American Horror Story Asylum, S2E12: Continuum
Original Airdate: January 16, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
This week’s episode of American Horror Story Asylum was something of a departure from other episodes in the season. Now that many of the key storylines have been wrapped up, it’s a matter of bringing closure to the season. I couldn’t have predicted anything that happened tonight. I didn’t see it coming. The pacing of the episode was very different, with major chunks of time given to the remaining characters because there really aren’t that many characters left. The episode begins with Kit’s story.
We start out in 1967. We’re back at Kit’s house, and there are “his” and “hers” high chairs in the kitchen. One look at the family photos on the wall and we understand why. Kit seems to have shacked up with his wife and Briarcliff girlfriend. And between them they have a baby boy and baby girl. Then we hear noises. It sounds like someone is crying. As the camera pans through the house, Kit comes into view. He is covered in blood and is carrying an axe. He sits in the armchair with a dazed expression. “Daddy?” says a little girl’s voice off screen. “Daddy will be there in a minute,” Kit replies, eyes wide, as tears mix with the blood on his face.
Moving back in time, we are able to see the Walker household in happier times. The kids are playing with a roll of toilet paper while Grace is busy drawing. Alma rushes in from the garden talking about the bountiful harvest and whether or not they should plant corn. It all seems a little too idyllic. Grace wants to know if her drawing looks like the alien doctor. Alma’s expression shifts and she looks away, claiming not to remember. Grace notes Alma’s reluctance but doesn’t say anything and instead goes to rescue the toilet paper from the children. That’s when Kit gets home. He dutifully greets his kids and each of the women. He’s full of energy, having been inspired by an upcoming march in Boston. He wants to join them, praising their level of organization. He wants the whole family to go and join people who are just like them, uniting for a common purpose. Alma isn’t really listening. She’s watching Grace show the alien picture to Thomas, and she finally asks Kit if perhaps the pictures are too much for the children. Kit’s expression changes slightly, suggesting that this isn’t the first time the topic has been raised. As he takes his son off to play, he compliments Grace’s drawing skills.
Later that night, Kit sits beside Alma on the bed. He kisses her shoulder but worries that he’s losing his touch when she’s not exactly responsive. She reassures him by kissing him, but clearly she’s preoccupied about Grace. All she has been doing over the past few weeks is draw pictures of aliens. She’s obsessed with it. Kit points out that Alma never speaks of the incident. Everyone processes things differently. But Alma isn’t convinced. She thinks that Grace is focused on the past because she’s unhappy with the present. She urges Kit to go to her and spend time with her. He is reluctant at first, pointing out that it’s not like he’s on a schedule and he’s trying to do what feels normal to him. But Alma’s eyes say it all—she’s worried. So he leaves her to find Grace.
Grace is hunched over her notebook, putting the final touches on another image. She asks Kit if the scene is how he remembers it. He shrugs and says something noncommittal. Grace tells him that she’s making the drawings for the children, so that they know where they came from. It’s important that they know where they came from. “Alma’s worried,” Kit admits. She wants to forget about what happened in the past, Grace replies. Grace is more worried about the memories of the night that she killed her family that keep resurfacing. He tries to tell her she’s a different person now, but she’s fearful of losing control again. He kisses her and reassures her, and soon they’re getting hot and bothered. They’re also sharing a wall with Alma’s bedroom, and she’s listening to them while she’s alone in bed.
That’s when the lights flicker and a blinding light fills the room. Alma panics, thinking it’s the aliens again. She’s clearly terrified that they’re coming back for her. Grace appears and says she needs help with the babies. Then we see Kit with a shotgun, and judging from the noise outside, the Walker residence is being terrorized by humans. The living room window is broken and the curtains ignite into flames. Grace puts out the fire while Alma watches in horror.
The local police don’t seem too concerned about the attack. Kit tells the officer he knows who did it, but the officer isn’t convinced. He’s more concerned with the fact that Kit has two children with two different women, and one child is black and the other is white. He reminds Kit that polygamy is illegal in the state of Massachusetts. When Kit returns to the house, he tells Grace that the police aren’t going to be any help. She tells him that Alma is inside crying because she thought “the creatures” were coming back for them. “She’s inconsolable,” she adds. Kit hugs Grace but goes in to comfort Alma.
Later on, Grace is on the floor with Thomas. She asks, in French, where Thomas comes from. He points to the sky. Alma watches in disgust. When Baby Julia starts crying, Alma brushes aside Grace’s offer of help and rushes to her daughter’s aid. Grace follows, demanding to know what is going on. Is she upset that Kit is spending more time with her? Alma points out that she had made that suggestion to Kit. No, her anger lies in the fact that she can’t deal with the alien talk anymore. It was the worst thing that ever happened to her, while Grace walks around like it was a “religious experience.” But to Grace, it was…especially given the fact that they brought her back to life. Alma reminds Grace that she had been taken from her happy home and was stripped and probed without her permission. She had been happy with her life before, and now everything is crazy. Especially with the addition of an ax murderer to the household. While she talks, images flash of Kit outside chopping wood. Axes. Chopping. Not good for the recovering chop-a-holic. Grace points out that Kit is the reason the aliens came to them in the first place. They like his energy. Alma goes thermonuclear hearing Grace talking about her husband. She reminds Grace that before the aliens came, she was married to Kit and they were happy. Grace wants to know how she can call herself happy when she was hiding. Would she want her daughter to hide, too? (Check out the manic look on Grace’s face. She’s obsessed.) That makes Alma snap. She slaps Grace, then immediately apologizes. Kit walks in with the freshly chopped wood and sees his women in their standoff. He calls a family meeting, but Grace is done with meetings. She grabs Thomas and leaves the room.
That night, Kit is in bed with Alma. He kisses her and goes off in search of Grace. He finds her in the living room, hunched over her drawings. He’s worried about her, but she says she’s worried about Alma. Before she can say anything else, there is a sickening thud, and an ax lands squarely in Grace’s back. Alma brings it down again and blood pours forth from the wound. As Grace lay dying, Kit tackles Alma. He’s in shock, and she’s babbling incoherently about having to hide from the aliens. At this point, we see the scene from the beginning of the show, only now we know what really happened. Kit didn’t kill Grace. Alma killed Grace.
At Briarcliff, Jude is running the dayroom, with Pepper as her second in command. It’s 1968. Not only is Jude the master of the dayroom, she’s also the Queen of Candyland. The Monsignor walks in with a suitcase in hand. He asks to speak with Jude but she doesn’t acknowledge him. Her name isn’t Jude anymore; her new identity is Betty Drake. Jude is dead. Pepper is in on the little game. Finally he manages to get an audience with Her Majesty. The Church sold Briarcliff to the state, and it will now be used as an overflow facility. He tells her that he’s leaving Briarcliff. He is now the Cardinal of New York, but before he leaves he tells Jude that he feels the need to right the terrible wrong that has been done to her. He’s going to get her out of Briarcliff. Jude doesn’t believe him, but he insists that he will make a believer of her once more.
In the kitchen, the Briarcliff inmates are interrupted by the arrival of a new group of inmates. Overflow inmates. Suddenly a trio of women enters the kitchen, and Jude backs away from her table in shock. It looks like the Angel of Death in inmate garb, flanked by two lackeys who are very scary looking. Jude’s eyes are wide. She didn’t call her. What’s she doing at Briarcliff? Frances Conroy does an amazing job of looking scary as hell while remaining totally disinterested. She and her girls have been transferred over from County. They’ve heard that Jude runs the place and she expects Jude to fall in line.
Jude and Pepper climb the stairs. Jude saw this coming. She saw the storm clouds gathering and her only hope is that the Monsignor keeps his promise. Pepper sagely reminds Jude that she can’t put too much faith in the Monsignor’s words. Together they look out over the entryway at the endless stream of new inmates. Jude says they have lots of new souls to care for. One of those souls looks up at them. It’s Alma.
Jorge the guard escorts Jude to her cell. She tells him to pray for his mother’s recovery, and he thanks her. But then she sees that the Inmate of Death is in her cell. She’s got the top bunk. Jude realizes that she took her cigarettes, but IoD reminds her that everything in the cell belongs to her. Again, Frances Conroy is creepy! She’s so detached. Jude wants to know why she’s there. She didn’t call for her. She’s so close to getting out. But IoD laughs. There’s only one way out of Briarcliff, “and it ain’t through the front door,” she laughs. She stalks Jude around the cell. The room is full of menace and sexual tension. Jude tells her to stay away. But IoD suspects that Jude will come around. Eventually.
Pepper can tell something is bothering Jude the next day. Jude tells her she’s having trouble sleeping with her new roommate. Their conversation is interrupted when IoD and her lackeys enter the dayroom. It looks like they’re floating; they’re so calm and self-assured. IoD approaches Alma, wondering why she’s all alone. Alma senses the danger IoD presents, and she quickly gets out of her way. IoD lets her go, but only because she needs to deal with Rummy, who hasn’t been saving his meds for them the way he’s supposed to. She can’t allow that kind of behavior, so she stabs him in the gut with a shank, and as he is dying at her feet, she blows Jude a kiss. Creepy. Very flipping creepy.
Jude dreams of the Angel of Death and awakens to find the Inmate of Death hovering over her, trying to get a kiss. In the hallway, guards come running when they hear screams coming from her room. Jude is on the floor beating up…wait, that’s not IoD. It’s some other inmate. Jude stops screaming about being kissed long enough to realize her mistake. But what happened?
The Briarcliff administration office is all wrong. Jude sits at what used to be her desk, bound in a straightjacket, and looks around to see that the walls have been plastered with official looking documents and the cross was removed. “It’s all wrong,” she mutters. That’s when a portly administrator walks in. It’s hard to picture someone dressed so prim working at a place as filthy as Briarcliff. What are they going to do with Betty Drake, who can’t get along with her roommates? Does she even know where she is? Jude looks around and catches herself before she says she’s in “her office.” She sees the sign on the desk—Dr. Miranda Crump—and says she’s in her office. The wheels are turning in Jude’s head. She has the presence of mind to play the game… It would seem that Betty hasn’t gotten along with any of her roommates, and she’s been through five in the past two months. This is a shock to Jude, who is confused beyond belief. She needs to speak with the Monsignor. Dr. Crump doesn’t understand the request. The Cardinal hasn’t been around Briarcliff in over two years. This makes no sense to Jude, who believes she spoke to him a few days prior about her release. Ask Pepper. Pepper was there. Dr. Crump frowns. Pepper died in 1966. She knows Jude was close to her. Clearly her meds need to be adjusted. Jude looks shell shocked. What is happening? Where did the time go?
A crowd has gathered at a book signing at a local book shop. But first, Lana Winters is going to do a reading from her bestselling book, Maniac. The audience is rapt as Lana takes center stage and begins to read from her book. She speaks of how impossible it is to tell how much time passes when you’re in that place, which makes us think of poor Jude. Soon, however, it becomes clear that she’s telling a story that didn’t really happen. In fact, Dr. Thredson stands up and says so. Lana points out that he said he was going to do it, so she included it even though it didn’t really happen. “I’m a writer. It’s my job to tell the essence of truth.” He believes she sold out just to sell books. Wendy stands up, agreeing that she sold out. Their romantic relationship didn’t make the book. She became Lana’s roommate. Lana argues that their relationship would have distracted from the message of her book, but Wendy agrees with Thredson. Lana sold out. Lana is only concerned with fame.
The shop owner pulls Lana out of her reverie. Lana is apologetic, thinking she lost her place, but the store owner silences her apology, offering her own apology that Lana had to live through that again. The audience gives her a warm round of applause. Lana loves it. Clearly, fame has gone to her head. Imaginary Thredson was right about that. While she’s signing, Lana’s assistant brings her a warm Tab and tells her there aren’t any snacks. We get a glimpse of Diva Lana as Lana sends her assistant skittering away to fetch ice.
Lana isn’t looking when he walks up. She asks who to make it out to, and he says “Kit Walker.” And there stands Kit. She seems happy to see him, though she’s apologetic that she didn’t contact him when Grace died. He tells her he would have liked hearing from her, but she’s too caught up with herself to really hear him. They go grab a cup of coffee. Lana can’t stop talking about her book, and the movie deal that she’s been offered. Kit can tell she’s not the Lana he used to know. He asks if she has been back to Briarcliff, but she keeps talking. She wants to write her next book about the crazy Santa who nailed the Monsignor to the cross and escaped. Did Kit know that he killed seven nuns? Kit pounds his fist in the table. Why would she write about him when there is so much to uncover at Briarcliff? That was what Lana swore she’d do, and she abandoned that effort in favor of writing about psychos. But psychos are her canvas, she tells him. She’s found her voice, and just like Truman Capote, she is building a life for herself by spinning straw into gold. She tells Kit that she knows full well she could still be back there drooling in the bread dough with the other nuts. Kit stops her. His wife is in Briarcliff.
Kit is in the dayroom with Alma sharing handprints that the children made. Little Julia still sets out a plate just in case Alma shows up for dinner. Alma would give anything to see the children again, but as they look around the dayroom at the inmates having sex and pulling their catheters out, she realizes that Briarcliff is no place to bring children. She can’t comprehend how Kit survived it.
Lana feels awful hearing that Alma is stuck there. “Not anymore,” Kit replies. It turns out that Alma died suddenly. He returns to the Briarcliff infirmary/morgue to view her body. The nurse explains that her heart stopped. Kit is left with her body, and he apologizes to her for thinking that all of his crazy plans and dreams would work out. He failed her, and he failed Grace.
Back at the café, Lana ponders the fact that they’re the only ones left. Well, there’s still one more member of the gang, Kit informs her. And she’s the toughest of them all. Jude. Lana shakes her head. She saw Jude’s death certificate. Kit saw her. After leaving Alma’s body, he walked back through the dayroom and found Jude sitting in front of the television. It was time for her story, which happened to be “The Flying Nun.” Jude doesn’t recognize Kit at all. She explains to him that the show stole her idea. The whole thing is based on her life. They even stole her hat, but what they don’t know is that she doesn’t need the hat to fly. One day she’s going to fly out of there. Kit squeezes her shoulder. He believes that she will, he tells her, then he leaves. Jude touches her shoulder, probably wondering if he was real or not.
Lana feels bad about Jude, but there isn’t anything she can do. She tried to help her. She couldn’t have known that the Monsignor fabricated her death. Kit sees this as all the more reason for Lana to expose the horrors going on at Briarcliff, but she isn’t interested. She has a new life. That’s when her assistant comes up and reminds Lana about the people waiting to get their books signed. She and Kit part ways. Kit shakes his head, looking thoroughly disgusted at the woman he thought he knew.
Johnny Morgan is outside the book shop in the present day. The store has seen better days. In fact, it’s going out of business. The owner is moving books around when he walks in. He explains that he’s looking for a first edition book, and he knows she has one in stock. He’s looking for Maniac. The shop owner isn’t willing to part with the book, which belonged to her mother. Morgan explains that he is Lana Winters’ son, but the woman isn’t fooled: According to Lana Winters, the baby that she conceived when Bloody Face raped her died after being born. It is yet another fabrication on Lana’s part. Morgan needs the book, which bears her signature, so that he can be one step closer to meeting his mother. The signature will be the closest he has ever been to her. The shop owner fearfully puts the book on the counter. Morgan explains that he is ready to finish the job that his father was unable to do. He’s going to kill his mother.
I don’t know how I felt about this episode. The pacing was so different and we spent most of the time away from Briarcliff. It was indeed a departure from the rest of the season. I felt bad for poor Kit, who is now raising two children on his own. Will the aliens return to claim them? Who knows? I half expected the aliens to return when Alma killed Grace, but it looks like Grace (and Dr. Arden) was right—Kit is the link. My guess is that we haven’t seen the end of the aliens.
It’s hard to say what will become of Jude. If the Monsignor visited her in 1968, and Pepper was with her, how is it that Pepper died in 1965? And Alma killed Grace in 1967, but she arrived at Briarcliff in 1968 (apparently), and Pepper was still alive. Was everything a hallucination? The more I watch those scenes, the more confusing it all is. I’m not sure what we saw. All I do know is that Francis Conroy was downright creepy as in inmate, infinitely more so than when she was the Angel of Death. I’d sleep with one eye open if she was around. Part of me wonders, though, whether or not she was one of Jude’s hallucinations as well.
I’m not sure that we gained very much insight into how the season is going to wrap up next week, but I do know that it looks more and more like there won’t be a happy ending for the characters the way some of you might have hoped. Johnny Morgan is definitely out for revenge. Kit looks like a man who has lost everything in life and is searching for meaning. Thought her spirit is indomitable, Jude is in a bad place and she’s close to losing hope. And, if tonight’s episode is any indication, all bets are off when it comes to the fate of our troubled friends from Briarcliff.
As always, I welcome your comments and speculation below. I will see you next week for the season finale!