'American Horror Story: Asylum' Recap: All About Judy - Rolling Stone
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‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Recap: All About Judy

Sister Jude’s electroshock session was just the beginning at Briarcliff this week

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Evan Peters as Kit Walker, Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters and Zachary Quinto as Dr. Oliver Thredson in 'American Horror Story.'

Prashant Gupta/FX

Well, it finally happened. We arrived at an episode of AHS: Asylum that made me grumble under my breath, “Okay, sure, but what about. . .?” I didn’t object when Sister Jude saw a goddamn alien at Briarcliff and never gave it a second thought, nor when we were expected to believe the wood mutants had never wandered out into the town proper. (If Shelly could crawl to a school, shouldn’t these cannibals have at least scampered onto the road?) Tonight, though, there were several plot points that I’m going to need Ryan Murphy’s divine intervention to comprehend. Of course, since we are already at Episode 10, perhaps this unraveling is simply part of the show’s natural journey toward an insane, bombastic finale. I certainly hope so. At the very least, I need an explanation as to why the aliens chose Kit. I will accept all other ills if they just give me that.

Speaking of Dem Aliens, Kit Walker brings us back from the holiday break by gasping awake after his near-death experience. While we know Dr. Arden‘s experiment not only worked, but also provoked the aliens to drop off a pregnant Grace and a mentally enhanced Pepper, Arden tells Kit that the whole endeavor was a failure. Of course he did. Arden is a monster! Why does anyone trust anyone else at Briarcliff at this point, the dum-dums?

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Speaking of dum-dums, I still enjoy how all of Arden’s plot points require him to have supernatural levels of self-involved arrogance. He brushed off Mary Eunice‘s telekinesis. . . which you think, as a Nazi, he’d be all about. When Pepper explains that she has been charged with protecting Grace, Arden sneers, “They may have given you speech, but even a parrot can be taught to mimic.” Oh my God, really? You just saw a woman brought back from the dead and you’re going to. . . you know what? There’s no point in getting worked up about character development. Forget it, me. It’s American Horror Story. At least Pepper is given the opportunity to dress Arden down with an epic pro-weirdo speech. “It’s hard for us freaks,” she says. “We get blamed for everything.” She also reveals that it was her sister’s husband who killed that baby (which is good, because I was honestly a little nervous about leaving that alien babe around ol’ Pepps.)

Meanwhile, over in his chambers, the biggest dummy in the game, Monsignor Timothy, is being nursed back to health by Sister Mary Eunice after Santa killer Lee Masterson, um, crucified him and escaped. It actually for the best, though, seeing as how Timothy’s near-death experience allowed the Angel of Death to inform him of Mary Eunice’s demonic possession. Unfortunately, the Monsignor must take a few hours to whine about his myopic ambition and pathetic virtue, which even now Mary Eunice wants to utilize to reach the Vatican. Men! Can’t live with them, can’t become Pope yourself because of your dirty uterus.

While Timothy screws his courage to the sticking point, Lana is just utterly screwed. Still pregnant with a serial killer’s rape baby, it was only a matter of time before an escaped Dr. Thredson strolled back into Briarcliff to continue his torture. “I admire your puck. It’s a quality I hope you pass onto our child,” Thredson says with a grin before revealing that he plans to resume treatment of Kit and destroy the tape of his own confession. Why Thredson doesn’t just kill these two, I’ll never understand. I guess Lana is the mother of his child but, just on a practical level, this plan seems doomed to fail.

All of which explains why Sister Jude is such a breath of hot, pungent camp air this week. After Judy M is rousted out of her cell by Carl, the guard with the most convincing Boston accent, Arden and Mary Eunice try to fry her brain with electroshock therapy. Watching Jude get zapped while screaming through a gag was in my top five most viscerally awful moments of the season, though it eventually results in a rousing song-and-dance number! “The Name Game” sequence was pure Murphy: overly long, completely unnecessary and constantly vacillating between delicious kitsch and pure awkwardness. All in all, I’d rather watch a dazed Jude slap that jukebox with her open palm for hours than trouble with another production number but, still, I enjoyed it.

Ugh, and then back to the Monsignor. He tries his hardest (which is not very hard) to un-demonize Mary Eunice but, instead, she climbs on top of him and gives him the ol’ warm, wet hug. Which is to say, she rapes him. “I gave my body to Christ,” Timothy moans. “What has he given to you?” Mary Eunice inquires. Demon diva, please. Of course, no one at Briarcliff believes in doctors or turning around, so Arden has peeped the whole thing. Again, this guy. . . I don’t even know. Arden storms off to feed his medical freaks and is downright petulant when Mary Eunice tags along. “There is no us,” he sneers at her. Just to be clear, Arden was okay with all the murders, the monster strength and setting up Sister Jude to be raped by a Santa-killer, but Mary Eunice’s infidelity is the dealbreaker? It’s not like she didn’t try to sleep with him! Man, having a virgin-whore complex must be confusing. Even more confusingly, Arden has decided to kill all the mutants. “The experiment is over,” he intones before gunning down a handful of creatures. He then attempts to shoot himself but just can’t pull the trigger.

Here’s what I don’t understand about Arden and perhaps the secrets of Briarcliff in general: isn’t there still some larger mystery at hand that only he and Monsignor Timothy know about? I could have sworn they once had a conversation to the effect of, “Yeah, these mutants are gross. . . but they are nowhere near as bad as that other horrible thing going on that we can’t talk about.” I could have fantasized this, or maybe I’m just trying to rationalize why Monsignor Timothy would have let such an insane experiment go on for so long. Am I right about this? I genuinely don’t know.

The only absurd AHS specific that isn’t bothering me this week is all that hot, fresh-baked asylum bread! While heavily medicated, homicidally insane people knead dough around them, Timothy apologizes to an electricity-addled Jude. . . only to leave her to rot in the bakery like a regular patient. The Monsignor knows she was right about everything, and yet he leaves Jude imprisoned? The only moment more obnoxious this week is when the Monsignor frets about his ruined vow of chastity. . . while the devil is fucking walking around in Briarcliff. You can kill poor Shelly with a drop of a rosary bead, but not Mary Eunice? Jesus Louisus.

Of course. all this indecision does conclude in a satisfying showdown, so maybe I’m just being nit-picky. “You don’t want to lay me on the ground. You want to bury me beneath it,” Mary Eunice realizes. “I know you’re weak, but I’m strong enough for both of us. You’re mine now,” she snarls. . . only to have Timothy shove her over the third-story railing. Well played, sir! The Angel of Death appears and takes Mary Eunice’s soul but, obviously, it’s not going to be that easy. OR IS IT? It honestly might be, which I was not expecting. I thought for sure that Arden was going to try to summon the aliens to resurrect his favorite whore-nun; instead, he decides to cremate Mary Eunice’s body, a.k.a. the best of all possible outcomes for what he could have done with her corpse. As the crematorium fire rages, Arden, um, climbs on top of her carcass and burns himself alive. That was a pretty great moment, you guys. I certainly hope that demon spirit will end up entering someone else’s body (say, Lana’s fetus?), but right now. . . I feel happy just knowing it happened.

Speaking of fetuses, Dr. Thredson discovers Grace just as she’s starting to deliver her baby. Since no one experiences normal surprise or horror in this joint, Thredson reacts by using the existence of Grace’s baby to blackmail Kit into giving up the taped confession. Again, I couldn’t help but wonder why Thredson doesn’t just murder Kit and be done with it but, luckily, the show explains: if he does, Lana will kill their baby. Even a serial killer has got to love something! Maybe Lana stands a chance at survival (haha, no she doesn’t) if Mother Superior actually listens to Sister Jude’s semi-coherent ramblings. “We’re going to Rome. We’re getting married. He likes my cooking. I’m a rare bird,” Jude explains before pleading with Mother Superior to release Lana. Can she pull it off? Don’t we already know that Lana’s child goes into the foster care system? And how amazing would a wedding in the Vatican be? So many questions, I can only pray Pepper has all the answers.

Last Episode: Calm Down, Mommy

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