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 2.9 with AHS super-fan Justin Born.
J. Bryan Lowder: Good evening, Justin! Welcome to the chat. I’ll just go ahead and get the obvious joke out of the way: NO WIRE HANGERS!!! Ah, that’s better. Now, I have to say, this was probably the most delightfully sacrilegious episode of AHS yet. We had a baptism after fairly graphic abortion and, just to wrap things up, a live crucifixion. I know AHS already scares you a lot—were you not just holding your breath the entire time on this one?
Justin Born: I was, but this is the kind of episode I like. I enjoy all of the religious iconography and reading into the symbolism of that. Sometimes that stuff can be more terrifying than seeing somebody getting hacked up. But the hanger was a lot! That is sometimes my thing with Ryan Murphy: I got what he was going for but oh so didn't want to see that. Especially when we had to see Lana cleaning up the blood.
Lowder: I know, that was a little much even for me, and I have a decently high tolerance for gore. Of course, we find out in the end that the abortion didn't work (giving us Bloody-Son/Dylan McDermott), and, at least to my taste, it's more twisted to have Lana carry Thredson's son to term. But enough about that. Let's talk about the newly incarcerated Sister Jude. Didn't you think Jessica Lange looked just awesome a little crazed, with her hair down?
Born: I really hope there are some more juicy monologues for Jessica Lange now that Sister Jude is over herself! I can't even imagine as an actor how wonderful that is to have those words and that character. I do like Sister Jude now and found myself rooting for her a lot more than before. Her alliance with Lana is going to get good—I can feel it. But tell me, what did you think of Dylan McDermott?
Lowder: Well, of course I love Dylan McDermott for, let's say, surface reasons. And I am glad he's back on the show, but I wasn't totally buying his whole convict shtick—he had some line like "back in the joint" that sounded just weird to me, but I guess he did play scary psychopath pretty well. Anyone who kills animals is terrifying in my book.
But I'm glad you brought up Sister Jude's new alliance with Lana, because one of the things I noticed about this episode is how many new pairings like that there are. In addition to Jude/Lana, we have Dr. Arden and Kit doing their alien experiment, Santa Claus and the Monsignor (though given the cross, maybe that one is over now) and also the Monsignor and Sister Mary Eunice. Are there any I'm forgetting? I feel like we're really being set-up for a lot of change in the final few episodes...
Born: I think the "aliens" are going to play more prominent in the rest of the episodes, especially with Grace being pregnant. Did you sense a correlation between the religious Christmas Story and Grace being pregnant? She's kinda like the Virgin Mary...well sort of. Ha! Oh! And Pepper TALKED!!! So the aliens could be like “God,” though I suppose that wouldn't explain the Angel of Death or the Sister Demon.
Lowder: Oh, that's a very interesting theory! I hadn't even thought of the Mary comparison—Pepper did say Grace needed a room in the inn—but I guess we'll have to see if that bears out. What is clear though is that the aliens are very interested in Kit's sperm or something—enough to steal both his wife and asylum lover, as well as to heal Pepper. Speaking of the Angel of Death, I was so glad to see her back with the monsignor, if only for a moment. I'm am still jonesing for the showdown between her and the demon!
Oh, and about that demon, do you have any theories about what her endgame is? Tonight she said she wanted to "save souls all the way to Rome" with the Monsignor, which is possibly maybe a reference to becoming like the antichrist or something like that. Isn't that guy (or gal!) supposed to take over the papacy when he comes? Or am I reading too far into it?
Born: No, I don't think that's reading too far into it. I mean, I felt there were a few things that were not answered last season but in a good way. I think the Demon wants to get to Rome, take over the world, etc., so I don’t think the Monsignor will die. My bet is that Murphy is going to leave the Demon story unresolved. That’s much creepier!
Lowder: Yeah I would find that ending much creepier too! Just a final glowing glance from Sister Mary Eunice or whomever the demon jumps to next in the final episode. Okay, before we go, let's play the favorite moment game. Did you have one from this episode?
Born: My favorite moment was when Lana was stabbing the pillow with the hanger, followed by her little powwow with Sister Jude. Finally, I feel she's tapped into that dark side to do what needs to be done to survive. Lana is totally going to kill Thredson in the end.
Lowder: Totally, yeah Lana really turned a corner tonight in that regard. I think my favorite moment was when Jude broke that damned record. To me, that signaled a complete pivot for her character into a fighter for the rest of the season. And it was just fierce. Alrighty, I know AHS gives you nightmares, but I will still wish you pleasant dreams and a slumber free of alien abductions! Ciao!
Born: I will return next week to my regular viewings of AHS through my DVR on Sunday mornings, the bright and safe day of the Lord!
Thursday: What other writers and Slate commenters thought about Episode 9.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
Watch Little Girls Swear for Feminism
Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.