By Jason Reed
It only took eleven episodes, but the creators of American Horror Story finally pulled together a compelling episode. This is not to say it is perfect by any means, but it is certainly a cut above the rest of the season.
We open on 1984 with a young Tate playing with his toy truck. Constance has passed out on the couch and Tate makes his way into the basement. There he meets Thadius, a hideous creature who has been lurking in some previous episodes. Nora, the doctor’s wife, saves Tate and tells him that all he needs to do is to say, “Go away” if Thadius comes back.
One element the show has consistently pulled off is the atmosphere in the flashback scenes. Birth is another fine example of this, with the combination of the old television show, retro furniture and ominous score all contributing to a palpable sense of mood.
As was becoming increasingly apparent, everyone in this house wants the babies that Vivien is carrying. Now Chad and Patrick are decorating the nursery in preparation for “their” twin babies. No one is happy about this and Constance thinks she can talk them out of it by being homophobic and offensive, but strangely it doesn’t work.
This leads to Billie Dean, the medium coming back to help banish the male couple. She reveals that the house is filled with negative psychic energy and tells of an evil force using the dead as a conduit. In order to rid the unwanted ghosts, it is apparently necessary to burn a treasured item of theirs, a “talisman” and chant the word “croatoan”.
At this point I was rolling my eyes, but to the show’s credit, they call bullshit on this right away. The chant doesn’t do anything and the ghosts aren’t going anywhere, with or without their talismans. This was a nice example of appearing to fall into awfully clichéd territory, only to surprise the audience with some originality.
However, in terms of the show’s mythology, it is unusual that Constance didn’t mention anything about the bodies of the ghosts they were trying to banish. Moira has been desperately trying to have someone find hers, which would seemingly allow her to move on.
Finally, Vivien’s twin babies are born, one still born and the other unseen until next week, most likely not to be revealed until the very end of the episode.