Friday, January 18, 2013

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 12: Continuum

 We open to lots of camera panning around a house, (I think they may have let Overly Arty Cameraman out again), lots of domestic images – and a photograph on the wall of Kit with Alma and Grace and the 2 babies.

Kit himself is crying, splattered with blood and carrying a large, blood stained axe. There’s a blood covered body on the floor and a little girl calls for Kit – her daddy. He says he’ll be there in a minute

Hah, you expected a happy ending on American Horror Story?


Time to flash back before the deaths –and we have happy families going on – Grace drawing a charcoal sketch of the aliens (which Alma insists she doesn’t remember) and Alma preparing vegetables while the children play. Kit comes home all enthusiastic about some kind of activist march which Alma greets with sensible practicality about taking toddlers to a march and isn’t too keen with Grace showing the babies traumatising sketches of their alien abductors (I like Alma’s acting throughout here, it has such a powerful note of “I’m really trying to be nice about this whole thing but I’m not loving it at all”)

That night Kit and Alma are sat on the bed but Alma is concerned about Grace and her obsession with the abduction (and Kit notes Alma never talks about it). He says that Grace is just processing what happened but Alma rejects that, saying Grace is obsessed with the past because she’s unhappy in the present – and Kit needs to spend more time with her. He goes and finds Grace drawing the aliens again, she claims she’s doing it for the children so they know where they came from. Grace also reminds Kit that she has other memories that ambushing her that are even less pleasant than the aliens – the whole axe murdering her family thing.

They kiss and have sex, Alma in the next room – when the lights start flickering and go out – followed by blinding white light – alien light. Alma screams and panics, Grace grabs her and they both go and get the babies while Kit gets a shotgun. It turns out not to be aliens, but a truck full of arseholes who throw something that sets fire to the curtains before driving off, Grace puts them out and the police arrived.

The police interview Kit who knows who did it –Billy Marshall – but the policeman has little inclination to follow it up and instead takes a dig at Kit over his polygamy. He returns to the house to see Grace, Alma is crying in her room, panicking because she thought it was the aliens. Grace says Alma is repressing the memories and sends Kit to her.

Later it’s all happy daylight and Alma and Grace finally have it out about the aliens. Grace loves the aliens as miracle workers, Alma hates them as cruel monsters who experimented on them. Try to reconcile those positions. And Alma pulls out the ace – before the aliens came Alma and Kit were married and happy, after the aliens he brought home an axe murderer to play house with. Grace asks Alma if she wants Julia to grow up ashamed of who she is and Alma slaps her – and instantly apologises. Grace breaks a glass and storms out while Kit comes in and looks kind of gormless.

That night Kit leaves Alma’s bed to go see Grace in the living room, again drawing alien pictures. She talks about how she loves everything – Kit, Alma, the babies and the future is coming and it’s bright and amazing – and Alma hits her with an axe

I’m debating whether to go with “feel the love” or “so you like axe murderers, eh Kit?”

She keeps on chopping until Kit takes the axe off her. Alma panics and talks about having to hide while Kit wrenches the axe out of Grace and goes and sits in a chair.

And this is why no relationship advice mag ever says “want to spice up your relationship? Bring home an axe-murdering new girlfriend with a baby!” Except maybe Cosmo.


To Briarcliff with Pepper, Jude (who is happy playing a board game) and the other inmates, Monsignor Timothy would like a word with Jude who pretends not to hear him, rather unhappy by his faking her death. Snark rules the roost here. It seems Timothy is leaving Briarcliff, he’s been appointed Cardinal and the church is giving Briarcliff to the state and is arranging her release so she doesn’t end up in state control.

Jude seems to be still slightly out of it from the medicine – and is stunned when a new load of inmates are brought in including a woman played by the same actor who played Shachath, the dark angel. Jude recognises her and starts talking about not having called her and she doesn’t belong there. The woman is a prisoner who has been sent over, one who preyed on people on welfare (who she dubs spongers) and hasn’t a clue what Jude is talking about. She and her heavies are sizing up Jude since she’s the “queen bee” of Briarcliff – and she wants Jude on her side.

Jude talks to Pepper about Timothy’s promise and Pepper warns Jude against trusting him. We also see new inmates entering Briarcliff – including Alma.

When Jude goes to bed that night she finds that all the rooms are doubled up now for the influx – and she’s sharing with not!Shachath. She continues to talk to her as if she’s the dark angel while not!Shachath tries to establish she’s the one in control. She tries to move on Jude (clearly looking for a sexual relationship) but Jude tells her to stay away.

Not!Shachath quickly starts taking over Briarcliff, including making a pass at Alma (who she calls “chocolate bunny” of course she does, it’s American Horror Story, ugh) and stabs one of the other inmates for taking his pills rather than giving them to her. Jude, meanwhile, is becoming more delusional and, hallucinating that Shachath has come from her, attacks her room mate.

This gets Jude put in a straightjacket and transported to her old office – now lacking religious symbols – to be interviewed by the new boss of Briarcliff, Dr. Crump. Apparently she’s driven off 5 room mates – something Jude doesn’t remember. She asks if Timothy has left any news and learns that he is Cardinal – and has been Cardinal for 2 and a half years (technically before Jude spoke to him?). Jude thinks only a week has passed and loses her temper when she’s accused of being confused. She demands Dr. Crump ask Pepper – and it turns out Pepper is dead, something Jude also didn’t remember. Clearly all is not well in Jude’s head  or it’s the aliens or demon nuns or nazi doctors – aww hell, it’s American Horror Story, it could be leprechauns for all I know.


At a book signing, Lana is being hailed as an awesome author having written her book “Maniac: One Woman’s Story of Survival”. She starts the signing with a reading and it’s clear there’s a heavy amount of artistic license in her depiction of events. Even Dr. Thredson objects and accuses her of being a sell-out by including fiction to sell more books – yes he’s dead, so he’s probably a hallucination/alien/demon nun/hidden nazi doctor/leprechaun. Ghost Wendy also stands up to object that she’s been reduced to an asexual character, their love life completely glossed over as a “distraction”. She comes to herself when the head of the book shop touches her shoulder, they assume she zoned out reliving the trauma she suffered.

She begins signing books, pausing only to rip her assistant for the severe crime of not having snacks or ice – how very dare she. And greets Kit – she offers her condolences about Grace and it’s clear she didn’t get in touch because she was so focused on her fame and fortune. The echoes of her condolences have barely even ended before she starts talking about the film rights she’s sold.

They go for coffee and Lana keeps talking about her fame and fortune – including her new book about Leigh’s crime spree. Oh Lana, what happened to you? Kit doesn’t understand why she’d want to do that, especially since she ignored his question as to whether she’d returned to Briarcliff. She’s writing about “another maniac” despite swearing to bring down Briarcliff – swearing to be a journalist not a celebrity. She doesn’t back down and points out she’s built a life for herself, spinning straw into gold (which, considering what she went through, she has a point. Nice complexity there). She makes a disparaging comment about the “lunatics” in Briarcliff and Kit objects – she’s talking about his wife.

We cut to Kit visiting Alma in Briarcliff and telling her about the kids. She wants to see them but looking around Briarcliff we have the inmates yet again being used as cheap freak shows and Alma realises he can’t bring the children. Lana is shocked, not realising Alma was there – but she isn’t anymore. Because Alma is dead, suddenly, her heart just stopping. He also tells Lana that Jude’s still alive and still there.

Kit tried to talk to Sister Jude but she was lost and confused, thinking the television was showing the life she had stolen from her

Lana assures Kit she didn’t know and thought Jude was dead. Kit asks she go through with what she planned, shutting Briarcliff down. Lana refuses – as she puts it “every bed in that place, Jude made” and now she has to lie in them. Kit’s astonished at how hard she is but she says she’s as hard as she has to be. Lana leaves and Kit follows, watched by Bloody Face Junior

Wait, what… surely the time lines are waaay out there… argh, it’s American Horror Story, it doesn’t have to make sense.

Oh wait, we’ve time shifted. He’s visiting the book shop where Lana did her signing, now very run down. The shop’s going out of business but he wants their autographed copy of “Maniac”. But it’s not for sale and she won’t buy he’s her son because Lana said her baby died at birth. He tells her his plan to take the book and call it lies when he goes to meet his mother and confronts her about “the piece of trash she threw away 48 years ago” – him. And then he intends to kill her.

She hands over the book.

Ok American Horror Story, maybe you’ve gone on a little too long here – a lot of the storylines were nicely finished or could easily be so. What was this?

Was there a point in you trying to make us hate Lana? I mean, more than any other character she was the one we were backing, not just the one who suffered the most abuse, but also the person who was goddamn “plucky” and was going to bring them all down. She was the one we were with, the one who finally got Thredson, the one who was going to bring Briarcliff down. OK, it’s AHS and they don’t do simple or even satisfying endings – but this? Trying to make us hate her? Why why why? Now, I could totally get behind more complexity – and can even see Lana deciding she owes Jude nothing (yes, Jude has done a lot to redeem herself, but don’t forget that they ARE beds of her own making and even if Jude is redeemed, that doesn’t mean Lana needs to forgive her). And I can see Lana being tired of fighting after what she’s been through and just want some peace and comfort for a time. If it weren’t for all the other victims of Briarcliff – and if it weren’t for the way she treated her assistant and shoved away Wendy’s memory (again, something that could have been handled with more nuance) to make it clear, yes we’re supposed to at least dislike her.

And the aliens? It all comes down to Alma killing Grace because REASONS! and then Alma dropping dead for more REASONS! That’s the resolve? Random, pointless, unexplained death? (And do I have to point out the scarcity/death rate of POC on this show?) And Pepper died off screen?

And then we have Not!Shachath, whyyy? New character who may last for 1 episode? Was Lana handled too sympathetically, did we need to throw in a predatory lesbian as well?

And Jude? Wonderful, complex, capable, suffering, enduring, battling Jude is just reduced to someone who is ever more detached from reality.

Oh and Bloody Face Junior (in fact ALL the modern day crap from the very first episode – none of it has been relevant or developed, it shouldn’t have been there) is hunting down Lana. Great, because not only did we have a metric fuckton of anti-choice messages last episode, we now have Lana hunted down by her child-of-rape-she-wanted-to-abort for daring to put him up for adoption

Just stop.