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Review #3156: American Horror Story 1.8: “Rubber Man”

Posted on the 27 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

Well, this episode sure doesn’t waste any time getting to the notably hyped reveal of Rubber Man’s identity. I went back and forth about this in my head. At one point, I was almost certain that Tate was the one in the suit, and then gradually began to doubt that theory. But it turns out that it’s been Tate all along. The episode seems intent on making sure that there’s no ambiguity surrounding the fact that Tate was, indeed, the one to kill the two previous owners and impregnate Vivien with her current batch of twins.

Review #3156: American Horror Story 1.8: “Rubber Man”

Recently, I’d begun to forget about the inconsistent characterization of Tate, thinking that Tate must have just been changing for the better. But now, Tate is as enigmatic as ever. Most of the discrepancies could be explained fairly readily by the “Tate twin” theory, which seemed rather sound at one point. But now I’m not as sure that it fits, and yet at the same time, it almost doesn’t make sense without such an explanation, or something similar that explains the incongruities equally well.

Tate’s lack of awareness of the fact that he was dead and now a ghost, trapped in the house, was quite convincing. And Constance seemed to verbally confirm that this was really the truth of the matter. But this week we get a picture of a Tate who is well-aware of his current state. This Tate also seems a bit more like the psychopathic Tate from earlier in the show. Even if one ignores the obviously murderous tendencies (which seem based in a need to please the other ghosts of the house), the attitude just seems different than the more recent depictions of Tate. For instance, take that moment right after Vivien is taken away, and Tate appears to console her. It’s all in the performance.

This Tate reminds me more of the Tate who thought the whole basement scenario with Leah and the Infantata (presumably) was very amusing, or the Tate who gave Violet a scare by wearing the Rubber Man suit (the scene that originally hinted that Tate was Rubber Man). It really is enough to make one wonder if this is a different Tate than the one we’d become familiar with more recently. But this Tate does express some reluctance to return to his violent ways, and spurns the advances of Hayden, claiming to be in love. If this is another Tate, then I suppose it’s a bit creepy to think that Violet gave her virginity to the wrong Tate.

The Rubber Man reveal wasn’t the only new information offered. Flashbacks give us an explanation for where the latex suit came from in the first place. And we’re given a fairly clear explanation of why Tate impregnated Vivien, and why he killed the two previous residents. And this same motivation is what drives Tate and Hayden to attempt to drive Vivien insane. The gay couple were fighting, and the chances of them having a baby together were growing slimmer and slimmer, leading Tate to the conclusion that they should be killed. Now, new owners would be given a chance to have a baby in the house.

Everyone seems to want newborns in this house. Why Constance and Moira want them is unclear. But Hayden plainly states that she wants one of them for herself, and Tate wants to give a baby to Nora, seemingly to make up for her own loss. With two babies on the way, it works out best for both of them that they work together. The motivations seem a bit overly simple on the surface, but it seems extremely likely that there’s a lot more to this than currently meets the eye. This show is constantly revealing things that make us re-evaluate what we’ve already seen.

I suppose my expectations were fairly high going into this episode, knowing that this would be the episode that revealed the identity of Rubber Man. So it’s not entirely surprising that I found it slightly underwhelming. To make a somewhat general criticism, I thought that it didn’t contribute as much to the ongoing story as other recent episodes have, despite including one of the more significant reveals of the show, thus far. A lot of the focus is on Vivien’s descent into madness, which doesn’t interest me quite as much as other aspects of the show. This is probably a very necessary chunk of the story, but I’m likely to be more intrigued by episodes that focus more on the supporting characters than Ben and Vivien. I’ll probably be more interested in the baby element when Vivien actually gives birth to whatever demonic spawn is growing inside her.

Rating: 7/10

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