Simon Abrams takes time out of his weekend to log one last entry in this week's discussion of the "Home Invasion" episode of American Horror Story. I'll be back with a brief wrap-up tomorrow, and Simon will kick off the discussion of episode 2, provocatively entitled "Murder House," on Monday. You can pick up the threads of this conversation in its entirety by clicking on any of the links below:
"HOME INVASION" POST #1
"HOME INVASION" POST #2
"HOME INVASION" POST #3
PILOT EPISODE POST #1
PILOT EPISODE POST #2
PILOT EPISODE POST #3
PILOT EPISODE POST #4
PILOT EPISODE POST #5
PILOT EPISODE POST #6
I appreciate that even-handed tone of your second post on "Home Invasion," Dennis. Mostly because I now readily admit I was jumping to conclusions in most regards. I mean, you asked me to so I blame you! But yeah, no, this is the problem with writing about a serial narrative piecemeal as you watch it. It's also important to note I could not have my notes on the episode in front of me as my computer was and still is in the shop. So I'm tip-tep-typing this on my lil phone. Forgive the typos, please.
In any case, I hadn't even considered something as direct (re: Constance's motivation for the cupcake) as revenge for Violet harassing Addy. It's a crucial piece of evidence in my hare-brained argument so, uh, whoops.
I will however stick by my theory about the relativity of evil in "Home Invasion." You are right in saying that the real-life Manson clan's motives were in all likelihood no less image-conscious. I was even thinking along the same lines myself. But that is not the information we are meant to mull over in "Home Invasion." Given the information provided in the episode, there is definitely a bias towards the original killers. I totally agree that the juxtaposition of the two different killers is an extension of a key foundational concept in the pilot, specifically that the house's cyclical history of attracting and breeding monsters is a sign that there is nothing new under the sun (or maybe the full moon, da-hey!). But I also feel like there is not only a professionalism and mock-severity to the fact that Constance, Tate and Moira are left unphased by the crimes in question (see: the shot of the three of them looking down at the copycats' bodies disdainfully). But there's also a pronounced difference in the actions that define the two sets of killers.
You'll hopefully forgive me for making my second and final post on "Home Invasion" focus on this one aspect of the episode, I hope. The rest of the episode was fine, if ho-hum. And as you implied, it doesn't really add anything to what the superior "Pilot" set up. But I feel "Home Invasion" does show a perversely and perhaps even unconscious preference for the original 1968 killers. They are ruthless, methodical, original and lack discernible motivation. They mean business and they're dangerous, as is shone by the way that the crime is treated as a matter of fact. It happened: this is the past, and there is no point in interrogating or even lingering on those actions in "Home Invasion" beyond how they affect the show's protagonists.
I realize that characterization is perhaps a bit strident but I believe it to be true. I feel that showing us unprofessional, unsuccessful, goggle-eyed copycats after that cold opening establishes an inherently unflattering comparison between the two sets of killers. You can even see Falchuk and Murphy set up the notion that there is something a little nutty about Fiona recounts her elevator dream to Ben. She's bug-eyed and spaced-out, and more than a little visibly turned-on by something. She may have had some catnip before sitting down to tape that scene. But hey, she's wired and I think that both established that something is up with her, but it also establishes the disdain Falchuk and Murphy show towards her perverse, character-defining nostalgia.
Also, we are shown that the re-enactment of the 1968 killers' does not go off without a hitch. I know we can agree on that because that's objectively true. But where we disagree perhaps is what that signifies both within "Home Invasion" and the narrative of the show as it has been established thus far. The copycats have to be bumbling because we have to get to that shot of Constance, Moira and Tate looking down their noses at the group. These kids have to look like kids dressing up on Halloween compared to the trio of ghoulies that can't seem to leave the house. After rewatching Clockwork Orange last night, I think this is especially true. I'm thinking of the doorbell trick Alex pulls in that film and how it relates to the one used twice in "Home Invasion." It is significant that this trick does not work for the copycats and evens more significant that we see that failure acted out. We are shone that the group is spooky and potentially dangerous, as in the scene leading up to Vivien being overwhelmed by the copycats (a spooky scene that I rather liked!). But when viewed holistically, the fact that these guys are ritualistically copying a pattern established earlier in the episode makes one think that these new killers, the ones defined by how flustered and desperate they are, are inferior because they are ineffectual.
I feel that preference is problematic for reasons I already talked about in my last post. But it's also irritating because it shows you the limited intelligence of Falchuk and Murphy's script for "Home Invasion." After watching that episode, I don't get the sense that the evil of the show's "serial killer of the week" antagonists, as you put it, will be examined. You know better as to whether or not this is true and have hinted that the show does not continue on with this style of narrative. Which is a relief! Still, I'm frustrated at the thought that these two sets of characters are as instantly disposable as they are. Their actions must have consequences that aren't just instantly forgettable, and for all I know they will. But I probably have assigned too much meaning to the differences of these killers because I want them to mean something. And for that, I choose to also blame you for some reason or another.
....It's all your fault, you know. Just FYI.