Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are back with another iteration of the American Horror Story juggernaut. American Horror Stories is a stand-alone anthology series, with each episode being an independent story building loosely on the established world of AHS. The two-part season premiere titled Rubber (Wo)man spins Tate and Violet’s story on its head and introduces Scarlett, Sierra McCormick from the experimentally trippy The Vast Of Night. Her two Dads, perenially crowd-pleasing Matt Bomer and delectably catty Gavin Creel are optimistic their decision is about to pay huge dividends.
Scarlett’s two dads bought the Murder House and moved in, thinking they could renovate the place and turn it into a haunted house attraction. The problem being, of course, any time anyone has tried to do something similar, they wind up dead. In this real-life house of horrors, people may move in with the best of intentions, but the negative energy in the dark place preys on even the most innocent until only your ghost remains.
A brief AHS Season 1 history
It’s been a long time since we spent any real quality time in the Murder House. Sure we briefly visited in AHS Season 8 Apocolypse, but it has been ten years since we got an extended stay. So here’s what you need to remember about that unforgettable first season that started it all. The house has been haunted since Dr. Montogomery and his wife first moved in. The murderous doctor had been performing surgeries that didn’t go so well in the home’s basement, and Nora’s child Thaddeus was dismembered only to be resurrected as the Infantata. Since their deaths, many families have moved in, but few of them have ever left. Additionally, countless visitors and workers over the years got stuck in the ghostly purgatory.
Throughout the first season, we met the Harmons and Jessica Lange’s Constance, who had her own dark history with the house. She had lived there once with her husband and children, yes plural. After finding her husband schtooping the maid in a fit of rage, she killed both of them, and her only surviving child Tate shot up his high school before being gunned down by the police. Constance was a real piece of work who warped Tate’s young mind until he literally became a monster both before and after death. Tate was behind the majority of the murders in Season 1 and was instrumental in Violet’s death.
The rules of the house dictate if you die there, you stay there. The only exception to this being on Halloween, when ghosts can roam free as long as they return home. Tate, who was stuck there and clearly unhinged, took up latex as a hobby and began killing people in a rubber suit. By the end of the season, an even bigger group of ghosts lived in the house, but Tate’s son with Vivian was alive and living with Constance. He later became Michael, the AntiChrist who the Coven witches battled in the finale of Season 8.
The American Horror Stories connections
In the two-part episode, there were many connections and nods to the original Murder House. Scarlett moves right into Violet’s old room, which has the same bedding and colors Violet used in the original. Additionally, monsters like Infantata and the Piggy Man made appearances. The Piggy Man was the reason Eric Stonestreet’s character in Season 1 came to Dr. Harmon for therapy as well as he was a backwoods killer in Season 6, Roanoke. Scarlett’s dad Michael tells Troy he has been seeing him in the house. The nurse seen at the end of American Horror Stories Part 2 is one of two nurses killed in the house from AHS.
The chirpy Prudence and Patience hit Tonight You Belong To Me made an appearance as Scarlett kills her classmates after they live-streamed her confession to Maya. That song is heard in both Murder House and Apocolypse. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. The Rutgers, otherwise known as the Ginger Twins, scare the crap out of Scarlett’s new therapist, and the Infantata gets in on the action killing Maya in the basement after being lured there by Scarlett. Even the opening sequence of American Horror Stories Part 1 and 2 harkens back to the pilot of AHS Season 1. The setup is the same. Violet and her two parents were driving to their new home full of hope and angst, respectably. Later, Scarlett’s new therapist mentions another therapist with whom she is sharing office hours and writing a book. This has to be Dr. Harmon.
The infamous gimp suit is iconic of the entire first season, having been worn by Tate many times while killing or raping others in the house. Scarlett dons the suit in American Horror Stories Part 1 and 2 because she is drawn to some dark shit, including extreme sadistic torture porn. Once Scarlett puts on the suit, her fate is pretty much sealed as Tate takes over. The rub(I couldn’t resist) here is that he doesn’t need to possess her to make her kill. She’s one twisted chic on her own. Whether that is because she is a sociopath, as her friend thinks or because something happened to her during her ten days with a kidnapper, we don’t know, but putting on the suit unlocked her inner demon and a merrily killing she went.
Scarlett’s spirit girlfriend Ruby is moody, dangerous, and way too devoted to Scarlett, just like Tate, but in this go-around, Ruby loves Scarlett enough to let her live. It might also have something to do with the fact that Scarlett wants to live to continue her murderous ways outside the house, thus perpetuating violence across the country, including Ruby’s (not)uncle. He tortured her most of her childhood before Ruby wandered into the Murder House and committed suicide. Ruby also wears a T-shirt that says, “Normal people scare me. Tate wore the same T-shirt in Murder House..”
Eagle-eyed Reddit user/SnooPaintings9915/, spotted a man in a green sweater watching silently while Scarlett pleasured herself. Tate memorably wore his green striped sweater in Season 1. Considering the mirror male image of the Rubber suit gazing back at Scarlett, it’s not hard to jump to the conclusion that Tate is silently watching everything while not actively getting involved in anything. You can take the boy out of the demon, but you can’t take the demon out of the boy.
Open the door, but where’s all the people?
At the end of AHS Season 1, 26 ghosts were living in the house. They vowed to scare away anyone who tried to move in. They had also exiled Tate and anyone overtly evil. If Tate is back in the house and Scarlett’s family can move in and get killed off, something must have happened. Besides the brief glimpses of Infantata, Tate in his rubber suit and a green blur, the twins, and the Piggy Man, no one else makes an appearance. We can safely assume Dr. Harmon lives there, but where is everyone else? No Moira, either in hot or wise form. There’s no Dr. Montgomery and his damaged wife. No Violet and no Vivien.
At the end of American Horror Stories Part 1 and 2, we see Ruby, the four bullies, Scarlett’s parents, a nurse, the therapist, the day laborer, and the shady contractor. We know ghosts can choose to make themselves visible. It is why Tate’s father never came forward, but Ben in AHS 1984 came to speak to his son, hopefully breaking the cycle of violence and betrayal. I guess the rest of the ghosts took an extended nap or needed some “me” time.
Maybe this time around, things will be different. When last we saw the Harmons, they were happily decorating a tree for Christmas. At the end of American Horror Stories Part 2, Scarlett’s dads are feeding a large group pancakes, and Ruby has found some peace in her decision to let Scarlett go. Each Halloween, she returns to Ruby for one night of love and violence presumably. Maybe the difference this time is Scarlett, who enjoys killing as much as her ghostly girlfriend. Still, if she channels her energy into killing bad guys ala Dexter it satisfies both the house and her less wholesome tendencies? In any case, Scarlett proves you can go home again. Just only on Halloween.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.