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?

Birth Review

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+.

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