Ryan Murphy is one of those creative minds that throws all he’s got at the wall, in hopes that one sub-plot or idea will stick. That’s why I was hesitant when American Horror Story: Asylum first began. He was inundating us with aliens and Nazis and possession: concepts that seemed more outlandish and overwhelming than they seemed horrifying. However, as any Ryan Murphy fan can tell you (or even those of us who have watched with grim anticipation as the train wreck that is a Ryan Murphy show unfolds), it gets better. Straggling storylines get left by the wayside, characters that you never really cared about fade from view, and sometimes, just sometimes, you’re left with something good.
At least that was the case with last night’s “The Name Game.” Granted, there are still trace elements of my least favorite plot devices, such as a pregnant Grace being beamed down to give birth in an insane asylum. However, they don’t take center stage. Director Michael Lehmann doesn’t entirely forget about them, but he doesn’t dwell on them either. Rather, he effectively piqued my curiosity by teasing at it, forcing viewers to ask questions like, “why is that weird-looking lady talking for the first time?” Knowing Murphy’s tendency to over pack his plots, I’m not sure we’ll get an answer to this, but it’s got me curious enough to not entirely regret my decision to cover the last few episodes of this season.
Still, “The Name Game” does more than pose questions. Thankfully, for some of us, it provides a little bit of resolution. Unfortunately, it looks like I may be saying goodbye to my favorite sub-plot. I’ve always been a sucker for possession horror movies and something about the way American Horror Story: Asylum approached its mouse-like Mary Eunice and her ravenous devil counterpart? I don’t know what it is, but something about it just works. While the show will always be known for the star power of Jessica Lange, the criminally underrated Lily Rabe as Mary Eunice has been the thing that has kept me tuned in week after week…
At first, she started as a conniving evil-doer, content to pull all the puppet strings from behind-the-scenes, but as the weeks wear on, we see her power. Last night was certainly no exception. Something about the childish smile Rabe gets as she performs the most evil tasks is… unsettling, to say the least. Not all of it works, though. There’s still the laughable scene in which Mary Eunice rapes the Monsignior. Okay, I don’t feel great about putting “laughable” and “rape” in the same sentence, but for anyone who watched it, can you really blame me? Then again, this episode also gave us the twisted joy of watching Mary Eunice as she cranks up the dial on the electro-shock for Sister Jude. Sadly, it looks like the end for the devilish delights of Mary Eunice and the incomparable Lily Rabe when the Monsignior threw her over the railing to her death. American Horror Story: Asylum has always been able to get the look right, even when its story falters, but that had to have been one of the most bizarrely beautiful scenes of the series. Oh yeah, and I guess Arden is dead with her now? Or something? I don’t know, I can’t say that I’m really gonna miss the Nazi storyline…
But listen to me prattle on. “The Name Game” wasn’t all about Mary Eunice, although I would’ve been cool with it if it had. No, American Horror Story: Asylum is never short on sub-plots. In fact, the episode title is derived from Jude’s storyline. In one of the most unusual scenes (and yeah, a little bit scary) the patients begin a synchronized dance number. Okay, maybe I should back up. Jude goes through electro-shock therapy and acts all wonky for most of the episode. One of these delusions of grandeur seems like the most effed-up deleted scene from Glee you’ve ever seen. Why they decided to name the entire episode after that three minute segment? I really couldn’t tell you, but hey, it was kinda catchy… Anyways, so yeah, Sister Jude is now full-time in with the crazies with not a whole lot to show for it in this episode. Still, the exchange between her and Lana is one of the more charmingly sentimental moments this season.
As for Lana, she’s still knocked up with a crazy “mommy didn’t love me enough” murderer’s baby. Evidently clothes hanger abortions just weren’t as reliable as she had hoped in the 1960s. The power struggle between Lana “not really crazy, but stuck inside with crazy people” Winters and Dr. “completely nuts, but still roaming free” Thredson continues, with no one really making much progress. Considering Murphy claims the whole theme of the season is the concept of sanity, it seems like this is gonna be the storyline that they drag out til the finale, so they’re playing their hand close to the chest. It’s frustrating how the plot has played out, but Paulson and Quinto play so well with each other, I think I can stomach a few more episodes of it.
Finally, in honor of the sheer lunacy of American Horror Story: Asylum, I’d like to end each recap with a little section I like to call “WTFs of the Week.” Unresolved issues? Just don’t know what’s going on? Post your questions in the comment sections below.
WTFs of the Week
– So is, like, killer Santa Claus just kinda gone for good?
– How do you mass up a clothes hanger abortion? I mean, is that, like, a thing? Do people screw those up? Or do you think it’s just a trick?
– Is Sister Mary Eunice gone for good?
What did you think of this week’s episode?