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

American Horror Story has begun to thin the ranks of those carrying the rest of this season. But the writers just cannot let go of rape story lines.

American Horror Story sets out this week to give us our last dance with Mary Eunice. The sweet, pure nun who was possessed and then morphed into a sinful temptress has been pulling on the strings of several of the unfortunate occupants of Briar Cliff Insane Asylum, but this week Sister Mary Eunice has her own strings cut, and we get to watch the angelic puppet fall to the floor. Along with the Sister, the writers help trim even more of its now unwieldy plot threads, ridding the thriller of former Nazi, Dr. Arden and the good doctor’s mutant “experiments.” In one fell swoop, American Horror Story offs one of its better elements, Lily Rabe’s deliciously evil nun, along with one of its more troublesome, Dr. Arden and the unnecessary and uninteresting creatures he keeps in the woods. Though it will be sad to see the hamming James Cromwell depart, his character may have run its course. With Sister Jude defeated and committed as a patient, Arden has no one left to butt heads with, and the mutants have always felt like an over-the-top grafted on part of the show, so there was no love loss when Arden unceremoniously capped the grotesque beasts in the forest. Now, with the core cast whittled down a bit, the show appears to be honing in on the struggle between Lana and Threadson and Kit’s saga with extraterrestrials. 

For those not following the chaos on American Horror Story it probably still all sounds a bit convoluted, but for those of us fixated on ludicrous shock-fest, it feels like we’ve gained some breathing room. Speaking of the ludicrous, this week we’re treated to a song and dance dream sequence, starring and coming from the recently electroshocked mind of Jude. The song The Name Game, which gives the episode it’s title, is a bizarre, random moment, with the patients of Briar Cliff boogying and doing The Monkey. But after the graphic nature of The Coat Hanger, this reviewer will gladly take a second during American Horror Story to gawk at something a little more cheery and lighthearted. The lightness doesn’t last long, as we still get an episode with a brutal electroshock scene and a female on male rape, with the weak and vulnerable Monsignor victimized by demonic Mary Eunice. The episode offers up several scenes focusing on Joseph Fiennes’ Monsignor Timothy Howard, but the change of pace really isn’t a very welcome one. Fiennes’ hushed and repetitive delivery of his lines begins to wear and he’s unable to give Mary Eunice’s death the high emotional heft it needs. He does deliver one good scene, turning to a dazed Jude for compassion and advice and the burnt out woman plants the idea inside the Monsignor that all he can do for Mary Eunice to save her is kill her. When the Monsignor has his final showdown with the demon inside Mary Eunice, the pure sister is able to break through long enough to beg the Monsignor to end her life, saying she’s too tired to fight any longer. The Monsignor obliges her and tosses her off the third story staircase.

Grace’s return to American Horror Story last week didn’t create quite the shockwaves expected, with Peppa continuing to look after and protect Grace and the two being off-screen for the better part of the episode. Peppa does a good job looking after Grace, apparently working as some sort of sleeper cell for the aliens and fending off Dr. Arden’s hands with some well-placed insults and not-so-subtle threats. Arden hoped to analyze Grace himself, lying to Kit and saying that nothing came of the two’s attempt to lure the aliens by putting Kit’s life in danger. Grace eventually gives birth during the episode and the baby looks human, which is sort of a let down, given that we could have been handed a gross-out alien/human hybrid. At least American Horror Story is saving SOME scares for next season.

Threadson escapes his holding nonchalantly (eventually it’s revealed that Mary Eunice freed him) and ends up back in a permanent position at Briar Cliff, to torment Lana and obtain the tape of his confession held by Kit. It makes sense that with two of the bigger antagonists dead, Threadson had to remerge as a viable threat to our protagonists, but the whole thing seems to happen too conveniently. Threadson spends this episode of American Horror Story dishing out intimidations and taking them right back from a feisty Lana. Lana continues to rattle off cheer inducing one-liners at Threadson with the efficiency of a seasoned hero in peril. However, Threadson nearly gets the upper hand. When Grace gives birth to her child, Threadson captures and holds Grace, Peppa and the baby. Threadson leads Kit to the trio and the unknowing Kit has to grapple with the terms; that Grace is alive and that she claims the child is his. Threadson then threatens Kit that if he doesn’t hand over the tape of his confession he will harm Grace and the baby. Kit seemingly succumbs to Threadson and the demented psychiatrist rushes to the location of the hidden tape, only to find a decoy in its place. An angry Threadson turns to find Lana brandishing the tape and she warns Threadson that if he harms anyone at all she will see to it that the tape is released.

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 Returning from a short break, American Horror Story has boldly shaken things up and placed the remainder of the season squarely on the shoulders of Lana and Kit. Though it’s too early to tell how the writers plan to fill the gap left by Arden and Mary Eunice, it’s nice to see them trim the story down to just a few story arcs. One big question left is how will the fallen Sister Jude play into action? Now that both of her nemeses have perished, what part is left for Jude to play? Knowing this show, it’s not even worth beginning to guess.

The Best of the Rest
  • Heartbroken Dr. Arden solemnly sends himself into the crematorium along with Mary Eunice’s body. A fitting death for a former Nazi.
  • The show continues to push sexual assault into the plot. Hasn’t the rape well gone dry yet?
  • Seriously, how weird was the musical scene?
  • The only thing funnier than the bizarre dance scene was Jude’s reaction to being caught with a cucumber in her room.
  • The Angel of Death checks back in this week, first to spur the Monsignor to rid Mary Eunice of the devil, and then to take Mary Eunice off to the after life.
  • Jude rambles on to Mother Superior after her electroshock treatment. Most of her speech is nonsense to the Mother, but Jude becomes coherent enough to tell Mother Superior that Lana does not belong within Briar Cliff and that she should help Lana escape.
  • Now that Mary Eunice, Arden, and the mutants are dead, what is stopping Lana and Kit from escaping? Both of the people in charge of the asylum are dead and they already are aware of an escape route, a route they only didn’t use because it led to the forest where the mutants dwelled. Now that all of the obstacles are gone, why cant they just flee using that door?