“American Horror Story: Asylum” recap: Satan, Satan, Bo-Batan, Bananafana, Fo-Fatan (2.10)


Well hello and welcome back to Briarcliff.  I’ll admit I was happy to have a brief holiday respite from the gloom and gore of the asylum, but this episode was so full of mad anarchic glee (and Glee) that it made for a very happy return to my favorite madhouse.

The last episode left us with cliffhangers regarding two of our more sympathetic male leads.  Kit was on the verge of death after trusting Dr. Arden to stop his heart, in hopes of tricking the space aliens to rescue him. The Monsignor barely clung to life after trusting Bad Santa to behave himself in a holy Jacuzzi. In short, no two characters have ever done so much to ensure their own demise except Wendy, who had the audacity to be a lesbian on television. Perhaps because of their foolishness, the angel of death declined to bestow her sweet lady kiss on either of them, and they are both alive and wellish this week.

When Kit comes to on Doc Arden’s operating table, the good doctor lies to him and denies the aliens made an appearance. In actual fact, the tiresomely mysterious extraterrestrials deposited the suddenly alive and preggers Grace and suddenly sharp tongued midwife Pepper in the asylum to Arden’s tender mercies. Their reasoning in this choice in O.B.G.Y. N. is unclear, since the aliens won’t let Arden cut into Grace’s body or anything.  He predictably reacts like a toddler eyeing a tricycle-shaped present and being told he can’t open it until Christmas.

“The aliens make jokes about you, Arden. Bad jokes. PUNS.”

Meanwhile, the Sister Satan is playing nurse to the Monsignor with a degree of coquetry of which neither the American Nursing Association nor the Vatican would approve.  The Monsignor wants no part of her wicked game though, since the angel of death clued him in to the fact that she is possessed.

Much as I hate to take the unpopular side in this Faustian tale, I must declare myself to be team Satan.  She won me over when she replaced the smashed copy of “Dominique” with a jukebox containing all of my favorite tunes, starting with “I Put a Spell On You,” the greatest song of obsessive love in history.


Taking full advantage of the soundtrack is Dr. Thredyface, who strides into the common room looking as dapper as ever—I think in his mind he has a cloak billowing ominously around him—and makes a beeline for Lana and Kit.  He’s here to play nice, assuring Lana he won’t even try to murder her until their baby is breast-fed, to which I say, why not hold out until it’s potty-trained and save yourself some grief.  It should be easy to keep an eye on her since Sister Satan hired Thredson to work there full time, apparently wanting to stack the deck with as many villains as possible.  Lana and Kit still have a bargaining chip in the form of Thredson’s taped confession though, assuming it hasn’t completely melted under that bathtub.

The next day, Sister Satan decides to kick up her vendetta against Jude several notches. She hauls her down to the pit of despair like some mean old six-fingered man and turns the electroshock machine all the way up to 100.  I think Jessica Lange does the best job of selling the horror of enforced ECT, although again, I would like to stress that in the right medical context, it is an effective therapy for severe, persistent depression.  While Jude  recovers, Satan continues with her busy day by going upstairs and having her way with the Monsignor, robbing him of his purity, (which apparently he still had despite colluding with a Nazi and strangling Shelley to death with his rosary).

I guess the show is trying to prove that rape can happen to men too, but I really wish they would stop playing variations on the same old song.

Speaking of songs, when Sistah Jude (she will always be a Sistah to me, habit or not) shambles into the common room after her “treatment” in the pit of despair.  She’s barely conscious, incapable of speech, a being stripped down to her core. And that core is…fabulous.

“Thank you God or Santa or whoever.”

When Lana asks her name, she strides right up to the jukebox and punches “The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis (a song which appears on almost every mix cd I make), and leads the asylum in a choreographed number. Everyone dances. They do the whole song. It does absolutely nothing to further the plot and it is one of the greatest scenes of television this side of “Once More with Feeling.” Even if you have given up on the show, watch it.

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