American Horror Story, Season, 2, Episode 3: Nor’easter Review

Three episodes into American Horror Story's second season and we finally get a look at Dr. Arden's monsters.

On Halloween, one would think the American Horror Story writers would find a way to bring their diehard horror fans an hour of television more frightening and impressive than any other episode of this season. But alas, this episode was more “trick” for the viewers. Instead of being treated, what we’re given is an episode that seems to see the series turning back to mishaps of the past, throwing too much too soon at the audience, escalating the bar of out-in-left-field moments and having characters act in incredibly senseless ways. Towards the end of this over-zealous hour of television, one can’t help but scratch their head at the actions of several of the main characters.

The episode begins with the revelation that Adam Levine’s lover character is in fact alive. After appearing dead, Levine attacks Bloodyface just before he harms his fiancé. The couple stabs the monstrous figure and searches for a way out, only to be shot and killed by two other young male characters in Bloodyface masks. One of the males is distraught over the shooting, the other expresses manic delight at killing the lovers and before the audience learns any more about the motives of these two, a third figure appears stalking the two men, also wearing a Bloodyface mask. It’s obvious that the audience will only be given small doses of this modern-day storyline, with the probable ending tying the past storyline together. Hopefully the payoff of this slowly delivered action will be well worth it.

Back in the 60’s, the newly possessed and pure evil Sister Mary Eunice is up to no good. Her pale complexion has turned to grey and on her lips she wears devil-red lipstick. Instead of humbly shuffling, the new Mary Eunice struts and sinisterly smiles at all those who pass by. The wicked Sister spends the episode playing Sister Jude and Dr. Arden against each other, manipulating their respective weaknesses. In Sister Jude’s case, this happens to be the hit and run murder that she is hiding. Using evil tricks and illusions, Sister Mary Eunice uses newspaper headlines, phone calls from the dead victim and even the appearance of the victim’s broken glasses to push Sister Jude back towards alcohol and, eventually, a complete mental breakdown. Jessica Lange handles Jude’s unraveling with an understated sense of grief and distress. When she finally cracks, crying in front of the entire asylum, she doesn’t wail dramatically, but softly whimpers and whispers her guilt. Sister Jude blames all of this on Dr. Arden, who she suspects of discovering her secret and using it to gain complete control of the asylum.

Dr. Arden has a lot of business this week, which is good and bad. Much is unveiled about the Dr.’s activities, but James Cromwell plays Arden as a one note baddie, twisted and insecure. Not only does he think that the alien technology he has discovered inside of Kip is actually meant to spy on him, but he also shows insecurity when devious Sister Mary Eunice throws herself at him.  Arden declines sheepishly, disappointed with her loss of innocence. He blames Mary Eunice’s perversion on Sister Jude and the asylum, Sister Jude blames it on the time she spends with Arden. Both are horribly off.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Threadson is still hanging around Briar Cliff and is freely interacting with patients like Lana, while Sister Jude is busy reliving her spotty past. Lana pulls Threadson aside to speak and before Threadson can say that he’s already looked into her mysterious lock up, Lana interrupts him. She’s not concerned with her case, only with delivering a message to her lover, Wendy. Threadson agrees to deliver the message, but when he goes to Wendy’s home, he finds her missing, with the evidence eerily matching the disappearance of Kip’s alleged victims. When Threadson delivers this information to Lana, she begins to rethink the guilt of Kip Walker and her decision to blow the whistle on his escape. When she overhears Kip and Grace planning another escape attempt during an upcoming movie, Lana convinces them to make her a part of it.

Shelley also overhears this plan to escape. She wants out as well, but understands that she can aid the group and then join them later. So when the quartet sneaks out of the movie, Shelley undertakes the task of distracting the guard. After she subdues the guard, Shelley runs straight into Dr. Arden. At the same time, Lana, Kip and Grace have reached the outside. They celebrate in the rain and begin to head for the nearest road, but then come across the monsters that Dr. Arden has been hiding on the asylum grounds. The humanoids, resembling a cross between zombies and the mutants seen in films like the Hills Have Eyes, chase after the escaped inmates. Instead of taking a different route, the trio bafflingly head back into the asylum. The action returns to Shelley, who is being sexually propositioned now by Arden. She steadfastly refuses his advances, but Arden then attempts to rape Shelley. She successfully breaks away and mocks Arden’s member, which apparently is disfigured in some way. This angers Arden and he hits Shelley in the head, knocking her out. Shelley awakens on the doctor’s table and pleads to be let go. The doctor laughs maniacally at this, stating that it’s too late for Shelley to walk away, before revealing that he has amputated her legs. 

It’s nice to finally get a peak at Arden’s creatures, but the episode doesn’t reveal much else. The show goes over the top, veering dangerously close to campy with Lily Rabe’s portrayal of the Sister with the Devil inside and does the same trying to convince us of Dr. Arden’s evil. After the previous eventful and momentous two episodes, this episode slightly disappoints and slows the pace of the season.  Though the insight into Sister Jude’s backstory is nice and Lange handles the scenes well, the time spent on Sister Jude’s hit and run is ultimately time wasted. Hopefully American Horror Story uses tonight’s storm-centric episode as a “calm before the storm” of the season in general.

Best of the Rest

  • Sister Mary Eunice coming on to Dr. Arden was definitely shocking, especially in the dialogue.
  • On the radio in the background at Arden’s office we here about an aircraft that has landed and possible electric disturbances and the camera pans to the alien device going crazy. Can this be the aliens coming back for Kip?
  • Sister Mary Eunice brutally murders a religious Mexican patient with scissors and feeds the body to the creatures. Definitely the scare of the night.
  • Arden seems to liken Mary Eunice to the Virgin Mary, mocking a statue of the Virgin, calling it a “whore,” before destroying it.
  • What was it that Sister Jude came face to face with at the end of the episode?