A new week means that Simon Abrams is ready to return to continue the discussion on American Horror Story's fourth episode before we take things further along the road. Welcome back, Simon!
Heya, hiya, heya:
The Toronto Film Festival has finally concluded, and as I write this, I am waiting for my flight back to Ah-mer-ee-ka. So I figured now was as good a time as any to finally follow-up with my second post on “Halloween, Part 2.” ‘Bout time, right? Yeah, yeah, just don’t hit me, ok!
So, so, so, soooo… as I alluded to last time, one of the things I’m most struck by about “Halloween, Part 2” is the way it shows that past events re-integrating into the present. I don’t always get the reasons for this conceit, as in the way that Moira’s skimpy subplot resolves itself. But I did enjoy seeing the ghosts of the Murder House’s past either try to prevent the past from repeating itself or reluctantly accept that they can’t change anything.
For example, the ghost of Nora Montgomery pops up in the house and revives Ben. Nora tellingly says (because nobody can just do something and let that action speak for itself in this show), “I will not permit another failure in this house.” I’m unclear as to what specifically she means, but that’s usually the point of that kind of cryptic ghost-talk in this show: we know it means something but are not sure what beyond a point.
Still, this incident suggests, as in the silly subplot involving Chad the ghost “fluffer” (the sadly under-utilized Zachary Quinto, who had a much more satisfying part to play in “Halloween, Part 1”) and his boyfriend Patrick (Teddy Sears), that the past cannot help but repeat itself. In that sense: is Nora’s attempted intervention only speeding things along? Is she, in other words, only hastening the events she’s trying to prevent? I think so, and I think that’s what we’re meant to think, though admittedly “Halloween, Part 2” ends with Ben leaving the Murder House, making it easy to think that maybe Nora did effect change after all. Me, I don’t believe that, nope, nope. We’ve got seven episodes left, no way, nope, nope.
Anyway, this relates to Chad and Patrick’s unresolved issues from “Halloween, Part 1” in that the crux of their disagreement is Patrick’s inability to stop cheating on Chad even from beyond the graaaave. At the end of “Halloween, Part 2,” Patrick apologizes profusely and says that he “couldn’t help it.” Chad begrudgingly accepts this in that he doesn’t walk away from Patrick, or cause a scene, or break up with him, or anything. Admittedly, they’re ghosts, so there isn’t much point in breaking up with Patrick at this point. But still: if we’re to accept that on this one night, the dead can walk among the living, you’d think that their actions on that night can have consequences, too, ja?
So so so so sooo…yeah, a ghost break-up wouldn’t be that unreasonable, sez me. But it doesn’t happen, making it plain that Falchuk and Murphy want us to think, “Well, maybe the past’s influence on the present is immutable, or some shit.” It’s an interesting counter-plot point to Nora’s perceived intervention, but only in theory. I find Chad’s bathetic outbursts to be a little too shrill for my taste. Oh, and I generally don’t think re-inforcing the stereotype of the promiscuous gay man just so’s we can skimpily establish a rudimentary thematic parallel is that compelling. Just sayin’…
But yeah, what about Tate and his ghosts? They indirectly make us think that maybe characters can break the cycle, as the cliché goes, and keep the past separate from the present. This is because Dead Breakfast Club can’t get Tate, the living, to acknowledge his responsibility for (or to?) the dead. But because Tate refuses to immediately accept the link between past and present, we the viewer leave the events of “Halloween, Part 2” thinking that maybe, as with the resolution of Ben’s story, the present need not be an over-determined repetition of the past’s mistakes. I tend to doubt that’s going to be the case once season one ends for several reasons, including the resurgence of the copy-cat killers in “Murder House.”
But but but but! Moira’s story-line with her mother gives me pause. Her mother dies and she still can’t find release. Both a literal release and a figurative one, obviously: Moira doesn’t disappear once her mom is gone. So now presumably we’re made to think that perhaps it’s not the living that can’t let go of the dead but…I dunno, vicey versey? What to make of this, Dennis? I’m not sure if the show’s writers have thought this far ahead, honestly, but I’m intrigued/stymied by the notion that maybe the dead remain among the living independent of the living’s projected desires. One of the reasons I like David Koepp’s Ghost Town is that it acknowledges that yes, the dead live with us for as long as we can’t let go of them. That’s a very simple but wise concept that I’m not sure Falchuk and Murphy subscribe to. Their ghosts seem to linger for the sake of some vengeful authorial third party’s desire to punish or judge AHS’s pro- and antagonists.
But what do you make of this reading, Dennis? Curious, as usual…
Catch up on the American Horror Story conversation between Simon and I by clicking on the following links:
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 2" POST #1
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 2" POST #2
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 1" POST #1
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 1" POST #2
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 1" POST #3
"HALLOWEEN, PT. 1" POST #4
"MURDER HOUSE" POST #1
"MURDER HOUSE" POST #2
"HOME INVASION" POST #1
"HOME INVASION" POST #2
"HOME INVASION" POST #3
"HOME INVASION" POST #4
PILOT EPISODE POST #1
PILOT EPISODE POST #2
PILOT EPISODE POST #3
PILOT EPISODE POST #4
PILOT EPISODE POST #5
PILOT EPISODE POST #6