“American Horror Story” 1.04 Recap: “Hallowqueens”

This week American Horror Story delivered the first half of a two-part Halloween episode, and let’s just say that it sure as hell weren’t no Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Loaded with more twists and turns than even the usual AHS episode (which is saying a lot), this Halloween special delivered one of the nastiest shocks yet in the form of the death of a central character. Even worse? That central character was one of the only likeable ones in the bunch.

So toss on your Pretty Girl masks and let’s pick this baby apart, shall we? Whoops – sorry, Charles and Norah, no pun intended!

This week’s opening flashback takes us all the way back to 2010. You remember – that long-forgotten yesteryear when when Zachary Quinto was still straight. (All kidding aside, Zach, huge props for coming out last week.) Yes, LaQuinto is in the House, playing Chad – one of the much-talked-about previous owners of the Harmon Horror Home. Currently he’s in an HGTV-inspired fugue state in preparation for a Big Gay Halloween party. When his hubby, Patrick (Teddy Sears) passes through the kitchen on his way to the gym, Chad quips, “make sure you wear a condom.” Sheesh – and here I think my gym is strict for making you carry a towel!

Yes, Patrick is banging his “twink trainer”, who is apparently “a total power bottom”. Okay, already more than I needed to know. Wait, is a “twink trainer” a trainer who is a twink? Or someone who only trains twinks? Or someone who trains guys to BE twinks? AHS, what a tangled web you weave. Anytwink, Chad is upset that Patrick isn’t helping him to carve jack-o-lanterns, adding that he is doing a French aristocracy theme this year. Again, more than I needed to know.

In fact, Chad seems to be more upset by his inability to find gala apples (take note, because his tune changes later) than he is by the fact that his hubby is screwing his trainer. He says that he’s beyond the point of being hurt, at this stage. And he needs dry ice. Patrick counters that he wants a relationship with a man, not Martha Stewart. Hey, I think Alexis is still single! (Oh I kiiiiiiiiiiiidokaymaybenot.) Chad reminds them that all of their money is sunk in the house (sounds familiar) and the only reason he’s throwing such an over-the-top party is so that it can end up in a magazine and they can sell the house, freeing him up to find his own twink. He advises Patrick to “carve a goddamn pumkin, find a goddamn costume, and man up.” If I’m not mistaken, that’s the same advice Lucy gave to Linus in the pumpkin patch, no?

Patrick remarks several times that he can’t believe that they’ve turned into this – “Hallowqueens arguing over a pumpkin.” Seems that the house has already worked its magic on these guys. Either that or they’re just naturally assholes.

After Patrick storms out, mumbling about “we were going to have a baby something something,” Chad collapses, deflated at the sight of his own holiday handiwork: “Red is wrong. It has to be green.” He looks up, and Rubber Man is standing there. Oh hey – remember him? I bet he’s been off taking Powerpoint classes at the Learning Annex for the past two weeks. Anyway, much like Viv, Chad mistakes RM for his partner, and purrs that the costume is “scary sexy.”

Chad asks Rubber Man, “Did you get the apples?” and RM answers by grabbing him and throwing him into the antique buffet, then chucking him over the Shaker dining table, and finally by forcing his head into the apple-bobbing bucket and breaking his neck while he’s drowning.

How you like them apples, Chad?

Patrick, in an adorable cowboy outfit, appears in the doorway, sees Chad’s dead body on the ground, and gives his best Amnesia Eric Northman face to Rubber Man. Awwwwwwwwww. We cut away, left to wonder, ’So which one of them ends up with the fireplace poker crammed up his chimney? And how did they both end up in the basement?”

Opening credits, which we now know contains many references to Dr. Charles and his side business. Ick.

In present day, Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Viv (Connie Britton) are accusing Marcy (Christine Estabrook), the realtor, of being responsible for no one’s buying (or even looking at) the house. Marcy counters with the brilliant line, “Don’t put the blame on Mame, Mr. Harmon,” and explains that to fix the house’s image problem they’ll have to hire a “fluffer”. No, not THAT kind of fluffer – the kind that literally fluffs pillows and sprinkles fairy dust around a house to make it more attractive to potential buyers. She knows of a British lady who is expensive or a young gay guy who is cheap – in unison, Ben and Viv vote for the young gay guy. And this being Hollywood, let’s face it – they’re probably getting the other kind of “fluffer” while they’re at it.

Oh, and we learn that the Twingers from Episode 1 egged the house (and Ben, who showed the tiniest bit of leg running downstairs in a slinky bathrobe) last night. I love those little brats.

Speaking of fluffers, next door Constance’s boytoy from Episode 2 (his name’s Travis, turns out) is reading to Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) from a children’s book about the origins of Halloween. (It’s a Celtic holiday where the living dressed up as the dead to confuse the ghosts who were allowed to roam freely for one night of the year.) Constance comes in and sends Travis to buy chocolate chips and Pall Malls (just like mother used to make!) and the minute he’s gone she accuses Addy of flirting with him, pointing out that Addy can read herself. Ha! Atta girl, Addy.

After an uncomfortable exchange about “the last one,” who put his hand down Addy’s pants (more information than I needed, yet again), Connie locks her insane gaze on Addy and says, “I would kill or die for you” (Foreshadowing Sensors Tingling) but she won’t have Addy flirting with her boytoys. When sha asks what Addy wants to be for Halloween, Addy shows her a picture of a model in a perfume ad and tells her that she wants to be a “pretty girl”. Connie snorts and says “you can go as Snoopy again, or not at all.” As Connie leaves, Addy blurts out, “the dead can walk freely on Halloween!” and Connie softly responds, “but we’ve always known that.”

Okay, you know what? I used to find this sticky-fingered Hollywood harridon amusing, but audacious camp only goes so far to cover for abject cruelty. She’s officially a monster.

Ding-Dong. “Trick or treat!”

It’s Larry the Burn Guy (Denis O’Hare), who celebrates the entire “Halloweek” and is here to collect his $1000 for keeping silent about Crayden. Ben reminds him that he didn’t do anything, and Larry reminds him that she had his baby in her tummy, which Viv would not be too happy to hear. Ben doesn’t take the bait. In fact, he drop-kicks Larry’s plastic jack-o-lantern into the street. Party pooper! As Ben turns to leave, Larry warns him that he won’t wait forever, and makes one of the most hilariously effed-up faces I think I’ve ever seen to the camera on the way out. Seriously, this one’s screen saver material.

Inside, Ben is meeting with Tate (Evan Peters), explaining to him that he will not take him back on as a patient but that he is is concerned that Tate missed his appointment with the other shrink to which Ben referred him. Mmm-hmm. Wonder why.

Tate apologizes and seems genuinely distressed by the situation. Ben continues by asking just what the hell Tate was doing in the house the night of the home invasion (Oh – and thanks, by the way, for killing everyone. That was your Boy Scout good deed for the day.). Tate says he was just hanging out outside and the door was open. Uh-huh. Tate cries and begs Ben to see him, saying that he “doesn’t want to be like this.” Ben agrees to see Tate again, but not in the house. They make a coffee date. How fun! Tate promises, “No more wierd shit.” Uh-huh.

In the kitchen, Viv is getting a burglar alarm walk-through from a very studly black man from the security company. She’s flirting! I wonder if he’s a ghost, too? I’m starting to question whether moving into a house of super-hot, super-horny ghost men is really a bad thing.

Later, she wanders into the dining room, where Moira the Elder (Francis Conroy) is carving pumpkins. She asks if Marcy brought them, and Moira mumbles in the affirmative, and asks if she can have Halloween off to see her mother. Viv says that’s fine. We know from last ep that Moira is trapped at the house thanks to Constance (and now that damned gazebo) – so Halloween would be her only chance to “roam free” and visit her loved ones, right?

When she goes to place one of the jack-o-lanterns outside, Viv notices two bitchy gay guys on the front walk criticizing the roses. It’s Chad and Patrick from the opening scene, but she mistakes them for the “fluffer” and his “ball and chain”. Clearly dying to see the house, Chad and Patrick don’t correct her. Inside, they carve pumpkins with Ben and Chad delivers a bunch of unfunny lines so dripping with sarcasm that I can’t even repeat them without leaving wet spots on my keyboard.

Ugh. You know what? I get it. This show is about America’s worst nightmares, and Chad is mine.

Chad and Patrick insult each other a few times and Viv thankfully changes the subject to home improvements. Chad suggests tearing down the gazebo (He accusingly asks, “Put it in yourself, Ben?”) and Ben cuts himself on his carving knife.

Okay, this brings us to what will likely be many of our favorite scenes from this episode: The Great Halloween Weiner-Palming of 2011. After tending to Ben’s wound, Patrick (who was an EMT – which apparently stands for Extramarital Meat Tugger) stands up and places his big, warm paw squarely over Ben’s unit. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember ever seeing a man’s hand grip another man’s junk in such loving close-up on television before. Seriously, it’s like a catcher’s mitt on a baguette. It’s like a hot dog bun around a fire extinguisher. It’s like one of those Taco Bell monstrosities where they wrap a soft-shell taco around a hard-shell taco. That is how perfectly nestled Ben’s Great Pumpkin is in Patrick’s punkin’ patch.

Sorry, what was I talking about?

Anyway, Patrick thinks he has Ben’s number – “You like to have that [CORNCOB] [SHUCKED], and often” – and promises, “four minutes, no one will know.” Ben’s all. “I’m not gay” and Patrick’s all, “neither was I until I got [THAT THING ON TOP OF YOUR NECK] from a guy” and dives for the prize, but when Ben breaks free from the loving grip of his Heisman-gripping palm, Patrick apologizes, saying that “it’s been a long time”. HA! Well, first off, I find that hard to believe. But second, was it just me or was Ben almost about to go for it for a moment there? Wishful thinking, I’m sure.

Downstairs, Chad tells Viv that he senses a “darkness” in Ben and plants in her head the idea of checking Ben’s cell phone records. Very clever, Murder House! Divide and manhandle conquer. Chad chastises Viv for her sloppy bat craft – remember, he was making the same thing last year before he was, you know, drowned and everything. One broken neck and these queens just think they can do no wrong!

Upstairs, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is doing teen things in her room (seriously, what has she been up to lately, anyway?) when she hears a shuffling noise behind her. She turns to investigate, and a hand grabs her from under her bed. Awww, it’s okay – it’s just Addy! “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” Okay, Addy – I love you, girl, but we gotta work on your manners. A lady should never enter the room unannounced. Or … you know, from under the bed.

Addy tells Violet that she wants to be pretty like she is and Violet’s all “MAKEOVER TIME!” Okay, I’m sorry – NOTHING about Violet screams “Makeover Queen” and NOTHING about “my next door neighbor has been hiding under my bed” screams “Bonding Moment!” I think we’ve lost Vi to Because the Script Said So territory on this one. Addy reveals that she knows Tate (uh-huh.) and when she asks Violet if she’s a virgin, Violet’s all, “Uh, YES… Aren’t you?” Addy’s all, “Hell no…” She also reveals that she likes the Harmon House because all of her “friends” are there.

Back at Casa Connie, mama is NOT happy with Violet’s attempts to Color Me Beautiful her Snoopy daughter. She chases Addy around the table, hurling terrible things at her about how when people see them on the street they think Constance is some kind of hero but she never chose to have a child like Addy. It’s beyond disturbing and the scene is only saved by Connie’s aside about Violet’s “asking for another cupcake” (have we ever determined what the FIRST cupcake was for, btw?).

Next door it’s midnight and Violet is going to the basement for a date with Tate. Such a romantic! But instead … it’s Rubber Man! Only it isn’t. It’s Tate in the Rubber Man suit. She points out that her dad threw the suit out, and Tate obliquely responds, “Finders keepers.” Violet asks exactly what he did to get rid of the crazy serial killer cult and he says he didn’t do anything but that he “had help” not doing it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Tate wants to do the Ouija Board to contact Dr. Charles Montgomery, who will answer Violet’s questions about what is in the basement. We already know the basics, but Tate tells us more: Charles had a patient who couldn’t keep her secret abortion from her boyfriend, and he wasn’t too happy to hear about it. He calls Norah (Lily Rabe) and says “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” which she quickly puts together to mean that her baby is in trouble. Sure enough, she runs upstairs and the kid is gone. Some time later, police knock on the door with a box filled with mason jars containing the pieces of their gender-indeterminate little treasure.


But that’s not all – Charles (Matt Ross), with his “Frankenstein complex” in full swing, tries to put the baby’s pieces back together again (actually, would that be more of a “Humpty Dumpty complex”?). Norah says that she wants to bury their son in what looks like a set of lace cafe curtains, but it’s too late – Charles has created some kind of monstrous mashup out of their kid and spare animal parts. I mean, I’m pretty sure I spotted a hoof. Tate says that even after their “untimely end” (still haven’t gotten the low-down on that one), the baby remained down in the basement and lives there to this day.

Violet ain’t buyin’ it. She asks him to take her on a real date instead of dragging her to the basement all the time. Atta girl! Tate agrees – but of course it has to be on Halloween night. Oh, on the one night of the year where the dead can wander freely? Nope, nothing going on here!

Okay, in an episode of totally bizarre scenes, this next one is the bizarrest. The next day Ben and Tate are at some kind of Halloween festival thingy (people are milling around hay bales in costumes) and Tate is going on about how there are so many kinds of coffee he’s never heard of. I know – gripping.

Ben sees a trick-or-treater and remembers back to when Violet was Dracula for Halloween, mumbling, “she had to be scary – my fierce little girl.” He’s crying – what, did Tate get him the wrong flavor latte? Ben says that he was like Tate once, not holding out too much hope for himself. He cries even more when he thinks about what a beautiful gift his family is, and throws half a lit cigarette into a hay bale. Hey, mister! That’s how fires start! We get that you’re bummed about being a total asshat to your family, but you don’t have to burn the whole park down. Tate puts his hand on Ben’s (which makes me wonder – have we ever seen Tate’s wrists?) and tells him everything will be okay, which is comforting considering the kid is pretty likely a psycho-killer ghost. Really – who’s the therapist here?

In Addy’s room, Constance comes by to apologize for being such a megabitch … by giving the poor girl a full-head “pretty girl” rubber mask.




This woman makes Medea from the Greek myth look like Medea from the Tyler Perry movies.

Constance then adds insult to insult by suggesting that she might have an old maternity dress that would fit her daughter. We get a shot of the mask after they leave the room, and it is by far the creepiest thing we’ve seen so far on the show.

Next door, Ben is looking for the fangs for his Dracula costume, but Viv’s teeth are already sharpened: “Where’s Hayden?” Uhhhh-oh. She says she read his phone bill and found Crayden’s number 20 times, and Ben scrambles to cover. He says that Crayden won’t be calling anymore, and Viv says that she might, because Viv called her and left her a voicemail. Ben is prrrrreeeeetty sure that she won’t be calling (BECAUSE SHE’S DEAD, SEE), and tries to smooth things over – but then Viv’s phone rings. Guess who? It’s Crayden! Viv lets it go to voicemail. Some people have no respect for the dead.

Downstairs, Chad is playing spooky Halloween sounds and he hates Viv’s “Rite-Aid witch outfit” and Ben’s “Count Jockula” getup. He turns to decorate his bobbing station and throws his umpteenth hissy fit over the fact that the apples are galas – I seem to remember that he liked galas, but I can understand why he’d be a little touchy about apple-bobbing given what happened last time he gave it a go.

Viv tells him to cool his gay jets but he counters by orderng them to leave. Viv’s all, “Leave? Our house?” and Chad says, “It’s not your house – we know it, you know it, the house knows it. Frankly, you don’t deserve it.” This leads Viv to throw a grade-A hissy fit, trashing all of Chad’s crafting projects – Patrick mutters, “We shouldn’t have to watch this,” and I’m not sure who he’s speaking to or what he’s talking about. We also see a flash of Rubber Man, which seems to frighten Chad (can’t imagine why!). The boys high-tail it and Viv tells Ben that she wants him to leave, too. Just then, she feels the baby kicking – which is impossible, since it’s only eight weeks old. Viv is screaming bloody murder, so Ben drags her to the hospital, barking at Violet not to answer the door. She replies, “Don’t answer the door? It’s Halloween!” Good point, kid.

Later, Violet is in her room listening to “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”, a punk classic by The Adverts about a transplant recipient realizing that he has the eyes of Gilmore, an actual multiple murderer from the 1970s. I guess it’s safe to say Violet hasn’t fallen prey to Bieber Fever. The doorbell rings but she doesn’t hear it – which is too bad, because it’s Addy, in her terrifying mask, at the door. Oh for the love of Godric this is sick. I’m getting a strong Shaye St. John vibe from this whole situation (warning: do not Google that name unless you are prepared to face the consequences) and am thinking that Ryan Murphy must have a thing for creepy masks, because they’ve also featured prominently on Popular and Nip/Tuck.

Anyway, a few girls dressed as slutty pirates who are clearly far too old to be trick-or-treating come to the door and point out that there’s a sign that says “Take one” by a candy bowl. When Addy explains that she wants Violet to see her as a pretty girl, one of them mutters, “Short bus…” Where’s Rubber Man and his bobbing station when you need him?

Addy runs after the girls, but because of the mask THAT HER MOTHER GAVE HER she clearly can’t see well … and she gets hit by a car. HIT BY AN EFFING CAR, people. The car doesn’t even slow down, leading me to wonder who the hell is driving it … could it be Larry? Chad and Patrick? No, they wouldn’t be caught dead driving a sedan…

At the hospital, Viv says that the kicks have stopped and the nurse points out that it would be hard for a fetus the size of a kidney bean to kick and that it’s probably just gas. I can confirm from experience that kidney beans can, in fact, cause gas. She turns on the ultrasound and says that the baby seems to be a lot bigger than eight weeks – and then sees something on the screen that makes her black out. HOT!

Back in front of the Harmon house, Connie stumbles by and finds Addy in the street. She freaks and shoves away the EMTs, insisting that she has to get Addy to the Harmon’s lawn before she dies. The paramedics are understandably confused, but for some reason they let this crazy woman drag a near-dead accident victim with clear spinal injuries over a curb. On the lawn, Addy dies. Connie shrieks. All I can say is that this season had better end with Addy’s ghost coming back to punch her mother’s perfect nose through the back of her head.

We cut to a nursing home, where Moira the Elder walks down a depressing, dark hallway. She sits at her mother’s side, looking at all of the machinery that is keeping her alive and telling her that she always had the most beautiful hands. Moira tells her obviously comatose mother that it’s all Moira’s fault that she is here like this, because she wasn’t around when she neede her help. She quietly unplugs the respirator and watches her mother die. A moment later, her mother is sitting behind her, inviting, “Come with me, baby” but Moira cries that she can’t. Then she’s gone.

Good grief indeed, Charlie Brown. Seriously – if this show gets any more bleak it’ll be The Walking Dead. Or Breaking Bad. Or anything on AMC, really.

Back at the Harmon house, the doorbell rings several times, and this time Violet hears it. She checks the peephole and it’s Larry the Burn Guy demanding his $1000. As he terrorizes a bunch of trick-or-treaters, she calls Ben and tells him that one of his patients is there spazzing out on the porch. He tells her to keep the door locked but not to call the cops. She backs away from the door, and Rubber Man is standing right behind her. SHEESH!

Ben and Viv pull up to the house (if I’m not mistaken, there are two skeletons doing it doggy-style on a giant pumpkin among the decorations) – the front door is open and the alarm is going off. They can’t find her anywhere, and Ben yells at Viv upstairs to try her cell phone. He opens the front door and who is standing there? Crayden (Kate Mara)! She looks kinda dead and very pissed. Ben shuts the door in her face.

Okay, where to begin…

First, I am cursing the show for killing off Addy like that. Actually, hold on – just last week I wrote that the only two characters I had any sympathy for on this cockadoodle show were that ugly-ass Montgomery baby and Addy, and what happens? One of them ends up getting the Ice Truck Killer treatment, and the other winds up a casualty from a Halloween Safety for Tricks-and-Treaters educational film. Ugh.

Anyway, at least it gives us a clear villain for the show: Constance. That weeotch is gonna get it.

Also … who is in the Rubber Man suit, eh? Could it be Connie’s ex? Charles Montgomery? NORAH Montgomery? (That’d be a hoot.) And whoever he is, does he have Violet, or did Larry grab her? Or did Tate save the day (they were supposed to have a date that night, weren’t they?)? And speaking of Tate, are all the hints that he’s a dead kid getting a bit obvious, at this point? Is there a chance he’s a dead red herring and is actually alive? I’m also getting a little bit fuzzy on the haunting “rules” – Chad and Patrick wandered along days before Halloween, and their bones can’t be on the grounds since their murder was a documented crime scene. What gives?

And most importantly, WHAT WAS ON THAT ULTRASOUND? OMG I can’t wait to see it. I bet it had horns! And gas.


I was originally thinking that this would have to go to Viv for her amazing baby-kick screams (and in that tickety-tack witch dress, no less!), but Constance overtook her on the final lap with her banshee-level keening over Addy. Well-played, evil lady.


I think I have to give this one to Marcy the realtor – “Don’t put the blame on Mame” is officlally now in my heavy rotation, thank you very much.


Hmmm … I think this one has to go to the Frankenbaby that Dr. Charles was assembling in the basement during the Ouija flashback. I mean, really – what in the hell did he think he was doing? Everybody knows that dead monster babies have FINS, not hooves!

Seriously, whoever thought that gem up either hates children, hates pigs, or takes his baby-back ribs FAR too seriously.

Okay, so after THREE WEEKS without so much as a glimpse of Dylan McDermott’s pristine mudflaps, I’ve officially renamed this section Blood, Beasts and Beef. And still, we were still sadly lacking in our third B – Dylan, hide not thine ticket-sellers under a bushel!

BLOOD – 3/10

It’s interesting that despite all the horrible things that happened this episode, there was very little blood. A splotch on Addy, a droplet or two on Crayden, Ben’s pumpkin-carving slip, and a dab or two in the hospital scene, and that’s pretty much it.

BEASTS – 8/10

Since we consider the undead in the Beasts category, this ep was packed with beastliness. Plus, Rubber Man made a welcome reappearance (several, actually), and then of course there’s the matter of the Build-a-Toddler Workshop in the basement. Yeesh!

BEEF – 1/10

Aside from Patrick’s workout wear and a glimpse of Ben’s ankle under his bathrobe there wasn’t any beef to be had this week. For shame, AHS! For SHAME!

Overall, I thought the episode was pretty solid – I hate what they did to Addy, but I think I’m supposed to. But I could see if it might be a turning-back point for a lot of viewers – kind of like the “Hey, That’s My Dog” episode of Six Feet Under. The only difference is that this is Episode 4 of Season 1 and “That’s My Dog” was in Season 4 or something – did they go too far too soon here?

Anyway, celebrated child-rearing expert Mrs. Bates would definitely approve:

Any predictions as to what might happen in Part 2? I hear Charlie Brown gets a bag of rocks!

In 2003, Brian launched the world's first website devoted to horror film from a gay perspective (CampBlood.org), mining an untapped (and occasionally unintentional) source of entertainment and bringing together a huge and colorful population of gay horror fans and filmmakers. When he's not pulling skeletons out of closets, Brian writes reviews for horror megasite Bloody-Disgusting.com, general film site Freezedriedmovies.com, and can be found on the ever-informative RottenTomatoes.com. Brian is also a filmmaker, having produced, written, and directed two shorts (the dark romantic comedy An Apple a Day and the eerie suspense piece Two Story House) that have played at film festivals worldwide and left audiences generally uneasy. A born-and-bred Midwesterner, Brian studied Mass Media and Film at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (I know – crazy, right?) before fleeing the district for the warm and occasionally stinky shores of NYC. Brian is a proud member of the Online Film Critics Society, loving husband to illustrator Andy Swist, and benevolent overlord of their two cats.