At this point in the second season of American Horror Story, half of the principal cast is dead, people we thought were dead are coming back to life, everyone has seen their life threatened on many occasions, there are babies being born left and right, and that’s not even scratching the surface: aliens preying on women, the Devil inhabiting an innocent nun for seven straight episodes, numerous lobotomies, an evil Nazi scientist, “Bloody Face”, a completely out-of-the-blue song and dance number, and a legless Chloe Sevigny scarring school children for life. And just when I thought they couldn’t throw in any more horror, the episode began with Dylan McDermott sucking the milk out of a hooker’s breast. Yeah.
Lana remains the show’s heroine as her quest to leave Briarcliff and expose its horrendously wicked corruption comes to fruition in the form of a merciful nun who wishes to see the institution shut down. The nun discreetly coordinates an escape route for Lana and away she goes, but not before giving Oliver Threadson the finger and showing him his confession reel that she intends to use as evidence to lock him away. It’s a great moment, one of many for Lana in this episode, and Sarah Paulson completely owns it, as she has all season. The scene with Lana in Oliver’s house, which cuts back and forth with Dylan McDermott’s excursion with the hooker is interestingly composed, with shots fading into each other elegantly. And just like that, Oliver is dead, shot by the woman he raped. It’s a gratifying moment, one that only could have come from Lana shooting him. Her final scene where she breastfeeds her newborn baby while looking up at the cross on the wall through tears is a truly powerful end to the episode, and very well-directed.
Meanwhile, the lobotomized Jude begins her own quest to take down Briarcliff starting with the Monsignor who betrayed her. As she tells him of her “moment of clarity”, it becomes astounding how much of a transformation Jessica Lange’s Sister Jude has undergone this season, going from a strict, villainous nun with alcoholic tendencies to a misunderstood victim of her own institution. When the Monsignor tells Lana that Jude committed suicide, there is a brief moment where it seems entirely possible, considering they’ve already killed off James Cromwell, Lily Rabe and now Zachary Quinto’s characters, but it becomes clear that he is lying. Despite how Lana-centric this episode is, this season truly feels like Jude’s story, so having her commit suicide two episodes before the finale would be ridiculous anyway.
Kit and Grace leave the institution with their baby and move into Kit’s old house, only to discover the presumed-dead Alma residing in there with a baby of her own. Equal parts horror cliche and soap opera trope, this development makes sense given the vagueness of Alma’s mortality in previous episodes, but the whole storyline remains my least favorite part of this season. It’s also funny how two very significant members of Briarcliff died last episode and there’s hardly a passing mention of either. I guess death is so prevalent that nobody seems to care or acknowledge their passing. Overall this was a solid entry that feels like the calm before the hurricane-tornado of batshit insanity that will be the last two episodes.
MVP: Sarah Paulson