'American Horror Story' Season 1, Episode 10: 'Smoldering Children' Recap

Violet & Tate American Horror Story Smoldering Children

(This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode ‘Smoldering Children.’ If you have not yet seen it, continue on at your own risk.)

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have made well known their intent to answer all the questions raised by various hints and secrets laid out in American Horror Story. Now, after weeks of speculation stemming from Halloween (actually ‘Halloween: Part 2’), this week’s episode, ‘Smoldering Children,’ definitively answers what has been going on with Violet.

Once AHS addressed that Violet (Taissa Farmiga) had been absent from school for the past 16 days, and was spending all of her time in her room – coupled with the fact that she could now interact with all of the house’s spectral inhabitants – it became pretty clear that for the past few weeks, American Horror Story has been pulling a fast one on its viewers.

Yes, as many have likely already surmised, the Harmon’s daughter has been dead for the last few episodes.

‘Smoldering Children’ picks up from last week’s revelation with Ben (Dyland McDermott) telling Vivien (Connie Britton) that he now believes her claim of being attacked, and that the wheels are in motion to end her stay at a mental institution.

Meanwhile, Constance (Jessica Lange) is questioned by the police (special guest star Charles S. Dutton) regarding the death of her boyfriend Travis – who has been dubbed the “Boy Dahlia” after his remains were found to hold a grisly resemblance to those of last week’s guest star Elizabeth Short (Mena Suvari) a.k.a. The Black Dahlia.

Back at home, Ben is handling the issue of Violet’s truancy, which he believes has been resolved after a quick hear-to-heart with his daughter. While Ben goes on feeling like a good father, the “Verminator” he had just hired stumbles on the source of the flies in the house’s crawlspace – which (surprise) also happens to be occupied by Tate.

Because the living and dead come and go in the Harmon’s house as they please, Larry (Denis O’Hare) takes some evidence in Travis’ murder and has a brief discussion with the newly deceased regarding the level of media attention surrounding his death. Larry witnesses Travis having a tea party with his two daughters (the titular ‘smoldering children’), and is visited by his equally burned wife. Larry questions why his family appears to him after so much time, to which his wife replies that Larry is finally ready. The former Mrs. Larry the Burn Guy tells Larry that in order to repent, it is he who must atone for what happened between them, not Constance.

Ben, still oblivious to the supernatural entities scooting around the spectral version of Grand Central Station, does battle with the Rubber Man, and loses – but not before seeing Tate’s face.

Dylan McDermott and Evan Peters American Horror Story Smoldering Children

After the scuffle, Tate attempts to convince Violet to kill herself and remove the threat of her father ever separating them. Not completely sold on the idea, Violet runs away in search of Ben, but inadvertently discovers the truth of her condition and the Mobius strip that makes up the house’s boundaries.

Violet has difficulty accepting the notion that she is no longer alive, but is given undeniable proof from Tate, in the form of her own dead body. Later, when the two are in her room, Violet is left to ponder the less than thrilling notion of spending eternity with the floppy-haired psycho, in the house that brought ruin to her family.

Finally, when it looks as though Constance will be charged for the murder of Travis, Larry makes good on his wife’s suggestion and names himself as the culprit. The two share a brief, final moment in which Constance once more spurns Larry’s request that she admit her love for him.

Given last week’s reveal that Tate has likely brought about the end times by siring the antichrist, one would think the show had run out of surprises – but American Horror Story doesn’t really work that way. With just two episodes remaining, the lunacy is likely just beginning.


American Horror Story airs Wednesday nights @10pm on FX.

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