American Horror Stories 1×05: “Ba’al”

FX’s American Horror Stories
1×05: “Ba’al”
Directed by Sanaa Hamri
Written by Ali Adler & Manny Coto

* For a recap & review of 1×04, click here.
* For a recap & review of 1×06, click here.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Stories - Billie LourdLiv (Billie Lourd) and her husband Matt (Ronen Rubinstein) are visiting a fertility doctor. However, nothing seems to work, though the doc says they can keep trying even while the potential for getting pregnant reduces with each fertility treatment as the “cost increases.” Matt’s a supportive guy, telling Liv he’ll stick by her no matter how long she wants to try the fertility treatments. While Liv’s alone she talks to a receptionist named Bernadette (Virginia Gardner) who introduces her to an old family trick; it involves a small “fertility totem” in the shape of Ba’al. You just put the thing under your bed while you’re fucking and then, voila, pregnant! Liv figures she might as well give it a try, after exhausting all her other options. That night she puts the totem under the bed, then she and her man get to sexing.

16 months later, Liv’s taking care of her infant while Matt’s off shooting an episode of NCIS. The new mother’s dealing with motherhood, and also criticism of her motherhood by the maid. She feels like she isn’t actually the child’s mother, that she’s unable to be a good mother at all. Natural feelings that many new mothers experience, especially after such a trauma to the body in carrying/delivering a new human. Except Liv’s under the thumb of something far more sinister. She remembers the Ba’al figurine and takes it from under the bed, hiding it in a shoebox in the closet. She runs into Matt, who’s just got home in full corpse makeup. Their maid called him so he came home to talk with his wife. He’s concerned about Liv, but he’s also concerned about his career, because he doesn’t want to live off his wife and her inherited wealth. Yet, again, Matt appears to be a supportive husband who’s trying his best. And poor Liv is stuck in “baby hell.” Hubby suggests she goes to see a doctor who specialises in “hormone and postpartum disorders.”
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Stories - Fertility TotemThat night, Liv sees a terrifying, dark figure over the baby’s crib on the monitor. She rushes in only to find her child. Then there are strange noises from the closet; nothing’s inside. Liv hears static on the baby monitor, checking her phone, and she sees the figure behind her. She turns around but there’s nothing there. That means Liv’s fast to call Dr. Eleanor Berger (Vanessa Williams), the doctor Matt suggested. The doc suggests getting a night nurse to help even things out, and perhaps medication. Liv doesn’t dig those ideas, so Dr. Berger decides they’ll try a bit of “new agey” technique to help her and baby Aaron, from special baths for baby and podcasts for mom.

So the new mom continues to try, putting all the effort she can into bonding with little Aaron. Things suddenly seem like they’re improving, one step at a time. Liv and Matt are starting to feel happier as a couple, too. She thanks her husband for suggesting Dr. Berger. Except the good times don’t last all that long. Liv finds the Ba’al totem in Aaron’s crib and it’s been changing. She thinks it might’ve been the maid, Norma (Misha Gonz-Cirkl), but the latter reacts terribly to the totem and quits her job, leaving immediately. After that, Liv hears strange sounds from a vent in the floor like a growling animal. She heads down into the basement to investigate, coming upon scratch marks dug into the wall and torn piping.

When Liv tells Matt about the changing totem he doesn’t believe her. But she can’t figure out how it wound up in the baby’s crib, or why it’s changing. Matt explains the scratches in the basement by saying it was a raccoon. He won’t entertain the thought of “a ghost” in their house, and he’s weirded out by Ba’al, as well as Liv’s insistence that the totem caused her to get pregnant. It’s all a bit troubling to him. He obviously worries his wife’s mental health is slipping. On top of that, he has a chance to shoot an NCIS episode again; all night shoots, too. Liv says she’ll be fine, though. Yeah, SURE, JAN! The first chance Liv gets she’s googling about Ba’al, discovering its connections to the Christian/Islamic demon Beelzebub. That will definitely help.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Stories - Ba'al Baby MonitorLiv starts to listen closer to the static on the baby monitor. She analyses it, believing a voice is saying: “I want him.” She tries to convince Matt, but he doesn’t hear what she’s hearing. She keeps on attempting to clear up the audio, even if it drives her further into paranoia. Yet it’s not paranoid if there’s really something lurking in that house. Soon, Matt’s got Dr. Berger making a house call to talk with his wife, in hopes the doc can help Liv dispel any supernatural causes for what’s going on. The doctor listens to the static, hearing nothing but, y’know, static. She urges Liv that it’s only “pareidolia,” the tendency for the brain to make connections and create meaning where there isn’t any. She further decides to prescribe Liv some Zoloft.

So the new mother takes her Zoloft and goes about her day. We see Liv and Matt hosting a dinner party, when one of the friends busts out a Ouija board to have a bit of fun. Matt doesn’t like the idea, given all that’s been going on. That doesn’t stop Liv from suggesting it’s a good idea. The friends all sit together while Emma (Kimberley Drummond) begins to summon the spirits. After that, they’re all surprised when the planchet starts moving on its own. Emma asks for the spirit to tell them its identity; it spells out Jack Me Off. Just a juvenile trick from one of the lads. The next time, the planchet genuinely moves. Liv asks if the spirit wants to talk, so it spells He Is Mine, no doubt in reference to baby Aaron. This terrifies Liv while the others don’t understand. To everyone else she appears crazy, but Liv knows the truth. Matt loses his shit, calling her crazy, and that nice, understanding husband act suddenly disappears. That night, a storm rages. Liv’s holding Aaron when she sees Ba’al outside the window, screaming at her for the child.

In a parking garage, Liv confronts Bernadette with the Ba’al totem. She wants to know “how to get rid of” the demon. Bernadette has magic books and she gives Liv a book with a ritual in it, along with a ceremonial dagger of some type. She tells Liv to follow the ritual and all will be well. Then off goes the new mother, doing the book’s ritual while her husband is off shooting NCIS. she cuts her hand open, reciting lines from the book, covering the Ba’al totem in blood and reciting more incantations. Things go sideways when Liv, in a ritualistic fervour, stabs Matt while hearing Ba’al’s voice.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Stories - Real Ba'alThus, two weeks later, Liv’s in a psychiatric hospital. She receives a visit from Matt. She feels terrible for what happened and keeps flashing back to the nearly fatal event. He’s a lot more understanding than when we last saw him. He knows Liv wasn’t in the right state of mind. Yet Liv refuses to come home, keeping herself in the hospital until Dr. Berger agrees it’s safe for her to go home, especially with the baby around. Only thing is, Matt heads to the parking garage where he gets into Bernadette’s car. Apparently it was all a ruse to get Liv “committed indefinitely” and take all her inherited money, to keep him and his friends in loads of cash. This does fit in with Ba’al; the word translates to ‘lord, owner, master, or husband.’ Plus, we discover that Matt paid his friends to help set Liv up, from costumes to switching up her drugs. WHOA! Ugly.

Thankfully there is such a thing as Ba’al. The demon is quite real.
And now Matt’s friends are all his to play with how he sees fit.
Matt’s able to escape the slaughter, but faces the legal consequences for the massacre. We see him later in prison, sitting across from Liv. He’s admitted to what he did to her. He still blames it on her, despite his crocodile tears. Everyone’s under the impression Matt killed everybody, even Liv. Nobody believes his story now. A wonderfully fitting end for such a piece of shit. What a wonderfully ironic finish for a misogynistic shit stain.

But what about the real Ba’al? Will he leave Liv and baby Aaron alone?
No, he shows up to see Liv, asking to be released. Because Liv conjured Ba’al from the hospital; even more perfect.
Liv agrees to let Ba’al go, so long as he gives her “another baby.” What a freak! Bless her heart.
Father Son Holy Gore - American Horror Stories - Liv Summons Ba'al

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