American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 6 Review: “The Origins of Monstrosity”


AHSA 1.6 FI

This week’s episode had a lot to live up to.  Diary of Anne Frank pt 2 was a tough act to follow, for sure.  This week we examined themes of motherhood, trauma, and pacts with The Devil.  We learn about a tall bearded-man in a brown coat who loves to murder little children, and about the virtues of nutmeg.  This was a tense episode with some genuine surprises, great back stories, and a few of our favorite characters feeling far too sorry for them selves.

Present-day Briarcliff makes an appearance with the discovery of Leo’s body and corpses of the fake Bloody Faces.  The real Bloody Face phones to tell police that he’s been a very bad boy.  No lie.

Sister Jude is visited by the distraught mother of an adorable brunette Bad Seed.  Jenny had recently killed a schoolmate and taken a trophy; her mother is afraid of what she might do to her other children.  The girl blamed the murders on a bearded man in a brown coat who was never found.  Jude declines to take the girl, saying that even though she’d love to start one, Briarcliff has no children’s ward.  The mother abandons her daughter, leaving Jenny in the care of Sister Mary Eunice.

Lana is still tied up at Thredson’s.  She’s a bit more comfortable, which is really just creepy.  I’ve got nothing against ham and cheese sandwiches per se, but I don’t think I’d accept any meat dishes from Bloody Face.  The sandwich was suspiciously delicious, especially in concert with Thredson’s assurance that he put Wendy somewhere she wouldn’t be found.  But that’s not Lana’s biggest issue with Thredson.  Really.  Themes of nature versus nurture and the consequences of abandonment are all over the place this week.

Last week I pointed out that Bloody Face had some home furnishings in common with Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.  Gein was the inspiration for Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.  This week we learned that Thredson has mommy issues, reminding us all that Ed Gein was also the inspiration for Norman Bates in Robert Bloch’s Psycho.  Baby Thredson was abandoned by his mom and raised in an abusive orphanage where the only physical contact came from a strop.  Med-School Thredson became a narcissistic necrophiliac, or maybe just an asshole with an epidermal fetish.  Either way, when he calls Lana Mommy and giddily declares that she’s The One...Gah!  Creepiness factor of 100.  Honestly, Thredson’s story went on a little long, but Quinto makes it work.  I had actually presumed that Thredson was a self-hating homosexual determined to “cure” Lana.  Finding out that he’s a serial-killing mama’s-boy is kind of a fun surprise.

Meanwhile, Goodman informs Sister Jude that “Anne Frank” was right about Arden.  He is Hans Gruber.  He was at Auschwitz.  Goodman needs only a fingerprint to prove it conclusively and take Arden down.  Monsignor Tim heads to a hospital to deliver Last Rites to a mysteriously ill woman who turns out to be Shelly.  Poor Shelly deserved a better end than being strangled into silence with a rosary.  * sigh *  I raise a glass to her.

This week gave us the back-story between Arden and the Monsignor.  In 1962, they agreed that Arden could continue his “research” with patients at Briarcliff.  Arden brazenly declares that they’re people whose lives would otherwise serve no purpose.  He’s a saint, that one.  After Monsignor Tim discovers what Arden’s research entails, he confronts Arden, who quickly resorts to blackmail to maintain the status quo.  Arden insists that Sister Jude be eliminated–as a threat to both of them.  Monsignor Tim transfers Jude to Pittsburgh, and does a pretty good job of pretending she’s wrong when Jude declares that her transfer is really the work of Arthur Arden.

Sister Mary Eunice sparkles in this episode.  She’s damned delicious in every scene.  Her enticement of Spivey is hilarious—until we realize that it made him Arden’s latest victim.  I doubt that Spivey would be on board with Arden’s plan to boost the human immune system, and make us hardier than rats and roaches.  Remember too that in 1964, people really did think nuclear annihilation was imminent.

You know there’s no god, right?

            Sister Mary Eunice’s exchanges with Jenny are awesome.  Jenny is played by TV veteran Nikki Hahn, and is one actress you’ll want to keep your eye on.  Jenny is nonplussed at learned that the friendly nun is actually The Devil.  This is important to us, since now we know that Mary Eunice not just an average demon. She’s the head honcho of hell.  The possessed nun introduces Jenny to the beautiful concept of “Authentic Impulse.”  You and I might refer to that as “Doing whatever the hell you want.”  Jenny takes this advice to heart, as does Sister Mary Eunice.

Kit Walker uses his one phone call to contact Dr Thredson.  They have a short, intense conversation that ends with Kit calling Thredson a liar.  Oliver is enraged by this; sewing up my theory that he’s a sociopath.  Oliver races downstairs to find that Lana had sawed through her chain and was trying to escape.  He immediately dons the Bloody Face mask, blaming Lana for the skinning that appears imminent.

I loved Sister Mary Eunice in Sister Jude’s lingerie, dancing seductively for the crucifix to “You Don’t Own Me.”  Fantastic.  Less fantastic is her impersonating Jude long enough to stab Goodman in the neck and leave him in a lake of his own blood.  See, she’s protecting Dr. Arden.  When he asks her why, she pretends to be in love with him.  He doesn’t fall for it.  Finally, she reveals the reason…to us.  Hans Gruber doesn’t seem to know (or care) that The Devil wants his soul.

Jenny’s mom is forced to take her daughter home.  The man with the beard and the brown coat murdered poor Jenny’s mom and siblings a few hours later.  An incredible and unexpected turn of events, no?  I really hope we get to see little Jenny Reynolds (murder) again.

Bloody Face is preparing Lana for her skinning, assuring her that while she may try not to scream—she totally will.  He explains that he stalked Lana back when she was following Kit Walker’s story.  Thredson was impressed by Lana’s empathy, and her statement that Kit was somebody’s precious baby crying for his mommy.  Lana begins to play along with Thredson’s grotesque fantasy.  He takes off his mask, and proceeds to um…help himself to some imaginary colostrum.  Ew.  Looks like I know a certain journalist who’s gonna get a basket from Oedipal Arrangements.  Ha!

Just when we think we can stand no more terror, we’re back in present-day Briarcliff.  The cops are figuring out who the victims are.  Another phone call tells them that Bloody Face only killed the imposters.  When the cops finally learn that Leo was on his honeymoon, we all wonder the same thing: Where is Theresa?  Sorry to say, she is with Bloody Face.  This does not bode well for Lana.  Anyone who watched American Horror Story last season knows that it’s possible that not everyone will make it out alive.

This was a solid episode.  “The Origin of Monstrosity” had lots of great information, and some really enjoyable scenes.  We bid Shelly a fond farewell, and are pretty sure Spivey will be next.  Also, did anybody else think that the dying nurse from the TB ward was missing her feet or lower legs?  I couldn’t tell for sure, but it seemed to hint at that a few times.

See you’s next week!

–Wednes

 

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Wednesday Lee Friday

Wednesday Lee Friday is a novelist and freelance writer currently living in Ann Arbor Michigan. Her fourth horror novel, The Finster Effect, is available now and features a plague of rats lending zombies the assist as they consume all life on the globe. Wednesday is a rabid fan and reviewer of quality movies and TV, a horror enthusiast, Simpsons fan, and internet get-about. She is also the managing editor of Under the Bed, a horror fiction monthly mag--part of the eFiction family.