Creators: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Producers: 20th Century Fox
Starring: Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Sara Paulson, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe; ft. Lizzie Brocheré, Frances Conroy
TV Rating: MA SLV
Genre: television, horror, drama, insane asylum, serial killer, supernatural
Scare score: B-
Plot overview: In this installment, various characters are visited by the Angel of Death (Conroy) who gives them the difficult choice of whether or not they are ready to die. The possessed Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe) demonstrates more of her dark power, and she hints that she still has a lot of work to accomplish at Briarcliff. Sister Jude (Lange) continues struggling with the skeletons in her closet, but we learn that some of these were never actually skeletons to begin with. Lana (Paulson) valiantly attempts to escape from Bloody Face, and Kit (Peters) tries to rescue Grace (Brocheré) from her dark fate at Briarcliff.
This was certainly an action-packed episode, and while I ultimately enjoyed it it made me angry for a few reasons. I will get to those towards the end.
I think the action in this episode was great. It was a powerful episode that demanded a lot from various characters experiencing different extremes of pain, sadness, and momentary happiness or release. That being said, good acting made the episode enjoyable even beyond the gripping action that kept us on the edge of our seats throughout (actually I was standing up ironing the whole time).
About all that action. I understand that American Horror Story is not a 'happy' series by any means (neither for the 'good' nor 'bad' guys). While characters in Season 1 may have ultimately found peace, it certainly wasn't what I would consider a happy ending. What I'm trying to say is at no point during this exciting episode did I ever expect any character to escape from their predicament, blow open Briarcliff's dark secrets, and live happily ever after. Still, this episode came very cross to crossing a dangerous line about what was actually important for the plot and what was happening just for the sake of happening. At least I feel this way.
Specifically, I love that we recently learned Bloody Face's true identity and that Lana found herself the prisoner of his sick mental dilemma. I think her imprisonment in the cellar was chilling and exciting EVEN THOUGH one of my Cardinal Rules is broken in this episode (although it was handled well and Quinto as an actor is professional and easy to respect, so I found the violation was more poetic for a criminally insane psychopath more than perverted garnish) AND even though she was stuck in one spot - which, as we've learned from shows like The Walking Dead on AMC, can never last too long without being frustrating and stupid. Whoops. Back to my point: Lana's time in Bloody Face's cellar was impermanent and ephemeral from the beginning. Still, the fact that this episode saw her escape, really have a chance at freedom, shortly thereafter witness more violence and anger of the male sex, and then wind up probably in worse condition than before in good ole Briarcliff - well it happened so suddenly and resulted in massive frustration. Same with Kit, who only manages to escape for a short time before getting cornered again. I enjoyed the fast-paced action of this episode, but I didn't enjoy that we're back where we started. This week's episode will be really important in determining what's in store for our characters who almost escaped.
Also, did I miss how "Raspers" managed to randomly escape from his/ her/ its spot in the woods and enter the asylum? At least we finally get to see what was lurking behind those trees the whole time. I'm assuming we'll finally learn more about its identity/ purpose/ Dr. Arden's and Sister Mary Eunice's bigger plans in this week's episode. At least I hope.
Does anyone else think Lily Rabe is doing an awesome job this season? Sister Mary Eunice must be such a fun character to portray, and I think Rabe does the 'no nonsense, tacitly evil' possessed part even better than the sweet and repentant nun bit. She is entertaining and interesting. I am waiting for more of her mystery and 'mission' to be revealed.
This episode was also very important for Lange. I think we see how important Sister Jude is now, even so far as having a mission from God to right the wrongs of Briarcliff... or something. Her character should certainly gain more faith and strength now that a massive guilt has been lifted from her. Her immediate fate, however, does not seem so certain as this episode ends with the waitresses at the diner discussing calling Briarcliff to take her in, if only for the night. Well we know Briarcliff by now and we know things don't work out so nicely 'overnight.' If Sister Jude gets admitted to Briarcliff I will probably go crazy myself. Maybe I'm dumb, but I have so much faith for this season, even though we know American Horror Story isn't your typical Hollywood product with a happy ending.
Final critique: While action-packed, this episode found several characters - as well as the viewer - winding back up at the beginning of a long and treacherous circle. So many questions are left to be answered now, especially since we were in the middle of an intense scene when the episode ended. At this point, I am hoping for more answers and less mysteries - but knowing this series that might not happen soon!