One of the mysteries that existed in American Horror Story and had so far not been touched was that of the identity of the Rubber Man, who’d appeared in repeated occasions inside the house without there being much of a clue to its identity besides the remote idea of it maybe being a physical representation of the house itself.
The answer, however, is a bit more disappointing and predictable in an episode that, though keeping the storyline advancing, is filled with a few flaws too many and a little too clichéd when compared to the rest of the series so far. On the storyline side, Tate keeps on hogging the spotlight for himself as it is revealed he’s been the rubber man all along and a part of the reason for his acts is an apparent plot to help the original owner of the house feel better about herself. The main issue, however, is just how reckless and hard to understand Tate is becoming, particularly in the part where he seems to know all people around him are ghosts yet he can’t see himself as one, but also shown in the way how he recklessly uses and even lies to the people around him, the main victim being Violet and the way in which he uses her so that he can still be with her even when her mother is being declared insane in no small part because of his own doing.
Perhaps the most divisive part of the current state of Tate’s character is the fact that he can’t quite be thought of as anything but a horribly selfish soul – Something that goes against the image of him that had been built up during the previous episodes and such a sudden change in the attitude and motives of a character not only raises a lot of questions regarding its personality but also hurts the series by suddenly turning a so far understandable and easy to comprehend character into a complete mess that’s simply impossible to have a clue about.
Other than the development regarding the rubber man there’s the storyline with Ben’s ex-lover, Hayden, who’s showing signs of being not only more of a sociopath than before thought, but also more of a one-dimensional character and probably the worst-written character in the series overall due to the simple fact that never during the show has she shown anything but pure selfishness and her character seems to simply enjoy doing evil – Not that that’s a bad thing per se, but characters who enjoy doing evil are generally better suited to comedies or satires and deep dramas like American Horror Story are definitely not the place where such cartoon characters should thrive. It also doesn’t quite help that Mara’s delivery of the character is a little too shallow and dedicated to show only the most basic emotions, thus turning it into a caricature that does nothing but detract the storyline from attaining the quality levels it could get to.
Other than that, the episode is greatly detracted by the simply horrible editing it went through: Between constant switches between past and present and a camera that might as well have been handled by a Parkinson patient (My apologies if the cameraman indeed suffered of Parkinson), the episode quickly jumps between being confusing and outright annoying, with constant changes in the camera angles doing nothing to help but quite a lot to detract the episode from portraying anything but total confusion to the viewer.
All in all, Rubber Man is definitely not the best American Horror Story episode so far. Though several parts of it were still very good (Moira is the best written character from the show and Tate, though potentially broken as a character, is at least still likeable and mysterious), this is definitely the most lacking episode of the series so far and, hopefully, of the whole series.
Final review rating: 3/5