‘American Horror Story’ 1.11 Recap: “Life Is Too Short for So Much Sorrow”

Words cannot fully do justice to the full-throttle insanity that is ‘American Horror Story’. Just when I think that the show can’t possibly get any crazier, another episode comes along to shatter those expectations.

The title ‘Birth’ tells you a whole lot about where last week’s episode is heading, but not where it will end up.

Things start with a flashback to 1984. Young Tate drops a toy down in the basement and goes looking for it. He’s attacked by what I assume must be the monster baby that Dr. Charles created. Nora rescues him. She refers to the monster as “Thaddeus,” tells Tate that she wishes she were his mother, and also instructs him that all he has to do to protect himself from the ghosts in the house is close his eyes and say “Go away.” This will be important later.

In the present day, Ben regains consciousness after being attacked by Tate, and tries to get Violet out of the house. She resists, but he forces her into the car and drives away. As soon as they leave the property, she vanishes and reappears inside the house, but Ben is too preoccupied driving to notice right away. In the house, Violet tells Tate, “If they find out I killed myself, they’ll go insane.” Uh, yeah, I think that’d do it.

At this point, pretty much all of the ghosts in the house have decided that they want to steal Vivien’s babies for themselves. Nora, of course, is still obsessed with baby fever. Hayden wants one of the babies too, as revenge against Vivien and compensation for her own loss. Chad and Patrick have started painting the nursery. They want both twins, and as Chad explains, they plan to smother them as infants so that they’ll stay adorable forever.

In desperation, Violet asks Constance to help her get rid of Chad and Patrick. Constance, who doesn’t yet know that Violet is dead, agrees to assist while secretly plotting to claim her grandchild for herself. Constance brings back the psychic Billie Dean (Sarah Paulson) for an exorcism. Billie Dean immediately recognizes that Violet is a ghost, but agrees not to tell Constance. She doesn’t like Tate, and demands that he stay away if she’s to help. In a bizarre flashback to 1590, Billie Dean tells the story of the Roanoke colony. After all the settlers died, they continued to haunt the land until the natives abolished the ghosts by destroying talismans and chanting the word “Croatoan.” (In historical legend, that word carved into a tree was the only clue to the colonists’ disappearance.) Billie Dean believes that this incantation will work again.

Ben checks Vivien out of the loony bin. Vivien wants to immediately go to her family in Florida, but her doctor advises against travel. In fact, he recommends an emergency C-section. Even though she’s only six months along, one of the babies appears to be fully matured and is killing the weaker twin. Vivien dismisses his warning and says that she’ll find a doctor in Florida to take care of it.

Violet hatches a plan to get a ring from Patrick and Chad’s watch to use as her talismans. Helping her, Tate tries to seduce Patrick. But Patrick isn’t having any of it, and lashes out violently against him. He’s pissed that he’s stuck in the house with Chad forever, when he was so close to getting away. Chad overhears this and storms off. In the fight, Tate manages to slip off Patrick’s ring.

Ben brings Vivien back to the house to get Violet. Vivien refuses to go into the house, but Ben stupidly parks the car on the property. Vivien starts going into labor in the car, and Constance rushes over to drag her into the house. From this moment, a whole lot of crazy shit starts to go down really, really quickly.

First, Violet tells her father that she’s dead. He’s perplexed and doesn’t know what she’s saying, but before he can react, the ghosts cut the power to the house and smash the car in the driveway. Viv’s water breaks. Dr. Charles and the sorority nurse rush in to help deliver the babies. Ben slowly starts to piece together what’s happening. Charles announces that the first baby is stillborn, and then sneaks away to give it to Nora. I’m not sure whether the baby really is dead or not, but Nora’s probably happy in either case.

In the basement, Violet throws the watch and ring into the furnace. When Chad shows up pissy about his expensive watch, she screams “Croatoan!” Chad just laughs at her. That old curse is useless. The ghosts can’t be exorcized. However, he tells Violet that he no longer wants the babies. He and Patrick have broken up. He also informs her that Tate murdered him and raped her mother. These aren’t things that Violet wanted to know.

Vivien delivers the second child. Constance grabs it and says that she’s going to clean it up, then sneaks off to the kitchen. We never get a look at the demon, but Moira says, “He’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.” Then Hayden shows up in the kitchen to steal it for herself.

Ben stays by Vivien’s side. Charles says that the baby clawed its way out of her, and she’s bleeding out. There’s nothing he can do to save her. Ben begs her to fight for life, but Violet tells her that it’s OK to let go. Vivien dies, and suddenly all the ghosts in the room disappear, leaving only Ben standing over her body.

In the final scene, Violet confronts Tate about what he’s done. He’s a murderer and a rapist, and she can’t be with him anymore. She screams for him to “Go away!” (like Nora taught Tate to do), and he vanishes. Vivien, now a ghost, comforts her daughter.

This is truly a HOLY SHIT episode, and we haven’t even gotten to the finale yet! I kind of figured that Vivien wasn’t going to make it through childbirth as soon as she went into labor, but damn… The scene is amazingly intense. What other TV show would kill off almost the entire main cast during the first season? Is Ben going to make it through the finale? I have no idea.

This does, however, give us a sense of how the show can have a second season. Either Ben’s going to stay in the house to be with his wife and daughter, or he’ll die there too and the whole family will haunt a new batch of residents in Season 2.


  1. Art0330

    This has got to be the most insane program on TV in my memory. Sometimes it seems as if they are making it up on the fly, and if I could catch my breath, I’m sure I’d see several plot holes. Love it!

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