American Horror Story: Asylum Watch: Episode 2 - Tricks And Treats

”The times may have changed, but the nature of evil has not.”

Aliens and sexy nuns in the first week. Electro-shock, exorcisms, and still more sexy nuns in the second week. It is inevitability that by week four, something will happen that sets in motion an Armageddon, and then weeks five through thirteen will just be empty space where a universe once existed.

All seven people that were holding out hope that Adam Levine might live through another episode, or even utter meaningful dialogue, were disappointed by tonight’s color-saturated cold open, as Bloody Face made mincemeat out of his chest with a knife. Channing Tatum’s wife locked herself in a room and watched him die. And then Bloody Face beat on the door a lot. Is that the last we’ll see of him this week? Nope.

A regretful Wendy drinks wine with her lesbian friends, who advise her to renege on admitting Lana to the asylum and claim she was coerced into it against her will. Not that it would have worked, but she never gets a chance to do it anyway. She takes a shower, unwittingly leaving a window open for men with bloody faces to come in and kill her. And so of course after she closes it, Bloody Face pops out and stabs her. He looks exactly the same as he does in the present. I like that a seemingly timeless monster has to use human entryways. Also, Dusty Springfield’s “Wishing’ and Hopin'’” was playing during this scene, a strange choice for something lesbian-centric. That Ryan Murphy sure likes his pop music irony.

Back in 1964, Sister Jude oversees a cell inspection, and it’s found Lana has been keeping confessional scrawls on random pieces of paper about how horribly she’s being treated. (Papers that look, to the untrained eye, like the ramblings of a lunatic I’m sure.) Using all the decision-making techniques of a Magic 8-Ball, Jude insists that electro-shock treatment is the perfect way to rid Lana of these memories. It surprises Dr. Arden, whom Jude soothes over by saying, “I came to the understanding that the therapy is another tool in His bountiful tool chest.” And Arden gets to it, instead of saying, “Why would an eternal deity have a tool belt consisting of things that weren’t even invented for billions of years? Where does he keep the God-erang?” Beyond some skittish vision, it doesn’t appear that Lana was all that affected after the fact.

Meet Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachery Quinto), seemingly the only halfway normal person around, condemning the asylum’s insistence on using ancient practices instead of newer psychological therapy. He sees the abuse and the malpractice, and he complains. But not, like, very hard, and not to anyone who matters yet. And Jude is quick to put him in his place. He meets with Kit, who doesn’t mention aliens, but is still convinced that his wife Alma is alive, and that he had nothing to do with the other headless women. For all his trouble, he’s diagnosed with acute clinical insanity.

Thredson is also involved with the “holy shit there’s an exorcism” exorcism later. A hicked-out family admits their son Jed after finding him speaking in tongues while eating the heart out of the ripped-up belly of one of their cows. (But he’s great at parties.) Behind Thredson’s back, Jude and Monsignor Howard call in a cocky priest to perform the exorcism on the strapped-down gravel-throated Satan-container. Though the disbelieving Thredson stays, Jude is told to leave, as an exorcism room is no place for a woman. I bet he’s the kind of guy who thinks God is a woman, and wants to spend his eternity in “she-aven.”

Nearly needless to say, the exorcism goes horribly awry. Demon Jed, complete with crazy eyes and a wounded face, speaks to Thresdon as his father. He uses invisible forces to throw the priest against the wall. As Howard takes him out to perform last rites, Jude enters and her vagina is immediately referred to as a clam. Demon Jed then chides her for the deep, dark secrets that the show ads couldn’t stop referring to.

Jude was a loose woman! We probably could have guessed that. Not in particular that she sang bar songs and took at least 53 dicks in the mouth, but that she wasn’t chaste her entire life. Demon Jed even mentioned to Howard that Jude thought of him in times of ill repute. But not before an actual deeper, darker secret: that Jude drunkenly hit and killed a young girl with her car and didn’t report it. Considering the only attempts to youthen Lange up consisted of a snazzy dress and crimped hair, it’s impossible to tell how long ago it was. Maybe that’s what changed her life around, and is why she swore off spirits. It doesn’t seem like there’s too much mileage to get out of it, but at least we know the bitch is a bitch for a reason.

After the punching and screaming Jude is taken away, Sister Mary Eunice stands in the doorway. Suddenly, Jed goes into cardiac arrest and dies. The crucifix above his bed falls to the ground, and Mary Eunice falls to the floor in a heap. Did the devil make a transition? She doesn’t appear to be worse for wear when she wakes up, but then we don’t know how normal Jed was before he went all Captain Beef Heart on everyone. Thematically, it would make sense, since she went against Jude’s predetermined wishes by eating a caramel apple that Arden, ever the pervy sweetheart, offered to her. “Sweets lead to evil,” she says, I think. I have to wonder, what are the biblical implications of repeatedly mistaking a caramel apple for a candied apple? Is this what turned Lot’s wife to saltwater taffy, or whatever? The strange relationship between Mary Eunice and Arden could be one of the more interesting elements this season. She feeds the creatures in the woods for him, and no one else is the wiser. (Though really, if he can go outside to ask her how it’s going, he can probably leave two buckets out himself.) They share a moment later after she awakens from her faint, and Arden’s eyes wander too far into her shirt before she covers up, not wanting to distract him from the work of the day. Out of context, this may seem normal, but we got a good look at Arden’s rampant sexual deviance tonight.

Of course, we’re first led to believe he is a man of strict science, as he repeatedly denies Shelley’s sexual advances. “Bend me over a bread rack and pound me into shape.” This is actually a good scene for Shelley, who is allowed to share her backstory in between all the oral sex offers. She’s disgusted by the word whore, which Arden labels her several times. A chronic masturbator, she was forced to wear mittens to bed by (Totally giggled when she said that.) She ran away from home and hung out with jazz musicians, eventually marrying the bassist. But instead of staying home and scrubbing his dirty drawers, the libidinous Shelley is caught getting it on with two Navy guys. “It’s not for self. It’s for country.” So he hit her and put her in the asylum. Nothing mind-blowing, but it’s interesting. It’s worth noting that Shelley is just kind of allowed to be unrestrained. Just because she’s non-violent doesn’t mean she wouldn’t shank a bitch to get out of there. All she wants is sunlight!

Later, Arden’s strange side comes out when a hooker gets to his house, and he’s more interested in setting up dinner and ambience than in the hooker’s interest in big cocks. He acts just as disgusted with her vulgarity as Shelley was with his. He plays Chopin and pulls out the finest cabernet, but she’d rather dance to something with a beat. He eventually makes her change into a nun’s habit, and while she’s doing so, she finds a terribly hidden box full of erotic pictures of women that Arden tied up into odd positions. He finds out what she did and gets rougher with her, but she bites him on the arm and runs out of the room. And he falls to the ground…from an arm bite. Despite the weirdness, I’m not judging Arden too harshly for his fetishes just yet. Though I am judging this show for presenting more tied up and strapped down characters.

The last major storyline involved Lana and Grace trying to form an escape plan. It starts in the bathroom, where Lana lays out her trust issues amidst all the female nudity. Grace wants Kit to join them, but Lana is completely against this, sure that he’s a murderer, and still put off by Wendy signing her life away. Even when Kit gives Lana her notes back, he gets no slack. Later, during the exorcism when everyone has been put in their rooms, there is a power failure, and the halls are bathed in red. Lana and Grace nearly make progress, but then Kit shows up and Lana’s conscience shits on everyone’s plans and she calls for help. The wards show up immediately and beat the shit out of Kit.

At the end, Lana, Kit and Grace are all sent to Principal…I mean Sister Jude’s office. After learning a lesson in the power of Satan, Jude says Lana deserves something special for her tattling ways. Her surprise is getting to pick the canes that Jude uses to spank Grace and Kit’s bare asses. “Live large.” As Jude sets her whooping stance, Kit stands up and claims he is the only one to blame, that Grace was just doing as she was told. So Jude gives him the forty lashes instead of twenty, telling Grace, “He seems to think you’re just one big scoop of melting strawberry ice cream.” I love that line, because I don’t know exactly what it means.

For all the off-kilter things that went on in “Tricks and Treats,” it still felt like a mild episode by this series’ standards. I don’t mind this at all, since this show plows relentlessly forward like no other. With more organization this season, the odd moments aren’t coming from quite the same side of left field. And with a religious asylum as the setting, there are only so many places the story can go, I guess. (Aliens!) But since they’ve already gone through three of those things, I’m flummoxed by what may still be on the dark horizons, though I can hear buttons popping, so there are probably sexy nuns involved.

The Inane Asylum

“Show me your mossy bank.” A new Emmy category for Creepiest Dialogue should be invented, and James Cromwell should accept the award every year.

“Too bad your ambition outweighs your talent.”Sister Jude should have her own line of harsh fortune cookies to go with that molasses bread.

Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test has a really interesting story about a guy who acted crazy to be institutionalized instead of going to prison, and has been stuck there ever since, without a proper way to prove his sanity that doesn’t feed into some other notion of how insane people behave. Not that I think Kit’s story would go this way, but that’s what it reminded me of.

Seriously, when Briarcliff is closed, they should open up an amusement park called Strap Land.

The worst acting in the show tonight? When Wendy sobbed an admission of having no candy for the day early Trick ‘r Treaters, and the one kid is perfectly fine with this. I guess we didn’t hear him call her a “candyless old bitch” when they walked away. I take back my insult.

“Take me home.” – Jude, to the man with puppy dog eyes staring at her hungrily.

“I can’t. The baby’s sleeping.” – the man who immediately looks disgusted with himself.

This was a mildly disgusting exchange. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

“I have a cucumber in my room. But not because I’m hungry.” Shelley’s words left a slightly better taste in my mouth.

Hairy Krishna, or Pepper to be proper, is actually a very beautiful woman, which sounds like an incredibly moronic thing to bring up. I wasn’t familiar with Naomi Grossman before, and I mostly assumed they hired an unfortunate looking soul to play the part like they did in season one. Wait, what do you mean the Infantata wasn’t real?

In the last scene, Jude calls Kit both James Dean look-alike and Sir Galahad. Sounds to me like she was going to enjoy those spankings for more than disciplinary reasons.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.