American Horror Story: Asylum Watch: Episode 9 - The Coat Hanger

”Calm down, Mommy, or it’s going to be a very long nine months.”

A mere winter break isn’t stopping American Horror Storyfrom guaranteeing your holidays are tainted by a million different storyline threads dangling around your mistletoe. Can we momentarily consider this show put its Christmas episode the week before the last episode shown before Christmas. AHS says, “Fuck your calendar. I’m still on that Viking shit.” Let’s get elementary this week, shall we? I present the ABCs of this week’s American Horror Story.

”A” is for Arden’s Aliens and Almost Dying

The side of me that doesn’t care about drama and things crafted from pure inspiration and depth, well that part of me likes this plotline a lot, because I can’t quite make bulbous green heads or tails of it. It’s like a paper mache. The surface is familiar, and while the inside is hopefully filled with various chocolates, it’s probably another brown melty substance entirely.

Concerning Arden’s nice guy routine with Kit where they agree to try and bring back the aliens who may or may not be protecting Kit and resurrecting the women he’s recently had sex with and possibly impregnated, it should have happened before he fooled Jude with the same schtick. Though it’s not as if he’s actually a nice guy now; he still stabs a lethal injection into Kit’s chest, but he’s doing it with scotch prologues now. Ignoring his own “two minutes to resuscitate Kit” rule that he probably wouldn’t have followed anyway, he chases the bright light through the asylum’s halls like a sociopathic Fox Mulder.

He is shocked to open a door to find Pepper the Pinhead sitting with Grace the non-corpse. Seriously? Not only is Grace very much alive, she’s naked and nearly at full term in her pregnancy! Arden and Kit referred to them doing the sex and that the aliens may actually be invested in his sperm, but either time passes way more quickly in that spaceship, or they’ve built a Gestation Quickener out of hamster parts. I guess if they can resurrect shit, they can do anything. Except cover their footprints up.

”B” is for Botched Abortions and Bloody Face’s Kiddo

You think there’s only room for one fucked up pregnancy? I know Lana isn’t fully aware of Mary Eunice’s personality issues, but how do you think it would feel to have a demon tell you that you’re pregnant for the skin-wearing serial killer that raped you? Almost worse than the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday, right? Lana doesn’t feel the need to heed Mary Eunice’s wishes that the child be born and live long enough to ship it off to a Home for Lost Children. I’ll put it out there that I would love for next season to take place at the Home for Lost Children. Now our assumptions of Lana being Bloody Face’s mother, sparked by the cold open and common sense, are strengthened.

I could easily talk for ages about the cold open, featuring Dr. Ben Harmon Morgan Thredson waxing on to a psychiatrist about the learning curve involved with skinning cats. He does so wearing a flannel-ish shirt with the top buttons undone around his hairy chest and sleeves cut too far up his hairy arms, all which covers another smaller shirt beneath this. Instead of a V-neck, this was like a watermelon neck, seemingly hanging past his nipples. Ladies and gentlemen, the offspring of Bloody Face and an as yet undetermined woman: DYLAN MCDERMOTT! One mistaken masturbation assumption and dead animal conversation later, and he makes his reveal. We later return this office so that a woman can find the shrink’s skinned face, and McDermott’s Face is there as well. R.I.P. Woman, you should have been in a better scene. Using family to link this story to the past is clever, but there better be some logic behind this present-day conclusion, and not just have it be a “killers breed killers” elbow in the ribs that fizzles out to nothing.

Back at Briarcliff, we stared in horror at the skittishly-edited abortion that Lana gives herself using the titular wire hanger. You know, that scene that took place two minutes before the Victoria’s Secret ad came on and made women feel sexy and possibly made them want to show off their private parts that weren’t leaking strings of blood. Crafty Lana, with Kit’s assistance, uses the threat of an abortion against the tied-up Thredson, who so desperately wants to be a daddy all of a sudden when she tells him she’s pregnant. Do men with mommy issues/fetishes really have the urge to become fathers?

She coaxes him to explain why he chose the women he killed, and he wistfully talks about peach fuzz until he hears Kit replaying the confession over a tape recorder. “Hey…bitch!” is as good a reaction as any. At least he didn’t continue beating us over the head with his psychopath talk. I admit it gave me the slightest chill when Lana got in his face and told him she’d already used the coat hanger on herself, saying, “It really wasn’t that bad actually. I always wanted to know what it was like inside the mind of a killer. Now I know.” Eesh. I don’t like Lana that much, but I do enjoy her as a real character more than these other chuckleheads. Kit hides the confession tape beneath a bathtub, but is interrupted by Arden before their near death date. He gives only a brief glance, but I think Arden will have it in the future.

Later, after Lana determines that two ends of a coat hanger will stab a person as easily as it did a pillow, she’s shocked to find Thredson has escaped. The sights and sounds become fueled by paranoia until Lana runs into Mary Eunice, who casually bursts Lana’s bubble by telling Lana that her own bubble is still unburst, and that it’s a boy. She does this by telepathically hearing a heartbeat, which makes me wonder if anyone on this show knows how pregnancies work. But I guess Demon Telepathy sidesteps gestative boundaries. Though this scene is not shocking, it’s nice to hear Mary Eunice give the news like that.

”C” is for Contrition and Crucifixion

Straps! Finally! A very emotional Jude, now just regular Miss Judy Martin, is strapped to a bed, hearing Monsignor Howard rattle off everyone (Arden, Mary Eunice, Leigh, Mother Superior) that damned her character by accusing her of killing Frank the guard before attacking an innocent Santa Leigh. I started to feel sympathetic for her until I checked the DVR to make sure what show I was watching. Howard is particularly smitten with Santa Leigh’s admissions to letting faith into his heart, justifying his murders by saying at least there are 18 more people in heaven now. Jude is too overly emotional to appear sane, but she calms right down once Howard allows Santa Leigh into the room, telling her she’ll “find it more medicinal than any pill.” He forgives her, kissing her forehead, and a quick flashback to their switched positions reminds us that Jude is capable of terrible things herself. Howard finds Jude’s red nightie in her effects box, and it’s like the reddest fucking thing ever against all these drab colors. Mary Eunice pretty much comes out and tells him Jude wanted to jiggle his rosary beads, as well as agreeing that he deserved to be in Rome, and that she, Mary Eunice, would follow him. Oh, how exciting that would have been. Now lest his humbled grins lead you to thinking Howard is hetero at all, there follows the most homo-erotic sequence this season, juxtaposing Santa Leigh’s repentance with Howard’s pipe dreams of turning sinners to saints, which culminates in Santa Leigh’s baptism. Wow. Of course, he immediately overpowers Howard and holds his head underwater.

When we next see the monsignor, he’s hanging on a backlit cross, and it’s a pretty rad effect. There’s no reason for these religious tropes to continue to surprise me, but they do. Frances Conroy’s Angel of Death appears to help him. But since he appears in next week’s preview, I guess she doesn’t help him in the dying way. Considering his lack of obvious wounds, it doesn’t even seem like Santa Leigh really wanted to kill him.

Finally, my favorite moment in the episode. Jude joins the gen pop crowd, causing gasps and glances from all around. She bums a cigarette off of Lana and assures her she’s getting them out of there. To gain her trust, Jude walks across the common room floor, grabs the needle arm off of the Dominique record, and smashes it to bits! The room explodes in commotion, and my living room exploded in jubilation. No more French song! Now let’s get some Yardbirds or Blues Magoo records into Briarcliff. It’s exciting that Jude will try to reach her former glory as a patient, but I have no idea how she’d even go about it. Even though Mary Eunice’s devil doesn’t really do much when she’s not being bothered, she still poses an otherworldly threat that could possible end everything all at once. Say, in four episodes.

”D” is for Dumbass Winter Break

So Thredson’s location is unknown. Santa Leigh’s location is unknown. Kit is dead. Jude is cool. Grace is gonna be a mom. What else can possibly happen? I predict the next four episodes will contain a pro wrestling match, a river being parted by a single man, an anachronistic Twitter revolution, communion wafers made out of “real Jesus flesh,” a rainstorm inside the walls of the asylum, an episode-long chess match that ends in a rap battle, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse running a train on Mary Eunice. Let’s hope January comes quicker than last year, readers. I’ll see you then.

The Inane Asylum

So if I’m reading this correctly, and I doubt I am, then Pepper is an alien? Her appearance aside, I don’t know how or why this would make sense.

Yeah, I really did enjoy that opening scene. Watching Dylan MickeyD become menacing instead of emasculated was a change. Of course, it wouldn’t have been complete without the unmenacing “No, to go to medical school!” line.

I am such a naïve human being when it comes to some things. While I thought Lana might get pregnant during the rape scene, I’d already pushed it out of my memory. Then when it became obvious, I still didn’t take the episode title into consideration. And when Lana saw the line of suits on hangers, I was still just like, “What’s she gonna do? Put a suit on and sneak out?” I’m legally allowed to drive in public, people.

As someone who tends to drag his feet sometimes, I had to laugh when Arden found perfect footprints left in very soft dirt by the aliens. And their posture! Don’t get me started!

I’d love to see Lily Rabe redo her Drano Margarita speech as the pre-possessed Mary Eunice. Or for her current self to have a One Woman show in Vegas. She’s the only character whose spinoff series I would totally get behind. Ian McShane as Santa, or the Easter Bunny, can co-star.

“I don’t mind tellin’ ya…I’m scared.” And I don’t mind telling you, readers, that while there isn’t much in any form of media that gets a strong physical reaction out of me, watching Kit’s strained convulsions as he died was kind of brutal on me. The whole thing just made me think too much.

I like and don’t like that this show is so easygoing with its plot twists that it felt the need to let Lana find and sneak a knife out of the kitchen before getting caught with it. Did I really need to invest any of my time tonight in thinking that she was getting away with a knife?

You sip the scotch, Kit. Especially if you’re about to die.

So, seriously, now that Jude is on the opposite side of Briarcliff’s chain of command, are they still making her molasses bread? The finale should just be litigation over her rights to the recipes.

When Santa Leigh says he’d like to personally ask his victims’ forgiveness in Heaven, did you also think that it was an oxymoron to use “personally” when referring to soul entities?

So when that woman turns the psychiatrist’s chair to reveal her face, did you notice how she turned the chair the long way around, just so the camera would see it just as she would? That’s pretty fucking stupid.

Here’s how I think Joe Fiennes get ready for this role. He takes every disc of every copy of the Rosetta Stone language aid series, and plays them all at once, all at different speeds. And then he forgets everything and reads his lines in whatever damned accent he wants.

How in Judas’ name did Santa Leigh possibly get Howard nailed to that cross? It’s a fucking impossibility. As well, he nailed him through the hands instead of the wrists. While I’d like to plainly call them out for being inaccurate, I actually have more of a problem with the use of the hands because his weight would have torn him down from the cross. Unless Howard was standing on something, which I couldn’t tell.

“What did they do to you?”

“Nothing I didn’t do to you.”

Considering Jude hasn’t been raped by the serial killer that made her touch a man’s dong while she masturbated, I’m not sure equality will ever be reached.

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.