Stars: Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, Kate Mara, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto, Teddy Sears, Morris Chestnut, Christine Estabrook, Azura Skye
Writer: Ryan Murphy, series created by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Director: Miguel Arteta
Network: FX, Wednesdays @ 10 PM
Original Telecast: November 23, 2011
It takes a lot of faith in one’s material to get revelatory in the middle of a horror story. Skilled writers have been known to crash and burn once we know what’s behind the evil in literature and on screen. However, AMERICAN HORROR STORY co-creator Ryan Murphy, who scripted the “Rubber Man” episode, and director Miguel Arteta keep the level of creepiness up, partly because the ghosts can turn up anywhere at any time and partly because their undead agenda seems to have far-reaching, awful implications.
Original home owner Nora (Lily Rabe) has once again forgotten she is a ghost, but new ghost Hayden (Kate Mara) reminds her. Nora still mourns the loss of her baby and Hayden is angry about not having had a chance to have the child she was carrying. Since Vivien (Connie Britton) is carrying twins, Hayden tells Nora that the two of them can each have one of the children – Vivien won’t be around to care for them, because she’ll be locked up in a mental hospital.
Then they see the history of the rubber man suit. Chad (Zachary Quinto) had bought it because he thought his partner Patrick (Teddy Sears) was into bondage. Tate (Evan Peters) later put on the suit to kill both men. This is not due to innate savagery, but rather because Tate saw Nora grieving and then discovered that Chad and Patrick had given up on their plans to have children. Their removal means that a new family can move in and give Nora another chance at motherhood. Housekeeper Moira (Frances Conroy) tells Tate to finish the men off by shooting them so that the bodies can be found (she doesn’t want their families to wonder what happened if they disappear). We also see that it was Tate in the rubber suit who impregnated Vivien (who still thinks it was Ben).
In the present, poor Vivien is being tormented by Hayden. Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and Tate finally consummate their relationship, even though Violet knows Tate is a ghost. Hayden also tries to seduce Tate, but Tate refuses, saying he’s in love with Violet. Hayden warns Tate that Vivien will try to take Violet away. Vivien and Violet get as far as the car, but two of the home invaders (killed by Tate) appear in the back seat. Vivien and Violet run back to the house. Although Violet tells the police that she and her mother both saw the violent youths in the car, Tate persuades Violet to lie. When Ben shows up, Violet says she didn’t see anything except Vivien being upset.
After another attack by the rubber-suited Tate, Vivien is so on edge that when she sees someone enter her room, she shoots – and hits Ben. Ben doesn’t press charges, but he has Vivien committed to a mental hospital.
It’s a little disappointing to find out that the Rubber Man has relatively human roots, i.e., that the suit was purchased in reasonable innocence by Chad and subsequently was used by Tate with disturbed but coherent purpose afterward. The whole thing seemed a lot scarier when the rubber outfit appeared to be part of a monstrous presence, an aspect of the house.
This is offset by the promise of something darker within the house that even the ghosts fear. Granted, getting such an entity to be worthy of its build-up is a tall order, but if it works, it should be great. Meanwhile, we feel greater sympathy for Chad and even Patrick, who tried to save his partner when the situation turned deadly. Tate retains some sympathy as well, as we can’t yet determine how much of his homicidal behavior is caused by his own psyche and how much is caused by the house. Moira, of course, is a wronged innocent. Hayden has been grievously wronged, but has emerged as such an annoying revenant that we root against her in all things. As for Ben, the writers and McDermott have created an interesting and unusual dichotomy – he’s done reprehensible things, yet right now he’s the most lucid character in the show (if only because he doesn’t know what the others know).
Regulars Jessica Lange and Denis O’Hare do not appear in this episode. It’s always a pleasure to see them, but their absence is not felt this time around.
“Rubber Man” is weird and scary – and manages to get through quite a bit of exposition without ruining its mood.
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Click on Link: TV Review – AMERICAN HORROR STORY – Season 1 – “Open House”
Click on Link: TV Review – AMERICAN HORROR STORY – Season 1 – “Piggy Piggy”
Click on Link: TV Review – AMERICAN HORROR STORY Season 1 premiere
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Article: TV Review – AMERICAN HORROR STORY – Season 1 – “Rubber Man”