“THERE’S A MONSTER!” – Peggy
Oh, this episode has its share of monsters, that’s for damn sure. One of them is only a monster on the outside, but it’s FAR too late to help her. The best we can hope for is that the man (who’s a monster on the inside) that turned her into something barely recognizable as once being a human will be discovered for what he is. Hopefully he’ll get the worst, most agonizing death of any character yet on American Horror Story. The writers would have to really apply themselves to pull that off, though, given the viciousness and agony characters have been subjected to on varying levels all season-and we’re not even halfway through. There’s still EIGHT episodes left —HELL, yeah! Okay, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s do this. Believe it or not, this is the trimmed-down version!
Don’t worry… she won’t bite.
1. Dr. Thredson has a pretty cool-looking bachelor pad; lots of warm wood tones, plenty of Eames-like furniture, minimalistic decor, almost like Roger Sterling and Burt Cooper at their best decorated it. Oh, did I say furniture? I’m excluding the lamp that, when turned on, revealed a shade that would have looked much better if it had been left on its original owner: a woman (we could faintly make out nipples on it). Which leads us to…
2. Dr. Thredson is Bloody Face! In a series of perfectly timed and progressively horrifying reveals, we found out he is indeed the serial-killing monster who has been skinning women (possibly while they were still alive), decapitating them, and wearing their severed faces as a mask (sewed up the back). We saw some red flags when Dr. Thredson, AKA Dr. Bloody Face, brought in a reel-to-reel recorder the size of a coffee table to take Kit’s ‘confession’, which had been fed to him by Thredson almost word-by-word. Poor Kit believed Dr. T. He can be very convincing; I sure as hell didn’t suspect him for Bloody Face at all until ‘Nor’Easter’, but then it just sort of crossed my mind. I didn’t seriously consider it until the second viewing of “I am Anne Frank, Part One”. American Horror Story is not known for its predictability, and though Dr. T got the most votes in the Bloody Face Poll I posted (about half the votes were for him, the rest were spread out on the other choices, though there was not one vote for Kit, Sister Jude or Mary Eunice) I wouldn’t have bet on it. The way he more or less smuggled Lana out of Briarcliff, also a big red flag, especially his response when Frank went out to the parking lot saying Sister Jude was asking for him. “I don’t work here any more. As a matter of fact, I never did. You can tell her I said that,” he replied in his usual monotone, now sounding colder. He never did work for Briarcliff. Dr. T was always working for himself, his own secret agenda, not because he cared about the patients getting treated humanely, but to frame the suspect that had been arrested for the gruesome, brutal murders of three women (that the police knew of, that is): Kit Walker.
“Instincts are everything. We ignore them at our peril.” -Mr. Goodman
3. Lana’s decision to trust Dr. Thredson was possibly the worst she made in her life (after the decision to write an exposé on Briarcliff for her career, I suppose). She seemed nervous when Dr. T wouldn’t let her make a phone call, though she glanced at the lamp shade’s faint nipples (which was when I exclaimed loudly, “Oh holy shit, it IS him!”*), she looked away quickly enough that she obviously didn’t suspect it was made of human skin. She still grew increasingly unnerved, though Dr. T talked a very good game, even giving her the name of the police detective he’d (claimed to have) set up a meeting with the next morning. Still, any awkwardness about quickly turned into bad vibes after Dr. Thredson told her he just knew it– she was the person to tell his story. Uh-oh. Lana knew she was in serious trouble when he offered her a mint from what at first glance seemed like a white bowl, but on closer look was a dish fashioned from the top of a human skull (the sound the bone dish made rolling slightly on the coffee table as it sank home for Lana was especially unsettling to me). At that point I would have leaped up and bolted the hell out of there even if I had to launch myself through a window that was closed, but Lana bravely kept her composure and asked to use his bathroom. After she left the room, Dr. T sighed in a rather resigned way (as if he was hoping to keep up the façade as long as he could so he could toy with her and scare her as badly as possible before she hit the basement) and removed his glasses, but all the doors “right down the hall” were locked …except for one.
Lana, when she was still safe at Briarcliff Manor… #PrayForLana indeed.
Unfortunately for her, it turned out to be the door to his Hobby Room of Horrors, which included hanging, translucent flaps of skin, chunks of what looked like cured flesh on a work table, almost wall-to-wall tools that would look right at home in a private room of a paying Club Member on the set of Hostel or Hostel 2, the upper half of a skeleton assembled and mounted on the wall… and a handy hydraulic trap door that opened instantly at the touch of a button perhaps the most startling moment in the episode, I’ve never seen that in a horror movie before—which considering the number of them I’ve seen is saying something— and was one of the last things I expected (another “HOAH!” from me at a volume that woke up one of our cats). Just in case THAT wasn’t fucked-up enough, we learned something else horrible (I think all ten items on the list this week may be very disturbing information, and usually there’s one that could be seen as a positive discovery)…
3. Dr. Thredson’s REAL chamber of horrors is in the basement It’d be terrifying enough to wake up face down on a tiled floor (with at least one drain for hosing down the place for easy clean-up after blood and body parts are everywhere), recall how you got there, then realize your ankle has a shackle around it attached to a long chain bolted to the floor. It’s another, worse thing to see a your lover’s body carelessly laid out a couple of yards away, wearing a familiar robe, think she’s alive, (“Oh Wendy, oh thank God”, Lana sobbed), turn her to face you, and discover the person you loved with all your heart is now a frozen corpse (hence the open door on the giant meat freezer), then, just in case things aren’t horrifying enough, to see the human monster (who by the way, you had trusted unconditionally since your life took a BIG turn for the worse) walk in and explain normally he would have skinned and decapitated her by now, but he wanted to “keep her fresh for you” for the ULTIMATE aversion-conversion therapy that makes the revolting “treatment” you went through earlier look like a fucking picnic. All of us familiar with horror knows things can always get worse, even if it didn’t seem possible. Wendy wad dead, but still had a face.. but that’s before Dr. Bloody Face tells Lana “she won’t bite”, and the ultimate horror (for now) is revealed-he pulls out a stitched-together, fleshy mask of human skin and dons it… then points to the ragged skin around the mouth of it and tells her Wendy won’t bite when Lana kisses Wendy’s cold lips… because he took her teeth and crudely attached them to the ragged hole where the mouth on that face used to be (see featured photo). It’s only then that Lana finally lets out that raw, primal scream we saw in the preview.
“It’s almost like she wanted to re-live it… as if she could somehow change the outcome.”
4. Kit really had been abducted. We discover this when Grace, who’d been curled up on the cot in her wretched cell after realizing there was nothing she could do to keep from being sterilized against her will, sees an unnaturally bright, blinding light penetrating the walls of her cell. Grace is abducted too …and may have been ‘probed’/experimented on even more severely than Kit, as when we see her again, a noticeable amount of blood has spilled out of her lady parts, leaked and pooled on the fabric of the chair in the day room she’s slumped miserably in. She looks much, much worse for wear after what Kit had referred to as “the creature in the sky” returned her. But that’s not all the news Grace (and the episode) lays out for us.
5. Alma (or some clone, copy or alien doppelgänger of her) is alive and trying to comfort Grace while she’s on the alien …mothership or whatever it turns out to be “up in the sky” (as Kit had earlier put it). Alma also looked pregnant in one of the trippy, disjointed shots in the montage. The zoom in on Grace’s wide, frightened eye (that I assumed was the eye of someone about to get a trans-orbital lobotomy in my last piece), was when the unearthly, blinding beams of light from the alien presence invaded her dank, David Fincher-esque cell. Before I saw the episode, I even thought I saw the reflection of a trans-orbital lobotomy tool moving closer to her eye. Nope.
“I cried and cried saying God didn’t answer my prayers… I remember my mother telling me that ‘God always answers our prayers, Judy. It’s just rarely the answer we’re looking for.’ ”
6. Unless a miracle or plot twist (or a totally successful escape plan) is introduced, it looks like Kit is totally screwed. He was already under arrest for the murder of his wife AND at two other women that they know of, perceived by the authorities to be the sadistic serial killer nicknamed Bloody Face. In addition to that, he was spending the majority of his temporary stay in Briarcliff (for mental evaluation) either getting the hell caned out of him until he couldn’t sit down or being tortured by Dr. Thredson. Now the police have a very convincing, detailed confession that he recorded more or less without the use of force, or even prompts, including details only the killer knew. Now that Grace has told him he wasn’t crazy, it happened like he remembered, and that Alma is (seemingly) alive, he seems doomed to slowly become insane —for real, this time— locked up in jail until his date with the electric chair.
Jessica Lange, beautiful at any age.
7. Sister Jude had a horrible childhood. Her mother drank heavily (“the Martin family cure for everything” Sister Jude says). Her single mother worked hard to support her daughter because her husband had run off. During a monologue to Frank— she tells a story that may rival her “movie night” drunken monologue in terms of misery and acting genius. She was a very lonely little girl who came home to an empty house after school and brought home a sickly squirrel to try to nurse back to health, then she kept it secretly in a shoebox. When she realized it had died, she wept and prayed with all her heart for God to bring back her little companion. Shockingly, God does not in fact bring her squirrel back from the dead; instead, Sister Jude’s exhausted mother got home from work, saw her praying, and tossed her dead pet in the garbage. Sister Jude says her mother’s actions were understandable given how worn out she was at the time and that she didn’t know how cruel her action was. The lesson was, in her mother’s words, that “God always answers our prayers… it’s just rarely the answer that we’re looking for.” Yep, and Kit, Lana, Shelley and Grace, can attest to it.
“Are you as happy as you look?”
“I’ve never been happier.”
8. Sister Jude prayed long and desperately to God to let her keep her position at Briarcliff. She has demonstrated through her actions that the mansion and her position there mean everything to her in the world. After Frank came in to reluctantly give her the news that Lana Winters was missing from the grounds (and she told Frank that pitiful story) she fell back into terrible old habits, dressed up in a sex-siren outfit she still kept around, let her hair down and applied her familiar Ravish-Me Red (or a shade close to it) lipstick, went to a bar to cruise, and banged a man only listed in the credits as “Stranger”. She woke up the next morning probably feeling even more shitty, got dressed, and left the room while her bed-mate was still sleeping. Sad as all this was, I LOVED the sequence of her preparing to go get laid, sitting at the bar waiting for a man to approach her. I really loved the musical beats during the montage when it was edited together with…
9. The fate of “Anne Frank”, aka Charlotte Cohen. Her very concerned husband came in with him, her real story (and the proof to back it up- a photo of them with their son, David). She was already ‘emotional’ and ‘high strung” as her husband describes her. She’d read The Diary of Anne Frank, and had been told she resembled her at the same age Anne would be if she hadn’t died in Auschwitz. Her husband says the turning point came after she saw a production of Anne Frank when she was eight months pregnant. After their baby was born and she slipped into a serious postpartum psychosis, spending most of her time in the library and the den she’d turned into a study of Nazis and holocaust atrocities, including the horrible war crimes she’d accused Dr. Nazi of; more on that later) . She even gave herself the concentration camp numbers, tattooing them on her inner elbow prison-style. Sister Jude was thrown off that her patient turned out to be a fraud (even though Charlotte didn’t know it herself) and sent her home with her loving husband. “A child needs his mother,” Sister tells her gently.
Guess what happens next.
Unfortunately, her mental condition got worse after she got back to home, and her husband, who had to work, simply didn’t feel the baby was safe being home with just Charlotte. That probably had something to do with her trying to smother their baby with a pillow right in from of him. Though he clearly didn’t want to, he brought her back to Briarcliff as a last resort- even Sister Jude tried to talk him out of it. Dr. Nazi , though, almost immediately tosses her in a padded cell and talks her very sad husband into what he says is the best, safest ‘most humane’ treatment for her mental illness, a trans-orbital lobotomy. Dr. Nazi assures her husband (who nervously asks if he’s sure this is safe) in his hands, the procedure is routine as a dentist filling a cavity (in his usual vile choice of words). Of course, Dr. Misogynistic Evil Prick knows better, but her husband trusts him (though he’s still clearly hurting when he’s present at her “procedure”). Yes, the recipient of the trans-orbital lobotomy teased last week turned out to be “Anne Frank”, AKA Charlotte Cohen. At least she got anesthesia.
“What’s your poison, sweetheart?” Stranger at bar
10. The final reveal, that especially caught me off guard after I was POSITIVE the episode would end and cut to black after the “I took her teeth” line, and Lana’s reaction to it, was quiet, simple genius. Charlotte’s back home after her lobotomy. I assumed lobotomies back then (especially when performed by someone who hated you) probably resulted in becoming a vegetable on legs; instead it seemed to transform her into a Stepford Wife**. Charlotte has taken down and boxed up most of her newspaper clippings and research on concentration camps and the SS; her husband hopefully asks her if it’s trash, and she answers him in the affirmative . She and her happy husband leave the room after she offered to make a martini for him (sigh). Then they slowly pan in to one of the few remaining scrapbook photos on the wall that she hasn’t had time to dispose of yet… and we see a group of Nazis in full dress posing in a group photo with Hitler. When the camera pans further in, we recognize the man standing behind Hitler …and he’s clearly Dr. Arden/Gruber. BOOM. End of episode. Charlotte was indeed delusional, but that picture was real. That’s why she was seeing flashbacks of him— his photo had been on her Wall of Obsession by chance. He is a Nazi war criminal. Sister Jude’s — and our—strong suspicions were absolutely true.
And that’s that.
Two Bonus Things We Learned (because this episode was PACKED with new information):
Not sure how many hours Chloe spent in the make-up chair for this, but it ended up being very effective.
11. Oh holy shit, poor Shelley. She’s so mangled and messed-up that a little girl named Peggy (and a large teacher) both scream at the top of their lungs when they lay eyes on her. She’s barely recognized as a human woman (her stained bra and panties were pretty much all that indicated her gender), let alone being recognizable to anyone who knew her. She can’t talk anymore, just rasps and makes frightening animalistic sounds. Shelley obviously got the shitty end of the stick, but every single one of those kids who saw mutant-Shelley are going to probably going to need therapy for life. Plus, that teacher is going to have to get a prescription for one of those 60s barbituate-sedatives like Seconal, Nembutal, or Quaaludes. Hell, ‘ludes would be my choice if we were back in the mid-60s and I was the one who saw the most disturbing, horrifying, fucked-up thing I’d ever seen in my life times ten. Although the second time I watched, the shot where the teacher and all the kids all screamed in unison with their mouths open as far as possible was actually funny. One, two, three, now! AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!
aaaaand you all should start looking for a good shrink right about now.
12. …and Sister Mary Eunice is TOTALLY in on this. It was chilling when Dr. Nazi expresses surprise that Sister Mary Eunice was able to transport Shelley ‘into the woods on her own’ and she casually, pleasantly replies, “You’d be surprised. She weighed very little.” We’re unsure right now what her motives could be. She didn’t bother to mention the fact to him that she dumped Shelley in a kid’s playground instead of the woods. I read a while back in an interview w/Ryan Murphy that the demon in her definitely has a plan. Did she do it so Dr. Nazi will get busted (and of course they’re going to take a nun’s word over THAT guy’s) and she can take over Briarcliff? Or was it to be extra-evil to Shelley by dropping her off in public where someone will find her and scream in horror at the top of their lungs? Or both? What a goddamned nightmare.
Can you find the Rasper in this picture?
- Sorry I didn’t post this in a more timely manner. I spent a couple of hours writing and proofing it (while doing two re-watches of the episode with closed captions), figured I’d do the photos and then publish it before the deadline, but funny thing, I had a little trouble sleeping until it was light out! Thus I slept way later than usual and hit the snooze button until I missed the 5PM PST deadline by five minutes or so.
- If Jessica Lange hadn’t earned the Emmy for this season before, she’s sure as hell earned it now.
- Frank, the guard, has feelings. I was completely expecting that when they cut back to him after Sister Jude’s miserable monologue about God answering prayers, and her telling him she was finished at Briarcliff, that Frank would either say, “Uh, ‘scuse me, Sista, but you been drinkin’ again? You ain’t making no sense here.” or it would cut to him leafing through a dirty magazine, then looking up and saying, “Uh, sorry, were you sayin’ something Sista? Ya lost me about five seconds in.” Instead, he proved himself to be possibly the only kind man on the staff, with no deep-seated issues towards women (unless you count the guard that Shelley
blew went down on the night of the storm, he seemed pretty easygoing). We were taken off guard to hear his quiet response: “I certainly hope you’re not blaming yourself. Men are never gonna accept a woman taking charge. Especially not a woman as strong as you are. In my opinion you never really had a chance.” At this point, it’s very refreshing to see a male staff member who not only doesn’t treat women like dog dirt, but even is surprisingly understanding towards women in her profession and the shit they have to constantly go through.
He’s just doin’ his job…
- Loved the scene where Dr. Nazi goes to visit Sister Jude in her office with that crackling fireplace, and she refuses to lose her composure in front of him. She just glared at him when he hinted at dropping the charges if she prostrated herself on the floor and grovelled. You know he was hoping she’d do it, but good for you, Sister Jude, don’t give that sociopathic asshole the satisfaction.
- GOD that mid-century pad of Dr. T’s was beautiful (we’re big, BIG mid-century modern fans), with that free-standing fireplace in the living room. Wonder if it was someone’s home, or a specially built studio set?
- It’s no co-incidence Dr. Nazi’s cane— too bad Charlotte didn’t blow out his kneecap (or his brains)— has the silver head of a wolf. I think that’s one of his little death-camp souvenirs right there. Using it to anchor the table Charlotte was laid out on before her ‘procedure’ was especially cruel- and from her weak reaction, she wasn’t so drugged up that she didn’t notice it. Her husband, to his credit, stayed there in the surgery room for the lobotomy …but couldn’t bear to look after the trans-orbital stabby-spike was in position over the inner corner of Charlotte’s eye. Tap. Tap. Crunch. Click of Sister Jude’s lighter at the bar. Cut to black. I love this show.
- Oh God, poor Shelley. I don’t know if I’d wish that fate on any woman. I suppose she could be such a fighter (or hopefully, so infuriated) that she managed to painfully drag herself to the KID’S PLAYGROUND where she was found, rather than have been dumped there specifically by Sister Mary Demon. She made it up those stairs when she had less than half her legs and was in horrible pain. Of course the teacher is going to call someone to come get her, but tragically (and horribly) I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be able to communicate the truth to the authorities. My money is on her sticking around for one more episode, and then we’ll be losing her. Update: Ryan Murphy has confirmed she WILL show up in episode six, and t hat Sister Mary Sicko purposely dumped her near a playground… because “that’s what the devil would do.” Agreed.
- I’m usually not a big fan of deliberately ironic use of music (with some exceptions, like a John Waters movie). To me, it usually seems too contrived, like the movie or show is high-fiving itself, but I actually liked it at the end of this episode. In fact, it made me smile and shake my head. Oh, American Horror Story! You’re my bestest friend on TV.
- I forgot sometime between the pilot and now that St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. For the record, here’s what the closed captions translated as Sister Jude’s whispered prayer before Frank came into her quarters to give her the bad news that Lana is off the grounds: Holy apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the patron saint of hopeless cases and things almost despaired of, pray for me who am so miserable, make use, I implore thee, of the particular privilege that is accorded to thee to bring visible and speedy help to those all hope where hope is almost despaired of…
- I’m guessing Dr. Thredson also has some mommy issues. Remember the exorcism during E02? When he was giving the Jeb-demon an injection, the thing fucked with him telling Dr. T in an old woman’s voice, “Oh Oliver… look what you’ve become,” and he was visibly shaken. In fact, the only time on the show we’ve seen him that shaken.
- Looks like we’ll be getting a little more of Sister Mary Eunice in next week’s episode, “The Origins of Monstrosity.” Loved her confiding cheerfully to that little girl, “I’m the devil.” “Are not,” she says. “Am too!” she responds, with that evil I’ve-got-a-secret gleam in her eyes. Plus, cooking with Bloody Face. Bring it ON!
*My verbal reactions (especially during the final act) during the first airing of the show last night were so loud and profane (example: “HOAH! …LEE FUCK !” at the reveal of Wendy’s teeth on the mask) that if I’d been seeing the episode in a movie theater instead of watching at home, a fellow audience member would have complained and gotten me kicked out of the place by the manager or a security guard (as well they should).
**I’d say “Betty Draper” rather than a Stepford Wife, but Charlotte was smiling and seemed capable of love.