american horror story angel of death

Another Season of AHS Bites The Dust

Well, it’s over.

And it ended as it began but I for one, still have about 148 questions.

It’s the present day and we meet Lana and her new sapphic squeeze, an opera singer or performer of some sort, as she’s being interviewed  by a TV news crew and Lord, did the make-up people work on her face, to give her a necessary seventy or eighty year old look.   Apparently, she’s an accomplished author with six–count ‘em–six best selling novels and not only that, she’s apparently, a TV personality too;  an investigative reporter and host of her own  TV show, you know the kind–that  of the crime solving genre.  She’s also about to be honored at the Kennedy Center.

Apparently, her ambitious need to expose Briarcliff as the hell hole it is, is what catapulted her to such success.     The expose began as a documentary.  She and a camera crew sneak into Briarcliff courtesy of that secret tunnel that Sister Satan introduced to at the very beginning.     We hear how she demanded to see Sister Jude who according to Lana tells us, is still there, lo those many years later.

We treated to a scene of Lana and company entering Jude’s cell, dark and dank and dirty, and on what was once a bed–I think–sits a clump of humanity with wilder than wild hair.   The camera lights prove it’s Jude, who was left in Briarcliff and forgotten.   Jude was the only source left that could prove how the Church (when it owned the asylum)  had looked the other way with regards to mistreatment and scientific experiments.

But is it really Jude?  Nah, that was either Lana’s poetic license…OR…..really bad editing.

We learn that Kit actually rescued Jude and took her home to live with him and his two kids.  The Sister Wives are no longer part of the equation.   His mulato wife killed grace with a couple of ax whacks in the back.    Jude’s name is now Betty Drake.   Kit said he did it–took Jude into his home–as his way of forgiving and forgetting all that crap that happened to him at Briarcliff.    Taking care of Jude, he felt, was his redemption.

He conveys to Lana that it was rough going for a while.  After a lengthy detox, Jude was sedated for years.   She’d forget where she was from time to time and think she was back at Briarcliff and scream and carry on, yelling at Kit’s kids mostly.  She couldn’t understand why there were kids around her.  There was no children’s ward at Briarcliff.

Years later while in the midst of a swing dance lesson, Jude develops a bloody nose.    I’m thinking leukemia    We see her on her death bed, whispering life lessons to Kit’s kids.

To the son: Don’t take shit from the man.

To the daughter:  Never let men dominate you.

The kids are sent out of the room and Jude sees the Angel of Death making her last appearance in the corner of the room.   There she is, decked out in black, wings fully extended  and all puckered up to give Jude that final kiss that’ll take her up, up and away.

Or down, down, down, if you believe the Old Testament.

So, by 38 minutes into the season finale, Jude dies and we’re whisked back to present day.  Lana accomplished her goal and closed down Briarcliff.     She decides to take on the Monsignor–now a Cardinal in New York.   She says he knows about Dr. Arden, the experiments…the cruelty, etc., and we learn that he offs himself in a bathtub.    Slit wrists which are oozing life, turn the bathwater to a deep crimson.

Lana then tells the reporter that  she carried Bloody Face’s child to full term and gave him up for adoption.   His name is Johnny.    We’ve met him before.  Dylan McDermott’s character is genetically programmed to grow up to be the be Son of Bloody Face and all that that implies.   His made an effort to pick up where his father left off.    We saw evidence of that.

Anyway, Lana continues on with the interview and expresses regret for giving him up, but felt she had no other options.    And wouldn’t you know, Johnny seemingly part of the  camera crew.   He even hands her some water during a break in the interview.    Somehow, she knows it’s her son.    After the camera crew leaves, she gets up to make herself a drink and knows he stayed behind. She  implores him to finally come out of hiding to ‘get this thing over with.”  She knows he’s about to kill her.  Johnny is a psychotic sure, but he’s also an angry whack job, which never bodes well.    He was a screwed up kid, in and out of Juvie and now here he is, 48 years old and wanting to whack his mother for giving him away and killing his father.

He pulls a gun on her, but she turn the tables and sweetly convinces Johnny that he’s not only a part of his maniacal father, but he’s also a part of he That means he has at least half the capacity to be a decent human being.     He relinquishes the gun and she takes it away from him, only to point it at his forehead and shoots.

Bang!!!!

Like father, like son.

The show segues back to the very first show, when Lana was desperately trying to gain access to Briarcliff to get an exclusive with Bloody Face.  She gained access to Jude’s office through a ruse.    She claimed she wanted to do a fluff piece on the asylum’s bakery which apparently makes a dandy bread.   Jude escorts her to the front door after learning that the all she really wanted was an interview with Bloody Face who was supposed to be brought to Briarcliff for mental assessment.   She reminds Lana how difficult life can be for a woman with lofty goals and ambitions.  This was 1962.    The last thing we hear; the last thing we see are these two women facing each other with glares that had laser-like intensity.    This was how the first scene with Lana and Jude ended 51 years ago, when Jude realized Lana only wanted to interview Bloody Face.   Jude tells her that whenever you look into the eyes of evil, evil looks back at you.

Then, Lana leaves and Jude turns around as the  camera pans to the face of  a shiny, glossy statue of the Virgin Mary which stands in Briarcliff’s foyer.   The head is tilted as if glancing in the nun’s direction.    Gee, no hidden anti-Catholic sentiment there, huh?

I suppose it’s safe to say that Lana’s stint in the snake pit that was Briarcliff didn’t turn Lana into some cold, emotionless bitch with ambitions large enough to choke a whale.   Lana entered Briarcliff that way and walked through its doors unchanged.    Sister Jude recognized that right off the bat and in her special, ‘no holds barred’ manner, told her so.    She wasn’t predicting Lana’s life per se, but she certainly called it.   Lana didn’t have what Jude or Kit had:   at least a small period in life where there was peace and normalcy.

If I’m right, then I’ll give the writers a rate-a-record score of 79 for adding a smidge of pathos, but was it enough?   Not for me, then again, I’ve come to expect a certain shoddiness with AHS..

Characters were killed off too soon.   There were more holes in the plot line than in Bonnie and Clyde’s ambushed car.   We didn’t get to spend much time in Johnny’s head.   I could’ve used an episode delving into all of his angst.    What about that evil little girl who killed her friend and then her whole family?    What happened to the crazy ass serial masterbator????  And Kit’s alien space babies?    The ones that were so ‘special’?     One grew up to be a doctor, the other a lawyer.    Hhhhh’mmmmm, do those two occupations in this day and age really make them all that ‘special’?   Well, for a Jewish mother, maybe……

Lana was the only major character who survived.   Sister Satan and Dr. Arden were burned to death in the asylum’s crematorium.  Threadson was shot in the head several episodes back.    The Monsignor/Cardinal committed suicide. As far as I’m concerned, all three deaths happened prematurely and allowed a season finale that was anti-climatic.   In the finale, Jude died of cancer and so did Kit, although he was abducted by the same bright white light that became an obscure third or fourth level character on the show this season.   Why wasn’t this connection to space beings expounded  upon?  Why did those space freaks murder and mutilate all those women?    What happened to Pepper the Pinhead???     And why couldn’t we learn more about the forest dwelling  critters that Arden created?   And soooooo much more could’ve been done with the satanic angle, but nooooooooo!!!!!!

Season two jumped the shark so many times that poor thing’s dorsal fin was sheared off.

Anyway, I wasn’t as colossally disappointed as I was when season one ended.  And while I have questions, I think  that the unscripted dangling participles that I swat away like slimy tentacles are supposed to make me  come up with my own answers; my own conclusions.   Whenever I encounter endings like this in books, TV shows, movies and such,  I hearken back to a press conference I attended back in 1993.  girl coat

Directing wunderkind, Steven Spielberg came to Houston on a press tour promoting his boffo hit, “Schindler’s List.”     This involved filling a theater with local   high school kids, have them watch the movie then he would take their questions about the flick.   All members of the press could do was watch and at least in my case, learn.

One astute young woman asked Herr Spielberg about the little Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto who had worn the pinkish red coat;  the only bit of color in the black and white film.   Her question focused on the coat color and what that  was supposed to mean.

He responded without missing a beat, “It means whatever you need it to mean.”

That day, I learned that poetic license was a tool that the story teller could use at his or her discretion and it’s one that sometimes, an audience member has to employ as well.

scoobydoo_02And in spite of my many criticisms, I can’t wait for  Season 3.

Seriously, I can’t.

As for plotlines, I’m thinking a family of vampires moves into an abandoned but still ‘hot’ nuclear power plant and the fun begins when genetic mutations run amok while angry neighbors who complain, mysteriously after a  mod painted van called “The Mystery Machine” filled with four hips kids including one beatnik lookin’ cat named Shaggy who pals around with his  giant, snack eating, running in place while bongos play, talking dog with a speech impediment, arrives on the scene.

And here I’ll be at my keyboard poised at the ready in the  minutes after the  finale ends, closing the curtain on yet another fakakta AHS season.  That’s when and where  I’ll hold writers/creators Ryan Murphy and Bryan Falchuk  responsible for series of shows that leave more questions unanswered, throw logic out the window and could have been/should have been so much better.

And because of that, I’ll fully expect one or both to appear on camera and admit that they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!!!!!

American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Seven

Hosting eleven for Thanksgiving dinner  last week precluded  me from commenting about episode six though God knows there was a lot to discuss.   All I can say is “Baby needs colostrum” now joins “show me your mossy banks” in the pantheon of exceedingly strange AHS phrases that have peppered the dialog this season.   I have no doubt there will be more to come.

Tonight’s episode, “Dark Cousin”, focused on that age-old literary struggle, good versus evil.

A new character named Miles is fighting schizophrenic voices as he helps prepare sandwiches in the Briarcliff.   A nun is using a meat slicer to hack off some bologna when one of the voices tells Miles to grab it by the wrists.   The next scene, he’s on a stretcher,  there’s blood everywhere and on the wall, scribed in the crimson stuff is a word.  It looks like it’s spelling out “one” in funky lettering but when Sister Satan enters the room, she informs us that its ancient Aramaic.  She then she asks our Bleeding Buddy on the gurney if he summoned “her’.

‘What? Huh??”, inquires the dazed self-induced hemophiliac.

He’s wheeled away and placed in a room as a panicked Sister Satan runs amuck, obviously bothered by the fact that  “one” is now at Briarcliff.

The next scene we find a restrained Miles telling the guard he doesn’t want to be at Briarcliff any longer.  In fact, he no longer wants to be in this world any longer.  When the guard leaves, a woman in black  appears at the foot of his bed.   At first, I thought it was actress May Steenburgen  She looked familiar.  It was Frances Conroy, who played  Moira the maid last season.   The older milk eyed version.

She reminds Miles that he in fact, summoned her and then asks if she can basically kiss him and make it all better.    She puckers up and when she does, she sprouts black wings that while large in terms of span, look awfully paltry feather-wise.    They were sparse;  like something you’d find in a discount costume shop.   She obviously has killer kisses.   Miles dies.  Just then, she realizes that someone is at the cell door.

It’s Sister Satan.

She walks in; they recognize each other.  Black Angel Cheap Wings calls her “Cousin” and soon realizes that as angels go, she’s the fallen one.

Lucifer.

And she knows that he/she is inhabiting the young nuns body.   For a second, Sister Mary Eunice comes screaming through possessor.    Sister Satan  reclaims her host, and sends Black Angel Cheap Wings away saying she’s already done what she came to Briarcliff to do.

I’m assuming this is the Angel of Death, sans the large scythe and cloak and hood.

She also pays a visit to Lana after Threadson rapes her.  Incest on top of serial murder???????  What a cad!!    But Lana tells her ‘no’.

A little back story;  we learned last week that he felt Lana was his ideal mother figure.    But it seems that even homicidal maniacs have a conscious and a disdain for their own Oedipal issues.   He decides his indiscretion was reason enough to waste Lana, but a struggle ensues, she bops Threadson over the head with the photo of Wendy, her lover and manages to break free.  She runs out of Threadson murderous pied à terre and on to the highway where wouldn’t you know, she flags down one a driver, which happens to be one of THEE angriest misogynist on the planet.

He hates women; holds them responsible for every pain and misery he has and pulls out of gun and shoots himself as his ’61 Plymouth goes out of control and careens into a tree.   Black Angel Cheap Wings makes an appearance in the backseat and once again offers Lana a homecoming, but declines once again.  The next thing we know, Lana is back in Briarcliff and under Sister Satan’s care.

She tells the horned one that Threadson is Bloody Face and that his tastefully decorated home has a basement of horrors.  Sister Satan remembers conveying this while possessing the body of the Farm Boy ( yet another serial masterbater that we met in Episode Two).  He told Threadson who was in attendance that he appreciated his handiwork.

Sister Satan believes Lana, then sedates her, assuring her that she’s safe.  No one knows she’s at Briarcliff.

We also learn that Kit/Tate escaped from prison.  He’s on his way back to Briarcliff to get Grace who was abducted by aliens and Kit’s wife a few weeks ago.  Remember?   The performed an ersatz hysterectomy on her.

Sister Satan tells Dr. Arden that he  botched the sterilization that Sister Jude ordered after she caught Grace and Kit screwing around.   Arden denies it all and resents the way Sister Satan is addressing him.   He’s about to hit her and she goes all Reagan McNeal on her and like a scene out of the The Exorcist, telekinetically bitch slaps him and like Fathers Merrin and Karras from the movie, flings him half way across the room.

A classic coup’d tat deftly handled.  And Arden knows all too well there’s been a transfer of power.

The story line with Sister Jude is getting interesting.   She’s been reassigned and his leaving Briarcliff, but has to handle a few things first.  Like getting the Nazi Hunter she enlisted a few episodes ago to properly deal with Arden, who we all know was a doctor within the Third Reich.   But Sister Satan killed him with a piece of mirror.   A large shard right to the jugular!

Jude finds him in a bloody mess in his bathroom.    She calls an ambulance but stops short when she senses he had died.   And he does.   Black Angel Cheap Wings appears out of nowhere kisses him (this has got to be the proverbial kiss of death).   Last week, he lived long enough to tell Jude that one of her nun’s was the perp.

Jude looks up and taped on the TV screen is a news article from 1949…a story about the little girl she hit while on a drunken bender.   There’s a few flashbacks and we see Jude in her civies sitting in the sadly appointed living room of a typical New England couple.   They are Missy’s parents, we soon learn.  Missy is/was the little girl in the blue coat that was out playing in the road late one night; the hit and run that changed everything.

Well,  in walks an adult Missy in a nurse’s uniform.

She survived????

Huh??   How did Sister Satan not know this???    Maybe because Old Scratch can only get in our heads and root around to get at our biggest fears and guilt trips.    Therefore, if Jude thought Missy Blue Coat Front Bumper Fodder was in fact dead, so would Sister Satan.  She’d play off that.

Earlier, Jude imagined slitting her wrists in the Tastee Freeze bathroom.   She walked out and encountered Black Angel Cheap Wings who she recognized.  Seems Jude has threatened to take her own life many times before.  The two are old pals.   She tries to talk Jude into finally letting go; seek the peace only Black Angel can offer.

“Let’s French!!!!”, she all but suggests.

No, insists Jude.   There’s at least one more thing to take care of before that ultimate swappage of spit.  And that was to confess to Missy’s grieving parents which ultimately, created one helluva monastic tap dance in the living room of Missy’s parents.   Jude was dumbfounded when Missy and her cat eye glasses walked into the room.  She’d spent 13 years thinking she killed Missy.    But was injured and there’s still the matter of the hit and run; the failure to stop to render aid.

Lastly, Kit/Tate makes his way back to Briarcliff and darts in and out of the tunnels in an effort to find Grace and run away with her.  He bursts through the kitchen door.  She’s eating  a snack with a nun.   Yes, she’s better now—up and walking around thanks to the miracle of sulfa drugs and Bactine administered by Dr. Arden, earlier in the show.   But the guards know he’s an escapee and have been ordered to shoot him on sight.    one was nearby and heard the nun scream.  He goes into the kitchen; sees Kit and shoots, but Grace ends up taking the bullet for him.  Shot in the gut.    Then one of Arden’s forest dwelling human eating creatures with the single quail plume-like dreadlock thing hanging from his head attacks the guards, then Kit, but Kit gets in one good lick and stabs him in the stomach and his entrails or something, falls all over the kitchen floor.

As Grace lies there, Black Angel Cheap Wings appears above her and yes, they kiss and yes, Grace dies.

She is free, she whispers.

Then we’re treated to next week’s previews.   It’s the Christmas edition of this season of  AHS.  Nothing says Yuletide quite like a crazed inmate in a Santa suit.  Can’t wait.

As I mentioned in the beginning, good and evil are the focus here.  It just so happens to these two things converge at an asylum.   One thing is becoming apparent—from Arden’s Nazi past, to Grace’s murder of her family and of course, Sister Jude’s crazy ass life, evil is a part of  man’s existence on this Big Blue Marble.   We have to deal with it.   Try as we might, we can’t erase that which we’ve experienced, nor can we turn a blind eye to it.   All the characters this season hammer the point home that the evil and good are real;  they exist independently, but they can’t co-exist, not without consequences.

That said, I’m beginning to think that the asylum is like some form of Purgatory.  For those not raised under the tent of Catholic dogma, Purgatory is the condition of purification or temporary punishment before entrance to the Pearly Gates.   Here’s the ecclesiastical 4-1-1, kids.

According to the Church and Wikipedia,  immediately after death, a person undergoes  judgment in which the soul’s eternal destiny is specified. Some are  united with God;  others reach a state known as Hell, the  eternal separation from God often envisioned as a fiery, sulfur smelling place of punishment, misery and Lawrence Welk  records.   Apparently, it’s by one’s own free will that a person enters into the state of hell.  It’s willful entry.

Conversely, one could argue that would apply to the opposite destination.  Those who die in a state of grace are believed to be prepped and readied to  move on up–to the Eastside.  To that dee-lux apartment in the sky….eye….eye.

You know, Heaven.

I know that’s thought process, especially when applied to this show, is as insane as one of Briarcliff’s inmate.   I tried to approach last season from a psycho/social mindset and I couldn’t have been more wrong.    There was no Miltonian metaphor.  No deep seeded Faustian explanation.  The house was merely haunted.   With ghosts.   Phantams.  Spectors…Ronnie AND Phil.

But all I know regarding this season so far is simple: if there IS a purgatory, a place for those who lived the worst life  to be  given the choice of redemption and head north….↑ (towards the sound of harps)

or south↓ (where da brimstone at!!!)

Briarcliff would be it.