Ha! I told you so! Doubters must be eating some crow about now. Last week’s episode of ‘American Horror Story’ came out swinging with major plot twists and revelations, and we haven’t even hit the season finale yet.
I called it several episodes back that Violet actually died during her suicide attempt and has been haunting the house as a ghost without knowing it. That’s finally confirmed in ‘Smoldering Children’. (What other show could get away with an episode title like that?) When a truant officer informs Ben that his daughter has missed sixteen consecutive days of school and may be heading for juvenile court, Ben starts calling around to private schools to see if he can get her enrolled. Tate overhears this and attacks Ben in the Rubber Man outfit. Ben fights back and pulls the mask off him, but Tate manages to overcome Ben and knock him out with chloroform (or possibly laudanum).
Tate then tells Violet that her father is planning to ship her off to boarding school, and that she’ll never see him again. He says that the only way they can be together is if she commits suicide like she had attempted before. If she goes through with it this time, they can be together forever, like Romeo and Juliet.
Violet freaks out at this and tries to run away. As she goes out the front door of the house screaming, she somehow appears at the back door running inside. No matter how she tries to exit, she winds up coming back in a loop. She’s terribly disoriented until Tate calms her down, promises that he won’t hurt her, and agrees to tell her everything. “I don’t wanna die,” she cries. It’s too late for that,” Tate responds.
Tate brings her down to a secret crawlspace beneath the basement where he shows Violet… her own shriveled up corpse. It’s pretty gross. Tate explains that she’s been dead since her overdose. He tried to save her, but couldn’t. She died in his arms. “You died crying… You died loved.” He didn’t want to tell her at all at first, and hoped that convincing her to voluntarily kill herself again would ease her into the revelation that she’s already dead.
The question now is what becomes of Ben. Tate swears that he just knocked Ben out and didn’t hurt him. Ben’s going to have to wake up soon. He now knows that Tate raped his wife. He’s also going to want to get Violet out of the house, which means that Violet’s going to have to tell him that she can’t leave.
That’s all just the “A” storyline. There’s plenty going on in the “B” storyline too. The episode opens with a flashback to 1994, some time after Larry’s wife set herself and their children on fire. Larry appears unharmed. It turns out that he didn’t get burned trying to save them after all. Constance, Tate and Addy have moved into the house with Larry. Tate isn’t happy about this at all. He believes that his father ran off to Mexico with Moira, and he doesn’t like Larry playing his new daddy. He also knows that Larry killed brother Beau. The morning of his school shooting, Tate makes a stop at Larry’s office to douse him in gasoline and set him on fire. That’s how he really got the burns.
In the present day, a police detective (Charles S. Dutton) interrogates Constance about the murder of her boyfriend Travis, who’s been dubbed the “Boy Dahlia” by the media. The detective knows her history, and believes that Constance killed both her husband and Travis, but doesn’t yet have any proof. (In another flashback, we see that after burying Moira in the yard, Constance ground her husband’s body into hamburger and fed it to her dogs!)
Constance confronts Larry about Travis’ murder and finds out that he died in the house. In the episode’s best dialogue exchange, she says of Travis that, “He’s twice the man you are.” To which Larry replies, “Well, he is now.”
Larry plans to frame Constance for Travis’ death, to make her pay for wronging him. However, during another visit to the house basement, he’s visited by his burned-up wife and daughters. The wife tells Larry that he needs to take responsibility for everything he’s done. In the end, Larry confesses to the murder of Travis. He’s willing to die in prison to assuage his own guilt. This of course lets Constance off the hook for the crime.
With all this happening now, I can hardly imagine what’s in store for the season’s last two episodes.