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Review #3165: American Horror Story 1.9: “Spooky Little Girl”

Posted on the 02 December 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

“Spooky Little Girl” is, like the previous one, another episode that has a bit of trouble trying to live up to the rather impressive string of episodes that started with the Halloween two-parter. The pace of the storytelling seems to have slowed, significantly. The mystery of the show is still being unraveled, but I’m missing the more efficient storytelling of that successful mid-season run of episodes.

Review #3165: American Horror Story 1.9: “Spooky Little Girl”

And I suppose much of my lessened interest in the past couple of episodes has to do with the areas of the story that they focused on, which is a pretty subjective matter. A lot of the episode focuses on developing Ben and finally putting him in a position where he can begin to realize the truth about the house. I did like seeing Ben finally succeeding at resisting Moira long enough to seemingly prove to her that he wasn’t as corruptible as he once was. Though, it’s really going to be a stretch for me to suspend my disbelief if Moira’s appearance to Ben in her older form doesn’t cause him to start considering that something supernatural, or at least truly unusual, is going on.

The Black Dahlia connection is somewhat interesting on its own, but I’m not sure why it was included. I think the problem with “American Horror Story” is that at this point in the season, I think it has to work harder to justify its subplots and ensure that they’re all intended to intersect with the main plot in some meaningful way. The “Piggy Piggy” subplot in the episode bearing that name was a good example. It was certainly interesting for what it was, but seemed to have no connection, even thematically, with the main plot involving Tate. In that case, the main plot was unusually good, so I found the disconnected subplot to be fairly forgivable.

“Spooky Little Girl” is an episode that’s primarily significant for the few small ways in which it impacts the overall plot. The path getting to those moments is a bit meandering. It’s interesting that Emily Short is a ghost in the house, and it’s interesting that the ghost of Dr. Charles Montgomery is connected with her murder. But her connection with the main plot is pretty vague. I suppose there are some themes being played with here about young people seeking fame and about women being used and victimized by men. But the ideas don’t really gel together as well as they should have.

I also found the subplot involving Hayden, Travis, and Constance to be a bit of a bore. I find Hayden to be much more interesting as a looming threat; as a bomb waiting to go off. Here, the only consequence of her futile attempts to establish a relationship with Ben is her stabbing of Travis, which I suppose is her way of lashing out at men in general. I didn’t think her stabbing of Travis did much to develop her character, though. I get it, she’s crazy. What else is new?

There’s also at least one logic issue that I find difficult to reconcile. I thought that Constance and Moira’s anticipation of Vivien’s cravings for organs implied that they were aware of the baby’s supernatural nature. And yet, Constance now seems completely shocked and horrified to discover that the baby (one of them anyway) is the result of intercourse between a spirit and a living person. Although, thinking back, one could get the impression that Moira was the one who really was aware of what was going on. Constance mentions that Moira used to cook these organs for her when she was pregnant.

“American Horror Story” has been sort of hinting at the inclusion of some Christian mythological elements, with one of the more significant moments being the ultrasound technician’s fainting at the sight of whatever was in Vivien’s womb. I did think that that was a fantastic moment, but I’m still not terribly enthused about this aspect of the show. One of the reasons I started to enjoy the show more was because it started to get away from the intentionally obvious references to other horror works. Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy make no secret of their love for “Rosemary’s Baby”, which I think detracts from the more original aspects of the show.

All of this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the episode overall. I just think that it’s slightly inferior to many past episodes. I think another reason why the show started to get as good as it did is the amount of emotional involvement it managed to create as far as the Tate and Violet situation goes. I’ve said as much before, but Ben and Vivien still seem to be the least interesting and least sympathetic of the show’s many characters, so any episode with such a heavy focus on either one of them is bound to be less interesting than one that focuses on Constance, Tate, Violet, Moira, or Larry.

Rating: 7/10

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