American Horror Story: Asylum, Season 2, Episode 7: Dark Cousin, Review

Could this show get any more disturbing, shocking . . . gross?

A great word to describe American Horror Story is polarizing.  The audience can be completely split on whether they enjoyed the most recent plot developments, but one thing is certain, whichever side of the fence they happen to fall on, they will land there violently. The show is just a love it or hate it type of phenomenon, one that warrants no lukewarm responses. It begs to be adored or loathed to the extreme by continually pummeling the audience with horror tropes in a battle of one-upmanship with itself. In tonight’s episode you end up feeling both ends of the spectrum. The episode confirms that the season will be sticking with the stale patient-of-the-week story element, which is a disappointment, but it delights by adding another character, Frances Conroy’s Angel of Death. Conroy, who played Moira in AHS’s first season, interacts with several members of the main cast in scenes that are powerful due to Conroy’s quiet, calming demeanor. The show also takes welcoming steps forward in the plot, after last week’s backstory driven stalling. Oh and the ridiculousness that has come to be expected of American Horror Story is here in full outlandish force. No wonder this year’s setting is an insane asylum; it helps explain all the craziness.

We begin this week in the infirmary of Briar Cliff, with nuns attending to a bloody and dying Grace. With her face colorless and her eyes rolling, a woman in all black, with sprawling black wings appears to Grace and reveals herself to be the Angel of Death. Before the Angel can take Grace the nuns revive her, all right before Sister Mary Eunice. The Sister instantly goes to Arden to blame him for a botched hysterectomy, but Arden insists he didn’t preform the operation. Arden goes on to berate Mary Eunice for her lack of respect and goes so far as to slap the nun. This proves to be a mistake, as Mary Eunice exposes a bit of her demonic powers and sends the doctor flying across the room with a look of her eye.

Meanwhile, Miles, a patient at Briar Cliff, is sitting in the kitchen battling the voices in his head. The voices are urging him to end his life and not be a coward and Miles tries to do just that, cutting his wrists on a nearby meat slicer. Yet again, the bloody scene is stumbled upon by Mary Eunice, who is stricken with terror when she sees undecipherable markings on the wall. The sister reveals the markings to be Ancient Aramaic signaling the presence of the Angel of Death. When Miles comes to in his cell, stitched and breathing, the Angel greets him and she allows him to die and seals it with the kiss. Miles as a character is only used to fully explain Conroy’s new character, once again proving that the patients of Briar Cliff are no more than easy plot devices for the writers. 

We encounter the Angel of Death again in Threadson’s torture chamber, where we grotesquely find Lana being raped by the psychotic serial killer, while the Angel of Death looks on. When Threadson is finished, the Angel comes in to speak to Lana, telling her that she can end the pain if she agrees to give in to death, but Lana says she isn’t ready yet. Just as Lana turns down the Angel, Threadson reenters the room, delicately saying that he and Lana have reached an impasse. As Lana begins to react, Threadson warns her not to worry, for he will kill her as painlessly as possible. As Threadson comes at Lana with a needle of anesthetic, she reaches for a nearby picture frame containing a photo of Threadson’s mother and smashes it over his head. The two fall to the floor in a scuffle and Lana inserts the sedative into Threadson. After a classic quick recover, Lana kicks away from Threadson and flees from the underground torture chamber. Lana runs and hitches a ride from the first car that passes by. She urgently begins to state how she has escaped from a man, but is interrupted with misogynistic-laced disbelief. The driver begins grumbling about an ex-lover and Lana suddenly notices the Angel of Death in the review mirror, sitting in the backseat. Bracing herself for the worst, Lana watches as the driver suddenly shoots himself in the head and the car crashes. She awakes to the face of Sister Mary Eunice, back in Briar Cliff.

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After this, we pick up on where Sister Jude ended last week, finding the body of Nazi Hunter Mr. Goodwin. Jude begins to call 911, but notices a newspaper clipping of the girl she hit with her car behind the word “Murderer.” She then receives a call from Mary Eunice, telling Sister Jude that Goodwin was actually hunting her down. At this moment Jude puts together that Mary Eunice has been possessed and hears Mary Eunice tell her not to return to Briar Cliff. The Sister always tells Jude that she left her a gift, which she discovers to be a razorblade. At a nearby diner, she envisions her suicide and has a conversation with the Angel of Death, where it is revealed the two have met many times before. Jude tells the Angel she is finally ready, but she has to do something first. We find Sister Jude in the family of the girl she allegedly murdered, only to discover that the girl survived, which makes Sister Jude seem very odd and foolish to the family.

The episode ends with the Angel’s last visit. Fleeing from prison without much ado, Kit infiltrates Briar Cliff to spring Grace, with one of Arden’s mutants in hot pursuit. The three meet in the Briar Cliff kitchen, and Kit successfully kills the mutant before being held at gunpoint by a guard who’s been ordered to shoot Kit onsite. The guard shoots, but Grace jumps in front of the bullet. The Angel of Death at last gets to kiss Grace and free her soul.

Though it may not have been stellar, this week’s episode was an improvement over last week and definitely will have ramifications moving forward. With Grace gone, has Kit’s fate been sealed? We’ll have to check back in at Briar Cliff next week to find out.

Best of the Rest:

  • Sister Jude and the Angel’s scene at the diner was by far the high point in this uneven episode.
  • Kit attacks a service worker to escape from prison after the man urges Kit that acting out could save him.
  • In a flashback, we learn exactly how Sister Jude found her way to the convent, but most of this information could have been inferred based on the other glimpses we’ve had into her past.
  • Sister Mary Eunice and the Angel of Death have a showdown, where the Angel calls the demon inside of Mary Eunice her “dark cousin” and we get to hear the human side of Mary Eunice cry out for death.
  • Mary Eunice tells Lana that, “no one knows you’re here.”
  • No present-day storyline this week.