Review

Review

TV Recap: 'American Horror Story' Episode 111 - 'Birth'

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American Horror Story Episode 111

"Birth"

Written By: Tim Minear

Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Original Airdate: 14 December 2011

In This Episode...

It's time to go get mommy from the looney bin, and Violet is fighting Ben every step of the way. He physically puts her in the car, and she lays down in the back seat so he won't notice when she disappears at the end of the driveway. With the house to herself (other than the ghosts), Violet calls Constance over. Chad and Pat have made it perfectly clear that they are going to steal Vivien's babies and raise them as their own. Worried for her mother, Violet wants to speak to Billie Dean - she needs help ridding the house of ghosts - at least those two. Constance, being the traditional homophobe she is, is all too eager to get the boys out of the house. Billie Dean only knows of one instance where humans were able to rid themselves of ghosts: the Roanoke colony of 1590. The entire town of colonists just disappeared mysteriously one day, but were haunting the natives. So the natives gathered the colonists' personal effects, burned them, and yelled "Croatoan" until they disappeared.

Violet steals Chad's watch while Tate seduces, then infuriates Pat and gets his ring. Violet throws them in a fire in the basement as Chad comes downstairs. She starts screaming "Croatoan" at him, and his body starts shake... with laughter. That "spell" was an old wife's tale. There is no way to get rid of ghosts. But it doesn't matter, anyway. Chad overheard Pat telling Tate that he was almost out of his loveless marriage before Tate killed them and he was stuck with Chad forever. They two of them had a huge fight and Chad no longer wants to have children with him. So Vivien's babies are "safe," at least from him. This is the first that Violet is hearing of Tate's murder of Chad, so he fills her in. Tate murdered Pat, and raped Vivien.

Ben collects Vivien from the hospital. The plan is to go straight to the airport and head to Vivien's sister's house where she will have the babies. Even though she is only six months along, her doctor doesn't want her to fly; in fact, he wants her to have an emergency C-section. It seems that one of the fetuses is big, strong, and ready to get out of there, while the other, deprived of vitamins and nutrients, is growing weaker by the day.

The pair go to the house to pick up Violet and their luggage. Vivien insists on waiting in the car. While alone, she goes into labor, her cries growing so loud that it attracts Constance, who helps her into the house. Vivien is in too much pain to resist. Ben is inside, yelling at Violet because he thinks she is on drugs. She gets frustrated and yells at him that she is dead. He cannot even absorb this info as Vivien is in the house and ready to pop. Constance and Ben take her into Ben's office. The house insists on keeping her there: Ben's cell phone can't connect; the phone lines are dead; the power goes out; the redheaded twin ghosts vandalize the car beyond the point of being drivable. Luckily there is a doctor in the house: Dr. Montgomery. 

Vivien's labor is difficult. While Ben tries to coach her through, Montgomery delivers, and the two dead nurses assist. The first baby is stillborn; it is passed off to Nora for her to care for. The second baby is "stuck." Montgomery finally gets that one out, and it screams. Constance takes it to be cleaned off, with Moira looking over her shoulder. Hayden shows up, expecting to take possession of the baby.

But Vivien isn't done yet. She is hemorrhaging blood, and the doctor is having a hard time stopping it. Ben is begging her to hang in, promising that he will be a devoted husband. Violet appears to Vivien - no one else - apologizing and enticing her to the other side. The room becomes still - Ben and Vivien are alone.

In her room, Violet confronts Tate about the murders that Tate committed as a ghost, and about raping her mother. He cries, and she vows that she will always love him, but he has to pay for what he has done. She screams at him to go away - and it works. She is alone, crying. An arm wraps around her, holding her close. Vivien. 

Dig It or Bury It?

Tonight's episode was almost painfully predictable. Of course Vivien was going to die; why wouldn't she? No one is ever really gone in this show. It's kind of like Supernatural: the suspense is gone a bit when death doesn't necessarily mean you are out of the series. 

There were a couple other things I didn't like. First, you never, ever see either of the babies; just little lumps fully swathed in towels. It feels very much like Rosemary's Baby, where you are supposed to let your mind fill in the blanks and assume the antichrist child is a hideous monster, when it is really just a regular baby. If you are Roman Polanski, you can pull that off. In American Horror Story, it just feels like an obvious ploy. The other thing that annoyed me was that there was a scene that lasted (what felt like) a full ten minutes, with Constance and Chad exchanging barbs with one another. We get it. Homophobia is bad. No one doubts that. Do I really need a ten minute "lecture" about it?

Classic Lines

Tate to Chad: "You couldn't steal shit out of your own ass."

Vivien, in labor: "[The baby is] ripping me apart!"

Constance Harm

Constance is actually helpful tonight. Other than her homophobic rant to Chad, she is very focused on helping Vivien deliver (yes, it is because she wants her grandchild to be healthy and safe).

Full Disclosure

Our opening flashback scene was very brief. In it, Tate is a child, about six years old, and he loses his truck down the basement stairs. He goes looking for it, and comes face-to-face with with a hideous man-monster (it kind of looks like the freak from Castle Freak), and Nora saves him. She calls this monster Thaddeus, so I assume this is a "ghost" we will explore next season. I must hand it to AHS: rather than having Thaddeus jump out at Tate in a typical horror movie move, Thaddeus slowly appears in the shadows, coming into focus in an effectively eerie manner.

Prophecies?

Next week is the season finale, and I have to say, I am a little worried about the direction the show is taking. In the previews, Ben hold a gun to his head. It seems way too easy for him just to shoot himself. Then the Harmons could be a "happy family" again, haunting whatever hapless soul moves in next. Where can they take the show now? I am worried it has plateaued. 

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