American Horror Story Review: That's Gotta Hurt

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My goodness. That was uncomfortable to watch.

And disturbing, and creepy, and stomach-turning and downright shocking that a show would go that far, even one on cable, even one airing at 10 p.m., even one that has already gone farther - in terms of blood, gore and general fear factors - than anything else in recent television memory.

Seriously, "Birth" absolutely freaked me out for that entire, elongated, painful scene that gave the episode its appropriate, simple title. That was some effed up stuff.

American Horror Story Birth

But it kept my attention, that's for sure. And here is why I appreciated the installment so much: the photo above. The cutaway flashes to Violet's birth, to Ben and Vivien as a happy, non-haunted couple. That's where this show has surprisingly shined for me all season long.

It would have been easy to just make things go bump very loudly every night and for Ryan Murphy and company to just slap together a bunch of random ghost stories and call it a series. That's what I feared we were in for after a haphazard premiere.

But American Horror Story has never lost track of its core relationship, and that was evident tonight. Move past the maniacal apparition delivering Vivien's twins... ignore Constance's grandchild-obsessed biddy for a moment... try to drown out violent screams... and what are you left with? Two people who have seen their marriage completely fall apart, one of whom is still holding out hope and the other of whom can scarcely hold on to her life. By flashing back to Ben and Vivien's happiest moment, the show brought a gravitas to a scene that could easily have been played for pure, shallow fright.

It was very well done, even as I had to literally turn away every few seconds. Or maybe because I had to literally turn away every few seconds.

Overall, the episode was probably the tightest we've seen all season. Not a great deal happened. It was mostly focused on the birth of Vivien's fast-growing twins (how scary is the term alpha fetus just on its own?!?) and mostly used to set the stage for next week's grand finale. We have a deceased Vivien - someone who ended the hour by saying she had NOT lost her baby, either referring to Violet or, more likely, her plan to gank back her newborn - and a heart-broken, enraged Tate, both of which make for compelling fodder.

Then, of course, we have the brewing battle over this poor baby, as Constance will face off against Nora and Hayden (Hey bitches. You get all that slime off my baby yet?) and a team of Vivien and Violet and who knows who or what else feels like rising up from the basement.

Then there's Ben, all by himself, except for the interaction he can have with his ghostly daughter and, I presume, his now-dead wife. It's impossible to guess where the series is going, but I'm just glad we have a few days before it arrives there. I need that time to catch my breath and for my stomach to settle. I can only imagine how Connie Britton felt after those scene.

Oh yeah: and this child may be the Anti-Christ.

What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (144 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Can't wait to see how this all resolves tomorrow!


Thankyou James...... love the show!!!!


understand the ghosts can only leave during Halloween, but why does Moira want someone to discover her corpse, she seems to think that she and her soul will be free to rest in peace? However other bodies have been found (e.g Travis, Tate etc) and they are still trapped in the house?? Did i miss something???? " She wants her family to know what happened to her, that she didn't run off with Constance's husband, and she wants Constance to go to jail and 'pay for what she did.'


I understand the ghosts can only leave during Halloween, but why does Moira want someone to discover her corpse, she seems to think that she and her soul will be free to rest in peace? However other bodies have been found (e.g Travis, Tate etc) and they are still trapped in the house?? Did i miss something???? xx


Mighty and terrific episode. Viv comforting Violet at the end was something like a spiritual purification from the bloody massacre of the twins' birth. So now we have a stillborn baby - but he died in the house so, someway, is still alive - taken by Nora as her own child, and a living baby, litigated by Hayden and Constance. I think Constance will be the core of the last episode. By now she seems to have known everything from the start: since Vivien told her she was pregnant, Constance wanted the baby to raise as a newborn Tate, probably knowing for sure that the Harmons - and Viv - would die. But I stopped formulating theories and speculating... with this show you must go with flow, leaving all your hopes and expectations at the door. This show is like the house itself, you know who you are and what you think when you enter it but you don't know who you will be and what you will think when you exit it... 'if' you exit it :)
My only hope is Jessica Lange will return in the second season, maybe in a all-new all-different role. I wish all the actors could come back as new characters, with new roles, with new relationships between them, in a new scenario and in a all-new all-different plot... Otherwise, I really would miss them so much, not only Jessica Lange, but the others as well. They are my (disfunctional but lovely) family now, and I love them... to death ;-)


The show needs to change it's name to Crowded House. I think every ghost showed up. How bizarre to have your babies delivered by dead people? Great show, you never know what is going to happen.


I can't express in words how awesome this episode is! I'm still blown away at how things led to other things. I grow to love Violet, and although her plan to get rid of ghosts turn out to be hilarious, I quite enjoy the banter of Chad and her.
I just can't wait for the finale. This series turns out to be one of my favorites with endless and unexpected twists.


There is both a Moira and a Nora. Moira is the redheaded maid. Nora is the blond with the exit wound in the back of her skull.


is Moira not Nora


Violet is just brilliant. She really is the star of the series (next to Jessica Lange of course whose quick, witty comments slay me each time)! Let me clarify what I meant earlier regarding the Infanta. I totally get that the Infanta is Thaddeus, Nora's baby, however, has anyone else not noticed that the Infanta is the only ghost that has grown (minus the maid who goes from being an old maid to a femme fatale)?? Plus, from what I remember, Nora's baby died once already and then the doctor brought the baby back to life through his perverse physical and (spiritual) re-incarnation. So the infanta is different than the rest of the ghosts because he originally died in the house (as a baby) and then came back to life as some hideous and most likely evil frankenstein monster. While I believe that Tate is ultimately psychotic and his horrible life led him to commit many of the murders that he did, I'm also suspecting that he is in some way possessed by the Infanta, both when he lived and now, as a ghost. Think of the pilot when Tate and Violet convince Leah, Violet's bully to enter the basement to then be attacked by the Infanta. During that scene there is the one instant that we see both the Infanta and Tate on top of Leah attacking her. Perhaps Murphy is hinting at something here. Or maybe I'm analysing a little too much :P

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