was an exposition-heavy episode, much of which we already knew and was rather clumsily pieced together. I think that is why the episode felt slow. I am extremely interested in finding out what kind of terrible fate Constance's other two children met.

Full Disclosure

It is 1994. Constance, Adelaide, Tate, and Larry are sitting down to a glazed ham dinner. He offers a sarcastic grace before dinner, giving thanks for "this charade of a family." He knows that Larry's wife killed herself and their kids over his infidelity, and accuses Constance of hitching her horse to him just to get back into the old house. He blames Larry for Beau's death. The next morning, Tate wakes up early, does a few lines of coke, then readies his guns for, presumably, his school massacre. But first he has a stop to make: Larry's office. He douses Larry with gasoline, lights him up, and strolls out casually.

We also get some flashbacks concerning Constance's husband and Moira. It seems that Moira was buried in a shallow grave, but Constance would rather be dead than allow them to share a final resting spot. She drags her husband's corpse into the basement, where she has half a dozen dogs locked in pens. Like the Demon Housewife of Fleet Street, Constance grinds her husband into hamburger and feeds him to her dogs. Is it wrong that I feel worse for the caged dogs than I do for her dead husband? What is she, running a puppy mill?

Constance Harm

When the detectives are asking Constance about Travis, they tell her that the Korean grocers in the neighborhood often heard Constance and Travis fighting loudly. She waves it off. "Those Koreans. They have been mad ever since Hiroshima."


Everyone wants Vivien's babies: Chad, Nora, Constance, Hayden. Ben goes by the house with the newly-freed Vivien, who refuses to get out of the car, which pisses off at least one of the fetuses and she doubles over in pain. Meanwhile, Violet goes to Constance for help in cleaning up the ghost problem.