I may be crazy, but tonight’s episode of American Horror Story: Asylum might just be the best yet. It was pulpy, it was soapy, it was creepy and gory; everything you want this show to be! Perhaps it was the demise of one of this season’s characters or the continuing downward spiral of everyone else on the show. Maybe it was the return of one of my favorite actors from season one, in a bold role that looks like one hell of a lot of fun to play! Whatever the trigger, it worked.
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, “Dark Cousin.”
Making her first appearance in American Horror Story: Asylum was season one stand-out Frances Conroy, who visits our characters as the Angel of Death at various times. She appears to Grace when a botched hysterectomy causes her to almost bleed out, to the briefly introduced Miles who summons her with blood, to Lana whilst in throes with Dr. Thredson and to the disturbed driver (William Mapother) who “rescues” her, to Mr. Goodman (Mark Margolis), Sister Jude and finally, to Grace, whose death completes this episode. Was that one of the crazies last minute sequences or what?
I’ll get to the ending in a few moments, but man was it nice to see a return to form from the Nip/Tuck days when 59 minutes could crawl by only to have the last minute be completely insane. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s break down the episode a bit. We started off with Grace bleeding out in her bed which triggered the arrival of the Angel of Death/Woman in Black. It seemed like Grace was more than happy to be taken out of the world, though it’s interesting that the writers allowed Death to give her victims a choice in how they went out. Apparently you can just summon Death to have a chat and then send her on her way, which happens a number of times in this episode. (How tiring!)
Pretty much the only person Death didn’t visit was Dr. Arden, who was preoccupied with a spiritual being of his own by way of Sister Mary Eunice’s demon. I have to admit that it was kinda fun watching Sister Mary Eunice throw Arden across the room without lifting a finger. Whether this will knock some sense/obedience into the good doctor or just rile up his feelings of inadequacy further remains to be seen. And what the hell was he up to with the Salvia plant? Tripping? Experimentation? Plans to use it in his surgeries? No clue.
Next on Death’s list was poor Miles, a character introduced only for the sake of explaining who the Woman in Black was and how to summon her…which is by slashing your wrist with a deli slicer and writing her name in ancient Aramaic on the wall in blood. All right. Maybe I have a bad memory, but I don’t think we saw Miles before tonight and probably won’t see him again. The interesting part of Miles’ death scene was, again, the choice he was given by Death of whether to struggle on or to pass away peacefully. That and the meeting/stand-off between Death and the Fallen aka Sister Mary Eunice.
Playing Death in human form was one Dr. Oliver Thredson, who was introduced tonight while having his way with Lana. Lana was given multiple opportunities to escape (either temporarily or permanently) but luck is just not on her side. Loved the cameo from Mapother, who played an equally creepy character as Ethan on Lost. Death even managed to pay him a visit and Lana was just collateral damage. And you just knew where she was going to end up when she survived that car crash, didn’t you?
Sister Jude popped up out of nowhere during a flashback to Mr. Goodman’s death and the events that transpired just after it. The editing was all over the place for this sequence, jumping between the recent past, fifteen years past, the present and even an alternate present/dream sequence. It made things a little difficult to keep straight, but I feel as if this was an intentional decision as a commentary on Jude’s state of mind. Not only do we find out that Jude is being set up for Goodman’s murder by Sister Mary Eunice (which one of our readers totally called), but we get an expanded look at her (failed) past as a singer and her (failed?) road to her calling as a nun. While it seems as if Jude has been punishing herself all these years for almost no reason (since the girl she ran over happened to live), I’m wondering if Jude will find her resolve again or if she’ll take Death’s offer anyway.
Meanwhile, Kit has decided that rescuing Grace from Briarcliff is way more important than building a case to profess his innocence. After knocking out his lawyer and escaping to the asylum (dodging flesh-eating man-beasts along the way), Grace and Kit are reunited at long last. Awww. Oh, except they obviously get caught, triggering the nuttiest and most frenetic ending so far this season. Arden’s monster bursts onto the scene and tears the throat out of an innocent nun and attacks Grace and Kit. Kit manages to disembowel the creature (was it Spivey?) with the deli slicer just as the guard Frank McCann (Fredric Lehne) storms in with orders to “shoot Kit on sight.” And he does. But Grace steps between the bullet and Kit; the bullet wins. We end the episode with the Woman in Black giving Grace the Kiss of Death after all.
So what was this episode all about? Death and just death? Or was it also about the choices that we make that lead to not only our deaths, but steps throughout our life as well? Maybe it was just to get Conroy back in the show and give her awesome wings and the ability to be in every friggin scene. Either way, I ate it up. There’s going to be some fall out for Jude and Kit in the episodes to come and I’m wondering if/when Lana and Thredson will have a little reunion. Even the Devil’s been put on alert by the Angel of Death, so it’s looking like no one is safe. Except for maybe Pepper. (Where the hell did she go anyway?)
Rating: 9/10 Kisses of Death
It was quite nice to hear two of the sisters discussing Sidney Poitier’s performance in 1963’s Lilies of the Field.
“All of her girl parts have been scooped out.” – Sister Mary Elizabeth
“I hope this clarifies the chain of command, Arthur.” – Sister Mary Elizabeth
“Did you summon her?” – Sister Mary Elizabeth “Summon who?” – Miles
“Shall I kiss you, Miles? Kiss you and make this all go away?” – Angel of Death
“Lana, you decent?” – Dr. Thredson
“I can either cut your throat or I can strangle you. I don’t believe in guns.” – Dr. Thredson
“That’s right. That’s what you bitches do. You get out. You leave.” – Crazy Misogynist Driver
“Stop it! You smell of vomit!” – Terry, Band member
“You jumped the gun again. It was a passing thought.” – Jude
“I come when I’m called. That’s what I do, Jude. I don’t judge. I never judge.” – Angel of Death
“Peace is so close.” – Angel of Death