We’re over halfway through the season here at Briarcliff and the team’s stats are all over the map. We’ve had some home runs in the form of sharp dialogue, especially as delivered by Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe, and some genuine scares as we’ve watched Lana go through hell, but boy does this episode have more unforced errors than…that’s really the end of my ability to make a sports metaphor. I’m not a “sports lesbian.” Moving on.
Remember how last time we saw her, Grace was bleeding from her vajayjay super bad? Like, write into Seventeen’s “most embarrassing moments” column bad? Apparently the staff finally noticed and plunked her down in a bed, where, two weeks later, she is still bleeding. And frankly, the blood, the bed, and the really awful lighting have all gotten a bit old for poor Grace, and she’s ready to take a flying leap into the afterlife. Here to assist her is a very classily dressed lady (Frances Conroy, always a welcome sight), with KILLER wingspan.
“It’s all right, my child. I will get you off this show.”
And if death is a lady who takes me out with a kiss, then maybe it ain’t so bad. However, this dark angel is stopped just as she’s going in for the smooch by a little CPR from one of the nuns, much to Grace’s chagrin.
When Sister Mary Satan hears about Grace’s condition she confronts Doc Arden, assuming he is responsible for the botched hysterectomy. He is mightily offended because he may be a Nazi, a mad scientist, and a rapist, but he is a FLAWLESS surgeon, he will have you know. Sister Mary Satan deals with contradiction even worse than her predecessor, and flings the aged doctor against the wall with her mind.
Next a patient named Miles is prompted by the voices in his head to slash his wrists in a meat slicer. Just like that. No context or anything, and apparently no point. other than to make him on a meat scribble the dark angel’s name on the wall. When Sister Mary Satan notices it, she is, for the first time since being possessed, afraid.
“It’s ancient Aramaic for ‘crip turf.’”
Sure enough, when Miles is alone he rips out his stitches and the angel gives him the tongue-free peck of death. As soon as she does, Sister Satan shows up and the two heavenly creatures have a little face-off. For a brief moment the real(ly lame and boring) Mary Eunice breaks free of her captivity to beg for death. The angel merely promises they will meet again and Sister Satan sighs because being an administrator is hard.
This week, I couldn’t help but imagine the writer’s room during the planning stage of this episode.
Writer One: Why don’t we do alien abduction this week?
Ryan Murphy: No, we can’t explore that storyline until I remember why I included it in the first place.
Writer two: How about evil twins?
RM: Ugh, that was LAST season. Sometimes I wonder if you people even watch all my shows.
Tim Minear: Guys, guys, I’ve got it. How about…RAPE.
RM: Perfect, we haven’t done that in three whole weeks.
So, just in case you’re not sick of it yet, here is yet another fucking rape scene, this time of Thredyface on Lana. You know, a lot of writers and directors shy away from rape scenes, because it is so difficult to do justice to the trauma inherent to them. But American Horror Story just won’t give up. Never mind that Thredyface is already a terrifying villain with mommy issues who has the chief heroine locked in his basement. The fright just isn’t complete until we have seen him violate Lana with his actual penis. I don’t know why I’m surprised except that I give the writers more credit for originality, if not tact.
Meanwhile, it’s time to catch up with Kit, who still fails to grasp how his taped confession can be used against him because he was only confessing for pretend. His lawyer, not realizing that Kit is a man with the cognitive faculties of Amelia Bedelia, attempts to explain.
Lawyer: Look, for me to get you off at this point, you’d have to start acting really crazy. Like, psychopathic.
Kit: Psychopathic, eh?
(seizes 3 hole puncher, bashes lawyer over head with it, grins proudly)
Kit: Did I do good?
After that amusing little jaunt, it’s back to the evil basement of evil, where Lana is longing to free herself of this mortal coil. Right on cue, death angel lady shows up and offers her a way out.
“You were nominated for an Emmy. You don’t have to do this.”
But she’s still a fighter, is our Lana, so she volunteers to go a few more rounds with Thredyface. And speak of the devil and he doth appear, looking very dapper and sporting a brand new demeanor. Suddenly, after just forcing himself on her, he now wants her dead, which either makes some sort of villain sense or I have just been watching this show too long. He’s trying to sedate her but she retaliates with one awesome and one terrible thing.
Awesome: Hitting him over the head with the framed picture of Wendy, finally giving Clea DuVall the revenge she has long deserved.
Terrible: She has her chain wrapped around Thredyface’s neck, he’s turning blue…the light is fading from his eyes…and she LETS GO.
SQUEEZE, GIRL, SQUEEZE!
This was the first time during this show when I have done that classic horror movie thing of yelling at the characters on screen to do a better job staying alive.
Once she is free of Bloodyface’s clutches, she descends further down the rabbit hole when she is picked up by a man who has his own grudge against women and shoots himself while driving fifty miles per hour. Lana is injured so badly she winds up back in Briarcliff. The whole scene has the cobbled-together feeling of the Miles vignette earlier: a character created and killed merely to move the plot forward. I am just so sure there was a more interesting way to get Lana back in the cuckoo’s nest.
Where’s the kissing angel lady when you need her?
Meanwhile, in a truly unnecessary B story, Sistah Jude flashes back to being a lounge-singing lush whose guilt over the hit-and-run death of that little girl compelled her to take the vows, none of which is new information. Mary Satan is still trying to use that information against her, and helpfully leaves a bottle of bourbon and a straight razor in the hotel room with the dead Nazi-hunter. But now Mary Satan has tipped her hand, and Sistah Jude realizes just who she’s dealing with. Before she can go raise hell…or…would it be heaven in this case? She has her own run-in with the angel of death. As it happens, they’re old drinking buddies, since Sistah Jude used to despairingly call the angel every time she stubbed a toe. (Or every time her fiancé left her because he gave her syphilis.) This time, though, she is ready to leave this show and maybe just do some theatre or Activia ads or something. But first she must go to the family of the girl she killed and make her amends. BUT WAIT, it turns out the girl has been alive all this time, despite being “missing” all those years ago. While I am interested in what this revelation does to Jude, I find it farfetched, even for a show with space aliens.
Finally, to complete this mad-lib of an episode, Kit swoops into Briarcliff to rescue Grace, but before they can make their escape they are attacked by one of Arden’s mutants. Kit disembowels it (I think you stop being a “him” when you look like this), but then Frank The Guard bursts in. Frank tries to shoot Kit but instead hits Grace, who finally gets her own kiss from the angel of death.
“Don’t worry about me. Soon it will be pilot season…”
See you next week, for an episode ominously titled “The Coathanger.”