This week on AHS: Asylum, Bloody Face a.k.a. Dr. Thredson finally gets to tell his side of the flesh-rending story to a cowering Lana. Like every serial killer since the beginning of time, he is one long-winded, rambling diva. Thredson starts with his isolating experience growing up in an orphanage, meanders through his time in med school and concludes with his realization that the best way to get over being abandoned by his mother is to take off ladies’ skin and, I guess, wear it? We didn’t actually get to the part where he starts sewing lampshades out of nipples, but honestly, this is the first Ryan Murphy-affiliated segment I though was just a little too thorough. I mean, how long was their conversation about the croque-monsieur Thredson made her? “Is there anything more heavenly than waking to the smell of croque-monsieur?” “It’s a very good croque-monsieur.” “Did your mother make you croque-monsieurs on rainy days?” Guys, we are in a serial killer’s basement decked out with a kitchenette, corpse-skinning table and what appears to be Lana’s actual bed from home, and we are talking about a goddamn sandwich?
Or maybe I’m just being anxious. I personally find the Bloody Face segments genuinely unnerving. Lana’s grey, tear-stained smiling face as she tries to befriend Thredson over his superior sandwich-making skills was truly off-putting. So far I love Zachary Quinto’s calm, condescending serial killer tone. “Can I tell you a secret? Nutmeg makes all the differen . . . in the world,” he intones. Ick. “I was right about you. You’re the one,” he finally giggles to Lana. Yeah, that’s the last thing you want to hear from a serial killer. “All that work is behind me, Mommy,” Thredson adds. I stand corrected!
Meanwhile, back in the present day, a 911 call alerts the police to the bodies of three teens dressed as Bloody Face which have been hung from the ceiling of the abandoned Briarcliff. The voice on the phone? Oh, it definitely sounds like Thredson’s . . . 50 years after the fact.
But if it’s horrible murders you want, 1964 is the place to be. Monsignor Timothy is called to give last rites to a dying woman, only to recognize her as the hideously deformed Shelly. So of course he straight murders her with a rosary chokehold. Timothy flies back to Briarcliff in a rage to confront a hilariously unrepentant Dr. Arden. We learn that, following his turn as a Nazi war criminal, Arden ran Briarcliff as a TB hospital. Once the Monsignor bought the building, Arden talked his way onto staff as a doctor, explaining how it would be mutually beneficial for both of them if he was able to continue his development of an “immune booster” designed to resist nuclear radiation on live test subjects. In return, he’s sure the Pope would be really impressed by the Monsignor’s decision to run an unlicensed testing facility run out of an insane asylum. Actually . . . God, maybe the Pope would be impressed? You never know what those guys are thinking.
Timothy is torn about letting Arden continue his work, seeing as how the immune booster mainly seems to melt people’s faces off (and does not explain the double amputation!). But apparently the Monsignor is more afraid of something else coming to light. “We both know where the real danger lies,” Arden warns him. Oh my god, is it the aliens? I really hope it’s the aliens. I also hope Shelly turns out to be an un-killable monster made immortal by Arden’s elixir (as hinted earlier) who returns to seek her revenge. I don’t want to lose Chloe Sevigny so soon!
There’s so much time given to Bloody Face and Arden, I think the episode in turn gives short shrift to Jenny the Evil Child. Jenny arrives at Briarcliff with her frantic mother, who pleads with Sister Jude to take her in. It turns out Jenny stabbed her friend Josie to death. She blamed a mysterious bearded man with a brown jacket, but that story kind of fell apart when her mom found Josie’s hair tucked as a serial killer momento in Jenny’s pocket. “One of my dreams for Briarcliff is to open a children’s ward,” Jude sighs in commiseration. Yeah, sounds like a great plan!
“Where does this evil come from? Could she have been born that way?” Jenny’s mother begs. Jude hands her a Bible and sends them on their way, only to turn around with a start to discover Jenny has been left by her mother. Sister Mary Eunice steps up to babysit Jenny in the meantime, teaching her young charge important life lessons, like “You were born with the gift of authentic impulse,” and “You know there’s no God, right?” I had assumed Mary Eunice was lying when she announced that Jenny’s mother had come to pick her up, but . . . apparently she did? Big mistake, as we soon see Jenny standing next to yet another corpse, having murdered her mother, brother and sister. Who done did it, Jenny, a policeman inquires? A tall guy with a beard and a brown jacket . . . I know it’s too late, but a two-episode arc with her would have been nice.
Maybe the writers just didn’t want to tie up Mary Eunice with yet another plot line. I know it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I loooooved her red-lingerie-and-crucifix-taunting rendition of “You Don’t Own Me.” We also see a flashback in which Mary Eunice was tricked into getting naked in front of her entire high school class. If you want us to understand the inner pain through which the devil controls you, Eunice, you are going to have to get a lot darker than that. Sister Jude is seconds away from Mr. Goodman confirming Dr. Arden’s identity as Nazi-about-town Hans Gruper, but Mary Eunice can’t help but become involved. After Monsignor Timothy informs her that she will be shipped to Pittsburgh to lead a home for wayward girls, Jude merely has to get Arden’s fingerprint to confirm his identity. She pulls a delicious switcheroo with the good doctor’s cognac glass, only to find Goodman bleeding onto his bathroom floor. He manages to reveal that his attacker was another nun; Mary Eunice has stolen his files and confirmed her loyalty to Dr. Arden. We don’t really see Sister Jude’s reaction to the news that a nun killed Mr. Goodman, but I am praying that she has finally wised up and will take on Sister Mary Eunice/The Devil head on. It’s what the people want. Guys . . . what if the aliens fight on Sister Jude’s side? I know. I know that’s not going to happen, but when it comes to American Horror Story, no insane idea is a bad idea.
The episode ends with Lana talking herself out of certain death, and boy, is it some perversity. We realize that Bloody Face has been stalking Lana since before she came to Briarcliff, having heard her express the foolish-sounding opinion that the serial killer was once an innocent baby and was made evil by society. “I don’t want you to feel guilty,” Lana whispers as Thredson dons the Bloody Face mask and cuts off her bra. Oh, barf. Luckily, her tragic scheme works. Thredson wipes his nose and says the most disgusting phrase in the human languages: “Baby needs colostrum.” Just so we’re on the same page, Bloody Face wants to suckle pre-breast milk colostrum out of Lana’s horrified boobs . . . and proceeds to do so.
Back in the present, the police discover Adam Levine‘s body and severed arm. Bloody Face calls his phone, just to let them know that he didn’t kill Adam Levine. Oh yes, he did kill those teens, but not Adam Levine. It’s only then that we realize Theresa has been taken to Arden’s surgery room. Might that the aliens intercede on her behalf! Sure, I’ll shut up about the aliens . . . when we get a goddamn alien-centric episode. Then and only then, people!
Last episode: Instincts Are Everything