Every week in Slate’s American Horror Story TV club, J. Bryan Lowder will have an IM conversation with a different AHS fan. This week, he rehashes episode 2.10 with Jeff Bloomer, SlateV’s editor/blogger.
J. Bryan Lowder: Happy New Year Jeff! I hope your celebrations were hearty, and that our time off from American Horror Story over these past few weeks has left you ready for the sensory assault that the remaining four episodes promise. Speaking of which, they say the start of a new planetary revolution is a time for reflection and change, and boy if we didn't see a bunch of that latter thing tonight! All kinds of power reversals and upheavals went down, and our main baddie duo has shuffled off this mortal coil (at least for now).
Jeff Bloomer: My celebrations were lovely! And yes, the show definitely saw fit to clean house for the new year. Dr. Arden's trip to the incinerator came at the right time for me (and with his Auschwitz past, it was certainly an appropriate send-off). Sister Mary Eunice's demise, however, has me a little bummed. I was so looking forward to a passing reference in future episodes of an epic throw down in Rome!
Lowder: Ah! I will be honest and say that my relief at not witnessing an instance of necrophilia caused me to miss the poetry of that reference, but right you are! As for Mary Eunice, I noted in my notes that her fall fell a mite too soon for me as well. We had only just had the truth fully out for the defiled Monsignor, and before any magic-wand-lasers could clash and spark in midair, our goodly possession victim was bleeding out on the floor! But surely that plot line isn't over—I'm not certain if you’re an expert on matters of the occult, but it seems to me that the Angel of Death absorbing both the DEVIL and a human soul at the same time is, well, a special case. Jeff, be real with me: are we about to see a death-kiss wielding seraphim possessed by Satan descend with great and terrible power on Briarcliff? (I've already started on the fanfic, in any case.)
Bloomer: Ha, perhaps! The Angel of Death seems to be one of the more benevolent spiritual presences this season. I hope for all our sake that you're right though, and Frances Conroy is unleashed—her crazed housekeeper has definitely been missed. Did I miss something in that final moment, though? I assumed the devil just went back chez devil and it was only Mary Eunice who ate it.
Lowder: You've rightly divined my secret desire to have more Francis Conroy on the show by hook or by crook (though, I maintain that an entire series could be dedicated to just watching Jessica Lange smoke a ciggy); however, I do think you may have missed our dark angel's words as she locked lips with Sister Mary Eunice—something like “I’ll take you both.” Unless the Devil somehow jumped into the Monsignor while the Sister fell—there was that slow-motion moment—I think he's somehow wrapped up with the angel. But time will tell. Speaking of plot lines, what did you make of the unceremonious execution of Dr. Arden's little woodland experiments? If that's truly the end of them, I'm a little disappointed in the Lost-ness of that kind of sloppy writing.
Bloomer: Yes, that was very strange. We never did learn much about them, and they mostly served as a way to keep flighty residents in the hospital. Since they barely registered in the first place, though, I guess the harm is limited. What real antagonists do we have left at this point, anyway? Is it all Bloody Face, all the time from here on out?
Lowder: That's a great question. By my count, the only genuine villain left is Thredson, and even he seems to have his hands tied by Lana's potent blackmail scheme. But if you think about it, the reverse is also true: those who claim to be virtuous—the Monsignor, Sister Jude, etc—have all been compromised as well. Only the moral agnostics in the middle (Lana, Kit, and possibly Grace) seem to be faring well—relatively speaking, of course. And then there is the increasing showing of menacing but I guess ultimately neutral power the aliens are making via Pepper. I'm not sure what all this means, but watching the positions shift is tantalizing.
Bloomer: That's true. Briarcliff's filth has spread to everyone. I am still puzzled by what exactly the aliens are up to—that baby was not as green as I'd hoped, and it didn't have any obvious messianic traits. I'm not sure I care much about Grace—her character is so thin—but I am stubbornly holding out hope that Lana and Kit make it out of there in one piece. Is there any chance we'll be seeing more of his wife, or do you think she has a permanent seat in the cosmos? And what does a happy ending for Lana look like at this point? We know she carries her baby to term, unless she too gets a visit from the little green men.
Lowder: This episode raised so many questions! I have a feeling that Lana and Kit will make it out, and I have to say, I'm finding their queer hack of the traditional romantically involved couple we're used to seeing in horror settings more and more compelling. We already know that gears have starting turning for Lana, as the beneficent Mother Superior seems to be at least considering Sister Jude's plea to help her new ally. As for Alma, I expect we'll see her again, but probably not in any crucial way—perhaps she and Kit will walk off into some celestial paradise free of racism and violence, idk.
What I'm wondering most is what happens to Sister Jude? I'm still surprised at how the ostensible centerpiece of this installment of AHS has been forced into increasing depths of abjection—was she permanently damaged by Sister Mary Eunice's sadistic turn at the electroshock therapy machine? Her babbling and camptastic musical hallucination would seem to suggest as much. What did you make of "The Name Game", Jeff Jeff Bo Beff, Banana Fanana Fo Feff? Crazy digression, or given Judy's attempt to "name" all the patients later, a moment laden with something deeper?
Bloomer: I'll be honest: I loved it. The breakneck plotting of this season has kept many of the show's wilder whims more in check than I'd like. The foot-play wasn't exactly groundbreaking, but my only real regret is that more of the cast didn't get involved.
And as for Sister Jude, she has a lot to answer for, and I have a feeling that her punishment will continue. You're right that the writers are having a grand old time desecrating the religious elders—our poor priest has now been crucified and raped!—and even with her change of heart, I think Jude has darker days to come.
Lowder: Well, on that ominous note, I say we call it a night. But before we go, I just want to step back and acknowledge that there is a show on television which, in a single episode, contains both a self-cremation of a former Nazi doctor and a jaunty, Technicolor dance sequence. If that presages anything for 2013 in general, I can't wait!
Bloomer: Seconded! If this keeps up, 2013 might also be the first time a Ryan Murphy show doesn't totally self-destruct in its second season. Who says the new year doesn't bring surprises?
Thursday: What other writers and Slate commenters thought about Episode 10.