American Horror Story brings out a spiritually spooky new twist with “Smoldering Children,” as Violet (Taissa Farmiga) learns the rules behind the mysterious house, Constance finds herself under investigation for the murder of her bisected beau Travis, and Ben comes to believe that his wife was telling the truth about the Rubber Man. In case you missed out on last week’s “Spooky Little Girl,” we’ve got all the ghostly twists and turns to hold you over until the next terrifying episode!
Of course, if you’re too frightened to watch tonight’s action for yourself, read on for our American Horror Story recap of “Smoldering Children’!
In 1994, Constance, Larry Harvey, Tate and Addie share a family dinner in the house, where Tate offers to say grace. His grace quickly sours as he belittles Larry for his family burning themselves alive and Constance not really loving him, but Larry shrugs it off by inviting the family to a local performance of Brigadoon he’s taken part in. Tate insists to Addie she should know that Larry killed their brother Beau, which Constance denies and scolds her son for insinuating. Tate fires back that he’ll never be her perfect son, and storms off.
The next morning, Tate stews in his room taking drugs, and gathering the guns we know him to later use on his high school. Before he reaches the school however, he makes a stop at Larry’s office, douses the confused man in gasoline and sets him ablaze, before walking out. So that’s how that happened.
Back in good old 2011, Ben visits Vivien in the hospital to apologize and acknowledge that he believes her story, and fill her in on the twins having different fathers. While she remains understandably hostile, Ben insists that they’ll find the answers together, and barring legal hiccups from the shooting Vivien should be released in a matter of days.
Two officers arrive at Constance’s home to show her the gruesome photos of Travis’death, labeled in the media as the ‘Boy Dahlia,’while Constance insists she has no idea why someone would do this, or even dislike Travis. Meanwhile, a truant officer arrives at Ben’s door as the homeowner speaks on the phone about getting the rubber man suit tested for DNA. The truant officer fills Ben in that Violet hasn’t been to school in 16 days, pointing out a bow fly infestation in the process. He informs Ben that if Violet keeps failing to show up, the matter will go to juvenile court.
Ben goes upstairs to talk to a reluctant Violet about her attendance, and apologize both for being a lousy father in months prior, and the horrible things their family has endured. He reminds her that with her intelligence, she could attend any college of her choosing, and the two agree to meet each other halfway. Ben will work to find her a better school, but she has to agree to go.
At his apartment, Larry Harvey prepares himself supper as Constance knocks at the door, distressed over her existing grief and Travis’murder. She quickly changes her tone and holds a knife to Larry’s throat, believing him to have committed the murder out of jealousy. He confesses that he only moved the body, Travis likely having angered one of the other house ghosts into killing him. Realizing Travis’spirit must still be in the house, Constance rushes off to find him, downplaying having ever loved Larry in the process.
Violet eyes herself in the mirror and prepares to leave the house, only to be intercepted by Tate, who begs her to spend the day with him, noting that the school wouldn’t miss her one more day. Meanwhile, Constance returns to her own front door to find officers Granger and Barrios waiting with more questions. Before she can turn them away, the detectives inform her of a Korean deli owner who noted their frequent fights, and an accidental drop of the knife from her purse confirm the officers’suspicions!
At the house, an exterminator examines Ben’s bow fly infestation, and notes that he’ll have to get into the crawlspace itself before any estimates can be given, which Ben groans will cost more money he doesn’t have. Down at the police station, Constance answers more questions from the detectives about the past tragedies she’s been associated with, including Beau, Tate, her ex-husband Hugo, and Moira. The officers inform her that despite her pleas of ignorance (intercut with flashbacks of her burying Moira’s body and feeding Hugo’s remains to her dogs), The DA’s officer nearly charged Constance with the murders. Constance’s new lawyer arrives, and informs her that the media has sensationalized the ‘Boy Dahlia’case, meaning the police are likely to pin it on her.
Ben’s exterminator travels down into the crawlspace to look for the source of the infestation, before stumbling upon a sight that recoils him in shock! At that moment, Tate appears, and poisons the man with his own supply! Downstairs, Ben talks with a boarding school about accepting Violet, when a quick vision of Tate’s reflection startles him. As Violet waits for Tate upstairs, he arrives to deliver the news that Ben intends to separate them. He vows never to let that happen, and goes downstairs…to don the Rubber Man outfit.
Larry rummages through some loose bricks in the basement for evidence of Travis’murder, when the apparition of the man himself arrives asking about the coverage his death received in the paper. Along the way, Larry discovers that Travis is holding a tea party with his young, fire-ravaged daughters, the ‘smoldering children,’as they were. As Larry smiles, he then sees a vision of his burnt wife, who clarifies that he hadn’t seen them prior because he wasn’t ready. She reminds him however that if he’s truly sorry for his actions, he must prove it, not by sending Constance to jail, but by answering for his own misdeeds.
After Ben showers, he fends off attack from Tate as Rubber Man, demanding the figure remove his mask and identify himself. After a difficult struggle, Tate manages to chloroform Ben, but not before the mask comes off to reveal his identity to the disoriented homeowner. Next door, Constance’s lawyer arrives to inform her that new evidence in the Travis case has surfaced, meaning she’s likely to be charged.
Tate rushes back upstairs to tell Violet that they only have so long, and the only way to truly stay together is for them both to commit suicide by ingesting pills. She feigns agreement initially, before rushing downstairs screaming for her father that Tate wants to kill her. With Ben unconscious, Violet rushes out of the house and screams for help, though it seams only a passing dog hears her. When she unlocks the gate, she bounds off the property, only to find herself back in the house. She continues attempting to leave, only to wind up back in the house in an endless loop. When Tate confronts her she insists she doesn’t want to die, but Tate dreadfully corrects her, ‘it’s too late for that!’
Still confused by what’s happening, Tate calmly insists on showing Violet something. He takes her to the basement and together they climb into the crawlspace, where Tate assures her things will be okay, but regrettably shows her a disturbing sight: her own decaying corpse! As it turns out, Violet actually died when she attempted to overdose on pills during the events of “Piggy Piggy,” and despite Tate’s efforts, only coughed up some of them. He was saddened by what happened, and thought that if he convinced her to commit suicide, she wouldn’t have to learn the horrible truth that she already had.
Meanwhile at the police station, Constance learns that Larry has apparently confessed to Travis’murder all by his lonesome, but she denies having any idea why he might have done it.
Back at the house, Violet comes to grips with her new situation, noting that she’d ironically been trying to protect Tate from news of his own death. Realizing that neither have any memory of their own deaths, Tate assures Violet that her new reality will be much as it has been, the two of them together.
Constance visits Larry to talk through the prison glass, out of his request to see her one last time before being transferred to an Illinois prison. Though Constance seems to have no interest in asking why he confessed to the murder, he explains that he needs to pay of his crimes, all of them. He’ll happily die in prison, so long as she once tells him she loves him. Without words, she hangs up the phone, and walks away.
Did American Horror Story shock you with the reveal of Violet’s death? What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for an all-new episode of American Horror Story on FX!