‘American Horror Story’: Mommy Dearest

Nice, American Horror Story. I didn’t think you could do it after four long, tedious episodes, but now that we have Lana down in the basement of Bloody Norman Bates Face, we are finally getting somewhere.

Still, a couple of quibbles before we delve into the brilliance of Zachary Quinto-cum-Anthony-Perkins-cum-Leatherface routine. Yes, Sister Mary Eunice, they are about you. I just don’t get why you are so bad at being THE DEVIL. It’s like you are putting in the littlest effort possible, and you aren’t even supernatural, as far as I can tell. Oh man, what if the twist is that Sister Mary Eunice just sprung a leak in her ole noggin and believed she was Satan incarnate? Because I’m pretty sure THE DEVIL should be able to do things other than give creepy, narratively inconsequential little girls a reason to kill their mothers. (I mean, who doesn’t want to stab their mother in the back at age ten? Am I right, ladies?)

Also, if you are THE DEVIL, I feel like you should also be psychic? THE DEVIL is definitely psychic, right? So then why doesn’t Mary Eunice know about Arden’s past as a Nazi, or that Sister Jude had a Nazi Hunter/Breaking Bad‘s Mark Margolis chasing after him? She also put Shelly in a goddamn playground, which did lend to an overly heavy-handed moment where Monsignor Shakespeare had to strangle her to death with his rosaries, thus sealing his fate in hell forever. (Probs. I don’t know how these things work!) Also THE DEVIL likes to dress up in sexy lingerie and sing like she’s all of The First Wives Club combined.  Boring! Spit up some pea soup, lady! You are totally pointless! Stop stabbing people, you crazy bitch, and get your meds right!

Luckily, this week had virtually no Kit Walker and no Grace, so we can table that subplot for a moment and focus on something that bothered me all episode. When did Sister Jude become a nun again? I thought she was already fired from Briarcliff and that was why she was sleeping with that random guy in the last episode? Did she just sneak back in? As a nun, are you allowed to do that? Apparently not, because Shakespeare transfers her to a wayward girl’s hospital in Pittsburgh.

And follow-up question: Is it easy as time travel? Because when our episode opens, we’re back to the future, where the three fake Bloody Faces are found hanging from the rafters after a guy sounding exactly like Zachary Quinto called in, confessing to killing the imposters. But just so everyone knows, he promises he didn’t kill Adam Levine. (He tells the detectives this by calling Levine’s iPhone, which apparently Maroon 5 was clutching with his dismembered arm this entire time?) Leading to the inevitable, "But where is Mrs. People‘s Sexiest Man of the Year, Channing Tatum?"

We’ll get to that.

So now that Sister Jude is on to Dr. Arden/aka Hans Landa (no wait, that’s Christoph Waltz from Inglourious Basterds, but the is VERY SIMILAR), she concotes a plan with the Nazi hunter to get his fingerprints. But even when she does, Sister Eunice has already stabbed the guy in the throat! What is with all the stabbing, THE DEVIL? Can’t you kill someone just by looking at them? Also, you can read minds but only found out Jude’s plan because you happened to pick up the phone when the Nazi hunter called? Lame.

So now Sister Jude is out, Monsignor Shakespeare has made a pack with a guy whose in league with THE DEVIL, and, most importantly, Lana Winters gets to find out the plot of Silence of the Lambs/Psycho/Texas Chainsaw Massacre before two of the three are even created. LUCKY GIRL.

After being forced (one supposes) to make up with her toothless, dead body of her girlfriend, she wakes up from the nightmare in her own bedroom, surrounded by pictures of her and her lover, with the smell of delicious croque monsieur wafting through the shower curtains and tiled floors of her. Wait…she’s not at home at all! She’s still in Bloody Face’s basement! Although it’s not all bad, as Dr. Thredson has made her a delicious sandwich. You have to give it to Lana, she knows how to play Thredson like she was Hannibal Lector and he’s Clarice. Well, if Clarice was an insane, Buffalo Bill wannabe who skinned women because they didn’t remind him enough of his mother, who he wants to have sex with very badly, but doesn’t know how because he was orphaned.

"Have the lambs finally stopped screaming?" Winters asks. No, actually, she just puts on her best "I am listening empathetically" face, while Thredson gives his whole backstory, alternating between the almost-fey Norman Bates and manic gleefulness of the Joker. It’s an amazing balancing act, because the scariest part of this whole storyline is how human Thredson is. At one point he crows about how "self-aware" he is, which is very true, and also deeply horrifying, because unlike other split-personality characters, who need to become an alter-ego to kill, Thredson has full cognitive awareness of who he is. Sure, he rationalizes it by doing the whole Blue Velvet "Mommy" routine, but for the most part he remains quite logical. He even mentions the Harlow cloth monkey experiments to explain why he loves warm woman skin so much, which is a theory we all know from Psych 101, and seems a little pat of an answer. (Fun fact: Harlow also created something called the "Rape Rack" for artificial insemination, and also the "Pit of Despair.")

And while Winters agrees to play Mommy, basically because she has no other choice, being chained to a bed and really wanting to stay alive, Thredson runs upstairs and takes a phone call from Kit, who is in jail but apparently knows his psychiatrist’s home number. While Thredson is busy getting super angry because Kit called him a fraud, Lana finds a file and almost escapes before the good doctor finds her and decides to skin her after all, while wearing his Bloody Face mask. Bad mommy!

But once again, using her newfound powers of X-TREME empathy for crazy (she’s suddenly Carrie Matheson, this one), she says tells Thredson it’s okay to kill her, she forgives him, because a mother’s love is unconditional. At which point Thredson rips off the mask and embraces Lana/mommy and starts sucking on her boob while Lana just freaaaaaks the fuck out. But quietly, quietly.

Also, there is some quiet girl that was brought into the asylum, and THE DEVIL tells her to learn how to protect herself, and the next thing you know she’s killed her entire family. So maybe THE DEVIL’s power of persuasion is her super power?

Which brings us back to the present. While it’s definitely Thredson’s voice on the phone (despite the fact that he’d be an 83-year-old by this point), we see Ms. Channing Tatum strapped down in Bloody Face’s chamber, and a Bloody Face standing over her. But here’s the thing: Bloody Face definitely has a female body. So here’s my theory: It’s some Saw III-type of thing, where Thredson is that old Jigsaw guy who found a female prodigy to take over his work while he will probably be revealed to have terrible CGI makeup. Is the young Asperger’s girl going to be his disciple? ONLY time will tell! Because THE DEVIL probably has no idea.

Follow Drew Grant on Twitter.


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