American Horror Story: Who Is the Rubber Man?

Categories: Film and TV

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Up until now, we would have said that each episode of American Horror Story served, in and of itself, as a separate and specific type of horror film. This week, we feel as if for the first time the series has actually become a series rather than a serial.

It doesn't take long into the episode for the identity of the Rubber Man, and the father of Vivien's (Connie Britton) twins, to be revealed. Though we were hoping for an upset, maybe Luke (Morris Chestnut) as the fiend, it turns out to be none other than school shooter and Saturday night lover Tate (Evan Peters). That means that he's porked both his girlfriend and her mom, which we must give slow applause to no matter the circumstances.

The episode is short on scares and long on reveals about the motivations of our various characters. We get to see Zachary Quinto a lot as a frustrated man whose husband has become having online BDSM sex sessions as an outlet, who finds that his attempts to tap into that scene via the Rubber Man suit are met only with mockery. Since the motivation of the show has increasingly been centered on providing a child for the ghosts of the house to dote on, Tate dons the suit to kill the fractured couple when it becomes clear their wreck of a relationship is not likely to bring a baby into the house any time soon.

A commenter on last week's review mentioned that the show had become somewhat anti-male due to the rather graphic castration scene in that episode. By the way, the thing we can check off our never seen on network TV list this week? Sodomy with a fireplace poker! Anyway, back to the commenter.

Do we think the show is anti-male? No. Vivien and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) have taken almost all the available screen time, not to mention the new plot by ghosts Hayden (Kate Mara) and Nora (Lily Rabe) to take Vivien's twins. Yes, their stories are a mostly feminine take on the supernatural, but we don't think that this makes the show anti-male.

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Consider this... this show is designed to scare you, and by tapping into inherently feminine stories the show has done that for both sexes for two reasons. One, women are going to be absolutely terrified either of being in danger during pregnancy, a time of greater physical vulnerability than any other, not to mention the rape theme expressed in Tate's role as the Rubber Man.

As for men, the feminine issues at stake here in American Horror Story make it all the more unsettling. A primal fear of reprisal from womankind against some of the truly horrible things we've imposed on them over the millennia, for example, or the helplessness that accompanies every expectant father who realizes that the dangers posed to his family are things that he can only watch, not truly fight. As always, there's a fear of empowered feminine sexuality that threatens to destroy the illusion of coital dominance.

American Horror Story remains an equal opportunity freak fest, and we're in touch with both sides of ourselves to realize just how far into the lizard brain of both sexes the show is willing to go to make sure you never sleep soundly again.

So in that vein we can get behind this episode, which is more about wrapping up some dangling threads than being dedicated to its goal of increased heart rate and looking up on the Internet what gets urine out of a couch cushion because it's starting to lay its cards on the table.

American Horror Story wants you to see right into the deepest fears either sex may have, so it baldly states the horrible things it wants and the way it will get them. States them with a Manson Girl grin, and all we can do is brace for the impact.

American Horror Story airs Wednesday on FX at 10/9 Central.

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