AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM Episode Recap: “The Name Game”

     January 2, 2013

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What better way to kick off 2013 than with a return to FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum?  Tonight’s episode spent a little bit of time getting us reacquainted with our favorite patients and caregivers of Briarcliff, but quickly got back into the crazy head games, battle between good and evil and even threw in a few surprises.  If you were sharp-eyed, you may have even picked up on a teaser about the plot line in the third season of American Horror Story. 

American Horror Story: Asylum stars Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe, along with newcomers Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Chloe Sevigny, Lizzie Brochere and Clea Duvall.  Hit the jump for the recap and review of tonight’s episode,”The Name Game.”

american-horror-story-asylum-coat-hange[You have entered spoiler territory.  Turn back now or commit yourself to the insanity.]

In the previous episode before the mid-season break, we ended with a dual cliffhanger: the Monsignor had been crucified and visited by the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy), while Arden discovered a very pregnant Grace attended by Pepper (Naomi Grossman).  More on them in a second.  Let’s start off with Kit since “The Name Game” starts with Dr. Arden literally trying to shock the man back to life.

Not a lot happens with Kit in this episode, not in the active sense at least.  He’s hauled around from place to place and functions as more of a plot transition rather than experiencing any development on his own.  Arden lies to him about the alien visitation while Kit was technically dead, though the newly freed Dr. Thredson soon reveals the fact that Grace is very much alive and that they are now parents to a newborn.  In this case, Thredson only needed Kit in order to find out the location of his recorded Bloody Face confession, but Lana was one step ahead of him.

Lana, who has been through the emotional ringer so far, is ridiculously strong at this point and seems untouchable, partially because she’s carrying Bloody Face/Thredson’s child and partially because she alone knows the whereabouts of the confession.  Lana had next to nothing to do in this episode beyond comforting Kit, foiling Thredson and attempting to bring Jude out of her stupor.

Jude is a little bit confused at the moment, thanks to a severe treatment of electroshock therapy.  While her ramblings are muddled, she does still have some of her wits about her as seen at the end of the episode where she speaks the truth of Lana’s admission to the asylum to Mother Superior.  Unfortunately for Jude, her facts are mixed up with her fantasies, so no one can trust a word she says.  In one of the best (and sorely needed) moments of levity in the show so far, Jude is front and center for a flash mob musical number to the tune of Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game,” courtesy of a new jukebox installed in the common room by Sister Mary Eunice.

Lily-Rabe-Sister-Eunice-American-Horror-Story-AsylumAnd now we come to the crux of tonight’s episode.  Sister Mary Eunice was at the center of everything as the nun possessed by the Devil who is pulling all the strings.  She’s dealt with Jude and addled her brain perhaps beyond repair, she’s got Dr. Arden under her thumb and has released Dr. Thredson from his bonds in order to better deal with Kit and Lana.  This episode was all about her manipulation of the Monsignor and even the “liberation of his virtue.”  “The Name Game” may be the strongest episode for Rabe so far and she absolutely owns the power-hungry demon role.  She’s equal parts ferocious and seductive and I hope we haven’t seen the last of her.  In the end, however, the Monsignor appeared to be the stronger religious force, throwing Sister Mary Eunice to her death.  Although, her death was not the only one on tonight’s episode.

Dr. Arden, perhaps the most interesting character in this season, has fallen a bit short of my expectations.  His Nazi doctor past was all but dropped when Jude’s informant was killed and then Jude herself became a patient.  His psychoses (obsession with innocence and control) were never really explained, though we visited them often enough.  In this episode, Pepper insults his intelligence and mortally wounds his pride by revealing to him his own inferior nature to that of the alien beings.  His ego is further wounded when he sees Sister Mary Eunice, whom he knows to be the Devil, riding the Monsignor.  Dr. Arden goes so far as to eliminate his own experimental subjects before joining Sister Mary Eunice’s corpse on the slow-burning ride into the furnace of the crematorium.  However, I wouldn’t expect any of these characters to stay dead long and I fully expect some of them to return in one form or another; I mean we’ve already had ghosts, alien abductees and angels/devils, so the door is wide open for anything going forward.

Now, if anyone caught what they think might be the new plot for next season, be sure to share your thoughts below.  I didn’t pick up on anything, but according to Ryan Murphy:

“It’s not done like it was last year. It’s a different kind of clue. You really have to be quick and watch. I made sure to put it in there for the fans because I know people loved that last year, figuring it out.”

Rating: 8 out of 10 Banana-fannas 

american-horror-story-sarah-paulsonQuotes and Musings:

  • “I go where Grace goes.  I’ve been put in charge of her protection.” – Pepper
  • “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Arden. Arden who? Arden you the quack who’d make a better duck?” – Pepper
  • “Camels? Pack o’ Camels?” – Gerard to the jukebox
  • “Strip her down and boil her for twenty minutes.” – Sister Mary Eunice
  • “The experiment is over!” – Dr. Arden
  • “Crack that thick skull open like a walnut!” – Sister Mary Eunice, talking about performing a lobotomy on Jude
  • “You don’t want to lay me on the ground, you want to bury me beneath it.” – Sister Mary Eunice
  • “I’m about to devour the last morsel of her soul.” – Sister Mary Eunice, speaking about Jude.
  • “Take me.” – Sister Mary Eunice to the Angel of Death. “I’ll take both of you.” – Angel of Death
  • “What do you smell now, Monsignor?” – Dr. Arden.  “Nothing but decay.” – Monsignor
  • “I’m Goddamn plucky, remember?” – Lana

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