Friday, January 4, 2013

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 10: The Name Game

 Hiatus is over, American Horror Story is back, hold on to your hats and your turkey because the whacky and weird and often awful has returned.

Much to everyone’s shock, Arden actually does try to bring Kit back from the dead. Kit is dazed from his harrowing experience and Arden is callously clinical. He tells Kit that the aliens didn’t come – even while the flashbacks show us what a liar he is.

Arden has Grace and marvels over the aliens healing of her bullet wound and wants to do more testing. Which is where Alien!Pepper steps in, Grace’s Guardian. Arden mocks her, just because she can speak doesn’t make her intelligent he claims and she counters by mocking his primitive experiments and how he thinks that even remotely puts him on the alien’s level. He steps it up by threatening to cut Grace open and his scalpel is ripped from his hand by an invisible force. Pepper then proceeds to lay on an awesome smack down, telling him how she, as a Microcephallic person, as a “freak” was often blamed and used as a scapegoat – how her own sister murdered her baby and then blamed Pepper – and the judge took one look at Pepper and condemned her.  She threatens Arden with the aliens’ “stirring his brain with a fork” so he can see how people treat people like her.

Pepper also does scary quite quite well.

Monsignor Timothy has been pulled down from his cross – and isn’t dead. When Scathach came to see him on his cross it wasn’t to take his soul, it was to give him a job, to exorcise Sister Demon Lettuce. She reminds him that his rosary is his shield against Sister Demon Lettuce

Which is probably why he’s a little perturbed that Sister Demon Lettuce is his caregiver while he recovers and why he clutches his rosary.

In the common room, blessedly free of that damned singing nun, the destruction of which is mentioned snarkily by Sister Demon Lettuce to Jude’s truly awesome “like I give a shit” demeanour. Sister Demon Lettuce has brought in a Juke Box, just perfect to torment Jude and her hatred of worldly ways. Even Lana seems to be impressed by Jude (as she should be)

But Lana’s quicker still to go to Kit to tell him Threadson’s loose – something he already knows as Dr. Oliver Threadson walks into the room and sits down for a nice chat with them both – after  moving the heavy glass ashtray out of Lana’s easy reach, anyway. He’s not going to kill them because she’s carrying his kid and he has Threadson’s taped confession. But it was Sister Demon Lettuce who rescued him – and Sister Demon lettuce who gave him a job at Briarcliff – so he will be treating them.

That night there’s a room search and Lana takes the chance to confront Sister Demon Lettuce – which gets her carted off to hydrotherapy. Sister Demon Lettuce moves on to try and shame Jude for masturbating with a marrow – but Jude’s not having that and throws even more epic “like I give a shit” in Sister Demon Lettuce’s direction. Shaming failed – Demon Lettuce sets Jude up for electroshock – an extra strong dose. I’d feel more sympathy for Jude if a) she hadn’t done this to Lana and b) I didn’t suspect that electricity would only make her stronger.

Back to Monsignor Tim who tries his hand at a bit of exorcism. It does not go well, but Sister Demon Lettuce has some nifty limericks. Oh and telekinesis.  Which starts out fun – but this is American Horror Story and quickly turns into yet another rape – this time Sister Demon Lettuce raping Monsignor Tim while he begs her to stop and talks of his vows. And Arden walks in to see them at it

Jude staggers into the common room, disorientated from the electroshock, witnessed by Lana who comments to Kit that she doesn’t feel any better seeing Jude hurting. Defiant to the end, Jude staggers to the juke box and tries to unplug it. Lana goes to her and helps her up and comforts her – and asks her name. To which Jude hallucinates a song and dance number, with all the inmates, with Lana and Kit as main dancers, to The Name Game.

American Horror Story sets new records of weirdness every week. I’m almost in awe. I thought the aliens were weird. She comes back to reality with Lana reminding her of her name.

It’s feeding time for the monsters and Arden is being pouty with Sister Demon Lettuce after seeing her rape the monsignor (he’s still invested in Mary Eunice’s “purity”). He then shoots and kills all of his monsters that have arrived to eat – the experiment is over. Demon Lettuce comments on his tantrum and he says it’s a farce and puts a gun to his head (I guess Pepper’s words hit home) but can’t pull the trigger, he collapses in tears instead. He clutches her and tells her she has no idea what it’s like to have lost her – she pushes him aside contemptuously.

Still zapped from the electroshock, Jude is failing to knead bread in the kitchen when the orderlies clear everyone out so Monsignor Timothy can talk to Jude, apologising to her most eloquently, tell Jude she was right, tell her about the Demon Lettuce and how lost and confused he is. Desperate he asks he what he should do – and she struggles to say “kill her.”

Threadson , meanwhile, drops in on Arden’s office to find a drug, an anaesthetic, when he hears Grace screaming. He goes to investigate and finds Grace giving birth – with Pepper as a midwife.

Monsignor Tim has retreated to fervent prayer, and Sister Demon Lettuce arrives to be very scary, and very creepy, asking how he plans to murder her (she has many suggestions) and pointing out she knows about Shelly. She tries to tempt him with power – dangling his old ambition of becoming pope in front of him. She tells him he belongs to her – body and soul. And he finds some spine – he follows her and warns her that he’s going to cast her out, that he knows Sister Mary Eunice is in there somewhere. This annoys Demon Nun and she threatens to eat Mary Eunice’s soul – before breaking down in tears. Sister Mary Eunice apologises to the Monsignor and tells him she’s tired of fighting… he asks her to let go of him. She releases him – and he throws her over the banister.

She falls several floors and hits the bottom, hard (beautiful scene). Scathatch appears at the bottom, her wings unfolded. Blood pools from Sister Mary Eunice as Scathatch bends over her, Mary says “take me” she replies “I’ll take both of you” and kisses her. (Another beautiful scene).

Ok, there’s been some impressive camera work this episode.

Mary Eunice’s body lies in state and Monsignor Tim talks of burying her – but Arden argues against it, he wants her cremated (yes, Arden has become superstitious)  and insists he will do it himself, unaided, using Briarcliff’s crematorium.

Away from these extremely dramatic and incredibly well acted scenes, Kit has his interview with Threadson where he announces he won’t give up the tape. To which Threadson talks about Kit’s saviour complex towards women and – presumably – children and takes him into a room with Grace and her new baby, and Pepper. Threadson thinks Arden has just faked Grace’s death, of course, he has no idea of the extent of the weirdness going on in Briarcliff. To save Grace and the baby, Kit tells him the location of the tape.

And Threadson goes to collect it – to the hydrotherapy room, behind the pipes where we know Kit hid it – and finds a child’s book. And Lana, who has moved the tape and is now the only one who knows how it is and responds to his raised hand with calm coolness that is pretty awesome to behold. And if he hurts anyone, she will send it to the police, he knows she can because she’s “goddamn plucky” (his words for her, nicely turned round).

Jude, still lost and confused, recites the names of the inmates around her, determined to get them right until the Mother Superior arrives – and Jude babbles, her memories and thoughts confused and her ramblings near incomprehensible. She finds coherence to point to Lana and tell the Mother Superior her name. She says she doesn’t belong in Briarcliff, that Jude put her there and asks the Mother Superior to help her get out.

At the crematorium Arden, tearful, has prepared Mary Eunice for cremation. He cries and pulls himself on top of her body. Then pushes the button that moves them both into the crematorium oven, the doors shut and we hear him scream once.

And that was a damn dramatic scene as well.

That was a game changer! Sister Demon Lettuce and Arden both presumed dead? Some truly amazingly epic and dramatic scenes, some beautiful camera work… and a severely odd song and dance routine.

Jude and Sister Demon Lettuce together make this show. Sister Demon Lettuce is just awesomely funny and disturbing while Jude throws out contempt at truly epic levels.

I like that Pepper called out some of the treatment and dismissal the mentally ill face, but it doesn’t change that, in a series set in an asylum, the only actual mentally ill people who have served as more than background colour have been a torturer, rapist and a murderer (Leigh) and Pepper who needed to be messed with by the aliens first.

Can we please please please stop with the rape?! It’s becoming a weekly occurrence.