American Horror Story: Asylum gets into the holiday spirit and blah blah blah. Who cares? It’s Ian freaking McShane! Hold on to your hats, folks
Let’s bitch it out…‘Unholy Night’ is similar in many ways to S1’s ‘Halloween’ in that it feels a bit like a standalone, even though there is some significant advancement in the main season-long arc. We’re introduced to a one-off character (McShane’s Lee Emerson), who instigates a number of conflicts designed to titillate and entertain, even as it moves thing along just a touch. Is it my favourite episode of the season? Not by a long shot, but considering how much focus we get on Sister Mary Eunice (an outstanding Lily Rabe), I can’t say I was disappointed.
In my eyes Rabe has been the discovery of the season. As I’ve mentioned before, I only watched a few episodes from S1 (mostly for Connie Britton), but the whole enterprise felt overdone and “shocking for the sake of shock”. I can’t say that S2 doesn’t also fit that description, but at least I care about whether or not the characters live or die, which is something I can’t say about the first season. Whether it’s Lana (Sarah Paulson) nearly being forced to give Thredson (Zachary Quinto) back his “intimacy” or Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) ending up on the receiving end of her own whip, I care about these people. And that’s saying something for a show that cold-opens with a scene seemingly lifted from the 80s slasher classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night (it’s terrible and off-colour for the season, but oh so fun!).
With that said, I did prefer the parts of the episode featuring our regular cast over the parts with Lee doing his thing. This is the kind of show where if you see a stabby looking star, or a straight razor, you pretty much know that someone’s headed to the yule log in the sky before the end of the hour. As a result, it’s less than shocking when Frank (Fredric Lehne) gets a second breathing hole in his neck after showing remorse over what happened last week to Grace (Lizzie Brocheré). And while it’s admittedly entertaining to see Mary Eunice dump Lee in a locked room with Jude, it’s far more diabolical to know that the disgraced former alcoholic has been betrayed by Nazi doctor Arden (James Cromwell). It appears that the good doctor would rather side with the devil than with Sister Jude. The death of Christmas spirit indeed!
- Arden betraying Jude = just another reason never to trust a Nazi doctor. Even when they show up in your house of worship and talk about being attracted to purity and light, it’s all just a sham to lock you in a room with a raping Santa. Remember that as we head into holiday party season, folks
- Grace’s body disappears into a flash of white light down in the death chute. Oh right, aliens. Yup…still don’t care
- Kit (Evan Peters) and Lana’s plan to imprison Thredson in a supply closet until they can reveal the truth seems logical (since Kit is still facing the electric chair). Unfortunately on this show logical doesn’t fly, which means that this will end badly for one – or possibly both – of them. At this point it’s a toss-up who will live to see the end of the season, but I’m betting one of them bites it (my money is on Kit so that he can be magically reunited with Alma and Grace, much like we see in his drug-induced hallucination)
- The Monsignor is clearly a terrible judge of character. First he believes in Arden’s science and now he thinks that Mary Eunice is a good replacement for Jude? She’s hanging human hair bow-ties on the damn tree! This guy needs to fix his “good people” radar because clearly it’s not operating at 100%
- Love the fact that Rudolph gets two shout-outs as an indicator of how blasphemous society has become. First Jude is distraught it’s being shown on TV instead of a nativity story. Then we get a clear sign that the animated classic is tied to the devil when we learn Mary Eunice intends on showing it as entertainment at the Briarcliff Christmas celebration. The horror!
- Finally, anyone expect Lee Emerson to cook little Susie like a Christmas cookie and put her under the tree? With so much talk of cookies and milk, I figured that he would do something involving food. At the very least I expected it to be something really terrible, so it’s a bit of a disappointment that he just shoots the father and mother. Because when people are only shot on American Horror Story, apparently I’m disappointed. What does that say about me?
- Lee Emerson (when asked by Susie where his beard is): “I shaved. It was scratchy.”
- Mary Eunice (to Lee): “The jailers went caroling in the cell block. And while they were in there, five men held you down and took your virginity. Well, the first one did. The others took your dignity, your self-esteem and, most importantly…your Christmas spirit.” Way to prioritize Mary Eunice
- Mary Eunice (to Arden): “Did you celebrate Christmas in your Nazi-household?”
- Mary Eunice (to Arden): “You’re either with me or you’re against me. And if you’re against me, then even God can’t help you.” This seems a bit like the show’s mantra: if the audience isn’t with the show, then God help them, because AHS refuses to pull-back from crazy-town
- Arden (to Jude, about Mary Eunice): “I have more work to do. I can’t be babysitting a deranged nun all day.”
- Lee (to another patient after Monsignor applauds his role as Santa): “What do you say we blow this popstand and go savage a few elves and then suck on each other, huh?”
- Jude (when Arden explains Mary Eunice is hosting a Christmas party): “She should be stopped for that reason alone.”
What did you think of the holiday-themed outing of AHS? Do you feel full of Christmas spirit now? Wish that someone had of gotten that star in the eye? Surprised Arden betrayed Jude? Shaking your head at Lana and Kit’s foolishness for keeping Thredson alive? Or are you just silently mourning the passing of Frank? Hit the comments below and sound off!
American Horror Story: Aslyum airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX. Looks like next week Jude gets a taste of her own medicine and Dylan McDermott (from S1) brings his suckiness to the party