American Horror Story Asylum, S2E9: The Coat Hanger
Original Airdate: December 12, 2012
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
I’ve come to appreciate the fact that you never know what to expect from the AHS writers. Tonight’s episode only reinforced that idea even more.
Johnny Morgan has sought out a hypnotherapist to help him curb his “urges.” He doesn’t smoke, and she doesn’t think he needs to lose weight, so after hearing about how his foster family kicked him out of the house for finding evidence of his pastime, she assures him that it’s a perfectly natural urge. How long has he been touching himself, she asks. Confusion flits across his face. He skinned a cat, he tells her. It was already dead, but he found the process simple. Then he found that killing them was just as good. The poor hypnotherapist listens with increasing alarm and tries to tell Morgan that she isn’t qualified to help him. But he insists that she can help him. The voices in his head are urging him on more and more. They’re telling him to figure out who he is by tracing his genealogy…and to hurt women. We flash to poor Teresa being skinned alive on an operating table. She won’t hold still, leading Bloody Face to remove his mask (and now we see that the present day Bloody Face is this peculiar Johnny Morgan) and tell her to hold still. Skinning is delicate work, you know. But then we return to the office. You see, he doesn’t have the medical skills his father had…. MEDICAL SKILLS? FATHER? Wait…it can’t be…. Morgan wonders if it’s too late for him. The hypnotherapist mistakes his question, thinking he wants to turn himself in. But no, that’s not it at all. He doesn’t want to turn himself in. He wants to know if it’s too late to go to medical school. And his name isn’t really Morgan. It’s Thredson. “I’m the son of Bloody Face,” he says.
The crazy train continues when Lana is summoned to Demon Eunice’s office. Eunice chastises the nun who brings her in for not knocking, just as Jude used to chastise her. But now isn’t the time for any kind of sassiness, not in Lana’s “condition.” Lana’s face is blank as Eunice leans forward gleefully and informs her that her lesbian affliction must have been cured, because the rabbit died. She’s pregnant. As Lana looks on in shock, Demon Eunice playfully offers her a Drano margarita, just like the ones her aunt prepared for her cousin when she got knocked up. But that’s not an option for Lana. And don’t worry, the asylum knows how to care for little ones before they’re relocated to the children’s home. She’s going to have this baby. And it isn’t just any baby; Lana is carrying Thredson’s baby, and she is going to have it. Eunice hands Lana a paper as she leaves. Lana takes one look at it and faints dead away.
Monsignor O’Hara is relieved when Jude awakens. He tells her not to struggle. She has been injured. But Jude struggles anyway, realizing that she has been restrained on the bed, and she’s wearing the same headgear that Lana sported upon her return to Briarcliff. He consoles her, caressing her cheek. He should have noticed that she’d become unhinged. Jude wants to get out of bed, but he can’t let her leave. She killed a man. Jude tries to explain that it was self-defense. O’Hara shakes his head sadly. There were witnesses. She murdered Frank, the guard. Wait…what?
We flash to the dayroom, where the police are interviewing Mr. Emerson, the delightfully deranged Santa Claus of Briarcliff, whose neck is now sporting a bright white bandage after Jude stabbed him. He saw Sister Jude murder Frank outside of his cell. Then we see Sister Eunice corroborate his story, followed by Dr. Arden, who maintains that she had become increasingly delusional. Mother Superior tells the police that Jude suspected that Sister Mary Eunice was possessed. Eunice goes on to say that Jude threatened her with the same blade, and she smelled of alcohol. As Mr. Emerson confirms that he watched Jude murder that man in cold blood, the police mention the fact that he was in fact responsible for the deaths of 18 people. He pauses reflectively. The state found that he wasn’t responsible, he points out, and that’s what brought him to Briarcliff. However, he sees that he really is responsible for sending those people to heaven, and he hopes through his quest for redemption he’ll be able to apologize to them someday. Monsignor O’Hara leans forward, interested in this twisted yet intriguing perspective.
Back in Jude’s room, the Monsignor informs her that she has been remanded to Briarcliff, where she’ll live out the rest of her life as an inmate. She will no longer be a member of the clergy and will once again revert to Judy Martin. “You son of a bitch!” she screams at him. O’Hara leans against the outer door, closing his eyes as she screams that this whole thing was a setup.
In the kitchen, a dazed Lana prepares bread. She watches an orderly wheel a rack of laundry into the storage area. Hmm.
Monsignor O’Hara in going through Jude’s personal effects when he comes to the red negligee she’d worn under her habit the night they’d dined together. Eunice walks in and catches him holding it; she makes a joke about who she must have been thinking about when she wore it. Demon Eunice is very chipper. She’s gathering up Jude’s belongings so they can be donated to the needy. She tells the Monsignor that Jude revealed his papal aspirations, which troubles him because he shared those things in confidence. Little does he know, he’s in the same room with the Master Manipulator herself, Demon Mary Eunice, who agrees that he should be in Rome. She sits in the chair and looks up at him, all doe-eyed and seemingly subservient. She wants to help him get to Rome. She wants to save souls. This raises his spirits a little. However, she never actually said whose souls she wanted to save.
Lana is escorted back to her cell. The halls are ringing with the sound of someone screaming. Once she’s inside and the lights are out, she pulls a coat hanger from her gown. As the lightning flashes, she straightens it out. What does she have planned?
Jude is thrashing around. The headgear has been removed and two nuns are trying to administer her medicine. The burly nun reminds the other that Jude isn’t a nun anymore, that she’s just another patient. And she needs to take her pills. How soon the Briarcliff staff turns on its own. Jude scratches her cheek and the nun slaps her, threatening to get Frank…but, oh, wait…Jude killed Frank. That’s when Monsignor O’Hara comes in. He dismisses the nuns and admits that he wishes Jude would have calmed down by now. There’s someone there to see her. He sweeps the hair from her face and tells her the visitor might do more good than the pills. That’s when Mr. Emerson walks in, his hands clutched in front of his chest. He approaches the bed while Jude stares at him in horror. Then Emerson lowers his hands, palms up, in an almost placating pose. “I forgive you,” he tells her. She can’t believe her ears.
Then we flash to Sister Jude and Frank working to tighten Emerson’s restraints in 1962. He’s in a bed in an empty room and he’d being punished for something. Frank smacks him when he talks out of turn. Then we skip to 1963 and we see the same scene play out. Jude and Frank had been locking him away, by himself, for years and years, as a way to punish him. Now we return to Jude’s room, where Emerson leans down and kisses her. She looks completely shocked at the turnabout, but she’s even more shocked when O’Hara escorts Emerson from the room, giving him a friendly pat on the back. Is this the path for redemption, as O’Hara suggests? Realization is dawning on Jude that she is in a world of trouble.
Kit’s IV drip is leaking into his bedpan. When he hears someone approach, he puts it back, but then he sees that it’s Lana. She tells him that they have to kill Thredson. She doesn’t tell Kit about the baby; rather she says that when the staff finds him he’ll get out and no good can come from that. Kit reminds her that they need him to clear his name. But the only way they can get him to admit the confessions were staged is to use truth serum. If they had some, they would be able to clear both of their names.
Down in the Death Chute, Dr. Arden wanders around trying to figure out what happened to Grace’s body. He has a flashback to the bright lights that filled the hallway. As he inspects the empty mining car, he notices strange footprints on the ground. They look like huge deer prints, or maybe they belong to a Velociraptor.
Lana brings water to her prisoner. Thredson glares at her when she reminds him not to make a sound. He drinks deeply, then he gives her the evil eye. “You’d like to kill me right now,” she remarks. But he’s not going to. In the ultimate “cosmic joke,” she shows him the paperwork that says she’s pregnant. Thredson’s entire demeanor changes when he finds out he’s going to be a father. He’ll change. He has the drive, the motivation, he can be a good father, he tells her. She pulls out the wire hanger and pulls her underwear off, threatening to kill the baby. When he begs her not to do it, she makes him talk about the women he killed, and why he did it. He goes through each murder, all the way to Wendy. His eyes turn cold as he tells Lana that Wendy is the one who locked her away. Lana falters slightly, and then we start hearing his voice, even though he wasn’t speaking. Kit moves out of the shadows, tape recorder in hand. He has the whole thing recorded. Lana tells him to put the tape in a secure location. As Lana pulls her underwear back on, she tells Thredson that the baby is already gone. She took care of it the night before in what became a bloody mess in her cell. He fights his bonds, calling her a murderer.
Kit hides the recording under a tub in the hydrotherapy room. As he leaves, he is interrupted by Dr. Arden, who seems pleased that Kit is up and about. They go back to Arden’s office, where he offers Kit a cigarette and a glass of 18 year old scotch that Arden keeps in his desk for special occasions. Kit knows something is going on. Arden reveals that he saw Kit’s “little green men,” only they’re not little and they’re not green. They’re terrifying. They came as Arden was disposing of Grace’s body, and they took her. Arden shows Kit the mold of their footprints. Arden knows they are more advanced, and clearly there is some reproductive aspect to their mission. Kit had sex with Alma and Grace right before they were both taken, so Arden suspects that Kit is the link. He tells Kit that he wants to take him to the brink of death, believing that if Kit is valuable, they will come for him. With a wicked grin, Arden adds that he doesn’t need Kit’s permission to do this. However, Kit surprises him by volunteering. He’ll do anything if it means seeing Alma again.
Back in the kitchen, Lana waits for the guard to lock things up, then she sneaks in to get a knife. The guard isn’t stupid, though, and he catches her. He makes her return the knife, promising that they’ll call it even if she just gives it up. She doesn’t have the guts to kill anyone. He takes the knife.
In the chapel, Emerson kneels in prayer while the Monsignor observes him. Emerson tells O’Hara that he’s ready to repent. O’Hara sees this as a huge opportunity to gain favor in the Church. If he can oversee the miraculous redemption of this hardened criminal, it might get him closer to that papal dream. He removes Emerson’s shackles and baptizes Emerson in the pool of holy water. As soon as the deed is done, Emerson grabs O’Hara and holds him under the water. O’Hara screams uselessly. So much for idealism.
Lana fetches the wire hanger from her room. She practices using it as a stabbing implement, using her pillow as the intended victim. Next we see her sneaking into the storage room, determined to kill Thredson, but she finds that the room is empty. She runs into the hallway to find Demon Eunice there. Lana knows that she’s behind Thredson’s escape. She tells the nun that the deed is done and the baby is gone. Eunice puts her hand on Lana’s belly and we hear the steady beat of a heart. No, the baby is still alive (“Thank God,” Eunice murmurs), and she informs Lana that it’s a boy.
A patient goes into Dr. Gardner’s office, needing some post-hypnotic suggestion therapy after downing a bucket of chicken. She finds the office has been torn apart, and the poor doctor is in her chair. When she gets closer, we see that Dr. Gardner is very dead. The woman turns to flee, and she comes face to face with Bloody Face Junior.
Lana smokes in the dayroom, looking worse than ever. She’s still pregnant and Thredson is somewhere in the asylum. She looks up and sees Jude enter the dayroom, rubbing her wrists and returning the leers of the other patients. The staff looks at her with disgust. Jude sits down with Lana and asks for a cigarette. She apologizes for what she did to Lana and eventually agrees that it was criminal. But Jude wants to make it up to her by helping to get her out. That didn’t work so well the last time, Lana points out. Jude pledges to earn her trust, starting by smashing the “Dominique” record. The other inmates clap now that the music has been silenced. “Well, hot damn,” Lana murmurs.
Dr. Arden preps Kit for his death. He explains matter-of-factly that he will inject one drug to stop his heart, and then he’ll inject two others after he is dead to revive him. Kit looks horrified, but he steels himself and mutters the only prayer he remembers. As soon as Arden stops his heart, the lights flicker and the room rattles with low frequency sound waves. Looks like you should never piss off the aliens. Arden leaves Kit on the table while he chases the source of the light. There, in the same cell where Leo lost his arm, sits a very naked and pregnant Grace, along with Pepper, the inmate with the unibrow and shaved head. The inmate tells Arden the baby is full term and Grace will need a room. Arden’s eyes are full of wonder as he looks at Grace. She takes his hand and places it on her belly. Meanwhile, Kit’s fate is yet to be determined.
The janitor enters the chapel and finds Monsignor O’Hara nailed to the cross in a gruesome depiction of the Crucifixion. He’s still alive. The man runs out of the room. O’Hara squints through the darkness as a woman approaches. It’s the Woman in Black, the angel of death of squared off with Eunice. “Help me,” O’Hara breathes. She looks at him.
Well, fellow AHS fans, what did you think? I think the season has surpassed the suspense that it had in the earlier episodes. All of our friends are still hanging around the asylum in some form or another. Now we get to see what’s in store for them. Now it looks like there are two babies on the way, too. Babies bring such joy…I can only imagine the joy that an alien spawn and the child of a sociopath will bring to the sunny halls of Briarcliff….
Any predictions for what’s going to happen next? Leave your comments below!