'American Horror Story: Asylum' Recap: Calm Down, Mommy - Rolling Stone
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‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Recap: Calm Down, Mommy

Two of Briarcliff’s ladies find themselves with child

Lily Rabe, Ian McShane, American Horror StoryLily Rabe, Ian McShane, American Horror Story

Lily Rabe as Sister Eunice and Ian McShane as Leigh on 'American Horror Story'

Byron Cohen/FX

This week’s episode was truly one for the LAY-DIIIIIIIES! That is to say, it was an episode seemingly written specifically to make the female fury rise, ladies knees’ lock together and womanly faces freeze into masks of cringing disgust. Much like the face-hugger in Alien was designed to bring to mind the specter of homosexual oral rape, so too does the coathanger immediately conjure the grotesquery of “back-alley” abortions, the demented rage of Mommy Dearest and the despair of having to pick up your dry cleaning. Makes another week of Santa rape sound like a walk in the park! Sadly, Santa has other, even more gruesome plans up his mangy sleeve than just plain ol’ violation. Ah, the Mayan calendar can’t end soon enough. . .

In the modern day, Dr. Carter (whom all you horror fans immediately recognized as Silence of the Lambs‘ Brooke Smith; don’t you make her hurt your dog!) welcomes a new, scruffily handsome patient (Dylan McDermott) into her practice. He quickly gets to his main issue, which would be the overwhelming desire to kill and skin women. Oh yes, it’s the Son of Bloody Face, his innate homicidal drive directed toward greater anatomical precision after finding out who his birth father really was. “Do you think it’s too late?” he whispers. Dr. Carter calmly replies, “It’s never too late to turn yourself in.” “No! To go to medical school!” he admonishes, before straight murdering her. Looks like it’s going to be Lana who will try her hand at the ol’ coat hanger, then. 

Aaaaaaaand our suspicions are confirmed immediately when we head back to 1964. “The bad news is, the rabbit died,” Sister Mary Eunice gloats as she gives a stunned Lana her test results.  “Calm down, Mommy.”  While Lana, who as we recall has stowed Dr. Thredson in a closet, begs to be allowed an abortion, Mary Eunice informs her that she will be made to carry the baby to term. Yup, while “coathanger abortion” would be Number One on the Hideous Nightmares List, “pregnant and restrained” would be a close second.

Of course, seeing Sister Jude‘s helpless, bare legs strapped to the bed was almost as disturbing. Monsignor Timothy, Mary Eunice, Dr. Arden, Santa-killer Lee and Mother Superior have all ratted on her to the police, claiming an unstable Jude must have killed security guard Frank before stabbing Lee. On one hand, hey, live by the insane asylum, die by the insane asylum. On the other hand, the revenge Jude is going to take will be all the sweeter now that her former allies have turned on her. As part of her “treatment,” Lee forgives Jude for her senseless violence and kisses her piously on the forehead, an act so perverse it made me forget about the alien overlords for a second. “I’m better now,” Jude pleads with the Monsignor, but he’s too busy fantasizing about being Pope and getting platonically seduced by Mary Eunice. Too bad the demon got trapped in a dumb WOMAN’s body, or else M.E. could connive her way into the Vatican herself.

Meanwhile Lana informs Kit that their plan to keep Thredson tied up behind some beds will no longer cut it. Lana has to kill him now. Kit convinces her to wait until they get a recorded confession from Thredson, which is sure to work in court despite the fact they are both undocumented inmates at a mental institution which is currently controlled by a Nazi, a demon and an idiot. Lana visits Thredson and, after getting him to admit the particulars of his criminal behavior, informs him of the existence of Baby Bloody Face. “You know me. I can change. I have great determination,” Thredson argues like a person who uses a human skull for a candy dish. “You owe me this.” Ah, but it’s a little too late.

Guys, if I didn’t make it clear already, there is no idea more horrible than a coathanger to the vagina. You don’t have to be a lady to appreciate that fact. Just the thought of it makes my eyes fall out and my skin crawl off like a giant, beige snake. I could watch a million faces get cut off but, after this week, I might have to give up coats. What if I have to reach into a closet and touch one of Them? Watching Lana induce her own miscarriage, lap area obscured, was just about the worst (fictional) thing I’ve ever seen on TV. Lurid doesn’t begin to describe it. “It started as a trickle,” she says, smiling. “But within an hour it was a bloody mess.” No thank you, Ryan Murphy!

Kit manages to hide the taped confession in the creepy bathtub room, but of course Arden peeps him doing so. Fortunately, Arden has a bigger bone to pick with him. Alien bones, that is! Which I imagine would be quite large! Arden shows Kit a cast of an alien footprint left after Grace’s body disappeared. Why the aliens would need to walk on the ground when they are capable of sucking human bodies into the sky with their magic light cannon is beyond me, but Arden has at least reasoned out why the extraterrestrials have singled Kit for their attentions. “They’re studying you, Mr. Walker,” Arden gleefully explains, perhaps for a eugenics experience. Good god, Arden. Not everything is about eugenics! Give it up! Shelly was a pile of hamburger meat when she died; you are not good at your job! Arden then explains that he’s going to bring Kit to the brink of death, then revive him to see if the aliens return to protect him. Like the dum-dum he is, Kit agrees. “Well then, Mr. Walker. Prepare to die,” Arden purrs. Diva, please.

Lana obviously should have just killed Thredson after they got the tape, but unfortunately she has to wait until knife count at the bakery. The fact they even instituted that policy at Briarcliff is a refreshing surprise to me. The bakery guard stops her from borrowing a blade so Lana is forced to. . . um. . . practice murdering her pillow with that same coat hanger. It’s so clearly the worst way to kill someone ever, and yet. . . Clearly there is some corruption deep in my soul and Ryan Murphy is exploiting it for TV ratings. Perhaps I am far too Catholic to be writing these recaps. . . or maybe just Catholic enough. Unfortunately for humanity, by the time Lana makes it back to Thredson’s storage space, he’s escaped. A panicked Lana confronts Mary Eunice, and the nun informs her that her baby boy is still very much alive. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dylan McDermott wasn’t someone else’s baby. Wouldn’t a Bloody Face/demon nun child be even more predestined to kill?

I would have thought Sister Jude would be killed when she was released into the general public for the first time, but it turns out not all mentally ill people are savage murderers. Who knew? Jude immediately apologizes to Lana for, you know, imprisoning her against her will. Lana isn’t ready to trust Jude just yet, so Jude smashes the ever-playing Singing Nun album in a show of awesomeness. Down in the chapel, Lee prays about the 18 people he sent to heaven on Christmas 1962. I’m not super thrilled we’re spending so much time with Lee, especially when we could be focusing on more important characters like Pepper!

“You can be my miracle, Lee,” Monsignor Timothy muses over his prized achievement. Monsignor Timothy is a real dope, as evidenced by the fact that Lee immediately drowns him in the baptismal font. I didn’t know that we would at some point be seeing a dying, half-naked Joseph Fiennes crucified above the altar, but part of me knew, you know? The Angel of Death comes to him, but there’s no way he’s dead just yet. We still don’t know what horrible thing he and Arden know about! It’s not the cannibal monsters. It’s not the aliens. I don’t think it’s the demons. What else is there? I need to know!

Is there anything more romantic than agreeing to have a needle full of poison jammed into your heart on the slim chance it will provoke aliens to let you see your dead wife? Kit certainly doesn’t think so. Before this week’s turn of events, I was starting to think Dr. Arden was himself an alien. What, you murder innocent people during the Holocaust and now you aren’t surprised when aliens show up? However, I guess Arden’s blank, crazy fury is just “his thing.” The aliens do arrive when Kit is on the edge of death, just as Arden predicted, and they play a sick guitar riff as Arden runs to a room filled with light. He pulls open the door to reveal. . . Pepper, ya’ll! FUCK YEAH, PEPPER!

Pepper, missing and presumed chopping off babies’ ears since the Nor’easter, huddles over an even more startling discovery: a naked, perfectly healthy, very pregnant Grace.  Those aliens: always appearing in a white light, resurrecting the dead and impregnating women. Now where have we heard that before? I’m starting to think I was raised Catholic specifically so that I might to enjoy American Horror Story: Asylum. That would certainly make more sense than any other reason. That would also explain why those aliens impregnated me.

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