EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article contains spoilers for “American Horror Story” season one, episode 11, “Birth.” Read at your own risk.
“Just because we’re dead doesn’t mean we don’t have wants … desires,” said Tate, the pouty, bratty, forever-teenage rubber-suit-wearing, mom-of-the-house raping, suicide pact-making … sorry, I feel like there should be about 12 more adjectives in there, because the ghostly Tate, like most of the characters on FX’s aggressively lurid “American Horror Story,” requires them. But let’s stay focused on Tate’s statement, because it’s key. Yes, of course! He and the other ghosts have wants … desires. And one of the many amazing things about the show is how, over the past few episodes, it has subtly moved the ghosts to the center of the narrative, to the point where the ever-dwindling number of living characters have started to seem like the supporting cast on a show that they were ostensibly the stars of. (Of course, now that they’re all dropping like flies — even money on Constance to bite the dust by the end of season two — they get to be at the center of the story again.)
I’ll spare you a detailed recap because if you didn’t see the episode, you shouldn’t be reading this article in the first place — and besides, appreciation and speculation is more fun. As written by Tim Minear and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, it was perhaps the show’s spookiest episode to date, campy and trippy (check out all those dissolves!) yet straightforwardly horrific, in the art house/grindhouse vein of a 1970s Ken Russell or Dario Argento picture.
You can read the rest of Matt’s piece here at Salon.
Matt Zoller Seitz is the publisher of Press Play and TV critic for Salon.