American Horror Story: Asylum Watch: Episode 3 -Nor'easter

“In here, we have all the time in the world.”

Several times during an episode of American Horror Story, I picture the most ridiculous idea in the world being pitched in the writers’ room, and someone says, “Holy shit. That would make an amazing ending to the season,” and then someone else says, “By George, you’re right. Let’s stick it in the third episode.” Hopefully you had a great Halloween, readers, and that after your sugar crash, you got to watch the show from the most comfortable spot in your house. Because this show is determined to make you uncomfortable.

It was a dark and big, fat stormy night at Briarcliff Manor. To quell any oncoming pandemonium, Sister Jude shows compassion by acquiring a movie projector and a copy of DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross for the patients to watch. A storm is the perfect cover to plan an escape, though, isn’t it?

Jessica Lange was the true Master of Ceremonies in this episode. Rarely do an actor’s choices startle me, but I sat agog each time she opened her mouth. Jude’s motivations are still running Dr. Thredson out, and getting on Dr. Adler’s nerves, but now her paranoia is thrown into upheaval, so her weaknesses are visible. Hidden in the mail that Mary Eunice (now possessed by Satan), she finds a full newspaper from 1949, with the story about Jude’s hit and run accident on the front page. It sets off an episode-long series of violent flashbacks from that night. She gets a phone call from the girl she killed, who says, “You left me there. You never even bothered to get out of the car.” She then finds the girl’s broken eyeglasses. Are we going to see Sister Jude committed into the asylum before it becomes decommissioned? My bet’s on yes.

All this spooky pressure, which almost has to be coming from Mary Eunice, leads to a drinking binge for Sister Jude, and this is when Lange put it in Nth gear. In introducing the film, she walks the aisle with all the aplomb and none of the refinement. Her slightly sweaty hair hangs down to her slightly slurring mouth, and she can’t even blow a whistle properly. But she’s smiling, and she’s happy, and she’s able to drop her emotional baggage for a few fleeting minutes. Alas, her recitation of on-the-nose lyrics from Carousel’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” backfires, and all of her inner turmoil shows itself, before she packs it all away and starts the film, ending on the line, “I’m off to find the Mexican.” Loved every moment of this, obviously.

The Mexican she mentioned is a Spanish lady whose sole purpose is to be visibly frightened by Mary Eunice, and to show this by calling her Satan and the Devil at all times. Credit to Lily Rabe for finally looking like she’s having fun going back and forth between hellcat and zealot. Something as simple as a dark shade of lipstick completely transforms her pale face, and catches chastising from Jude as well, after Mary Eunice tempts her with wine. Mary Eunice forces the Spanish woman to pray with her, during which she stabs the woman in the throat with a pair of scissors, and the most fabulous arterial spray in primetime TV gushes out all over the place. For good measure, she also stabs the woman several times in the chest, and dumps her body out to the woods behind the asylum.

Mary Eunice isn’t just killing people, either. She starts a conversation with Arden by being worried about the creatures when the weather turns to freezing, to which Arden assures her they only need to get them through the winter. (Because they’ll live or die faster?) Things take a turn for the sexy here, as Mary Eunice offers her “rosebud tits” while spreading her legs for Arden, who gets angrily flustered in no time. “Don’t let it go to waste, Doc. I’m…juicy.” (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t invaded by extra-marital twinges just then.) Arden slaps her across the face, and she calls him a pantywaist. This will not be Arden’s most shameful moment tonight. He is close to tears later when telling Jude about this incident, and Jude blames his leering for her loss of innocence. Ever the sane man, Arden is later seen smearing lipstick onto the lips and nipples of a statue of Mary, putting his face up close and calling it a whore. Probably not the character’s audition scene, but it made for a fine piece of surrealism. He then pushes the statue back, and it smashes in slow motion.

Arden keeps a jar on his desk that holds the thing he got from Kit’s neck, unable to figure out how it works or even what it is. He straps Kit down, accusing him of working for foreign, or possibly local, government agents interested in surveillance. It isn’t the first time someone has infiltrated his labs, which could be an entirely separate series. Whatever the black thing is, it’s attracted to Kit somehow, probably through his DNA.

Kit and Grace conspire about escaping. Shelley pleads for them to take her as well. There’s an expository scene where Grace calls Lana out for thwarting last week’s escape attempt, and Kit gets to be the nice guy and say he understands that she’s only doing what she believes is right. Lana gets Dr. Thredson to deliver a note to Wendy outside the asylum, which he agrees to due to it being against Jude’s wishes. The evidence left at Wendy’s makes him think she was killed by Bloody Face, which would make Kit innocent. Lana accepts this with a minimal amount of reaction.

During the actual escape, which takes place during the movie, Lana finds the other three, and lets them know she knows Kit is innocent. Grace doesn’t give a shit, but Kit is more interested in saving time over arguing, so they go, only to be stopped by a patrolling guard. Shelley’s dick-deficient mouth plays hero, and the others leave her behind. This is when everything just starts happening all at once. These three make it outside in the rain, but their celebration is cut short when they find the Mexican woman’s body, and see movement in the trees. Oh, I bet they’re just going to drag this out until…Nope. We’ve got zombie mutant things, people! And at least one of them moves fast enough to blur his body. I don’t really know what we’re supposed to be assuming here. I’m not going out on a limb by saying they are probably results of Dr. Arden’s godless experiments. But I don’t know what their purpose is. Perhaps in his work on Shelley, this will become clear.

From big monsters to little monsters. After Shelley blows that guard, Arden catches her and has no problem attempting to use her in all the whorish ways he’s previously judged her for. He takes her forcibly from behind, and just when you think, “Wow, FX is kind of pushing the envelope here,” he pulls back, and the televised rape scene is stopped by Shelley laughing hysterically at Arden’s inferior genitalia. “Were you in an accident? You’re seven feet tall. I thought you’d be hung like…” Her insults are stopped cold as Arden knocks her unconscious. Shelley doesn’t understand the five necessary functions of life are food, water, air, shelter, and don’t antagonize your rapist. She awakens later, strapped to Arden’s table. He tells her everyone else thinks she’d run away in the woods, so no one was looking for her there. Then the big reveal of her amputated legs, cut off above the knee. What the fuck? I guess he’s going to attach some other legs to her and put her out in the woods at some point to forage for berries.

The drunken Jude is still wandering, looking for the Mexican woman, when she hears a few noises and investigates. She hears Arden screaming at his statue. And then it happens. A motherfucking alien appears over her shoulder. And that’s it. Jude is later woken up in her bed. Maybe he was a friendly alien. But still. Was it looking for Kit or its black thing in Arden’s jar? I’m glad it looked more like The Fly’s creature than a normal grey alien. But still. Onscreen aliens. Sheesh.

After being chased by zombie creatures, Lana, Kit, and Grace retreat back into the tunnel and the relative safety and dryness of movie night. By this point, Jude is up and yelling at the guard for being careless and telling everyone that this new movie night tradition is already over, since three people are missing. Not the three soaking wet lumps, but Shelley, the Mexican, and I assume Pepper, who had asked to go to the bathroom. And Jude refers to a “pinhead” being missing. Is that profiling?

At some point, Lana is going to get out of there and write the story that will blow the doors off of that place. But for now, she’s still stuck. This was a pretty tense episode, from a camerawork perspective. The scenes inside the public area made me jittery. The camera was constantly in motion, and nobody in the room sat still at all. I make people nervous with my own jittery actions. Now I know how they feel.

With all that out of the way, tonight’s cold open was pretty spectacular. Continuing from last week, Bloody Face has just finished stabbing Adam Levine and bursts through the door on the screaming Teresa. Just as she’s about to be killed, Levine leaps back into the room, knocking Bloody Face over. Teresa grabs his weapon and stabs him repeatedly. She and Levine limp down the hallway until they come to another Bloody Face; they turn, and there’s another. One of them points a gun and shoots both Teresa and Levine dead before pulling his mask off to reveal a normal looking teen or twenty-something. The other one pulls his mask off too. “That’s what you get for stabbing Joe,” one says, apparently as backwoods insane as the other. Just as they both ponder who could have ripped Adam Levine’s arm off, the real Bloody Face comes after them. Kind of silly, sure. And it’s almost the exact plot to a terrible recent horror movie. But I liked it. It exemplified this series’ talent for taking a long scenic route just to get back to square one.

The Inane Asylum

“A movie full of fire, sex, and the death of Christians. What fun.” This line, and Mary Eunice’s obvious displeasure at being taken away from the movie before the Christians got eaten, may have possibly boosted her to being my favorite character so far.

Was anyone else amused by the broken eyeglasses that were seemingly smashed across the whole front without a proper point of impact? The cracks were just random and all over the place. Could the prop department not just break a real pair of glasses?

I’m not sure if it’s an old Hollywood acting trick, but did you ever notice how an actor will give off the appearance of being drunk by taking a swig of a bottle, lolling their head around, and then wiping their mouth by wetly inhaling the back of their hand? Lange does it here. This is not behavior seen in clubs across America. But it speaks to me.

When Lange says, “…just another bitter disappointment...” during her movie intro, it was the episode’s most perfect moment.

When the show started, I thought Sarah Paulson’s character was going to be the anchor holding this thing together, and I couldn’t be more pleased about being wrong. I like the actress, but none of the characters she ever plays.

Not sure if Thredson asking about Jed’s autopsy report will turn into anything. It seems like a good way to attract mass attention to the corrupt building, so it could happen.

“Go through those doors, through the staff lounge and into the boiler room.”

“And that will take us where? Narnia?”

I wonder how many younger people will think this is an anachronism, while referring to it as something other than an anachronism.

“I thought I repulsed you.”

“Any port in a storm.”

The direct reference to the storm was laughable, but there’s something so ugly about insulting somebody just before you try to rape them. He doesn’t appeal to her sense of safety before completely denying it. For someone who paid to have a classy dinner with a whore last week, Arden certainly has trouble understanding his moral center and sense of etiquette.

Shelley wants to go to Paris, but she hasn’t got a leg to stand on. Nyuk. And that’s how I end it. Happy All Saint’s Day.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.