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Posted at 09:35 AM ET, 11/29/2012

‘American Horror Story’: 10 questions about ‘Dark Cousin’

A weekly investigation of “American Horror Story: Asylum,” as well as, when applicable, the “American Horror Story: Asylum” bakery. Spoilers lie ahead.


Sister Mary Eunice/the devil confers with Frank, the Briarcliff security guard, on “American Horror Story: Asylum.” (Michael Becker/FX)

Last night’s episode of “American Horror Story: Asylum” gave us pools upon pools of blood, multiple wrists being slit, striking black-clad angels that look a lot like Ruth Fisher and the most maddening escape from a serial killer in recent TV memory.

Let’s get right to the 10 questions about this week’s installment, “Dark Cousin.”

1. So first question, regarding Lana (Sarah Paulson) and her escape from Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto): WHY?!?!

Let’s just recap what happened to poor Lana Winters: After being held hostage by a crazy pseudo-psychiatrist, sexually assaulted and faced with near-certain grisly death, Lana miraculously managed to escape from Hell’s Basement Bedroom Set by choking out Quinto and running like the desperate wind. Then she got outside, flagged down a car for help and the driver happened to be . . . William Mapother?!

You know nothing good can happen when you get picked up by Ethan Rom.

Naturally, Mapother was a crazy woman-hater who decided to shoot himself about 30 seconds after picking up Lana, resulting in a car crash that knocked unconscious our briefly triumphant escapee and landed her . . . right back at Briarcliff. UGH. I was so excited for Lana. I thought she was going to dash to a nearby convenience store, report Dr. Thredson and then immediately start pecking away at her Briarcliff expose. Now she’s back in another sort of hell, and one with a bedroom set that isn’t nearly as nice. For plot reasons, she sort of had to get back to the asylum. This season has six episodes to go. But still: MAD-DEN-ING.

2. Let’s move on and talk about Frances Conroy, angel of death. How come she hasn’t been running around kissing people before now?

You know, that is a great question. Shouldn’t she have shown up to give a smooch to Shelley, and also to that possessed kid who transferred his demon to Sister Mary Eunice, and to the poor woman everyone kept referring to as simply “the Mexican”? Plenty of people have died on “Asylum” this season, and by God, they deserved to be kissed by Frances Conroy wearing mega-huge angel wings.

Random aside: didn’t this whole plotline remind you of Emma Thompson in “Angels in America”? A little?

In any case, the only explanation for the Angel’s delayed appearance is the fact that Conroy wasn’t available until they started shooting Episode 7. And she had to play the part so that Ryan Murphy and Co. could actually make her look gorgeous instead of dowdy, as she did on the first “AHS.” Plus, as someone who previously played a dead maid and the matriarch of a funeral parlor, she is uniquely qualified to usher people into their forever-sleep.

3. So Jude got to visit the family members of the girl she thought she killed. But why didn’t they realize she was the driver of the car?

Jude thought she was all ready for death but just needed to take care of one little outlying issue: confessing to the family of the hit-and-run victim that she was the one driving the car. But it turned out the girl didn’t die and is alive and well. Which corroborated my theory that Jude really didn’t kill the girl but blasted my theory that the girl was actually a young Sister Mary Eunice. Which is too bad, because I really like that idea.

Even though it made absolutely no sense for Jude to be sitting in their living room in tears, Missy and her family still didn’t seem to process she was the person who hit the girl years earlier. Actually, the father seemed suspicious, but he didn’t say much. So her guilt is finally absolved. However, I have a feeling that — much like Lana extricating herself from one horrible situation only to find herself another — Jude is going to slide right into another unpleasant predicament.

4. You mean she’s going to be accused of killing Mr. Goodman?

I think so. Mary Eunice set her up pretty beautifully, and Jude fell right into the trap, leaving her fingerprints all over the man’s apartment and hanging up after placing a 911 call. None of that makes her seem innocent, and Lord — seriously, the Lord — knows that her lovely colleagues at Briarcliff will not come forward to defend her character. If Evan Peters can practically be convicted of killing multiple people with zero physical evidence, surely Jude can be charged with homicide even if she didn’t do it.

5. Hey, speaking of Mary Eunice, what was going on with her and Dr. Arden? All of a sudden, she wasn’t being very nice to the man she’s been trying to protect.

Yeah, it’s generally rude to throw people into walls with your mind, as Mary Eunice did to Dr. Nazi. And she was completely on board with framing him for giving Grace that botched hysterectomy even though that procedure was clearly performed by aliens. My sense is that the demonic force within her is growing stronger as Mary Eunice acquires more power at Briarcliff. And said demonic force is not going to let James Cromwell stand in its way of total creepy mental hospital domination.

6. By the way, who were those really nice nuns who were treating Grace? And if they know Arden is a “butcher,” why aren’t they doing anything about it?

Yeah, those super cheerful sisters sort of came out of nowhere, didn’t they? Their awareness of Arden’s evil was the first sign that someone of semi-authority other than Sister Jude knows the doctor is a bad guy. If enough nuns at Briarcliff realize what’s going on, shouldn’t there be a way to report him? Arden/the Monsignor can’t shut down every voice, can they? It’s my understanding that, when emboldened, a nun can climb every mountain, ford every stream and report every act of Nazi barbarism until she finds her dream. It’s frustrating that this hasn’t already happened.

By the way, for the record, the timeline of the “American Horror Story: Asylum” narrative suggests that our tale might wrap up sometime in the spring of 1965. And that would coincide with the release of a little movie called “The Sound of Music,” in which a nun and her charges manage to dodge some Nazis. I’m just sayin’.


Dr. Arden, performing his shadowy duties. (Michael Becker/FX)

7. Regarding the nice nuns, what was the significance of their “Lilies of the Field” conversation?

That 1963 film was the movie that made Sidney Poitier the first African American to win the Oscar for best actor. So naturally, “American Horror Story” needed to celebrate that fact by briefly giving us a seemingly important African American male character and then immediately forcing him to stick his arms into a deli-meat slicer. PROGRESS.

Actually, that movie is about a man (Poitier) who helps a community of nuns — nuns who sing, by the way — build a chapel. They see him as an angel of sorts. As previously noted, we certainly had an angelic visitor in Wednesday night’s episode. But who is the real “AHS: Asylum” savior? I think it will be the person who frees everyone — both the patients and those working under the oppressive Monsignor and Dr. Arden — from the chains of Briarcliff. I believe that could savior may wind up being two people: Lana and Kit.

8. Oh, Kit. Why did you have to go and hit that attorney with a hole puncher?

He needed to get back to Briarcliff to retrieve Grace, the only person who could verify that Alma is alive. Now, why Kit was just sitting in a lawyer’s office without police supervision is beyond me. That made no sense. Anyway, his attempt to get Grace obviously didn’t work, what with the crazy beast nearly attacking them and Frank shooting Grace. But, if my savior theory is true and both Kit and Lana have to be at Briarcliff because the place needs them, then he’s right where he needs to be.

9. About that beast: How come those weird creatures from the woods have never gotten inside the asylum before?

My guess is that Mary Eunice has been shirking her feeding-and-caretaking-of-scientific-experiment duties. So they’re getting hungry and restless and, as we all do when hungry and restless, will follow Evan Peters at the first opportunity.

10. Final important question: Is anyone getting worried that “American Horror Story: Asylum” could totally unravel at this point?

I am, a little. A lot of our core narrative mysteries — the identity of Bloody Face, the truth about Dr. Arden, Jude’s sordid past — have all been explained. So what’s driving the plot at this point is less about a sense of discovery and more about a desire for sense of closure: Making sure that Lana gets released, Kit gets exonerated and both Arden and Bloody Face, for the love of God, finally get caught. I want to see that closure, but I also sort of wish they had dragged out some of the shadowy uncertainties about Arden or Bloody Face for a little longer.

I know. Spoken like a true “Lost” diehard.

Now it’s your turn. Let the commenting begin.

By  |  09:35 AM ET, 11/29/2012

Tags:  American Horror Story

 
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