After last week’s absurdity both in plotting and pace, American Horror Story returned with one of its tightest and most frightening episodes yet. By slowing the pace, keeping the episode fairly light on exposition and giving the viewers a somewhat predictable, yet thoroughly satisfying and well-executed twist, American Horror Story is right back on the ball! Besides pacing, story trimming and plot thickening, this episode also saw strong directorial efforts as well. The cinematographer has fun showing a patient’s history through sunburnt retro-looking videos, filmed in the same vein as many of the found-footage horror films that crowd the multiplex. The viewer also gets to see the halls of Briar Cliff through interesting angles, like watching the action from the floor up. All the editing tricks this week work, like when Kit and Grace communicate through the walls intercut with shots of them pretending that they are in the same room. The show feels lighter, more confident this week as opposed to last week’s overcrowding and theatrics. Don’t get me wrong, this episode has theatrics a plenty, but they go down smoother with the masterful direction and sense that we’re actually headed somewhere. Now that the cat is out of the bag and Dr. Threadson is revealed to be not quite who we thought, we’re about to get into all sorts of new horror.
The episode once again forgoes time in the present day storyline and jumps right to Sister Jude, driving alone at night with a fierce look of determination on her face. She heads to a meeting with a Nazi Hunter to give him information about Arden. While the Sister is away, “Anne Frank” leads an injured Dr. Arden through the asylum looking for Sister Jude, but runs into a guard instead. She awakes to find herself restrained in a straight jacket, with Sister Jude prodding for more information about Arden. However, all of Anne Frank’s musings and memories seemingly go to waste when her husband, definitely not dead, comes to retrieve her.
The husband reveals that her real name is Charlotte and that she became obsessed with Anne Frank and the holocaust after giving birth and reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Sister Jude forgives all of Charlotte’s violent actions and she releases Charlotte into the arms of her husband. With all of her theories crushed, a confident Dr. Arden, who declares that Sister Jude’s time is up at the asylum, torments Sister Jude. He is furious that the woman that attacked him with a gun is just allowed to be released home to her husband. Arden doesn’t have to wait long for his revenge though, because the husband returns in no time declaring he cannot handle his wife. The man seeks treatment for his wife and after Threadson cannot be forced to appear, he agrees to let Arden give his wife a lobotomy, which is shown graphically and delivers chills.
Why did Dr. Threadson refuse to help? Well, Threadson was very busy this week. At the top of the episode, he assures Lana that they will be escaping and tells her to meet him under the stairs at six, for they will be leaving in the evening. The camera tracks Threadson as he walks into a meeting with Kit, just released from solitary, and urges him to be recorded recounting the events of his alleged actions. Threadson assures Kit that the tapes will be beneficial in helping Kit avoid real penal repercussions. After that meeting, he meets an anxiously awaiting Lana under the stairs. She frets over how they will sneak her out the door, but Threadson calmly suggests that they just walk right by and he successfully distracts the guard by lighting his cigarette, in a well-choreographed and shot scene. When Threadson is approached at his car about coming back in to help Charlotte, he tells the guard he doesn’t work there anymore and that he never really did in the first place.
Threadson drives Lana to his home and the two arrive without a hiccup. Things begin to get strange quickly. When they finally get the chance to sit down in Threadson’s home, Lana requests to visit her own home, but Threadson shoots the idea down. He tells Lana that he can’t have her discovered before they meet with the press in the morning to take down Briar Cliff together. Threadson tells Lana to get comfortable and goes into the other room to get the two some wine. Sensing Threadson’s protectiveness, Lana hurriedly tries to use a telephone while Threadson is away, but is caught in the act. Once again Threadson reminds Lana of their mission, assuring Lana that she will surely win a Pulitzer Prize for her work. Lana sips her wine and instantly feels light headed. Her head swims and her eyes gaze upon a peculiar looking lamp with what appears to be blood on the shade. Lana requests to use the bathroom, and when she’s out of sight begins looking for an escape, only to stumble upon a grotesque room containing all kinds of creepy artifacts. Threadson appears in the doorway and reveals that Lana has found his secret lamp-making room. Horrified, Lana asks what he makes them out of and sinisterly Threadson replies, “skin” and pulls a lever that triggers a trap door under Lana’s feet. She falls into a room resembling the bathroom setting of the first Saw film and instantly is greeted by the frozen body of her lover. Terrified, Lana trembles as Threadson appears and declares that Lana will resume her treatment. Her first task, he says, is that Lana must kiss the lips of her dead girlfriend. He warns her that she won’t bite, before he dastardly dons the mask of Bloody Face, complete with human teeth, and bellows, “BECAUSE I TOOK HER TEETH.”
With a shocking twist and new angle for the show to play, American Horror Story seems like its going to reach new heights of terror and that seemed impossible before tonight.
The Best of the Rest
- The Threadson reveal wasn’t even the show’s wackiest moment! When sitting in solitary, a bright light visits Grace. She awakes on what presumably is the alien spacecraft, to see an alive, pregnant Alma and suffers a stomach wound that is presumably fertilization. Kit discovers a bleeding Grace, but before he can inquire about her injuries, he is swept away by police for his confession, with Grace screaming that Alma is still alive. Crazy stuff.
- Don’t let us forget, a mutant Shelley hobbles onto a schoolyard!
- Sister Mary Eunice pledges her allegiance to Dr. Arden, with Arden hinting that Mary Eunice will run the asylum once he has Sister Jude removed.
- Sister Jude leaves the asylum and sleeps with a man.
- The episode ends with a Stepford Wife version of Charlotte taking care of her baby, with her smiling husband looking on.