FX, 19 October
Ben loses track of a patient who then turns up dead: did he kill her? His pregnant wife, Vivien, discovers more about their new home’s horrible history from a bus tour.
Three episodes in and a handful of nagging questions are answered. Hurrah! The opening flashback to 1983 immediately explains more about the relationship of neighbour Constance (who once lived in the house) and malevolent maid Moira. When the mad maid has an affair with her husband, Constance kills Moira shooting her through the eye (explaining the older ghost Moira’s appearance).
Later, another flashback offers us sight of the house’s original deranged owners—a mad scientist who seems to be building a pig that might fly and who performs illegal abortions on the side, and his murderous wife. It’s great at this early stage to have some of these answers, making the show slightly less frustrating.
Another interesting development is the flashback to the death of Hollywood star Sal Mineo, suggesting a rich seam of morbid movie lore that could be rewardingly tapped (with a promise of the Black Dahlia in a future episode).
Vivien’s decision at the close of the previous episode to sell the troublesome house is rapidly disposed of due to the family’s sudden lack of cash. Ben’s fugue state did make me wonder how much of this episode was really happening: had Tara’s boring mother from True Blood put him into a trance and everything thereafter was a dream? It’s a good sign for the zaniness of this show that, nope, it was all real after-all and he’d been poisoned by the malicious maid.
The brilliant, bonkers nature of the show continues to the climax, as Ben’s bit on the side turns up, as does scarred itinerant Larry. He proceeds to kill her with a shovel, leaving Ben to bury the body adding another ghost to the house’s menagerie. It’s laugh out loud ridiculousness like this that marks American Horror Story out from the crowd.
Verdict: Hysterically hilarious, this is proving to be appointment television.
Episode 3 ‘Murder House’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb