American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 206
“The Origins of Monstrosity”
Written By: Ryan Murphy
Directed By: David Semel
Original Airdate: 21 November 2012
In This Episode...
A desperate mother brings her young daughter, Jenny, to Sister Jude. The 10-year-old is clearly a sociopath; her mother thinks she is “troubled.” Jenny was out playing with Josie one day (a neighbor girl who was the closest thing Jenny had to a friend.) Josie shows up stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. Jenny claims that a bearded man in a brown coat killed Josie, while warning her to remain perfectly still or he would kill her as well. Mom believed Jenny, until she did the laundry and discovered a neatly tied lock of Josie’s hair in one of Jenny’s pockets. As much as Sister Jude wants to help, they are not equipped to handle children at Briarcliff. Joke’s on Jude, for the mom runs out, leaving Jenny behind. Sister Mary Eunice takes Jenny under her wing (sociopaths and demons have a lot in common.) She knows Jenny killed Josie, and commends her for it. Later on in the episode, mommy returns, but it isn’t long before Jenny is talking to cops, standing over the body of her mother, stabbed to death with the kitchen knife Sister Mary Eunice gave her. Jenny’s story of what happened to her mother (and her two siblings) is exactly the same as it was with Josie: the bearded man in the brown coat did it.
Monsignor Howard is called to the hospital for the last rites. No other priest in the area would come, and when the monsignor enters the hospital room, he can see why: the patient is Shelly, even more hideously deformed (if that is possible.) The monsignor performs the last rites, then strangles her with his rosary. He confronts Arden, who is not at all apologetic. Arden believes that the people who come to Briarcliff are societal waste; he is giving their life meaning by experimenting on them for the greater good. Howard is not swayed, and threatens to expose him. But, as Arden reminds him, going public will expose the monsignor’s dirty secrets, too. Howard becomes an unwilling colluder. Howard’s part in all this is that he must fire Sister Jude. She is reassigned to a house for wayward girls in Pittsburgh, which upsets her greatly (I’m not sure what it is about Briarcliff that is so important to her.) Sister Jude got a call from Mr. Goodman, who confirmed that Arden was indeed an Auschwitz scientist. He has Arden’s original documents, and needs a fingerprint to confirm they are the same person. This comes with a warning: Arden is dangerous and flight risk, so Sister Jude must tread lightly. She gets his print on a cognac glass after a farewell drink.
Sister Mary Eunice takes a phone call, posing as Sister Jude. It is Goodman, who wants to see her. Sister Mary Eunice pays him a visit, claiming to have been sent there by Sister Jude. Jude, meanwhile, is on her way with the fingerprints. When she gets to Goodman’s room, all his Nazi research has vanished. Goodman is bleeding to death in the bathroom after what was obviously foul play. He manages to ID “one of your nuns” as his attacker.
Dig It or Bury It?
This was truly a “middle” episode - not just because this is the halfway episode of the season. It was a transitional episode: Jude moving on; Arden’s identity confirmed; the monsignor’s loyalties are wavering. This was a very “talky” episode. A lot of backstories were fleshed out here, some more artfully than others. I really hope Jenny comes back. I like her. Child sociopaths are terrifyingly fascinating. I suspect she will be back as a cohort for Sister Mary Eunice. Sociopathy is often compared to demonic possession in that sociopathy (and psychopathy) is the closest thing to pure evil we have in real life.
We have a lot of background tonight. Let’s start with Thredson. As a child, his young mother abandoned him, leaving him a ward of the state. His basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) were met, but there was no love, no physical contact. So it warped him a bit. He also tells Lana that he knew, since he was young, that he was “different.” That is why he chose to study psychiatry as an adult. During med school, he and his class are shown the cadaver of a young woman, who was about the age that Thredson’s mother would have been when she abandoned him. Even though he knew she wasn’t his mother, he felt a connection and realized that he was looking for a mommy. The skin was cold and stiff, so he began taking the skin from living victims. But with Lana, he makes her a sammich (which I am 100% certain is made up of Wendy meat) and she compliments him sincerely on it. He believes that she is the mommy he has been looking for. Lana is caught attempting escape, and Thredson goes from emotionally stunted man to Bloody Face and tries to skin her. Lana reverts back to mommy dearest, and the mask comes off. As disturbing, he decides he is hungry - and tries to breastfeed.
We also get more of Arden’s history. Monsignor Howard came to Briarcliff as the last tuberculosis patient was dying. Arden was in charge of medicine at the hospital, but with TB no longer the threat it once was, Briarcliff was turning into an asylum, presumably with no need for a staff doctor. He hints to the monsignor that it is a pity, because he was really making progress with his “experiments.” He explains to Howard that he is very close to creating an “immunity booster” that would prevent viruses from attaching themselves to humans. The next step would be human trials. Lured by the promise of fame and fortune if this works, the Monsignor agrees to keep Arden on.
We get some modern scenes this week. An anonymous 911 call sends cops to the long-abandoned Briarcliff. They find three corpses, suspended from the rafters with outstretched arms and their faces missing. They confirm one of the bodies is Leo; the other two are a pair of teenagers. A phone call from “the killer” (the voice is very recognizable as Thredson) to Leo’s cell phone (still clutched in his disembodied hand) says that he “killed the impostors.” Teresa is still unaccounted for, but we get a brief glimpse of her, alive and terrified on Bloody Face’s gurney.
Sister Jude confesses to a black angel that is haunting the place. Sister Mary Eunice and Arden get into a pissing match over who is more powerful. Sister Mary Eunice is the clear winner here.