A weekly investigation of “American Horror Story: Asylum,” as well as, when applicable, an investigation of the “American Horror Story: Asylum” bakery. Spoilers lie ahead.
“An exorcism? You can’t be serious.”
Oh, Zachary Quinto/Dr. Oliver Thredson, “American Horror Story:Asylum” is totally serious. Which is why, in only the second episode of this still fresh miniseries of sorts, one person acted very much like a young Linda Blair, and another person may follow head-spinning suit very soon.
But demonic possession wasn’t the only thing on the menu during this week’s installment. We also got some electroshock therapy, a power outage, an escape attempt, a hint at Sister Jude’s past life and a glimpse of what Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) refers to as “an evening of romance” but what most people would call pouring an expensive glass of wine, forcing a woman to dress as a nun and making plans to tie her up.
All of which raises some questions. Ten, specifically. And yes, this Q&A will contain spoilers, as noted above...
So was Lana’s lover Wendy (Clea DuVall) killed on purpose?
Early in the episode, Wendy and her two girlfriends were chit-chatting about a serial killer being on the loose when the doorbell rang. Turns out it wasn’t Bloody Face, just some trick or treaters. Oh, and also the second episode of “American Horror Story 1” stopping by to thank “Asylum” for the homage to last season.
Later though, after Wendy decided to take a shower, she did indeed encounter Bloody Face, who got a little too handsy and stabby with her. This all happened shortly after she announced her plans to recant her statement about Lana’s mental state and attempt to get her discharged from the asylum. Coincidence? Maybe. But if Bloody Face is someone based at Briarcliff, which seems almost a certainty to me at this point, perhaps he/she chose to kill Wendy to make sure she can’t petition for Lana’s release. Which brings me to this question...
If Bloody Face has killed again, shouldn’t that exonerate Kit?
Yes, being in an asylum is a pretty rock-solid alibi for not killing Wendy. As a teacher, one would think her disappearance will be noticed, too, and that the cops will realize they still don’t have their man. So we’ll see what impact that has on Kit’s future.
In last week’s “10 Questions” post, I posited that Dr. Arden may be Bloody Face, which seems even more likely now that we know he is inviting over hookers so he can tie them up and take pictures.
But at least one reader noted in the comments on last week’s post that Arden as Bloody Face seems too obvious. (I’d also note that the modern-day version of Bloody Face — the one who appeared to put an end to the Maroon 5 frontman this week — doesn’t share the same tall and lanky physique of our Mr. Cromwell, which may or may not be relevant.)
So here’s another theory: what if Arden-as-Bloody-Face is just a red herring to distract us from the real Bloody Face: Monsignor Timothy. The two men clearly have some agreement that keeps Arden working at the asylum. And remember, we didn’t see Arden kill anyone. Maybe he ensnares women for his boss, since he can’t always get out to do his murderous errands himself?
Or, of course, it could be just as simple as this: Arden is just a guy who occasionally kills prostitutes — whores, as he would call them — and then uses their remains to feed the creatures in the woods. Which may mean he’s a killer, just not Bloody Face.
Oh yeah, by the way, do we know what those creatures are yet?
Not yet. Sister Eunice (Lily) seemed concerned about keeping the hungry buggers fed. (She also got fed herself, via a clearly symbolic and tempting caramel apple offered to her by Arden, who is either genuinely smitten with her or is saving her for a very special night involving an excellent bottle of Cabernet and some rope.) We still haven’t seen what’s in the woods yet, though.
We know the beings are not human, otherwise Sister Eunice wouldn’t be so befuddled by their existence. Last week I suggested they might be some sort of Arden science project. Here’s another theory: what if they are aliens who are friends with the same ETs that took Kit’s wife? We know via this Vulture interview with Evan Peters that the aliens are really real. So ... maybe.
Let’s talk about Sister Jude. She did a 180 re: her electroshock attitude, administering the therapy to a clearly distraught Lana. What made her change her mind about the procedure?
Sister Jude said “We’ll see about that” when Lana noted that she could remember everything that happens to her in the asylum even if her notes get taken away. Clearly the micromanaging nun wants to keep her charges in line, and also make sure that what happens at Briarcliff stays at Briarcliff.
I also think that Sister Jude has major issues with promiscuity and lesbianism, which, in her mind, goes hand-in-hand with deviant sexual behavior. So she’s punishing Lana for it, though clearly — as that post-electroshock expression of empathy and regret indicates — she’s not doing so with an entirely clearly conscience.
We should probably talk about Sister Jude’s flashback, as brought on by Jed the Devil Boy.
Turns out before she started to wear a habit and threaten to report Lana to the American Civil Lesbians Union, Jude was a lounge singer who was willing to go home with any guy who was willing to take her — Jed the Possessed Kid specifically mentioned 53 as her magic number of romantic conquests — and who also drank pretty heavily. So heavily, in fact, that she committed a hit-and-run that appeared to have killed a young girl. (What is the deal with this show and Jessica Lange and hit-and-run accidents involving innocent girls? Not the first time this has happened, though last season, Lange wasn’t the driver.)
Bottom line: Sister Jude is, herself, a sinner, as worthy of having her head shaved as Shelley the Nymphomaniac. So when she’s punishing her charges, really, she’s punishing herself. That probably brings little comfort to Kit’s aching backside.
Less a question and more of a comment: that “Dominique” song that’s constantly playing in the common room is really worth pondering.
Last week, I noted that this song was a major pop hit for Jeanine Deckers, the woman known as the Singing Nun. Now we know why a singing nun may appeal to Sister Jude. But there are also some other connections between that tune and our new favorite show about a dysfunctionally Catholic-run mental hospital.
As commenter wadejg noted last week, Deckers led a pretty interesting life. As this UK Express story explains, she eventually left the church to live with her female partner, with whom she eventually engaged in a suicide pact. The piece also notes that Deckers was the daughter of a baker (interesting) and contains this quote from writer Joe Queenan about the meaning of the song “Dominique”: “The song would have us believe that St. Dominic was a humble, lovable monk who fought valiantly against the forces of darkness. In fact he founded the religious order that brought mankind the monstrous Spanish Inquisition.”
What’s up with Dr. Oliver Thredson, Zachary Quinto’s character?
He was supposedly appointed by the court to determine the sanity of alleged serial killer Kit, who, again, should be exonerated pretty soon if Bloody Face keeps doing his murder spree thing. But given his interest in the various practices — or malpractices — at Briarcliff, it seems like he may have been asked to investigate the place more deeply. He certainly has issues with the way they perform electroshock therapy on homosexuals. “Behavior modification is the current standard,” he self-righteously noted. Yes, that was progressive thinking, apparently, circa 1964.
She was adamant that Kit not join her and Grace on their attempt to get to the tunnel. If she hadn’t been, given the power outage, there’s a good chance all three could have made it out. Instead, once he showed up, she screamed for help and made sure none of them could leave.
So what was her deal? I say a combination of things. One may have been genuine revulsion for someone who she thinks has shown the ultimate hatred for women. (Disrespect of women was a huge issue in this week’s episode, for Lana, for Sister Jude and for Shelley.) She also may have been jealous of the bond between Kit and Grace, especially after she got a look at Grace’s goodies while they were boiling themselves in those tubs. Also, given her previously expressed desire to write a story about Kit, maybe her journalism ambitions kicked in and convinced her to stay there with the alleged woman-offing machine so she could continue research for that Pulitzer Prize winner she intends to write.
And then there’s the possibility that, per Grace’s insistence that no one can escape, the asylum itself is persuading her to remain. The power of Christ has been known to compel some people. Which brings us to this final item...
So Sister Eunice is totally possessed now, right?
Sure looks that way. When the demonic spirit left Jed the Animal Heart Eater, it appeared to fly directly into Sister Eunice, knocking her unconscious temporarily. But next week, I fully expect her to spit up pea soup and walk down staircases like a spider. At least metaphorically.
All right, people, I’m spent. Now it’s over to you to continue the “Asylum” conversation in the comments section.