Believe it or not, no pun intended on the title. Yes,
Sister Jude was forcibly given an especially, deliberately brutal shock treatment session, but we spent the episode either with our jaws on the floor at reveal after reveal, sudden deaths, lines and acts that I was surprised got by the FX notes department, laughing with glee, or loudly exclaiming profanities. They turned the juice up extra high on us, that’s for sure. Ole Mrs. Horror Boom here somehow took notes while simultaneously sounding like a less coherent, female version of the routine Eddie Murphy did back in the 80s about talking back to the screen in movie theaters. “The Name Game” came close to pure gold other than a couple of brief glitches that’ll be covered in the “Stray Thoughts” section to be added before the next episode, after I grab some sleep.–just wanted to make sure I got the usual list published first. So let’s go! Gabba Gabba HEY, Pepper!
1. Our Pepper was framed! In her own words (during a really great monologue that leaves Dr. Arden shaking, his ego shattered): “Dr. Arden, you still see me as microcephalic. No-one takes a pinhead seriously. When my sister’s husband drowned her baby and sliced his ears off, he told everybody that I did it. They tied me up and paraded me in front of a judge. He took one look at the shape of my head and I was locked up for good. That’s how it works with us freaks. We get blamed for everything.”
She’s destroyed you, and now she’s destroyed me.
2. The cold open rockets from good to great as soon as we realize Pepper isn’t scared of Dr. Nazi. In fact, by the time the cold open is over, he’s scared of her. Ha-ha! How’s that feel, Hans, you cowardly prick? Our favorite pinhead calmly, evenly informs him that she has been sent back to protect Grace, and lays out how this is going to work. THEN Pepper tells him “the others” (the aliens whose intelligence he was so impressed by in Episode 9) had been watching his “clumsy experiments” and had a good hearty laugh at him and his ‘barbaric practices’ (I wish there was a way– and I doubt that I’m alone her–, that somehow this whole sequence could have lasted twenty minutes). Anyway, after destroying his ego and pride, she laid the situation out for him: “But if something happens to Grace in here, and she is harmed in any way, there won’t be anyone else to blame. They’ll take you, open up your head, and stir your brain with a fork. And when you’re returned, you’ll experience firsthand how they treat us freaks. I’ll take care of Grace. Why don’t you go to your whore nun, have her soothe your deflated ego?”
Though Dr. Nazi lied like a rug when he hastily returned to revive Kit (“There was no visitation,” he said, but didn’t make much eye contact with Kit) and appeared composed, we see in brief flashback that by the end of the above speech, he was left slumped, panting (per the closed captions) and covering his face with shaking hands. Later in the episode, we have confirmation that yes, Dr. Nazi took her very seriously indeed, as that was the end of his experiments (we watched him prove it). Whatever scraps of his ego and hopes that Sister Mary-Demon hadn’t already damaged beyond repair, Pepper grabbed, threw on the floor and stomped on. Also, the fact that Pepper’s been charged with protecting Grace explains why she was taken when the pattern for the others taken (Alma and Grace) was that they’d recently had sex with Kit, and she didn’t. So glad that turned out to not be a plot-hole.
“You are one. Sick. Twist.” -Kit to Dr. Thredson
3. One source of ours (who only gave us the below one tip, phew) was apparently full of shit, as their tip was: the dirt that Dr. Arden was using to ‘blackmail’ the Monsignor was that he was a sex addict. Speaking of “one sick twist,” we learned he was in fact a virgin, and even though he knew he shouldn’t have (vows of purity and all that) and did try to resist, she wore that all down pretty fast. Sister Mary Demon ground all over him and soon he wasn’t as emphatic while telling her, “no… I must not… stop… don’t… stop,” and he started breathing harder when Sister Mary Demon peeled off her habit and revealed that she was wearing the now-notorious red slip. OK, we want to be accurate here but not cross the line into trashy, we’ll do our best. It began when he tried to begin the traditional exorcism (“I cast thee out in the name of...”) but that ended within seconds as Sister Mary Demon shrugged him away and laughed at the joke, telling him, “Good one, father. Wanna hear mine?” She began a dirty limerick that ended with, “His mighty dick/ was inches thick/He called it Salamander.” When he tried to clumsily continue the exorcism, Sister Mary tossed him across the room onto the bed (without touching him), and asked salaciously, “How about yours, Father? Is yours …inches thick?” and wasted no time crudely seducing him and getting about as verbally graphic as FX could let the writers. The icing on the cake was Dr. Nazi walking in on them JUST as Timothy finally, despite himself (I feel like a pervert just describing this) moaned very loudly as he got off, but with the worst possible timing for everyone. Everyone, that is, except Sister Mary Demon, who–talk about “one sick twist”– seemed to have planned the timing as she was urging the Monsignor, “Not yet… wait…” RIGHT until Dr. Nazi walked in and saw everything, including the Monsignor’s happy (or not-so-happy) ending. Furthermore, it’s going to take poor Monsignor years of therapy (at best) before he doesn’t associate orgasm with suddenly noticing an imposing, bald elderly man in a doctor’s jacket standing in his line of sight, glaring venomously at him (assuming, after that icky timing, that Father Timothy ever feels like even having sex with himself, let alone another person, for the next decade or so). I think they even made eye contact. Ugh. If Dr. Nazi had the tiniest grain of a soul, morality, or humanity left in him after Pepper tells him what a joke he really is, anything that was left died (painfully, we can hope) inside him forever at that moment. We learned that because…
4. Later, after the big dance number in Jude’s head, Dr. Nazi looked really depressed as he trudged into the Rasper Zone in the woods for a rare afternoon feeding, pushing the wheelbarrow full of large chunks of raw meat (Sister Mary Demon tagging along beside him). He half-heartedly tossed rasper-chow out, around the edges of their wooded area. All delusions of grandeur, power, and his God-complex were gone; instead his demeanour seemed closer to that of a small boy who had recently been informed his entire family had been killed in a car-wreck and he had to go live in an orphanage. Then the raspers lurched out for their meal, and Dr. Nazi suddenly produced a gun and began joylessly executing them by shooting them in the back of the head (I counted four dead). When he started picking them off, Sister Mary-Demon looked like she’d gotten a surprise gift even as he announced to her in a lifeless voice that the experiment was over. When he put the gun to his head, Sister Mary Demon watched with amused interest to see whether he would pull the trigger or not. Fortunately, Dr. Nazi didn’t— Ryan Murphy isn’t going to end such an amazing storyline (and character arcs that were all at once successfully swooping, fun, horrifying, and believable) without one hell of a pay-off …and did we ever get one at the episode’s staggering close. Instead he broke into sobs, collapsed to his knees, and asked Sister Mary Demon if she knew how much it had hurt him to lose her. She’s disgusted, tells him he’s pitiful, pushes his clinging arms away as he begs her to have pity, and it was satisfying to see him doing the begging when he’d so enjoyed making women beg him for mercy for nine episodes. He curls up, weeping and broken.
You have no secrets from me.
5. We learned that Sister Mary’s (truncated) master plan and goal (which Lily Rabe and Ryan Murphy had both promised did indeed exist and would be revealed) included attaching herself to Monsignor (“You are mine now”) and thus rising in the hierarchy of the church …together. Bishop…cardinal…dare we even say… POPE. “The desires of the flesh are nothing compared to the rewards of power and ambition,” she tells a grim Monsignor Timothy. “I know you’re weak, but I’m strong enough for both of us.” Besides the everyday chaos she enjoyed causing, Sister Mary Demon also delighted in the idea of next giving Jude (after the brutal ECT) a trans-orbital lobotomy for *cough* therapeutic benefits, and to “crack that skull open like a walnut” (because we suppose frying half her brain like an egg wasn’t enough).
“Ravage Me Red …Ravish Me Red…”
6. Speaking of that sad development, we learned Jessica Lange had another heart-wrenching monologue left in her… or rather, they had another written for her, as I’ll never doubt her acting ability again. They write ’em for Ms. Lange, she nails them shut. This time she nearly levelled us during her visit with Mother Claudia when it became clear much of her memory and sanity had been destroyed from the abuse heaped on her. (We’ll transcribe it later). This led us to learning. that…
7. Judy (or as Sister Mary Demon has cruelly designated her, Patient Number G2573) is clinging to the scraps of sanity she has left,especially trying to focus on matching names to faces; thank God one of the memories she retained is that Lana was unfairly locked up (by her), and she must keep trying to explain that Lana does NOT belong in Briarcliff.
“Anyone else have a bone to pick with me?”
8. In the “really shitty news department” we learn that Dr. T/Bloody Face (who has one of the best moments in the episode as he makes his entrance into the common room at Briarcliff to Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You”) has changed his plans. Sister Mary-Demon must have told him that Lana’s DIY abortion didn’t take. His new, somehow more horrible plan, isn’t to kill her, not with the baby inside her–he tells her that as long as that baby is inside her, she’ll stay alive. When Lana asks if he’ll kill her as soon as the baby is born, Dr. T explains his new plans to make sure she breastfeeds him for at least a year… no wire monkey mother for the son of Bloody Face (or so he thinks). Oh, and because that’s not bad enough, Sister Mary Demon offered him a permanent position at Briarcliff, which he was happy to accept (and yes, he reveals what we all strongly suspected–Sister Mary Demon untied him). Later, we learn more about his new agenda. Next goal? To get the location of the taped confession out of Kit with the help of a straitjacket and some sodium pentothal (AKA truth serum) from Dr. Nazi’s office. Instead he follows the cries of a female in pain –you know he loves that sound. This leads him to discover Grace in labor (with Pepper calmly helping, telling Dr. T she’s crowning). This (understandably) catches even him off guard, but he recovers quickly enough to put this new weird discovery into play. He plans to use the son (after he’s told the father is Kit) as a bargaining chip. No need for sodium pentothal yet. When it came to getting the information on the location of the tape reel, Dr. T. counted on Kit’s “Savior complex,” especially when it comes to women and children, being stronger than his utter hatred for Thredson. Dr. T did accurately analyze Kit at some point, apparently. Kit finally caved when Dr. T showed him his baby boy and gave him an ultimatum (we don’t hear the choice he gives Kit; in all fairness, he could have threatened the baby (though I doubt Pepper will let that happen, Kit didn’t know it). Thankfully, we then learned…
9. Lana was proactive and moved the blanket-wrapped confession reel to a new, undisclosed location, wisely not telling ANYONE where it was, to protect herself and Kit. She wanted to exonerate Kit and uncover Thredson as the real Bloody Face, but while she’d become allies with Kit, she made sure to also cover her ass… and Kit’s. She told Dr. T if he hurt Kit OR her, she’d find a way to get that tape to the police. Dr T. looks furious but also taken by surprise. “You know I can do it, Oliver. I’m goddamned plucky, remember?” Oh HEYALL yes! That’s more like it!
“Do you know your name?”
10. The Angel of Death (played by Frances Conroy) didn’t come to Timothy (who had been ‘calling’ her) to give him her kiss of death. We see a flashback to what happened right after episode 9 ended, and it’s nothing so simple. Instead…
Monsignor, up on the cross: Have you come for me? Why are you here?
Dark Angel: I came because you have more work to do. The devil is here in Briarcliff, in your favorite young nun. You must cast her out.
M: I am too weak.
D: God will help you.
M: She’ll know.
D: Guard your thoughts. Use your rosary, each bead bears his name.
That part about the rosary didn’t help, but she sure dd. After Sister Mary Eunice’s innocent soul broke through briefly and begged Monsignor Timothy to be let go, he told her to let him go. When she does, he gives her a surprisingly firm push up and over the balcony of the third floor, and she falls–released– to her death. We were in so much denial we thought she was going to change back at the last second and bite off the Dark Angel’s nose or suck out her power or something–PSYCH! Instead, Death is able to take “both of them” to peace: Sister Mary and the Demon that had (formerly) resided in her.
Note: I surprised myself by writing pages of ‘ stray thoughts’ about the episode, a majority of it concerning the twisted ‘love triangle’ and character arcs over the past 10 episodes of Dr. Arden/Gruper/Nazi, the human Sister Mary Eunice, and Sister Mary-Demon that concluded at the end of the episode, then seeing it was turning into a long-winded essay. So here’s the shorter version of my ‘stray thoughts’, later I’ll include a length to the ‘uncensored, uncut’ version (on the 2% chance someone might run out of pieces written focusing on minute details and metaphors of America Horror Story Asylum to read online). So here’s the more tidy version. Thanks!
- First, let’s get the bitching out of the way. Not one, but two characters (Possessed Sister Mary and non-possessed Monseigneur) used the words “epic failure.” Not “epic fail” (because ‘fail’ is NOT A GODDAMNED NOUN OR ADJECTIVE and it would have sent me into an angry frenzy of calling out the writers in public), thank God. The first line that concerned Sister Mary Demon calling Jude’s administration of Briarcliff her “epic failure”, took me out of the episode for a second. Everything was cruising along fine, with Sister Mary Demon being especially entertaining and evil (more on that later). It takes a LOT to take me out of this show, in fact this is the only time I can recall it happening. Later, after Sister Mary-Demon violated the Monsigneur’s “purity” when he attempted a pretty low-key exorcism, he went to talk to a barely-there Judy in the kitchen, then he called his exorcism attempt “an epic failure”. STOP THAT! On almost any other show (taking place in the 90s or earlier) two uses of that term would have caused the entire episode to a screech to a halt (and if any other show taking place back then actually used the term “Epic fail,” the entire SERIES would screech to a halt). However, everything else in this stunner of an
epic episode was pure gold, so I’ll overlook it and just bump my episode grade to A-. I can’t give any episode with a hallucinatory song/dance sequence that awesome even a B+.
- Speaking of dialogue, other than what I let slide above, “The Name Game” had some of the best, most chilling, and perfectly delivered dialogue this season. The exchange I never get tired of watching was the one after Dr. Nazi and the Monsignor had agreed on Dr. Thredson handling the cremation personally:
Monsignor, as he prepares to leave the room: As a sign of Sanctity, sometimes God permits the dead body to emit an odor of sweet perfume. It was said that when Saint Theresa De Avila died, the smell of roses lingered in the convent for days.
Dr. Arden: What do you smell now, Monsignor?
Monsignor: Nothing but decay.
It was James Cromwell’s lifeless, yet perfect delivery of his line that gave me a serious chill.
- Still not sure what Dr. Thredson said to Kit to make him disclose where the tapes were hidden. I almost wonder if Kit knew they’d been moved, just not where, but Dr. Thredson had him in a straitjacket (even though for over half of his onscreen time, Kit’s wardrobe seems to consist of shackles, straitjackets, and other restraining devices that so many kinky Evan Peters fans online own up to getting them hot and bothered), and was not being gentle. We cut away before Dr. T. gave what had to be some kind of ultimatum. However, after I re-watched the scene, I saw Pepper (Grace and the baby’s bodyguard), was in the room, and I don’t think she’d take kindly to Dr. T threatening the baby even verbally. Bugs me a tiny bit, but the “See Spot Jump” payoff was so good, I don’t really care.
- Fans everywhere are going nuts over the musical number; I thought I’d find that at least 1/3 of cynical viewers would call it a “jump the shark moment,” but only one person online did. It didn’t even make me mad enough to respond; for once I just actually felt bad for all the cool stuff and fun the person would be missing after they vowed to never watch the show ever again. Jessica Lange did a great job singing, and Lana? That chick knows how to go-go dance! Oh, and did you catch those shots of the “Dead Mexican” that Sister Mary Demon stabbed in the neck with scissors, then fed to the raspers? She looked all better, dancing away!
- Are we the only ones feeling sort of bummed after all the raspers were unceremoniously executed? OK, Dr.
Arden Nazi shot four, maybe he missed a few. Or one. It wasn’t as depressing as many other events that took place in episode ten, but still. Either way, I’m still going to finish that gallery, I’m a woman of my word. I really wanted to see them rip the throat out of a character who DESERVED it. Maybe we’ll get that…
- If this episode was supposed to contain a “moment” conveying the secret to S3, I’ve got a guess-based on Murphy saying it was not a line, but hinting at a shot or angle, here’s our prediction: watch as Dr. Nazi kills the fourth Rasper. The shooting style completely changes for a moment; we get one of those action-movie. or even a Western, bullet’s-POV-mode as he fires. It really didn’t fit, and we were in the hands of a great director and DP who wouldn’t just whimsically toss in something like that for no real reason. Crime drama? Western? Travelling “Wild West Show” type of carnival where one of the acts people pay to see are a sharpshooter shooting an apple off someone’s head? It’s probably nothing, just a hunch.
- And finally, Sister Mary Demon was at the top of her game (and entertainment value) right up until that third-floor shove. The writers must have known how much we’d miss Sister Mary, because this week, they fuckin’ went to town. From the Great! Big! Music Box! unveiling (starting with Screaming Jay Hawkins’ kick-ass “I Put A Spell on You,” I guess all those prudes in the 1950s were right—Rock and Roll really IS ‘The Devil’s Music’!) dedicated especially to Miss Judy Martin… to going through the cells and planting (so to speak) a cucumber in Judy’s room (that looked way too big to have any… never mind). and calling attention to it in front of the other now-giggling patients (“Take this from the kitchen? Get the idea from Shelley? We can’t have you diddling yourself all night long! …Do you think of Monseigneur Timothy?”)
- Speaking of diddling, Sister Mary Demon looked borderline orgasmic as she turned up the shock therapy on poor struggling, horrified Jude past 50% and scrambling her brain. For some reason, that act struck me as more evil than stabbing that poor, terrified Mexican inmate (who no-one ever gave a shit about looking for, along with Shelley and Pepper) in the neck with a pair of scissors. This was on a par with dumping poor Shelley in a playground , and with deliberately letting Dr. Thredson loose, then hiring him on when she knew everything he’d done and was going to do. Put that together what she did to Jude in The Name Game are those were her top three most evil, vile acts (I’m not counting some of the things she SAID, just her actions are in the running for the Vile and Evil Top Three).
- I still think Arden
is was as much of a monster as Bloody Face, but a tiny part of me felt a kind of grudging respect for the evil old bastard sticking to his guns and taking that shit to the grave with him. I don’t want to get into discussing religion and whether or not there is an afterlife. However, if in the “American Horror Story Asylum Universe” the devil is real (which Arthur had to have figured out around the holidays), then it means Hell is also real. Guess where Dr. Nazi’s soul is going to end up? I loved that the final shot (the whole last couple of minutes were flawless—though I would have liked to hear a little more agonized screaming from that shitbird, but no complaints either) was from a POV inside the crematorium, seeing the steel door slide down and shut out all everything else… except for the flames, which he’ll be burning in for all eternity.