American Horror Story
December 5, 2012
A Salvation Army Santa is collecting money outside a grocery store as little boy whines at his mother about a coonskin cap he wants for Christmas. As the mother drops some money into Charity Santa’s pot, Charity Santa hands the boy a candy cane with a word of advice: if the little boy listens to his mother, Charity Santa bets there will be a cap under the tree on Christmas morning. As the mother and boy head inside the store, a man approaches Charity Santa and scolds him for getting the little boy’s hopes up. What happens if there isn’t a cap under the tree Christmas morning? Oh, it’s never Santa’s fault, is it? It’s just all win for Santa, isn’t it? And with that Angry Man shoots Charity Santa, which will certainly get him placed on the naughty list.
A little girl named Suzy finds beardless, bloodied Santa in her living room a good week before Christmas, and lacking any discernment or guile, she accepts his story that he shaved his beard because it was too scratchy and allows a reindeer to manage his calendar. At his request, Suzy leads him up to her parents’ bedroom and remains nonplussed as Santa pulls a gun on them. Suzy then disappears altogether as Santa ties up her parents with Christmas lights, explains that he’s not here to rob them, but instead punish them for having too much Christmas spirit? I think? The gist is, Santa vaguely threatens to rape the couple before shooting them both in the head. Which, yes is terrible, BAD SANTA, and all that, but I want to know more about Suzy. Why was she so blasé about Santa being covered in blood and then pulling a gun on her parents? And where’d she go? Did Santa kill her off-screen? OR DID THE ALIENS GET HER? Omg the aliens have Suzy, don’t they? OR WAIT, WHAT IF SUZY IS AN ALIEN?
Because seriously, Ryan Murphy, this alien nonsense better be going somewhere.
Who knew the devil had so much Christmas spirit? Now that Sister Jude has been banished from Briarcliff, Sister Lucy Fur has gone Full Christmas up in the joint: Christmas music, Christmas tree, Christmas ornaments made from the dentures and hair of the patients … MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM SATAN!
Meanwhile in the morgue(? let’s say morgue), Dr. Hoggett finds Security Guard Mars praying and weeping and regretting over the cold dead corps of la Grace. Security Guard Mars has decided that he needs to talk to the police about the whole forest zombie and dead nun business, but Dr. Hoggett reminds him that if he does, it’s going to come out that he shot an unarmed woman. Which is why Security Guard Mars is in here wailing over the cold dead corps of la Grace: he’s ready to face the consequences of having an itchy trigger finger. Dr. Hoggett is not amused.
After a busy afternoon of trimming the tree with the patients’ bodily trimmings, Sister Lucy Fur has a sit down in Sister Jude’s office only to find her throat on the unfriendly end of Sister Jude’s straight razor. O HAI, SATAN! Sister Jude is onto you: You’re using Sister Mary Eunice’s goodness and purity as a shield, allowing you to walk around wearing crucifixes. Somehow. BUT LET’S NOT LINGER ON THAT. The point is, Sister Jude is totally prepared to slit Sister Mary Eunice’s throat to release her soul.
But before she can get to business, Sister Jude’s cane cabinet flies open, pelting Sister Jude with her own canes, and the record flies off the turntable, smashing against the ceiling, and Dr. Hoggett walks in to an unexpectedly ridiculous scene. Sister Lucy Fur sends him to retrieve security to escort their unwanted guest off the property, and with that, Sister Jude is hustled away. However, Dr. Hoggett tells Sister Lucy Fur, they have a bigger problem: Security Guard Mars and his sudden impulse to confess everything to the coppers. Time to nip that in the bud!
But before she can deal with that little problem, Sister Lucy Fur pays a visit to one of Briarcliff’s guests in solitary: Bad Santa! Sister Lucy Fur comes bearing a gift to the heavily bearded, wild-eyed Bad Santa: a santa suit. Bad Santa is surprised by this turn of events, especially after last Christmas …
(wavy flashback lines here)
A newspaper photographer is on his way to photograph the “bright” (drool-crusted) and “shining” (drugged) faces of Briarcliff, including a be-shackled Bad Santa. Bad Santa would like Sister Jude to take his shackles off, please. Sister Jude reminds him that he killed 18 different people in 5 different families, so, no, she doesn’t think she’ll be taking his shackles off. Bad Santa wonders why he’s even in the picture, and Sister Jude explains that he serves as a reminder to the public that he is in Briarcliff, and not out there tying up their families with Christmas lights and lecturing them on the meaning of the season. And so Bad Santa decides to give the photographer his money’s worth and bites the face off of the Santa orderly as he passes out presents. CLICK!
Bad Santa assures Sister Lucy Fur that she does not want him out there, giving her a chance to deliver a little exposition: Bad Santa was sent to prison for shoplifting some bread, and it was Christmastime when 5 other prisoners raped him, thereby sending him into a psychotic murderous rage at Christmas that he took out on innocent families who didn’t actually rape him, because by its very nature, insanity doesn’t make sense. Sister Lucy Fur holds out the Santa suit and asks Bad Santa who he wants to be this year: the victim or the victor?
Sister Lucy Fur then returns to Sister Jude’s her office where Dr. Hoggett finds her and offers her a Christmas present: a pair of elaborate ruby earrings he stole from a Jewish woman in Auschwitz. Dr. Hoggett goes on to tell a perfectly horrific story about how this woman, the wife of a wealthy doctor, apparently swallowed these earrings every day in an attempt to hide them from the Nazis, and Dr. Hoggett discovered them when taking a stool sample. And I hope I never have to write “stool sample” in a recap ever again, please and thank you. Even after hearing the nauseating origins of the earrings, Sister Lucy Fur is delighted! with the gift, because she’s THE DEVIL, and Dr. Hoggett realizes with a disappointed sigh that he really isn’t dealing with Sister Mary Eunice anymore.
Ho ho ho! Looks like Santa has brought Lana Winters, Nervous Vomiter! something of a sour stomach for the holidays. Between heaves, Lana Winters, Maybe I Could Have Some Ginger Ale, Here? asks the young infirmary nun who is holding the vomit bucket if the police have been called about the whole Dr. Sylar is Bloody Face and Has a Kill Basement thing, and Sister Mary Nameless makes some non-committal noises about how Lana Winters, Or Just Some Ritz Crackers, Maybe? needs to quit worrying so much.
Lana Winters, How About Some Chicken Soup, Then? hears someone moaning behind a curtain, and Sister Mary Whomever tells her not to worry about that, it’s just another crazy. Sister Mary Anonymous leaves, and Lana Winters, I Guess I Still Haven’t Learned My Lesson About Curiosity, pulls back the curtain to find Kitt! Whose name I just now realized I’ve been spelling using the incorrect Knight Rider form! But guess what? I’m not going to quitt!
Sister Jude visits with Mother Superior to beg her to return her to Briarcliff and to rail about the War on Christmas. (DAMN YOU, RUDOLPH AND YOUR SECULARIST RED NOSE!)
As Sister Jude leaves Mother Superior’s office, she finds Dr. Hoggett waiting for her in the church: he is there to discuss Sister Lucy Fur/Mary Eunice and her remarkable personality shift in recent days. Though he and Sister Jude may have had some minor disagreements in the past, mostly about the little issue of his Nazism, they both care about Sister Mary Eunice and would hate to see anything happen to her. Sister Jude has a suspicious, but when Dr. Hoggett pleads with her — he may not believe in God, but he knows from evil — she relents. BUT HE CAN’T QUESTION HER. Cool? Cool.
Back at Briarcliff, the Christmas party is in full swing: Bad Santa is threatening people who come sit on his greasy lap, Monsignor Timothy is passing out Bibles to the patients, he and Dr. Hoggett make nice and Sister Lucy Fur is finishing the tree before Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer airs. She sends Security Guard Mars for the ladder so to add the star to the top of the tree/create mayhem. Sure enough, right on cue, just as Security Guard Mars is about to add the star to the top of the tree, Bad Santa knocks over the ladder, resulting not in some sort of Final Destination-y chain of events that lead to Mars’ gruesome death as I had anticipated, but instead a very sound beating of Bad Santa by a very alive Security Guard Mars. With a sigh, Sister Lucy Fur instructs Security Guard Mars to return Bad Santa to his workshop in solitary.
Meanwhile, Dr. Hoggett sneaks Sister Jude into Briarcliff via the kitchen, and she instructs him to send Sister Lucy Fur to her office, where she will … I don’t even know what, cane her? Give her a stern talking-to? Whatever. In any event, Dr. Hoggett follows her directions and informs Sister Lucy Fur that there is an urgent matter in the office that requires her attention.
Security Guard Ed Mars shoves Bad Santa back into his cell, only to turn around and have Sister Lucy Fur slash open his throat with a straight razor while Bad Santa watches with glee from the food slot. (At least it was a quicker death than the one the Losties afforded him.) Sister Lucy Fur wipes the blood from the razor with a worried sigh: she sure hopes they aren’t looking at a rampage. WINK WINK, BAD SANTA.
And so, Sister Lucy Fur locks Bad Santa in the office with Sister Jude because OH NO, Dr. Hoggett was working with Sister Lucy Fur the entire time. Bad Santa has a few bones to pick with Sister Jude, like the whole throwing him into a cell to rot for a year thing. And despite her generous offer to pray with her, he chooses to take it out on Sister Jude with his fists, while Sister Lucy Fur and Dr. Hoggett listen outside. (That is, until Dr. Hoggett excuses himself to take care of other, less tedious matters: rolling Grace’s dead corps away/being attacked by aliens/losing Grace’s corps to aliens). While yelling about how God does not exist, etc., Bad Santa uses Sister Jude’s own canes against her, before moving on to the rape portion of the evening. However, Sister Jude was able to grab a letter opener during her caning (which, considering that she was caned on her desk, her preferred spot to cane the patients, leaving that letter opener there was probably not a great idea for this very reason. The folks running Briarcliff should consider hiring one of those baby safety consultants to come in and do a security sweep of the place; Cheri Oteri could swing by from Ryan Murphy’s other show, maybe?), which she uses to open Bad Santa’s jugular. ONE LETTER TO SANTA, COMING UP, says the Crypt Keeper.
In the infirmary, Kitt has a Christmasy dream about bringing a tree home to a very pregnant Secret African-American wife who turns into a very pregnant Grace and the deux dance together until Lana Winters, Dream-Ruiner! wakes him up whining about how the two of them are screwed. No one knows they are trapped in here, Bloody Face is still running around free, and she can’t find Grace. Kitt wakes up enough to tell her that Grace is dead, baby. Grace is dead. (POIGNANCE.)
Lana Winters, This Won’t Hurt a Bit! removes Kitt’s I.V. and insists that they have to leave — they need to at the very least call the police and tell them about Dr. Bloody Sylar Face before he can destroy all the evidence. To that end, she leaves Kitt in the infirmary and goes to find a phone, because of course a mental institution would have unattended phones just laying around all over the place. Nope, can’t think of a single reason why they wouldn’t. ANYWAY, Lana Winters, Maybe I Could Have Done This Earlier! finds one of these readily available patient phones and begins to dial when HA HA Dr. Sylar appears behind her because of course he does, thems the rules.
As he rips the phone cord out of the wall, Dr. Sylar explains that thanks to Lana Winters, You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me With This!’s escape, he had to kill Bloody Face and burn all of the evidence. SO THANKS. Lana Winters, I’mma Gonna Tell! promises that she is going to go to the authorities and tell them everything, and Dr. Sylar’s like, Pfft, try it. No one is going to believe a crazy lesbian over a psychiatrist, especially when there’s no evidence. Dr. Sylar then whines about having been “intimate” with Lana Winters, Let’s Call It Rape, only to have her betray him, before he suddenly decides that fate has brought them together: he didn’t understand until now that Bloody Face had to be burned so that he could be born again in her skin. And that’s when Kitt smacks Dr. Sylar upside the head with some sort of heavy jug thingy. BONK.
Lana Winters, ENOUGH ALREADY! wants to kill Dr. Sylar, but Kitt is being rational, and argues that they need him to prove Kitt’s innocence. So, instead, they drag a hog-tied Dr. Sylar off to a supply closet, and cover him in mattresses where no one will find him. And with a promise that she will bury him, Lana Winters, Table-Turner! locks the door.
A few quick thoughts: Lana is clearly pregnant with Baby Bloody Face, right? If her vomiting wasn’t clue enough, Dr. Sylar pretty much spells it out for us here:
And if Lana is pregnant, it’s safe to assume that she won’t want to raise her serial killer rape baby, and thus the cycle of rejection, evil and violence continues. Son of Bloody Face and all that. Of course, that’s entirely speculation, and I could be way off. This series is nothing if not unpredictable.
But what I find more interesting is this issue of horror and pregnancy being connected, a theme that Ryan Murphy has carried over from the first season of American Horror Story. Lana is almost certainly pregnant, and Kitt’s dream wherein Secret African-American Wife and Grace — both of whom are more than likely on the alien mothership somewhere — show up pregnant with his child, all of these pregnancies suggest the sinister, the horrific. Pregnancy is a fairly common theme in the horror genre, in part because even a normal, healthy, wanted pregnancy is fairly terrifying, much less one that is either of alien or serial killer or rapist or ghost parentage. During pregnancy, a woman’s body is taken over by an unfamiliar force, an alien one, if you will. With the flood of hormones and the physical changes her body undergoes, the pregnant woman can feel as if she no longer is the same person she was before the pregnancy. And in the end, in the best case scenario, birth is a painful, bloody and dangerous experience. It’s all something of a grotesquery even in the happiest of circumstances — which it never is on American Horror Story.
Whereas last season’s pregnancy storyline tied into the bigger theme of new beginnings and second chances, this season pregnancy appears to be tied into this question of the nature of evil itself, and its origins. Is evil caused by some external force, be it demons or a bad childhood, or is it innate, inborn? Will Son of Bloody Face (if that is who it is) fill his father’s human skin boots because, like his father, he was rejected by his mother, or because, like his father, he was born with a murderous impulse, he is quite literally a bad seed? Where does evil come from, the body or the spirit?
ALRIGHT. Tell me what you thought, other than “Ian McShane is amazing and terrifying and should be in every episode ever,” because that’s just obvious.
American Horror Story airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.