“American Horror Story: Asylum” recap: “Fire, sex, and the death of Christians” (2.3)


Happy day-after-Halloween, everyone. I hope you are nursing a respectable hangover with a nice hot cup of tea.  Maybe not too hot though, because I’d hate for you to scald yourself in terror at this episode. (For serious, if you are easily traumatized and a discussion of ANOTHER rape scene is going to wreck your day, maybe you should just eat your leftover candy and watch Amelie or something.)

Still here? Then come with me back to the gory 21st century, where despite being stabbed five times, Adam Levine is still alive. Dammit.

I mean, “yaaaay,” or whatever.

He leaps to his wife’s rescue and pulls Bloodyface off her in spite of his truly miniscule size, now exacerbated by loss of arm/blood. Once free, the lady (still no name) grabs Bloodyface’s lobotomizer and stabs him in his chest like infinity times, which in the logic of this show does not necessarily mean he is dead but is unexpected nonetheless. The love birds try to make a break for freedom when what to our wondering eyes should appear but TWO MORE BLOODYFACES. One of them pulls a gun on Levine and lady-friend and shoots them with no ceremony whatsoever. Call me a purist, but the ORIGINAL Bloodyface would never have used a gun. He was committed to the hands-on violence of the act.

The hacks who wouldn’t hack.

These guys though, are just young, homicide-inclined men in masks, who presumably get their kicks re-enacting murders of yore (kinda like Ryan Murphy gets his kicks re-enacting storylines from last season). The original Bloodyface does not dig his cover band though, and charges after them to rip them limb from limb. Don’t worry; they’ll probably survive. 

Then we have another lovely jaunt through the title sequence and arrive back in 1964, where a Nor’easter is headed straight for Briarcliff, which is awfully timely considering this whole Sandy business. Everyone is on edge with the exception of Sister Mary Eunice, for whom demon possession is quite exhilarating. She sashays into Sister Jude’s office with the mail, which contains a newspaper from 1949 detailing the disappearance of a girl, who we know Sistah Jude mowed down with her car back when she was a drunken lounge singer. It just goes to show that I don’t know anything because at the beginning of this episode I was all “Mary Eunice as a villain: YAWN,” but Lily Rabe works so much gleeful manipulation into every gesture this week, she gives Bloodyface a run for his money.

Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Mephistopheles.

Anyway, Sistah Jude is understandably shaken by the arrival of the paper, and it launches her into the stratosphere of guilt/paranoia.  She initially suspects Dr. “just-trying-to-help” Thredson of sending it to undermine her authority, but soon realizes that a man who has never raised his voice above a murmur could never hope to challenge her. She suggests that the asylum host a movie night, screening The Sign of The Cross, which I guess she has never actually seen, since it is about as appropriate as Georgie’s Bush.

In the common room, where Ryan Murphy is still trying to persuade us that the “nika nika nika” song is somehow menacing, Kit and Grace see movie night as a second chance of escape. Lana overhears them and threatens to snitch again, but Kit takes her by surprise and says he understands her suspicion and doesn’t blame her. Oh Kit, stop being so saintly. It only increases the likelihood of your death. Sister Mary Satan knows that, and proceeds to sew as much chaos as possible, tempting Sistah Jude with a bottle of wine and rocking a very un-nunlike shade of lipstick. It’s called “Ravish Me Red,” and she says that Dr. Arden told her to wear it. Sistah Jude instantly springs up, certain now that Dr. Arden is the one messing with her.

“Ignore all my previous theories!”

Dr. Arden however, is not nearly clever enough to pose a real threat to Sistah Jude, since he thinks the Matrix insect/microchip he found in Kit’s neck came from either Communists or Jews. So now we know is his misogynistic, racist, xenophobic AND anti-semitic. What’s next, is he going to come out as a Creed fan?  I hate him even more than I hate Sister Mary Satan, who tracks down a patient (known only as “The Mexican”) who is somehow aware of the devil inside her. Sister Satan murders her in a particularly bloody fashion — I guess to protect the secret of her identity — which seems pretty needless since the lady is so little of a threat that no one has even bothered to learn her name. Anyway, she hauls The Stereotype’s body outside as a little Halloween treat for the monsters who live on the grounds.

Then, staying very busy, Sister Satan heads over to Doctor Arden’s office to light yet another fuse on this powder keg. She attempts to seduce him, not knowing that the doctor is only turned on by women who don’t want sex.

Back in the common room, Lana, of whom we have seen very little so far, accosts Dr. Thredson. Her lesbian sixth sense has been tingling, telling her that something must be wrong with Wendy, or else she would have come to her rescue by now. She sort of not-quite implies that Dr. Thredson (with his kind eyes and immaculate grooming) might know a little bit about gay powers, and convinces him to go to Wendy’s apartment to make sure she is ok. He agrees, and Lana lets a tiny ray of hope shine on her heart.

“The moment I saw your perfectly tweezed eyebrows, I knew you’d understand.”

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Shelley begs Grace to include her in her escape plot, so she can escape to Paris, France, Europe, where her sexcapades would be “celebrated” a la Anaïs Nin.  She asserts that she could be useful, since she is smart, or at least enunciates very well.

Sister Jude goes to Dr. Arden’s office in the Slytherin dungeon, where they proceed to blame each other for Sister Satan’s descent into sin. It’s remarkable how every single thing they say is offensive in some new way, but the basic gist is that Sister Mary is an innocent little lamb, incapable of coping with her own feelings or urges. The Mexican stand-off ends with them both saying “I’m onto you!”  “No, I’m onto you!” 

“Well I’m rubber and you’re glue, so there!”

The strain of all this suspicion is finally too much for Sister Jude, who gives in to the bottle of wine Sister Satan left on her desk. Once she is properly soused, she goes to the common room to host movie night. Much as I do after a few drinks, she quotes at great length from show tunes in an attempt to comfort the patients. 

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling saaaaaad…”

Once the film begins, Dr. Thredson tells Lana that he went to her apartment, but Wendy was nowhere to be found.  All he saw was a drop of blood on the shag carpet (take heart, lesbians! One drop of blood does not a murder make.)  He believes Wendy may be the latest victim of Bloodyface, which means that Kit really is innocent. That’s enough for Lana, who sneaks off to escape with Kit and Grace, under the pretense that this movie is getting her too turned on. (It’s actually a nice little bit of intertextuality, since the original cut of The Sign of the Cross featured a Sapphically suggestive dance.) One of the orderlies is blocking their escape route so Shelley bravely volunteers to “distract” him in the only way she knows how.

Here in the final act of the episode, things devolve into a pick-a-mix of terror, as the show tries to reach out and give every demographic nightmares. Dr.  Arden defaces the Virgin Mary statue with Ravish Me Red and then knocks it of its pedestal.


Kit, Lana, and Grace sneak out the tunnel but are forced to turn back when they meet…


As if that weren’t scary enough, Shelley gives Carl the orderly a…


Sister Jude is searching the halls for The Mexican when she runs into a…


Still not scared?  Well how about yet another attempted rape scene? Shelley is trying to escape when she meets Dr. Arden, who is doing his whole misogynistic, all-women-are-dirty-whores thing. He decides to take it out on Shelley and I hate it so very much. I can’t even express how not cool I am with this theme being repeated TWO EPISODES IN A ROW. Never mind that neither rape is completed; when nearly a quarter of all American women have experienced some form of sexual assault, that is not a button you just get to push when you’re low on ideas. You don’t get to throw rape in the Chex Mix of horror as if it is somehow on the same level as aliens and zombies. I would like to personally shame every person who signed off on this scene, starting with the writer, Jennifer Salt, who as a woman should know better.

When Sister Jude hears about the attempted escape, she switches off the movie, explaining that no one needs to see the ending because “they all die.”  Kind of like this show?

In the final scene, Shelley wakes up on Doctor Arden’s operating table, where he informs her that no one knows she’s there. They assume she escaped along with The Mexican. They’ll be no more escaping for Shelley, though, since…

See you next week?

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