American Horror Story is going to run out of frightening material before they get to Season Three. The writers have to be running out of ideas, after stuffing this season full of serial killers, Nazi doctors, demonic possession, alien abductions and good old-fashioned mutants. Sounds like a lot? Well it is, but somehow, someway, AHS continues to be highly entertaining, guilty-pleasure TV, even when it’s not so great. Tonight saw a return for the show to the patient-of-the-week plot device, used as a means to bring us another well-worn horror trope. This week it’s a creepy kid with killer instincts, conjuring memories of other horror films that showcased the same. We also get plenty more backstory this week, so much so that it almost felt like nothing much progressed, besides big news for Sister Jude. Maybe this is the key problem with the episode, so much time is spent in the past, that nothing moves forward and the story doesn’t progress much. Another big problem is that part of that backstory happens to be about this season’s big mysterious baddie, Bloody Face, who’s just a tad too conventional and reminiscent of another geek-icon television villain.
The beginning of the episode marks a return to the present day storyline where police detectives are entering the building where all the murder and mayhem was last happening. It doesn’t take the detectives long to find something shocking, as they immediately shine their flashlights upon the bodies of all the characters we’ve met thus far, excluding Teresa, the last remaining half of the lovers. The episode doesn’t return to the present-day again until the end, when the detectives receive a telephone call on Leo’s phone. The voice on the other end claims responsibility for the carnage, deeming the bodies of the deceased as imposters and claims to be the real Bloody Face. The camera cuts to the masked figure making the call, holding a wounded and weary Teresa.
Back at Briar Cliff, the new patient is just a little girl, or so Sister Jude believes. A mother brings in her little girl claiming the child is evil. She says of her daughter that she never cried, not even as a baby, and always seemed very mature and aware for her age. It doesn’t end there of course, because the mother also reveals that she believes her daughter murdered a friend and then cunningly and coldly covered it up to police. This is all brought to life in devilish scenes directed to resemble classic flicks like The Omen. Sister Jude reveals to the mother that they do not have a children’s ward, but it doesn’t seem to matter, because just as Sister Jude turns her back, the mother abandons the little girl at Briar Cliff. Of course the little devil can’t spend time in the asylum without talking to the real devil herself and little girl shares an unsettling conversation with possessed Sister Mary Eunice. The sinister sister encourages the evil behavior of the child telling her that she’s smarter and superior to all those around her. The devilish nun goes so far as to congratulate her on murdering her friend and incites her to kill again. Her arc is neatly wrapped up after the little girl is picked up by her mother and the viewer finds the little girl talking to police again, standing over the body of her murdered mother, giving the same description of the man who killed her. Spooky stuff, but non-essential.
Sister Jude is in overhead this week, as always. This week the Monsignor arrives to tell Sister Jude she’s been removed as head of Briar Cliff and is being sent to head a reform school in Pittsburgh. This is terrible timing, seeing as Sister Jude just received word from the Nazi hunter Mr. Goodwin that Arden was in fact an SS Doctor. The Monsignor is uninterested, due to his alliance with the wicked doctor. The Monsignor’s relationship with Arden is revealed through flashback this week, as we learned Arden promised a young bright-eyed Monsignor medical breakthroughs that would help him rise through the ranks of the Catholic Church. However, their relationship has soured recently because the “medical breakthroughs” are causing the Monsignor to have to deal with mishaps like Shelley. He visits her mutilated stump of a body in the hospital and quietly puts her out of her misery. Disgusted, the Monsignor returns to Arden, where Arden passionately declares that his mutants are an evolved species, created to be immune to nuclear fallout so America can be ready to be dominant after Russia brings about a nuclear holocaust. The Red Scare motive is weak and further solidifies that these so-called evolutionary masterpieces are the least interesting scare tactic being showcased on this program. Though he’s unhappy, the Monsignor still will not hear Sister Jude’s protesting. Things get worse for Sister Jude too, because before she can receive all the information from Mr. Goodwin, Sister Mary Eunice attacks Goodwin and steals the files on Arden, to use as leverage against the former Nazi should the need arise. In his dying breath to Sister Jude, Goodwin declares a nun attacked him and Jude knows it must be Mary Eunice.
Things could be worse for the sister; she could be Lana Winters, who’s stuck as a hostage of Dr. Oliver Threadson, also known as Bloody Face. Through flashback it is learned that Threadson was abandoned by his mother and during medical school was drawn to cadavers that reminded him of his absentee mommy. This made the twisted young man long for a mother’s touch and Threadson believes Lana just may be that mother. Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of this villain is eerily similar to his work on geek series Heroes, where he played similarly nasty Sylar. Both characters cut flesh, have issues with parents, are homicidal maniacs, and delve into dramatic monologues about their evil deeds. Besides being similar to Heroes, the core of Threadson’s evil, his mommy problem, is just way too cliché and easy. Boiling the character down to predictable psychosis will make this just introduced villain a well-worn character too soon.
They can’t all be as good as last week, but hopefully we get more development in the overall story when we tune in next week. For a Thanksgiving episode, American Horror Story didn’t bring quite the feast of fear that we were hoping for.
The Best of the Rest
- Kit’s screen time was limited, with him only popping up to call Threadson from prison, angry over the way he was played.
- Mary Eunice has a silly scene where she sings and dances around in Sister Jude’s red lingerie. Oh how horribly evil!
- Sister Mary Eunice tells Arden this week, “trust me with your entire soul and everything will work out.”
- We also get some Mary Eunice backstory, where it’s revealed that a mean prank at a swimming party drove a desperate-to-be-liked Mary Eunice to become a nun.
- Lana is caught trying to escape, gives in as mother figure, where she then is forced to “maternally feed” Threadson. Gross.