'American Horror Story: Asylum' Recap: The Dark Angel Rises - Rolling Stone
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‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Recap: The Dark Angel Rises

Francis Conroy swings by Briarcliff to usher patients into the afterlife

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Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice and Fredric Lehne as Frank in 'American Horror Story.'

Michael Becker/FX

What is it about an older woman with a perfectly drawn lip that makes me want to give her my immortal soul? Francis Conroy wouldn’t be the first person I thought of when I pictured the Dark Angel of Death, but that’s just a testament to my limited imagination. Either way, I missed her. Conroy was poised, brittle perfection as Moira O’Hara in the first season, and it’s nice to see her back, especially now that her back is outfitted with a pair of giant, retractable raven wings.

But I’m getting ahead of the plot here; the Dark Angel is only summoned when Grace‘s botched sterilization brings her to the brink of death. Nothing spells horror like massive abdominal infection and uncontrollable vaginal bleeding. Sister Mary Eunice stops by Dr. Arden‘s office to rub his nose in his terrible surgical work. “All of her girl parts have been scooped out,” she reminds him. Only… Arden hasn’t performed any sterilizations recently. Man, if the aliens did this, they’d better have a pretty good explanation for their crummy work. They can travel through interstellar space but don’t have antibiotics or a basic understanding of the human immune response? I guess the aliens might not care if we live or die, but then why do they need our wombs? Oh, right… alien-human babies. Okay, carry on everyone!

Meanwhile, another patient attempts a gory suicide by slitting his wrists on a whirring deli slicer (why, why, why is there a whirring deli slicer in a home for the criminal insane?), and the Dark Angel ushers him into the sweet oblivion of death. The Dark Angel descends on Grace and asks if she would like to be kissed into the afterlife. Grace readily agrees. Wracked with agonizing pain, trapped helpless in an insane asylum… yeah, I’m with Grace on this one. Before the angel can lay a smooch on her, however, Mary Eunice barges in and demands she leave. Mary Eunice and the Dark Angel square off and for a second we see the real Mary Eunice come bawling out of her normally blank facade. Remember that quiet mouse of a woman? I liked seeing a crack in M.E.’s steely reserve. It’s hard to root for her, what with her being the actual devil and all.

Of course, an ancient Aramaic deity that ends human life isn’t the only person Mary Eunice takes on this episode. “You touch me again, you will die,” she informs Arden after he slaps her across the face, right before hurling him across the room. Arden is almost completely self-obsessed, but you’d think even he would stop thinking about himself long enough to wonder how a woman he’s known for years managed to toss him around like a gross rag doll. Instead, Arden treats Grace (and well!) in order than her shoddy surgery and raging infection not be blamed on his inferior skills. So you’re not going to call the Monsignor and tell him that one of the nuns has transformed into some kind of super-villain? Okay, sure. Fine.

Having been arrested for murder, Kit isn’t having much luck with who I assume is his defense lawyer, a/k/a the kindest, dumbest lawyer in the world. (Kit is an alleged serial killer, and he’s not even handcuffed or accompanied by a guard?) Giving the damning audio confession Thredson made him record, Kit’s lawyer thinks the best way to play it would be for Kit to act insane… which is great, because Kit subsequently smashes the guy’s head with a giant stapler and flees into the night.

Meanwhile, over at Bloody Face‘s house, Thredson’s been busy raping Lana. As she stares blankly at the wall, we see the Dark Angel appear in the glass of the rape tool cabinet. Thredson returns later full of confusing apologies, offering Lana a choice. “I can either cut your throat or strangle you. I don’t believe in guns,” he says. Thredson then attempts to inject her with some kind of pain-numbing medication, which gives Lana enough time to smash a picture frame on his face, choke him with her ankle chain, unlock the chin and kick Thredson onto a table of medical equipment. Against all odds, Lana gets to taste sweet, sweet freedom once again… or at least she does until she gets into the first car that drives by the road, which happens to be driven by the Craziest Man Alive.

Okay, this little scene went from insane to awful and then back over into insane again so quickly. Apparently, the driver of said car just happened to be a crazy misogynist. Provoked by Lana’s tale of torture and her being the same gender as his ex-wife, the driver grows more and more agitated before blowing his brains out while he is driving. What? Of course, all of this is just a deus ex machina to get Lana back into Briarcliff, where she awakes tied to a bed with her head in a halo brace. Needless to say, Mary Eunice isn’t exactly responsive to Lana’s claims that Thredson tortured and raped her. If only Sister Jude were here to kick some ass.

Instead, Jude is off having a complete meltdown of her own. Seated alone at a diner, Jude recalls all the sad sequence of events that led her to the cloth. Well, first we flash back to the murder of Mr. Goodman last week. As Jude struggles to stop his fatal bleeding, Mary Eunice calls his hotel room to confess that it was she who attacked Goodman… but not before planting evidence that Goodman was actually investigating Jude’s hit-and-run. Hoo boy! From this flashback, we go into yet another flashback in which we see a soused Jude lose her singing job and spiral into despair over the death of the child she ran over, who we now know is named Missy. Drunk and her wits’ end, Jude ends up driving onto the grounds of a church, where a statue convinces her to give her life to God. I think? Don’t ask me; I laughed out loud when I realized her car has smashed into a tree. Was her windshield smashed in the whole time? If not, how did she get it fixed so fast? (Also, Jude totally had a flashback within that flashback. This is some Inception-level isht.) We watch as Jude slits her wrists in the present day, only to see her shake off the morbid fantasy. The Dark Angel appears in her booth, but Jude isn’t ready to meet her maker just yet. In the meantime, the Dark Angel would love to hear the soup of the day, please. French onion? Oh, I don’t know. All that cheese…

Moved by the depth of her despair, Jude attempts the first genuinely good thing we’ve seen her do: visit the family of the girl she killed, ostensibly to confess to the crime. Just as Jude is about to reveal her identity, an adult Missy walks in the door, completely alive. I’m sorry, what? I’m fine with a demon living inside a nun’s body. I’m fine with aliens making off with our nation’s uteri. But are we supposed to believe that at no point in her 15 years of guilt and agony did Jude actually check and make sure whether her hit-and-run victim died? They had microfiche back then! They had libraries and newspapers and telephones! Jude, I’m sorry, but you kind of did this to yourself.

Luckily, all this plot development has given Kit enough time to return to Briarcliff to free Grace. Kit chooses the Death Chute for his secret entrance but, tragically, one of the cannibalistic humanoid outdoor dwellers (CHODs) followed him in. Kit and Grace have one brief second of happiness before the ravenous creature tries to eat them in the kitchen, which makes me wonder: if the CHODs will immediately attack on sight, then why aren’t the residents and staff attacked every time they go outside? Oh no… did one of the CHODs get Pepper? We haven’t seen her since she disappeared during movie night! NO! NOT PEPPER!

Kit kills the monster in self-defense, and a security guard attempts to shoot Kit, hitting Grace instead. As she lay dying, the Dark Angel appears once again. Grace gladly dies this time around, smiling as she breathes, “I’m free.” So is death the only escape from Briarcliff? Well… death or painful deformity? We’ll see what Sister Jude has to say about that when she straps on her habit next week. There are going to be so many epic monologues. I can feel it.

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In This Article: American Horror Story


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