There was a priest, the dirty beast, whose name was Alexander. His mighty dick was inches thick. He called it Salamander.
I don’t make yearly resolutions, because there are many other months for me to renege on decisions I’ve sworn to. But a constant resolution I’ve taken up is, “Never be surprised by American Horror Story’s next move. Always expect everything.” Someone will turn into a giant grasshopper. Someone will speak a word with the power to turn everyone’s hair purple. John Lennon was once a Briarcliff patient. These are things I am ready for. These are things I can foresee. Of course, I didn’t grasp the ending until after I’d already felt the impulsive shame of being emotionally effected by anything that happens in this series. I also didn’t see the jukebox coming.
Before offering any sincerity, I ask you to consider something. In this episode, a guilt-ridden and repentant monsignor, one who’s essentially just been raped by a sexy nun possessed by Satan, is sitting across from a heavily sedated former nun who’d recently suffered electroshock therapy, and the monsignor is using his hands, injured from a crucifixion he survived, to show the nun how to knead bread with the heel of her palm. Seriously, similar sentences could probably be made about many TV characters when taking in their entire fictional history, but I only had to leave the events of this episode to mention the crucifixion. AHS is to story what professional wrestling is to sports. I love it.
I do not love that two of my favorite TV characters are now dead, and I couldn’t care less about the resuscitated one. Mary Eunice, I had such visions of you hanging out of a fiery pulpit, charging an army of blinded drones to world domination. And Arden…well, I just wanted you to yell at a lot more things and people, honestly.
I never carefully considered what Arden’s end game would be, but I certainly thought he’d have one. He is a broken man by the end of the episode, constantly demeaned and insulted by Mary Eunice, or at least the devil controlling her. He sees her riding another man to orgasm, and she refuses to pity him for being in love with her. Perhaps she underestimated how strong a former Nazi’s resolve is.
She finds him his wheelbarrow of mutant “food,” and is surprised when he pulls a gun and fatally shoots each through the head, declaring his experiments now over. He raises the gun threateningly to his own eye, but it wasn’t expected for him to go through with it. I think he's just playing Mary Eunice’s hand, and deflated when she made no move to stop him. When she half-jokingly talks about giving Jude a transorbital lobotomy, he is obviously pained when he replies, “No, because you wished it.” So when she dies, we don’t see him physically break down with emotion; we only get to see its aftermath.
He subtly demands Monsignor Howard allow him to cremate her body, and I very much assumed we were in for a Pet Sematary/Frankenstein twist, with Arden physically destroyed by one of his own creations, instead of emotionally crippled by the one person whose downfall he had little to do with. As the crematorium scene began, I still felt he’d be overwhelmed by emotion, scooping her up back to his lab. He climbed atop her, and I thought it would end at a farewell kiss. Then the switch was flipped, and they both rolled into the flames, where Arden’s screams echoed over the cut to black, and a strong of curse words flew from my mouth.
Monsignor Howard, on the advice of the Angel of Death, attempts to drive the devil out of Mary Eunice in the feeblest manner possible, softly holding a rosary against her head while praying. She uses her demonic powers to hold him to the bed – Telepathic straps! – physically seducing him as he stumbles over his vows to Christ. I could have done without the unpredictable “Joseph Fiennes losing his virginity before climaxing soon after” moment. With his seed now in her, Mary Eunice knows everything about Howard, including him strangling the Shelley Monster. He apologizes to an incoherent Jude before deciding he must kill Mary Eunice.
Sadly, this scene was weak, especially for such a monumental event. Mary Eunice antagonizes Howard, naughtily flirting with him and tossing out scenarios for how he’ll try and kill her, and Howard manages to bring the “real” Mary Eunice out from beneath Satan’s influence. In that moment, he sort of sticks his injured hands under her arms and tosses her off of the third floor landing, where she falls completely horizontal, smashing into the ground with nary a broken bone or spot of bloodshed. The Angel of Death then kisses them both into the afterlife. This is not how the devil dies, people, especially not at the bandaged hands of someone whose ridiculous accent fluctuates more than gas prices.
The episode begins with Kit being revived from Arden’s “die and bring the aliens here” scheme, though Arden lies about any alien response, knowing full well a pregnant Grace and omniscient Pepper are nearby. Arden tries refuting Pepper’s claims that the aliens will stop him from using harmful X-rays on Grace’s body, and his scalpels go flying across the room. Arden has now been telepathically punked by both Satan and aliens.
After Dr. Thredson causes groans by telling Kit and Lana that Mary Eunice has given him a full-time position in the asylum, he stumbles across a screaming Grace, just as she’s going into labor. Thredson takes Kit to them, threatening their health if Kit doesn’t tell him where the confession tape is. In a corner, Kit tells him, but Thredson only finds a “See Spot Jump” book in its place. Lana has turned the tables now, threatening Thredson’s baby in her stomach should he keep threatening Kit. Today’s theme: Threats! (Lana has her best line yet in saying, “I don’t want to ruin it for you, but Spot jumps.”) This is a strange stalemate for this consistently stalemated plotline.
But Judy “Judy Martin” Martin might kickstart it into gear. She’s sent for the electroshock therapy after bad-mouthing Mary Eunice during a surprise room inspection. (Because rebelling against those who have tortured you in the past never leads to more torture.) Jude is later near-comatose in the common area, trying to unplug the jukebox, when Lana tries reeling her mind back to shore. “It’s me, Lana. Lana Banana.”
This inspires Jude, who probably hasn’t looked at the jukebox songs at all, immediately picks Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game,” and we enter one of the most bizarrely delightful scenes we’ve ever gotten from Murphy/Falchuk. It’s a full blown musical number, complete with Jude wearing bright pop singer garb from the era. Little by little, she gets everyone in the room smiling and dancing with her, using Pepper and Kit’s names for song verses. Every so often, a patient’s movements would be rapidly sped up to match the rhythm of the song. The entire scene was fantastic and off-putting.
By the episode’s end, Jude is visited by a Mother Superior who isn’t quick to interpret Jude’s ramblings as reality. After all, Jude declares she and the monsignor are off to get married before he’s Pope, because he likes her cooking and she’s a rare bird. It’s sad, really. But then lucidity breaks through, and Jude points out Lana, admitting to putting her in Briarcliff despite having nothing wrong with her, and she asks the Mother Superior to get her out. There may be light at the end of the tunnel! Hopefully, it’s not a train coming to hit the Mother Superior before she can do anything. For better or worse, Lana has completely absorbed the Vivien role from the first season; a woman constantly unable to escape her current location.
The episode was directed by Michael Lehmann, who gave us last year’s best effort in “Smoldering Children,” and there was a different visual aesthetic, though I couldn’t really say what it was, though perhaps the music-heavy scenes stood out the most. All in all, the jukebox worked well within the episode, using Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” playfully against the banality of a common room scene, adding elegance to Thredson’s egomaniacal slow-motion entrance into the room. However, the romantic elevator music backing Mary Eunice’s separate scenes with Arden and Howard was awful in any context, managing only to further remove any subjective realism that was barely there to begin with. When I’m watching a man tell Satan she’ll never understand what it’s like for him to lose her, I don’t need delicate piano melodies guiding me.
So I’ll finally finish by taking a step back to look at things. With Arden now seemingly gone for good, the motives for his experiments are null, unless Howard offers some kind of explanation. While I don’t mind these kinds of non sequitur character details in a concise, the multi-episode TV format highlights the weaknesses of this approach, and it feels cheap rather than intentionally vague. Without Mary Eunice, there are no big villains here, since Thredson relied on others to keep Lana and Kit inside, and their release would surely be his demise. I hope they don’t keep Jude all conked out, though she doesn’t have any antagonists to rail against either. Of course, this is all assuming Satan didn’t fly up into Howard’s soul, or anyone else that was around when Mary Eunice died. I wasn’t sure how the devil could go from being a rambling derelict in a child’s body to a quiet schemer in an adult’s body, only to die because its host did. I guess I’ll find out when you guys do next week!
The Inane Asylum
Arden you the quack who’d make a better duck?
I didn’t expect a knock-knock joke either. In the same episode with a limerick, no less.
The now-talkative Pepper says her brother-in-law is the one that killed the baby she was convicted of drowning. So it seems Grace and Santa Leigh are the only guilty patients we know about, while almost every member of the faculty has been involved in highly illegal acts. That makes sense.
Does Jude’s patient number, G2573, mean anything to anyone?
Was anyone else immediately ready for a strange musical scene when they saw Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” right beneath “The Name Game” on the jukebox? Admittedly, this was far less horrifying than Dean Stockwell’s famous lip-syncing scene from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Nice detail.
Why will Thredson keep Lana alive after the baby is born? So she can breast feed! Funny how a normal act like that means something completely different when Thredson’s mother-loving ass is around. I’m surprised he only wanted her doing it for a year.
Not that I was all that interested in seeing what Chloe Sevigny’s Shelley was doing with a cucumber when she was still normal, but I was then forced to imagine her using it after turning into the legless swamp monster, and now I can’t picture anything else! Oh, and I’m just talking about eating it.
“Does it feel like a warm, wet…hug?” Holy shit, with both Arden and Mary Eunice gone, who in this show is going to give me my “vagina euphemism” fix for the week? I don’t even have Sons of Anarchy’s Gemma around to call people a gash. 2013 will be a dull year.
It was worth a heavy chuckle when Howard was telling Jude about not being able to resist Mary Eunice’s sexual advances. “In truth, it was an epic failure.” I wonder if this was the first use of this phrase. I’ll have to check UrbanDictionary.
I wonder if Mary Eunice got through with Thredson’s employment paperwork before she died.
Let’s play the game, “Am I Like Kit?” If the girl who got shot to death after you fucked her the other day is now both alive and holding a baby that she claims is yours, do you just give her puppy dog eyes and accept the whole thing? If your answer is no, then no, you aren’t anything like Kit. Thanks for playing.