American Horror Story: Born in Blood
Over the course of our coverage of American Horror Story we've been sort of dismissive of the ongoing story arch involving Viven's Connie Britton) pregnancy. They've done their level best to interest us in the story, what with adding ghost rape, prophecies of the Anti-Christ, and just your typical horror film weirdness, but it has never really grabbed us. To put it simply, we just didn't think that there was likely to be anything new the series could do, and we'd already seen old school done better than it's likely to ever be done again in the film Grace.
And the series did not really break any new ground this week. Let's be clear on that. OK, we've never seen a dead abortionist deliver a live baby. That was new, but otherwise there was precious little innovation. Having said that, we'd like to take back all the pseudo-aloof bullshit we did spew in regards to how truly horrifying the culmination of the pregnancy storyline would be.
We can't think of how this episode affected people who haven't gone through the birthing process. We've done it once, and that's all we're planning on. It took three years of heartbreak, bankruptcy, and an infertility doctor with all the human warmth of cobra to get into the delivery room, and American Horror Story managed to masterfully bring back every mercifully forgotten fear that accompanied the birth of our beautiful daughter.
Your mind works differently during the birthing process. Every single piece of half-thought out nonsense becomes perfectly plausible as you bear through an experience that is so determined by basic biology that any control you have over it is almost illusionary. Maybe your child will be born with the head of an animal because your wife looked at the dog during sex. They wouldn't tell those stories if they didn't have some basis in fact, right? That's how you're thinking, in addition to more typical fears about losing someone or unforeseen defects.
American Horror Story summed up the experience so brutally that it literally gave us a panic attack. That helplessness you feel, that was the nerve they wanted to touch and they danced on it like it was the floor at a damned tap recital.
Vivien tries as hard as she can to escape the Murder House, but she goes into labor in the driveway and is dragged inside. The power goes out, and two ghostly children disable the car with baseball bats and knives so there is literally no escape. Lit only by candles, Vivien is attended by Ben (Dylan McDermott) and the dead, most of whom want to claim her twins for their own.
One is stillborn. One simple sentence, one small form passed away quickly. The moment is so brief, so frightening, and so incredibly painful that the only experience comparable is the last moments of consciousness someone must feel after a beheading.
She delivers the other baby alive before she bleeds to death, and is reunited with Violet who can't conceal her ghostly existence anymore. Whether or not the live bay is the progeny of Ben or the ghost is likely to be answered in next week's season finale.
Don't get us wrong, the birth of a child is a beautiful thing, but it is also frightening, bloody, and once you've gone a certain distance down the road there is simply no going back. That scares a lot of people. It certainly scared us, and when a show like American Horror Story takes full rein of those emotions and filters them through the desolate, terrifying lens they have ground to perfection then the experience was almost too much to bear.
American Horror Story airs 8 p.m./9 central on FX.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events