‘American Horror Story’ 1.09 Recap: “I Just Want a Normal, Boring Family”

If we learned anything definitive from last week’s episode of ‘American Horror Story’, it’s that Mena Suvari does not look good with dark hair. She should stick to being a blonde, which suits her better.

Suvari dons a dark wig for her guest spot in a flashback storyline about Elizabeth Short, the notorious Black Dahlia. In 1947, the aspiring actress’s gruesomely dismembered body was found in a Los Angeles park. The crime was never solved. As the episode ‘Spooky Little Girl’ tells it, she visited the Murder House to see an unethical dentist (Joshua Malina) working out of his home. She has a toothache but can’t afford to pay. He agrees that they’ll “work something out.” He then puts her under with gas and rapes her. This is clearly not the first time he’s done such a thing. However, he leaves her under the anesthesia too long, killing her.

The dentist panics and doesn’t know what to do, at which point crazy Dr. Charles makes an appearance to lend his expertise. He cuts the corpse in half for easier transport so that the dentist can dispose of the body off the property. While he’s at it, he carves a smile in her face so that she doesn’t look so sad. Because, you know, he’s nuts.

In the present day, Elizabeth shows up again to see Ben for therapy. Sexy young Moira has been throwing herself at Ben, only to be continually rejected. She convinces Elizabeth to stage a lesbian fantasy to seduce Ben, but he just gets really upset and fires Moira.

Hayden’s sister comes to the house with a detective, searching for Hayden. They accuse Ben of doing something to her. This looks pretty bad for Ben, until Hayden walks in. She claims that everything is fine, that she and Ben are starting a new life together, and that she just didn’t feel like talking to her sister. After the sister and cop leave, she also tells Ben that she had an abortion, which is of course a convenient lie to explain why she’s not still pregnant.

A busy little girl this week, Hayden also seduces Constance’s boy toy, Travis. She’s just using him for sex, but gets mad when he admits the same and says that he loves Constance. Hayden stabs him to death in the basement. The ghosts in the house (now including Travis himself) debate how to get rid of the body. Dr. Charles knows just what to do. He chops up the corpse and has Larry drop it in a park, just like the Black Dahlia.

Ben learns that Vivien’s twins have different fathers, a rare condition called heteropaternal superfecundation that can happen when a woman has sex with two different men in close proximity. Ben assumes that Viv cheated on him, and (hypocrite that he is) gets really pissed. He visits her in the loony bin and tells her that he won’t do anything to help her get out.

Hayden further fuels Ben’s rage when she tells him that she saw Vivien having sex with Luke, the security guard. Ben calls Luke to the house to confront him. Luke laughs at the accusation, and informs Ben that he’s sterile. Even if he did have sex with Vivien, he couldn’t be the father of one of her babies. At this, Ben finally starts to believe Vivien’s claims that she was raped. Having made this breakthrough, he starts to see things a little more clearly, including seeing Moira in her older form. That’s an interesting development, for sure.

Constance gets it in her head that she wants to adopt Vivien’s baby (she doesn’t know about the twins at first), so she visits Viv in the hospital and blathers on about sisterhood. When she finds out that Viv was raped, and that the rapist fathered one of her babies, Constance puts it together that Tate was responsible. This suddenly scares her enormously.

Constance confronts Tate and tells him about the legend of the “Pope’s Box.” When a new Pope is selected, he is brought to the “Room of Tears” to open a box and read the paper inside. The paper contains a prophesy of the end of times, and reveals that the essence of evil will be a child conceived of mortal and dead in a perversion of the Immaculate Conception.

So, yeah, Vivien’s going to give birth to the Antichrist. I bet she’s in store for some serious postpartum depression.

I’m not really a fan of this final twist, which seems a little cheesy to me. But it only takes up the last couple minutes of the episode. I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt and see how this plays out.

I’m bothered by another inconsistency in the show as well. When the Black Dahlia’s ghost showed up at the house, I immediately questioned how that was possible since her corpse wasn’t buried on the premises. Then this reminded me that, well, neither are most of the house’s victims. The police surely hauled off Tate’s body, the gay couple were discovered by a neighbor, etc. It would appear that where the body is buried doesn’t affect whether the ghost haunts the house or not.

So, that being the case, why was Moira so eager for someone to dig up her corpse from the back yard? Is it just that she’s stuck there because her body is buried in the yard, whereas other ghosts can leave? I suppose that would explain why not all of the ghosts are hanging around at all times. Yet Moira was able to visit her mother on Halloween. I feel like the rules for this need to be explained.


  1. The rules aer that if yo uare killed on the property, you are stuck as a ghost on the property, you can leave on Halloween because “It’s a night when all spirits can roam free”.

    • Josh Zyber

      That was my understanding. But then why was Moira so concerned with getting her body dug up? She seemed to believe that someone finding the body would set her free. Constance even told her that the Armenian was going to pave over the back yard and seal her in forever.

  2. Javier Aleman

    I think the ghosts are stuck there until they have closure. It seems that Moira is the one closest to the realization that she is dead and having her body found and maybe even having Constance caught for her murder would allow her to leave. If her body is never discovered then she will never have her closure.

    • Josh Zyber

      I’m not arguing. You’re probably right about this, but the show seems a little inconsistent on this point. A lot of the ghosts already understand that they’re dead. Hayden tried to smack some sense into Nora in the previous episode. The dead teens know what happened to them. Hell, in this one, Travis stands over his own body and discusses how to get it out of the house.

      Maybe that doesn’t constitute “closure.” I don’t know. Perhaps it’s nothing, but it bugs me.

  3. lmcanda

    I think Moira wants her body discovered, so people will know she was murdered, and Constance will be found responsible or guilty. As of now, I don’t think anyone knows she was actually killed.

  4. Mario Menchaca

    What really worries me, though, is now that Ben saw “Old” Moira, won’t we ever see “Young Ultra-Hot” Moira anymore?!?!?

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