American Horror Stories Season 2 has premiered on FX on Hulu, and the premiere episode "Dollhouse" gave longtime fans of American Horror Story a nice little surprise in the form of a back-door origin story from the previous creepy character we met in the show. On the surface, American Horror Stories' "Dollhouse" episode is about one unlucky girl who goes for a job interview and finds herself (and other women) held captive by a psychotic dollmaker. However, the story of the episode takes a turn at the end that bends it nicely into some of fans' favorite lore from the show:
(WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW!)
In "Dollhouse" Young Coby (Kristine Froseth) finds herself in the collection of crazed dollmaker Mr. Van Wirt (Denis O'Hare), competing with the other "dolls" for the final "prize" of becoming Van Wirt's new wife, and mother to his creepy young boy, Otis (Houston Towe). The final round of testing is Van Wirt letting the girl think they mount a brazen escape; Coby is the only one who has the heart to go back for Otis – only to find herself falling into the trap. Coby is encased in a porcelain shell as a permanent living doll, which is a terrible doom until it suddenly isn't.
All throughout "Dollhouse" Coby shows that she has some kind of strange extraordinary power – turns out she's a witch, and other witches who sense her awakening powers take none too kindly to some psycho man making a witch into a doll. Two witches arrive at Van Wirt's home one day, save Coby and burn Van Wirt and his goon to the ground. Coby leaves and takes Otis with her, as promised. The pair end up at Miss Robichaux's Academy, which American Horror Story: Coven fans know all too well!
Yes, "Otis Van Wirt" is given the new name Spalding by Coby, and the new origin of being a legacy of butlers at Robichaux's.
Spalding was (humorously) also played by actor Denis O'Hare in Coven, meaning the apple didn't fall far from the tree, in terms of looks. Spalding's creepy nature and doll collection also suddenly make a whole lot more (twisted) sense.
Granted, Spalding is not exactly the biggest or most pivotal character in American Horror Story – not even the most popular character that Denis O'Hare played on the show. Still, it's a nice showcase of what American Horror Stories can help flesh out the universe Ryan Murphy has created. Now "Dollhouse" is more than just a one-off episode, without having to feel like a forced prequel.
American Horror Stories streams on FX on Hulu.