Y’know, when this show first premiered, it was savaged by the television critics. And while we have a lot of respect for a lot of television critics, it felt to us like the claws were out and fully sharpened on this one, because a lot of them were ready to pay back show creator Ryan Murphy for foisting Glee on them – and also because Murphy has a history of strong openings, but a distinct lack of ability to sustain quality over time. But we watched the first episode (Tom, because he was intrigued and Lorenzo, because he has worshiped Jessica Lange like a goddess going all the way back to King Kong and would pay top dollar to watch her sip water and go over her utility bills onstage) and when it ended, we turned to each other, wide-eyed, and asked “What the HELL did we just watch?!” In typical Murphy manner, the show just keeps throwing everything it can think of at you until you’re completely overwhelmed. Quality television? Maybe not, but it’s at least an experience and since it’s swimming in a sea of mediocrity, it stands out as something watchable.
Last night’s episode caused the exact same “What am I watching? What did I just see?” reaction in us that we experienced when we saw the pilot episode, which is good, because even we have to admit, we have no idea how they’re going to be able to sustain this story over time since they’ve thrown so much at the viewer already. And we have no idea how to recap a show like this because it’s all jump cuts and shocks, with bits of story thrown in here and there to tie it together. And even then, it doesn’t all really hang together that well.
But complaints? We no has them. As long as Jessica gets at least one scenery-devouring moment in each episode, we’re good to go. Fortunately for the show’s creators, even when they give her little to work with, she still chews up everything on the screen and demurely spits it into a hankie before exiting a scene, leaving a trail of lesser actors behind her, questioning their career choices. We admit, we were a little disappointed, because after Addie’s death last week, we assumed we were going to get one hell of a barn-burner out of her. Instead, she played it kind of quiet (or at least, quiet for Constance); applying makeup to her dead daughter’s face while the tears practically leap off her own, and then having Violet over for some late-night tea and revelations.
Was anyone surprised that Tate is her son or that he died years ago, pulling a Columbine on his high school? Not a chance. It’s kind of funny, for all the jump-out-of-your-seat scares, the writing doesn’t really try to prevent forecasting some of the show’s secrets way ahead of time. We got a kick out of the dead high school students chasing Violet and Tate through the streets at night. The only thing that could have possibly made that scene better was if they all went into “Thriller” flash mob mode.
And can we just say that Zachary Quinto gave a HIGHLARIOUSLY on-point portrayal of a high-strung Martha Queen? Good for him for coming out of the closet this month, although he must have known that this dead-on portrayal would have had plenty of people questioning his sexuality (if they hadn’t been for years already). It’s very rare that a straight actor can give THAT acidly accurate a portrayal of a particularly unlikeable strand of queenery. But let’s face it, married gays, a lot of us saw the darker sides of ourselves in him, didn’t we? God knows we’ll never approach pumpkin carving with quite the same gusto again.
As for the Harmon marriage, it’s an absolute mess and Ben is low down, dirty dog of a man. But hey, how about Hayden, the plucky ghost who just wants to hang around long enough to destroy his marriage utterly? You go, dead girl! But why did she have time to fake a poodle blowing up in the microwave but couldn’t come right out and tell Vivian that her husband killed her? And by the way, how stupid are these two that they can’t figure out the stream of mysterious people who keep traipsing in and out of their house every day are, ALL DEAD, YOU MORONS. Sometimes, watching this show, we remember Eddie Murphy’s wise words about horror movies and feel shame as white people. We really are all incredibly stupid when it comes to the supernatural, aren’t we?
Which reminds us, Hello, hot security guard who used to be on V and now has the hots for Vivian. You’re black. Which means you won’t be around much longer because this is a horror story and those are the rules. Then again, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the writers deliberately introduced a heroic, romantic black male character simply to upend that incredibly tired old trope.
So what’s coming next? Who the hell knows? Isn’t that awesome?