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American Horror Story, Ep. 1.06: “Piggy Piggy″ has you on edge

American Horror Story, Ep. 1.06: “Piggy Piggy″ has you on edge

American Horror Story Review, Season 1, Episode 6, “Piggy Piggy”

Written by Jessica Sharzer
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Airs Wednesdays at 10:00pm ET on FX

As another solid episode, Piggy Piggy manages to progress the plot in a more traditional and serialized manner while also infusing a strong feeling of discomfort. This week follows each Harmon in three separate subplots. Ben is treating a new patient with a paralyzing fear of urban legends (Bloody Mary, Candy Man), Vivien develops a curious concern over her pregnancy, and Violet explores Tate’s past while coping with the new reality she faces with the house’s spirits. The separate narratives flow well together and allow American Horror Story the opportunity to finally hit its stride in terms of exposition.

This stylized episode is a smooth shift of gears from last week’s relaxed tone. The mythology was very well done in that the threat of scares were always present. That constant on-edge feeling gave credit to the show as a legitimate work of horror. Lately the show felt like it was settling into dark drama territory, akin to a program like Six Feet Under. Though it handled this approach well, American Horror Story failed to really live up to its name. This week reminds that the show belongs in the horror genre and that viewers shouldn’t get too comfortable while watching. Many nerve-wracking scenes extend throughout the episode’s duration, but the most effective is this week’s opening flashback.

The opener is such a treat. As mentioned in last week’s review, an extended flashback of Tate’s murderous rampage would have been interesting to see, but unnecessary. This week, the show delivers the teased flashback as the cold open. It’s perfect. The scene is almost unbearable, knowing what happens to Tate’s victims. What’s worse is that it happens slowly, making it a painful viewing experience.

Jessica Sharzer maintains this uneasy feeling with Ben’s new patient. The patient attempts to confront his fears by chanting an urban legend into the mirror, leading to fun scenes thick with suspense and dread. Violet’s own scenes, which themselves feel like a condensed version of The Sixth Sense, are always ready to disturb viewers with a slurry of ghosts. Essentially, the horror is fun, effective, and truly highlights the show’s strengths.

The subplots are, for the most part, decent. However, Vivien’s Rosemary’s Baby moments are disheartening. This story fails to distinguish itself enough to offer any hope that it could take an original direction. It also feels blatantly out of place by betraying Vivien’s character. She is obviously strong and independent, yet easily succumbs to mild pleas from her creepy neighbors in their meddling attempts to “help” her pregnancy.

The whole time it feels like Vivien will snap out of her stupor and demand that Constance and Moira back off. However, for the sake of the subplot, this reality check never comes, and instead the episode leads to Vivien munching on strange cuisine that’s obviously fostering the evil nature of her unborn baby. It makes no sense and proves to be the episode’s weakest moment.

Luckily, Piggy Piggy saves itself with Violet, who earns more screen time this week through her investigation of Tate’s rampage. Her character development advances steadily with the plot and feels very realistic, given her situations.

While talking with one of Tate’s surviving victims, Violet hits an emotional roadblock when the victim fails to help her understand Tate’s attack. At this time, it feels as if she is going to give up, allowing the show to transition to the next scene. Rather than bailing out, Violet breaks this monotony by literally claiming “bullshit,” forcing the victim to come clean with what happened. It is unexpected and refreshing. It gives Violet’s attitude some credence. Viewers have seen her act like a rebel, but this time she finally fits the description.

The show is coming along nicely. Furthermore, there’s room developing for Lost-esque predictions. For example, one glaring detail is Violet’s attempted suicide, begging the question “Does she actually die?” For a show like this, it could actually work. What do you think? Leave your comments in the box below.

Ryan Clagg