American Horror Story Asylum, S2E10: The Name Game
Original Airdate: January 2, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Welcome to 2013, everyone. I know that some people like to ease into a new year…and if you’re one of those people, you’re probably still reeling from tonight’s American Horror Story: Asylum. Wow. Oh wow. I stared at the screen for a good five minutes wondering if I had been dreaming. I did not see any of that coming at all. For those of you in the “go big or go home” camp, I’m sure you’re reveling in the excitement. In any case, let’s get to it, shall we?
The last time we saw Kit, he was dead. Well, kind of. Dr. Arden brought him to the brink of death to see if the aliens would return. After a shot of adrenaline and a few blows to the chest, Kit sits bolt upright and asks Arden if it worked. Did they come? “No,” Arden replies. His eyes, though, remain hooded as we see flashbacks of what really happened. Lights filled every crevice of the surgical suite, and a very naked, very pregnant Grace is found in one of Arden’s rooms. We see that he bends down to examine her, then he hooks her up to an IV and leaves her…while Pepper stands watch. Kit listens in mute shock as Arden tells him their experiment didn’t work….
….except, as we all know, it did work. Next we see Arden standing in his surgical suite with Grace on the table, draped in linens. He’s planning an x-ray to see what’s inside of her. But Pepper warns him that Grace is “protected.” The x-ray would hurt the life growing inside of her, and so the rays will not be allowed to pass through her body. Arden taunts Pepper, saying that even though she has now been granted the power to speak, she’s nothing more than a “parrot” for the aliens. Pepper doesn’t flinch. She seems to know that as Grace’s protector, she is safe, too. Arden proposes a more invasive approach, but the scalpel is yanked away from him by some mysterious force. He collapses in frightened shock against the stairs. Pepper gets closer, telling him that it was easy for her sister’s brother to kill her nephew and cut off his ears and then blame her for the whole thing. The judge took one look at her “micro cephalic” head and locked her away. However, in this case, should something come to the public’s attention about Grace, the only person who will be blamed is Arden, and then he’ll end up as a resident of Briarcliff as well. As she returns to Grace’s side, she suggests that he returns to his “whore-nun” so that she can lick his wounds. Arden’s expression says it all—he’s terrified, and the worst part about it for him is that he doesn’t have any control of anything anymore.
Sister Eunice wheels Monsignor O’Hara into a private wing of the hospital. He’s gaunt and his hands and feet have been bandaged, and he is filled with remorse that he fell for Lee Emerson’s tricks. He’s clutching his rosary like a child with a security blanket. Eunice kneels at his feet, reminiscent of Mary Magdalene, and removes his slippers. She assures him there is a manhunt covering five states. They’ll find him. And don’t worry, she says, she’ll be sleeping in the bed next to his should he need anything during the night. Yeah, like that’s comforting…. We see him while he’s still hanging from the cross, and the Back Winged Angel appears to him. She isn’t there to take him, for he has work to do. The Devil is in residence at Briarcliff, she says, inhabiting the body of his favorite nun. He needs to cast the Devil out. O’Hara worries that he’s too weak, that his thoughts are too transparent. But the Black Winged Angel assures him that he will have help, and that he can use the rosary to keep God’s name on his lips, which will in turn keep the Devil from his mind. Once he has been tucked into bed, he thanks Eunice while rubbing his beads. She smiles sweetly at him, telling him that she’ll return after overseeing a delivery. Exciting new things are happening at Briarcliff, she says.
Indeed, a bright new (well, used) juke box has been delivered to the day room. Jude and Lana watch as Eunice blows the whistle to get everyone’s attention. She’s doing this to spite me, Jude mutters. Eunice declares that the juke box is meant to bring the ward into the modern age now that someone broke their recording of “Dominique.” She stands beside Jude and talks about her without using her name, only referring to her by her patient number. After nailing her with a few verbal jabs, she dedicates “I Put a Spell on You” to Judy Martin and then leaves the room. Lana perks up with interest when she hears Sister Jude’s real name, but Jude reminds her that they’re all just a bunch of numbers. Disgusted, Jude gets up and leaves, brushing past a dazed-and-confused looking Tate.
Lana rushes over to Kit and hugs him. There’s so much that has happened since they last saw each other, but neither has had a chance to confess what they have been up to separately. All that is about to change, however, as Dr. Thredson breezes into the day room like he owns the place. And you’d never know that he’d previously been tied up in a storage room, either. Lana and Kit are shocked as Thredson sits down. Lana considers using the ashtray to bash his face in, but he moves it out of reach. He compliments her pluck, hoping that she passes this trait on to their child. Kit looks on in confusion. Thredson tells him that her attempt to abort the child didn’t work. In fact, the baby is the only thing keeping her safe, and obviously he’ll need to keep her around until she’s done breastfeeding. At that point, all bets are off. Kit is on thin ice, too, given that he’s a “wanted man.” But turning him in for the reward simply won’t work. Now we see why he hasn’t been turned in yet—until the taped confession is found, Kit will be housed at Briarcliff. Thredson offers them a small smile. They can continue this conversation later during their therapy sessions. Sister Eunice has offered him a permanent job at the asylum. “She’s a remarkably forward thinking administrator, for a nun,” he muses. “And surprisingly adept at untying slipknots.” With that little barb, Thredson meanders away, leaving Kit and Lana to ponder their newfound dilemma.
Jude is in her bed listening to the screams coming from the hallway. Then the guards order everyone out into the hall as Sister Eunice struts into the corridor, cheerfully announcing a room check. It keeps the inmates honest, she informs Jude, who accuses Eunice of mocking her. But Eunice doesn’t have time to mock Jude, she laughs. There is so much to be done. Lana lunges at Eunice and forces her up against the wall, demanding to know why she set Thredson free. Eunice calls for the guards, and then she calmly informs Lana that Thredson is a cutting edge doctor. Lana tells her that Thredson will kill her, and then it will all be Eunice’s fault. This makes Eunice even more gleeful. Thredson’s only concern, she says, is for Lana’s welfare and the welfare of her baby. With a pat on Lana’s belly, she tells the guards to boil Lana for twenty minutes in the hydrotherapy room. Then Jude speaks up, which sparks a room search. Eunice emerges with a cucumber and asks if she stole that idea from Shelley’s playbook. As Eunice grasps the cucumber suggestively, she asks Jude if she thinks of the Monsignor when she’s using it. And they just can’t allow her to keep “diddling herself,” Eunice muses. “So punish me,” Jude replies.
Her wish, Eunice’s command. Next we see Jude being strapped to the same exam table that Lana was strapped into upon her arrival at Briarcliff. She’s exhibiting signs of manic depression, Dr. Arden explains, and therefore they must use the most common form of treatment: electroshock therapy. After all, Eunice adds, that same treatment cured Lana of her “gynophilia.” She sticks a gag into Jude’s mouth to keep her from appealing to whatever is left of the real Sister Mary Eunice, and then she asks Arden for permission to throw the switch. He tells her that they need no more than 50% power…but Eunice cranks it well beyond that. Jude screams and convulses.
Later, a very different Sister Eunice tends to Monsignor O’Hara’s wounds. She laments the fact that his wounds are healing so fast, as his wounds make him all the more worthy of sainthood. As she finishes her thought, O’Hara grabs her and presses his crucifix to her forehead, calling upon mighty forces to restrain her and cast the demon out. She easily throws him off and recites a dirty limerick for him, which leads her to wonder if he is as well-endowed as the priest in the rhyme. She straddles him and taunts him over the fact that his body is betraying him. He’s aroused. She pulls off her habit and removes her frock, revealing pink lingerie underneath. Eunice takes his hand and places it over her breast, telling him that they’re like Adam and Eve, discovering each other for the first time. “I gave my body to Christ,” he gasps. “What has He given to you?” she retorts. As she rides the Monsignor to his first orgasm, she turns and sees Dr. Arden standing in the doorway watching her.
Meanwhile, Jude staggers into the day room with the same confusion that poor Lana felt after her “therapy.” The other inmates laugh at her condition while Lana and Kit watch her in something that resembles sympathy. “Looks like the turned the juice up extra high,” Lana observes, then she wonders why she doesn’t feel better seeing Jude in a similar situation as she had been in (by Jude’s own hand). When Jude starts beating the juke box, Lana rushes over and stops her, then she asks if Jude remembers who she is. She calls herself “Lana Banana,” then asks if Jude knows her own name. That’s when Jude focuses on the music selections and chooses Shirley Ellis’ “Name Game.” The next thing you know, the Briarcliff day room has become the set of Glee, with Sister Jude as the lead singer. Lana and Kit become her backup dancers as she sings the song using inmate names. The whole thing is surreal…and so perfect. When it’s over, Lana is still there asking if Jude remembers her name. Jude stares at her. She’s stuck inside her own head for now. (And, frankly, being inside her head is fun if it’s like that all the time…well, apart from the electroshock part)
Dr. Arden wheels a load of fresh meat out to his pets in the woods. The poor guy has had a rough time lately. First he realizes that his sweet innocent nun is possessed, then he is berated and threatened by Pepper, and then he discovers Eunice screwing the Monsignor. Eunice catches up to him and picks up on his jealousy. She assures him that the Monsignor didn’t mean anything to her, which he believes, and he refuses to entertain her notion of performing a lobotomy on Jude, citing the fact that it’s something she wants. Then after he has fed the creatures, he shoots them, ending the experiment. Eunice is shocked and then amused by his tantrum. Arden is at his breaking point. He points the gun at his head but doesn’t have the courage to pull the trigger. He tells her that losing her was more difficult that she could ever imagine, and she laughs at him and tells him he’s pathetic. When he reaches out for her and begs for mercy, she casts him aside and walks away, leaving him broken.
Jude is in the kitchen trying to mold the dough into something useful, but her motor skills are gone. The Monsignor enters and orders everyone from the kitchen except for Jude. Once they’re alone, he slowly approaches and tries at first to help her with her work, commenting on the high dosage of medications they gave her. Then he starts pouring out his soul to her. She has always been his moral compass, and now he needs advice. He doesn’t know what to do, whether he should leave the Church or not. Jude was right, Eunice is possessed, and she stole his virtue. He’s a broken man, too, but in a vastly different way from Dr. Arden. He reaches across the table and grabs Jude’s hand. It’s hard to tell what this means to her because her face is expressionless. But when he asks what he should do, her expression hardens. “Kill her,” she tells him. His face crumbles, as if he’s already considered that and is looking for another way.
Thredson asks a guard to bring Kit to his office. He stops by Arden’s office, and when he finds that Arden isn’t in, he enters and starts searching for sodium pentothal. That’s when he hears the moans coming from deep inside the office. He ventures deeper into the surgical suite and comes across Grace, who is on the exam table and she’s bearing down with all her might. Pepper pops up at the end of the table. “She’s crowning,” she informs him. Thredson’s face registers his confusion for a split second before the wheels start turning.
Back in the Monsignor’s room, the good priest is saying a prayer asking for the strength to carry out his plan. Eunice appears in the doorway and taunts him. She asks if he’s ready for another round in bed, but he refuses, stating firmly that there will be no more indiscretions. He stumbles into the office and she follows on his heels, asking how he plans to kill her. Letter opener? Too messy. “You could bludgeon me with the statue of Saint Francis. That would be ironic,” she laughs. Will he use his rosary, the way he did with Shelley? That’s right, she knows everything about him, and she makes sure that he knows it. However, the fact that he wants to kill her isn’t putting her off. She wants to take him to the highest position in the Church; she has figured out that power is his weakness. She can get him there, she says. But that ship has sailed for the Monsignor. He follows her from the room, saying that the demon isn’t strong enough to overpower the goodness inside of Sister Mary Eunice. He’s toying with her now, and it’s really starting to piss the demon off. But as she threatens him, she cracks. The real Mary Eunice pulls through and apologizes to the Monsignor and tells him that she’s tired of fighting. “Then let go of me, Sister,” he whispers. She lets go, and he shoves her over the railing. Their eyes lock gazes as she falls. When she hits the floor, her eyes shift toward the Black Winged Angel, who slowly approaches her. “Take me,” Eunice whispers. “I’ll take both of you,” the angel replies, leaning in for a kiss. And then she’s gone. Probably. With this show, you never really know.
But it looks like Sister Mary Eunice is in fact dead. Next we see Monsignor O’Hara saying a prayer over her. When Dr. Arden walks in, he informs the doctor that she has been released from Satan’s grasp. Arden can’t resist getting in another barb with the Monsignor, pointing out that she fell from the third story balcony, so it looks like it was his grip that failed her. When the Monsignor talks about preparing her for burial, Arden stops him and insists that she is cremated, given the fact that every cell had been corrupted by the devil. Briarcliff’s crematorium is still fully functional. He refuses the Monsignor’s help, opting to see to the whole thing himself. As O’Hara turns to leave, he mentions the smell that is often noted when people die. St. Teresa of Avila’s body gave off a fragrance of fresh flowers for days after her death. Arden asks what the Monsignor smells. O’Hara pauses and gives Arden a long look. Nothing but “decay,” he says, walking away. Once he’s gone. Arden approaches Eunice’s body and gently dabs her lip with a cloth.
Upstairs, seemingly oblivious to everything that has been going on, Thredson meets up with Kit for their 3pm appointment. Kit’s bravado doesn’t faze the doctor in the least. Underneath his martyr complex, Thredson explains, is his savior complex, which is particularly strong with women. If that’s the case, Thredson reasons, then it’s probably stronger with children. That’s when he opens the office door to reveal Grace and her baby, with Pepper standing protectively behind them. It would seem that Arden’s diagnosis was way off base, and since Grace claims that the baby is Kit’s, it would seem that Dr. Arden has been up to something in that lab of his. Kit asks if it’s true, and Grace nods. Kit instantly becomes wary of Thredson, asking what he’s going to do. We flash to Thredson in the hydrotherapy room, presumably searching for the tape of his confession. He finds a parcel under the tub and opens it to find a copy of “See Spot Jump.” “I don’t want to ruin it for you, but Spot jumps,” Lana drawls from the doorway. Thredson moves to hit her when she pulls out her trump card. He wouldn’t want to hit the mother of his child, would he? Now she’s the only one who knows where the tape is, and should he do anything to hurt Kit, she’ll find a way to get that tape to the police. She’s plucky like that, you know?
Mother Superior pays Jude a visit because the Monsignor told her that Jude has been calling for her. Jude tells her that she and the Monsignor are getting married…in the Vatican. Mother Superior’s expression is troubled as she sees how delusional Jude has become. But there’s something that Jude needs. She points at Lana. Jude tells Mother Superior that she wronged her, and Mother Superior needs to help her. She needs to get Lana out of Briarcliff. “Help her get out!”
In the bowels of Briarcliff, Arden prepares the body of Sister Mary Eunice for cremation. She has been dressed in a white gown and in death she looks every bit as angelic and innocent as she did in life before the demon took possession of her body. He touches her face lightly, lovingly, and then he bends down almost as if to kiss her. The furnace is ready for her. As her body slowly moves toward the fire, Dr. Arthur Arden climbs on top of her and embraces her as she enters the crematorium. The door slams shut, and we’re left with the sound of his screams as he burns with her.
Well. I don’t know about you, but that was no way to ease into the New Year. There were so many critical elements to this episode that I don’t know where to begin. For starters, who would have thought that a show like American Horror Story: Asylum could work in a musical number. And the thing is, it worked. That moment was just as appropriate as Lana’s drug induced Pulitzer Prize acceptance speech. As always, Jessica Lange played it spot on, with flair and pizazz. Someone give this woman another Golden Globe!
The little détente between Lana and Dr. Thredson is very interesting. She has most of the power so long as she carries Thredson’s baby, and she can use that power to keep Kit and Grace safe. But without Arden, Sister Jude, or even Sister Eunice to watch over him, there’s nothing really keeping Thredson in check.
So much to consider. So many possibilities. I am eager to hear what you think. This may have been the best episode yet. Please leave your comments below!