Episode 8: “Unholy Night”
With the holidays rapidly approaching at Briarcliff, it’s only natural that our cheerful interpretation of the Christmas season will be tainted by this episode of American Horror Story: Asylum. Ian McShane plays a homicidal Santa who is set loose by Sister Mary Eunice to purposely wreak havoc.
Though this murderous Saint Nick does bring some excitement to the asylum, at times it distracts from the central conflicts of the show. It’s obvious that producers had only one thing in mind when they decided to write him in: they wanted to make the episode as confusing and twisted as possible. Seeing that we weren’t left with much of a cliffhanger last time, they wanted to make sure we wouldn’t lose interest.
There was, however, one thing to keep viewers concerned. Lana ended up back at the asylum in Episode 7, and now an angry Thredson turns up with a threat. Predictably, Lana vows to help Kit now that she knows the truth, and in good time; he turns up and saves her from Thredson’s blow. After tying up the hoax doctor, Lana promises to cause him as much suffering as he caused her.By the end, Grace is being taken away by Arden, presumably to be turned into one of his cannibal creatures, when she mysteriously disappears in an aura of white light similar to the one we saw when Kit’s wife was “abducted”. This wrap-up served as a decent cliffhanger to keep us wondering what could possibly happen next at Briarcliff. Score: 7/10
Episode 9: “The Coat Hanger”
This time around, American Horror Story achieves a refreshing opening when they bring in actor Dylan McDermott (season one’s Ben Harmon) who claims to be the son of Bloody Face Thredson in present day. Later in the episode he succeeds in proving his similarity to his alleged father when he brutally murders his psychiatrist.
Ironically, Jude finds herself in the position in which she’d put most of her patients during her employment at Briarcliff—that is, strapped to a metal table and left to slowly lose her mind. She is convicted by Mary Eunice, Arden, and even Monsignor Timothy Howard with murder and an assault of last episode’s demented Santa. Assuming she isn’t capable of civil behavior in public, higher authorities decide it’s better to have the nun detained. I will admit that it was quite the sight to see Jude in patient clothes rather than in her usual habit, sitting across from Lana—the patient she’d once despised and had intended to ruin.
As for Lana, a confrontation with Sister Mary Eunice lets her know that she’s pregnant, and unfortunately the child is Thredson’s. Though she believes she manages to resolve this problem quickly (in such a macabre and graphic manner) she fails in killing the child. Suspense heightens when Lana attempts revenge on Thredson, only to find the room where she left him empty.
Without fail, American Horror Story has managed to produce one of the most confusing endings to their episodes. Arden’s encounter with a pregnant Grace, who we believed was dead; Father Timothy Howard crucified in the church where he attempted to baptize our manic Santa, and a mysteriously vanished Thredson become too much to handle for one night.
It’s nearly impossible for me to effectively summarize everything that happens in this show. For anyone not watching, I can imagine their disgust at the mentions of the atrocities at Briarcliff. This is definitely a series that you can’t pick up from the middle, or even the second episode; the story line is so complex that if you don’t see it from the beginning, there’s no way you could keep up.
With only four episodes left, it’ll be interesting to see how producers manage to wrap up this elaborate and twisted tale. They’ve already deprived us of a few answers—such as what exactly happened to Shelley. Our preview into the next episode (which will air January 2, 2013) does tell us one thing: from here on out, things will only grow even more complicated. Score: 6/10
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor