American Horror Story, S2E2: Tricks and Treats
Original Airdate: October 24, 2012
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
It’s not even Halloween and tonight’s American Horror Story: Asylum was full of tricks and treats. You never know what you’re going to get with this show. That’s what makes it great. I have a friend who doesn’t watch a lot of television. I told him to try American Horror Story last week, but when he asked what it was about, I found it difficult to explain. Tonight’s episode proves that there’s no easy way to wrap up a description of the show in a neat and tidy little package. It has a little bit of everything. It’s insane. Incidentally, his response last week was “how have I not been watching this!?” I feel the same way. The show is freaking amazing.
Music plays a very important role this season, particularly because the show is set in 1964, and so much of our American musical heritage comes from this decade. Tonight I want you to think about Dusty Springfield’s song “You Will Be His.” The whole notion of belonging to someone else—or being tied to someone else, or being possessed by someone else—is a theme that runs through the entire episode. We’ll talk about this later on.
Poor Teresa. Not only was her husband’s arm ripped off of his body last week, now she’s alone in present day Briarcliff and Bloody Face is chasing her through the old Death Chute. Not fun at all. She returns to Leo and tries to drag him to safety, but Leo is going in and out of consciousness and can’t do much to give her a hand. Sorry, I had to say it. You know you were thinking it! Bloody Face catches up to her, and she is forced to abandon her husband to save her own life. She leaves Leo outside the chamber and locks herself inside. (Is this a good idea? Wasn’t something inside there? Isn’t that were Leo’s arm is, with his phone?) Teresa watches in horror as Bloody Face kneels beside poor Leo and stabs him repeatedly with something that looks like an ice pick. Adam Levine fans, take note of the fact that our tortured hero isn’t dead….
Wendy’s friends have gathered to console her. She regrets sending Lana to Briarcliff and she’s even more distressed to find out that the serial killer known as Bloody Face has been sent to the same institution. Her lover is locked in with the man accused of killing and mutilating all of those women. She wants to recant. She had been coerced into signing those papers. It’s fair to assume that her friends know about her relationship with Lana. Though they caution her against doing anything that could make the situation worse, they can clearly see that this has torn Wendy apart. When someone knocks on the door, there’s a hesitation to open it. Wendy watches as her more confident friend goes to answer the door, noting that the killer has been caught (here you can see that Bloody Face has truly caused a panic around town). She opens the door to find several children getting a jump start on trick or treating. They’re a day early. Wendy, from inside the couch, starts to cry again. She doesn’t even have any candy.
Later that night, Dusty Springfield’s voice fills Wendy’s house as she sings “You Will Be His.” Wendy is in the shower. Wendy’s windows are open and the curtains are blowing. She has already smoked some pot to calm down. Can you tell this isn’t a good situation? Wendy walks through the house, noting the blowing curtains. She goes through the beaded doorway and comes face to face with Bloody Face. She begs for her life, citing the poor children who won’t understand their teacher’s death. This has no effect on him. Seriously, why haven’t people learned that you can’t leave your windows open? Someone is bound to come inside to kill you! But this is important—this means that Kit can’t possibly be Bloody Face if he is locked up inside Briarcliff and another woman is killed. Make a note of that.
There’s a room search underway at the asylum. Sister Jude explains to Lana that this is how they keep things in order. Shelley says she has a cucumber in her room, but not because she’s hungry. Frank’s initial search of Lana’s room comes up empty, but Sister Jude prompts him to check her pillowcase. Lo and behold, she’s got a stack of notes she’s written to help her remember all of the atrocities she has witnessed. When Sister Jude hears that she was denied her phone call, she asks if she intended to call the American Civil Lesbian Union, knowing that Lana isn’t speaking with her parents and she probably isn’t going to call the lover who committed her. Frank the Guard chuckles. Lana asserts that her editor knows that she’s there to do an article. Someone will come looking for her. And she doesn’t need her notes. She has an excellent memory. Sister Jude walks away. “We’ll see about that.”
Oddly, Sister Jude goes directly to Dr. Arden’s office. He’s not exactly thrilled to see Sister Jude, but he knows why she’s there. It’s the reporter that has been causing her vexation. Sister Jude believes that her memories are in the way of her treatment and her repentance. She wants to know if electroshock therapy is an option. Arden is surprised to hear that she’s changed her mind on a treatment that she previously found to be barbaric. As it turns out, she prayed on it and decided that electroshock therapy is “just another tool in His tool chest.” Read: she needs the reporter to shut the hell up and not remember any of what she’s seeing at Briarcliff.
Lana is taken into the therapy room and strapped to the bed. (This is the same room that Leo and Teresa fooled around in) Arden puts something in her mouth to keep her from swallowing her tongue. To Sarah Paulson’s credit, you can see the sheer terror in Lana’s expression. Dr. Arden invites Sister Jude to participate in the treatment. Not one to back away from a direct challenge (he wants to see if she’ll do it or not), she consents to help. She positions the electrodes on Lana’s temples and Arden turns on the electricity. The lights flicker and Lana’s vision fades in and out. Her body convulses. Seriously, I’d like to know what sick fucker ever thought this was a good idea, let alone an acceptable treatment option for the mentally ill (remember, Lana isn’t mentally ill, they are trying to “cure” her lesbianism). It looks horrible. Even after the electricity goes off, her body is rigid. Sister Jude’s eyes widen ever so much. She doesn’t approve. In fact, she looks a little sick.
Kit is escorted into the day room. He tries to grab a cigarette but it’s taken away from him. Now we’re all introduced to Dr. Oliver Thredson, played by the talented Zachary Quinto. “It seems unreasonable to me that a man should be denied the right to smoke,” he comments, offering Kit a cigarette. The scene alternates between Thredson and Kit talking to Thredson typing up his report. Thredson’s charge at Briarcliff is to determine whether or not Kit is capable of standing trial. We see photos of the mutilated bodies. He postulates that perhaps his actions were the result of a breakdown caused by his illicit relationship. Kit insists that he’s not crazy. He didn’t kill his wife. As mentioned in the police report, Kit asserts that his wife was taken by aliens. She was alive the last time he saw her. Thredson’s diagnosis: Acute clinical insanity.
Outside, Sister Eunice encounters Dr. Arden in the woods. She tells him that the creatures had quite a “ferocious appetite” the night before. They tore the basket apart. Arden promises to explain it to her in good time, but he wants to know if she has told Sister Jude. She hasn’t. It’s their secret. Interesting that a nun is keeping secrets from her superior. He offers a candy apple to Sister Eunice as a treat for helping him. Her face lights up like a child, but she is hesitant to take it. Sister Jude says that “sweets lead to sin.” He insists, holding it out to her. She finally accepts, biting it while he holds it. You can tell that he’s manipulating her. Is he attracted to her? They walk back to the asylum. Shelley watches from the window, noting the apple in Sister Eunice’s basket.
In the dayroom, Lana reflects on her shock therapy. Her temples bear horrible burns from where the electrodes melted her skin. She’s still taking notes as Kit walks in. Her vision fades in and out while she watches him. He goes and sits with Grace, who asks about his meeting with Thredson. He couldn’t pull off the insane act. The only option he has is to escape. Grace knows that this won’t work and tells him as much. Lana is listening. She realizes that there is a way. The tunnels.
Dr. Thredson catches up with Sister Jude, who is eager to know if she’ll have a bed opening up soon. Thredson isn’t done with his report yet, but he wants to talk to her about the conditions in the asylum. He has witnessed several incidents of malpractice and abuse. And it’s unthinkable that they’re using electroshock therapy to treat homosexuality when the new model for treatment is behavior modification. Sister Jude waves him away. This is an asylum, after all. What did he expect? She reminds him that his job is to write a report for one patient—Kit—and he should leave her to her job.
She returns to her office to meet with a family whose son has been having trouble. Jed is a good boy, his mother says, but lately he has been different. Sister Jude assures them that she’s had great success with the “chronic masturbators,” but his mother says that this isn’t his problem. That’s when Thredson interrupts, feigning ignorance at interrupting her meeting. He offers his services and though Sister Jude tries to get him out of the way, Jed’s mother thinks having a doctor would be helpful. Seventeen year old Jed has been acting strangely lately. Thredson tries to blame adolescent hormones, but his mother says that he has been hearing things. His father is afraid Jed will hurt them. The day before, he found Jed in the barn speaking a language no one could understand. He’d ripped their cow apart with his hands and was eating her heart. He described it as “unholy.” Sister Jude taunts Thredson, knowing that this is not a psychiatry case but something more suited for the Church. They go to the exam room where Jed is seated on a bed in a gown. His body is rigid and he tells his mother that he’s frightened. She comforts him as Thredson comes closer, then he lashes out and everyone jumps way from the bed. Jed starts speaking in tongue and his body moves haltingly, like he doesn’t have control of it anymore. Thredson calls for the boy to be medicated. Sister Jude’s expression says it all—she’s afraid. This is much worse than she thought.
Grace and Lana are locked in the hydrotherapy room. The hot water is burning Lana’s burns. Grace uses a splinter she brought in to cut open the tub’s covering so she can get out. “Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench,” she laughs. She gets out and frees Lana from the tub, then she goes to the window and admires the view while Lana watches her. She loves the view from the window, which suggests that she’s been there a while. She certainly knows all the tricks. Lana wants to know if she’s ever thought about escaping. Grace doesn’t believe her until she tells her about the tunnel, but Lana doesn’t want to give up all of her secrets. Grace will help her, but they have to take Kit. That’s not an option for Lana, who sees Kit as a cold-blooded killer. Grace tells her that she has seen many killers in Briarcliff, but Kit isn’t one of them. She won’t help unless they can bring him.
Shelley finds Dr. Arden wrapping up a loaf of bread. She taunts him about being out with the “Sister of Perpetual Virginity” and offers to show him her “candied apple.” He shoves her out of the way, sickened by her. She continues to taunt him, begging him to allow her to go outside. She’s do anything to be out in the sun for a few minutes. Now we get to hear why Shelley is at Briarcliff. She’s had a sex addiction since she was five. She ran away and fell in love with a jazz musician who married her, but as soon as they were married he went out and slept with every woman in town while she was at home alone. So when Fleet Week came around, her husband found her in bed with two sailors. Shelley claimed that she was doing her patriotic duty…so he had her locked in the nuthouse. Arden has no sympathy for her at all.
Dr. Thredson tries to convince the family that Jed belongs in a hospital. Sister Jude says that they have a specialist coming. As it turns out, they have called in an exorcism specialist. Monsignor O’Hara meets Dr. Thredson and requests his help at the exorcism. The Church requires a medical doctor to be present during such rituals. Old Father Malachai wheels himself in, happy to have a non-believer in the room. It helps his game, he says.
Lana continues to make notes in the day room. Grace warns her that she’s asking for trouble by continuing to write notes. That’s all the more reason to tell Grace the secret now. Kit steps in and swipes her notes as the guards close the day room. He points out that they can’t find the notes on her, and anyway, can’t she trust him? Lana replies that no woman should trust him. Well, regardless, he has her notes as they’re all escorted from the room. You can tell that this isn’t a normal procedure, as many of the inmates seem confused.
Father Malachai advises everyone in the room not to listen to anything that Jed says. Thredson notes that his pulse is nearly non-existent. Jed is writhing on the bed. Father asks Sister Jude to bring his the “red book,” and then sends her out of the room. This is no place for a woman. She should be with the family. This royally pisses her off and she argues that she’s stronger than they think, but Father insists that she lend her strength to the family. The Monsignor sends her out, and she doesn’t argue with him.
Next we see Dr. Arden preparing a candlelight meal. It turns out he has hired some company for the evening. She arrives, all little black dress and blonde hair. She seems confused that he wants to use her brief time with dinner, but he insists that he likes the buildup. He pours her some wine and comments on the music. She tries to play along but she’s clearly not as cultured as the not-so-good-Doctor. She doesn’t drink during dates, though, nor does she kiss on the mouth. She offers to dance instead, but he clutches a knife and insists that she sit down. Now he seems angry and he starts talking about the dangers in her line of work, especially considering that there had been a serial killer on the loose. She hacks at the meat with fury.
Back at Briarcliff, the two clergymen and Dr. Thredson try to work with Jed. Jed starts addressing Dr. Thredson in a familiar manner, talking about how he ended up and that it was better that he had been given up. This strikes a chord with him and he steps back. How would Jed know this? Jed’s power is growing, and in a fit of rage, he throws Father Malachai from his wheelchair and into the wall. Monsignor O’Hara runs downstairs, telling the family that Jed is fighting. He needs Sister Jude’s help to watch Jed while they tend to Father Malachai, who has received last rites.
Jed knows that Sister Jude is outside, and he starts thrashing about, calling for his mother. Sister Jude goes inside to help him, which is exactly what he wanted. He taunts her, referring to the fact that she’s the smartest person in the room but no one listens because of the “clam” between her legs. He locks the door and continues to taunt her. He knows that she’s wearing “red knickers” and he knows that she has a colorful past.
Now we flash back to an earlier time when Jude was a lounge singer. She’s in a club full of military men. She’s singing on stage, wearing a red dress. When she tries to dance with one of them, he spurns her and it sends her into a spiral. Perhaps that’s why she has so many issues with men. But Jed isn’t done there. He starts talking about the little girl in blue. Remember that time when she was so drunk she didn’t know what was going on, and she was driving home… Jude hit the little girl, and she was still alive. She never even got out of the car. Jed calls her a murderer, which sends her into a frenzy. She launches herself at him, slapping him while he screams at her. Thredson and O’Hara rush in and pull her off of him. As O’Hara escorts her out, Jed says that she thinks of him when she touches herself. He sends her back down to his family before going back inside.
The lights at Briarcliff flicker. They try to sedate Jed but he’s beyond control. The power shuts off, which causes the doors to open all over the asylum. An alarm sounds. Inmates start leaving their rooms. Grace and Lana meet in the hall. This is their chance to escape.
Sister Eunice calls for Sister Jude, telling her that the wards are open.
Kit finds Lana and Grace and tries to tell Lana that he isn’t a monster or a killer. Lana won’t consider the possibility of his innocence. She starts screaming for help, which brings guards running. They capture Grace and Kit while Lana looks on. The guards beat Kit into unconsciousness.
Jed has a final seizure and dies. The cross above the bed falls to the floor as Sister Eunice faints dead away.
Back at Dr. Arden’s house, his prostitute is in the bedroom putting on a nun outfit. As she reaches for the rosary, she notices a box on the dresser. Inside is a stack of photos of women who have been bound and gagged. She is horrified, and in her fear she knocks over the box. Arden bursts in and realizes that she has seen the photos. She tries to leave, but he forces her on the bed, asking if she took her panties off. When he comes closer, she bites his arm and flees, presumably for her life. Who knew that Dr. Arden had a thing for blonde nuns?
Sister Jude gives the sad news to Jed’s family. They’re horribly distraught to find out that their son is dead. The mother’s cries resonate through the asylum.
Dr. Arden visits Sister Eunice in the hospital. She’s sleeping, and her bare thigh is exposed as she lies there. When she wakes up, she tells him that she asked for him. But she knows he has more important things to do. And who will care for the creatures? He sees her bare skin and gets distracted by her wide-eyed innocence. I wonder if his fetish for blonde nuns came about before or after meeting Sister Eunice. He orders her to rest, promising to return to check on her. He pulls the covers around her and leaves. When he’s gone, she whips the covers back off to expose her thigh, and the cross falls off the wall.
Lana sits in Sister Jude’s office. She wants to know if she’s getting punished or not. Sister Jude admits being surprised to know that Lana helped prevent Kit’s escape. She tells Lana to open the door and see her surprise. Behind the door are Kit and Grace. Lana’s reward is watching them be punished, with the added reward of choosing which cane will be used to beat their bare behinds. Grace initially chooses the smallest cane, but Sister Jude advises her to live a little. She chooses a larger one. As she moves to whip them, Kit tells Lana to stand up. He wants to take the full punishment himself. That’s forty lashes of the cane. Grace is horrified to stand by and watch as Sister Jude starts beating him. The last shot of the show is of Kit’s face as he feels the sting of the cane biting into his flesh.
Well, so ends episode two, everyone. Remember that theme of possession I talked about? Well, the way I see it, we have a few pairings going on in this show. Leo belongs to Bloody Face. Wendy belongs to Bloody Face. Sister Eunice belongs to Dr. Arden. Jed belongs to the demon inside him. Sister Eunice now belongs to the demon. Grace and Kit are tied together. And Sister Jude is tied to Monsignor O’Hara. Everyone at Briarcliff seems to be tied together somehow.
We learned a lot tonight about Sister Jude. I wonder how you all received this information. Is it surprising that she killed someone? It will be interesting to see how she ended up as a nun.
I know my mind is still reeling from tonight’s episode. I am eager to hear your thoughts!