Tagged Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 8: “The Sacred Taking”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 8: “The Sacred Taking”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dead” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Head” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-1-33-20-amWith Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) at the savage mercy of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) on her side too, things seem to be changing in New Orleans.
Out under the cover of the city’s darkness, Queenie is searching for something. Under a bridge somewhere she lurks among the homeless community, the destitute and drugged up washouts either on the bottle or on the pipe. From one of the little tents comes a terrifying man, looking to “carve her up“. But Queenie easily fends her off with voodoo doll shit. From out of nowhere come Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga). They don’t want her to leave, they seem to want her back and actually appreciate her. They know she’s tough. Still, Queenie has things to do for Laveau: she cuts open the aforementioned homeless guy, apparently a rapist, and hauls a heart out; no problem. Apparently it’s going to help her gain power, some kind of ceremony Marie is planning.

War is coming. And youre gonna lose.”

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-1-33-27-amFiona (Jessica Lange) is slowly getting sicker and sicker. All the treatments and the medications, the chemotherapy, it’s making her feel “as if I’ve been dipped in the River Styx.” She writhes on the floor and in a voice-over laments that her body is no longer her own, she has given herself over to terminal illness, which will take her away from the earth soon enough. Cordelia doesn’t care, only taunting her over Thanksgiving cooking. The only one who does care is the dear ole Axeman (Danny Huston), who lays with her in bed smoking, looking at her with a swollen twinkle in his eye and longing only for a life with her, anywhere, somewhere. “Youre watching me decay,” says Fiona. He doesn’t see it that way, though, the illness is destroying any bit of faith she once had. All that’s keeping her living and breathing properly at the moment is spite, not wanting to give her daughter or anyone else the satisfaction of leaving a moment too soon.
More creepiness comes by way of Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon) and his mother Joan (Patti LuPone). She is upset, in all her puritanical glory, about her son’s newfound uncleanliness. She mixes up a chemical cocktail in a hot water bottle, connected with a catheter-like tube, and then has him lay down in the tub. We don’t exactly see what happens, or where exactly the tubing goes. However, we can easily assume it’s a nasty way of Joan cleansing her son and his sinfulness, y’know, all that deep grimy sin on the inside. Yuck. I’m guessing it was an enema, not anything in the front end.
At the academy, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) shows up in a panic, feet filthy, raving a little. After she was able to get Myrtle (Frances Conroy) resurrected, turns out a man with a gun came to get her. A man trying to shoot witches? No doubt witch-hunter Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton). When Cordelia meets Misty, she sees everything with her newly gained sight, all the troubles she’d seen up until then. Now she is a part of the coven. Even better, Myrtle is back with them again like old times, back from the burning dead. Also, there are conflicting thoughts on who will be the next Supreme. Who could it be? Is it Misty? Or Zoe? Or who else? We’ll see what happens.
They start a ceremony called The Sacred Taking, title of the episode. It’s meant to prove Misty is the next Supreme. The whole thing starts with Cordelia talking about the ceremony is meant to also help the survival of the coven, starting back in the days of the Salem Witches. Great little sequence here with a black-and-white flashback to the Invoking of the Sacred Taking.

 


Poor Fiona is losing her hair, throwing up, and she thinks maybe losing her mind. A cover of “Season of the Witch” by Donovan plays and Madison, red dress belonging to Fiona, dances around the room: “Surprise bitch,” she exclaims. She talks about breaking in her new bed, and so on, being the new Supreme and all. Claiming she brought herself back and the Council ought to be called. Such a surreal scene the way they shot everything, which adds to the fact Fiona probably believes her mind is caving in. Sad to see Fiona try and open a door, the thing barely moving a few inches. Madison tries to convince her to kill herself with a bottle of pills. Furthermore, Myrtle shows up to freak Fiona out. But she takes it fairly well, all things considered; not sure if they’re back to life, or she’s in hell. Fiona plans to go away with the Axeman, while Myrtle fills her head with visions of him getting tired of the smell of her death, tired of waiting around.

You guys suck balls

After Nan (Jamie Brewer) storms off, upset that she’s not even being considered as in the running for Supreme, we see Hank waiting outside, lurking in the darkness. She finds Luke in his house, tied up. What’s happening?
We cut back to Fiona, who wants to die now. She wants to give up, asking Myrtle to look out for her daughter as best she can. Taking all the pills to plummet to her death, Fiona goes to sleep. But eventually comes to, as Spalding (Denis O’Hare) wakes her. He explains his tongue, his death, and reveals Madison was revived by Misty and they are exploiting Fiona, trying to kill her and make way for the new Supreme. With help from Spalding she purges the pills. Then vows revenge for them both against the coven.

 

 


Back over at Marie’s salon, Queenie brings Delphine – now locked in a cage for regular bleedings – some food. Before they can have any meaningful conversation, and LaLaurie can get any answers, Marie shows up and squashes that situation. Marie plans to keep Delphine, who of course cannot die, and make her suffer. Starting now with a chop of the hand and a warning there is much, much more to come for the immortal racist.
Now we switch back quickly to Nan and Luke, who are prevented from going anywhere by the religiously psychotic Joan. Not for long, though. Soon a rifle’s laser points through the windows. Joan is shot twice, Luke takes a bullet trying to make sure Nan survives.
At the academy, Cordelia and the others await Fiona’s death. Only the Supreme is still quite alive. She saunters through the living room, asking about Misty. Which leads her over the commotion next door. Cordelia ends up discovering the bullets were meant for witches, not the Ramseys.

 


My favourite part of this episode, though, is the very end. The academy receives a package at the door. When Fiona answers and opens it, there is the head of Delphine LaLaurie, staring up at her, and whispering to be helped. Very ominous. A horrific message from Laveau. Is a war coming between the voodoo sect of witches and the descendant witches from Salem? Looks like it.
screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-2-08-34-amStay tuned for the next episode with me, titled “Head” directed by Howard Deutch and written by Tim Minear.

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American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 3: “The Replacements”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 3: “The Replacements”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Boy Parts” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fearful Pranks Ensue” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-36-44-pmThis episode starts with a Fiona (Jessica Lange) who’s getting sicker with each passing day. She subdues all the pain with medication, prescribed and otherwise. Little drop of liquor here and there to take away the edge.
Nice flashback to Fiona’s younger days in 1971 New Orleans, during her time at the academy. Young Fiona (Riley Voelkel) has a conversation with the Supreme during her time, Anna-Lee Leighton (Christine Ebersole). We get more information about what the Supreme is, who she can be – turns out, witches can exemplify many powers at once, but that does not a Supreme make. What it takes is mastering “the Seven Wonders,” supposedly. Furthermore, we get insight into Fiona’s current life. Why she is so afraid of getting sick. It’s not just death: she is being succeeded. The stronger a new witch gets as Supreme, the more strength is zapped out of the current one. So naturally, Fiona is worried about being overtaken. Plus, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) witnesses a young Fiona kill Anna-Lee, so there’s a deep connection between them stemming from those old days. Something we’re without a doubt going to get a deeper explanation for at some point. For now, intrigue. Excellent opening.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-37-06-pmEven past the credits we’re still following along with Fiona. She is an important character. More than that, she has much to do with the storyline of this season. Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk & Co. are going into themes of the old relinquishing power to the young, something always evident in society from one generation to the next. So Fiona is naturally a great example of that: like some of the more ignorant Baby Boomers, for instance, she refuses to go into the long night quietly.
Watching Fiona listen to her doctor about surgery options is almost heartbreaking, except there’s already only three episodes into this season not much sympathy for her character. She seems very cold. We’ll find out more as the episodes wear on.
Then we find our way back to Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) who ends up tracking down the mother of Kyle (Evan Peters), Alicia Spencer (Mare Winningham). She’s pretty broken up about her son dying, though, a call from Zoe was able to save her life; she had her head almost in a noose at the time. Not sure how her character will work into things, but soon enough we’ll find out (I actually know because I’ve watched every season already; just playing the part for now).
Over at the academy, Madison (Emma Roberts), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) check out a handsome man moving in next door with his mother – Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon) and the uptight, religious Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone).
Inside it’s another story. LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is their maid, weeping over Barack Obama on the television, hating having to serve Queenie, a “nigress” her food. Then eventually Fiona shows up to put things into perspective for racist Delphine: she’s now Queenie’s personal servant. Ouch for the old racist bitch.
At the same time, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) lies in bed with Kyle back at her shack. He’s been healing pretty damn well, though, the scars are evident in his skin. Still, the guy looks a lifetime better than he did in the previous episode. He doesn’t have the Frankenstein’s monster look going on anymore, just a bit of a rough exterior. Then there’s the fact he doesn’t speak much, or at all, outside of a little grunting and groaning. Kyle has a ton of rage issues, now a reanimated brain in a totally different body than he once inhabited. Of course he’s going to be slightly messed for a while.


Nan brings a cake over to the Ramsey house, along with Madison who sluts it up once they meet Luke. He seems incredibly impressed with Nan, as well as the cake. Madison, the famous stuck-up bitch, is not impressed with this at all for her part. Then mother Joan shows up, flaunting their religion at the witches. Very fun contrast seeing a bit of witchcraft dropped in contrast with the religious nature of the Ramseys. On their way out, Madison discovers a new power: lighting things on fire. Pyrokinesis. Interesting – does this mean she may start vying for the spot of Supreme? Or just a red herring?
A nice sequence cuts mother-daughter duo of Fiona and Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) back-to-back. Each of them receives bad news from their doctor, each with their respective problems – Fiona basically dying, Cordelia unable to have a child. It’s all sad. Though, I feel worse for Cordelia who only wants a regular life, but has been burdened with the fate of being a witch. It’s certainly not all that they crack it up to be in the brochure.
Reanimated Kyle is dropped back at his mother’s doorstep. But a dreadful look on Kyle’s face speaks wonders, as dear ole mom brings him inside: should Zoe have held onto him, maybe left him with Misty? We’re soon going to discover what it’ll be like for Kyle, and his mom, now that he’s back to… normal.
Distraught over the “long term effects” of Madison’s choice of dress while visiting their home earlier, Joan Ramsey talks with Fiona, who obviously does not care much. This brings the current Supreme together with Madison. Uh oh. I can see where this is headed. Just the look in the eyes, the way Fiona stares at the young and virile witch in front of her, you can tell she is up to no good calling Madison over to sit down and hang with her at the table.
The trouble for Kyle starts at home, not long after his arrival. Mom clearly has no trouble opening the shower curtain on her naked son. Then she climbs into bed with him, commenting on his body. She snuggles up to him, a little too closely, then plants a more than motherly kiss on her son. So that earlier fear we saw in Kyle when she brought him inside, it had a heavy, horrible weight to it. Something Zoe could never have known. But it’s no wonder he didn’t like what his frat brothers were doing at the party; he knows the other side of assault and rape.


Cordelia’s gotten desperate enough in the quest for fertility she finds herself over seeking the help of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). There’s a sly conversation between the two. Cordelia wants a fertility spell performed. We get an awesome cut to a wild sequence. It shows us the ritual – including the husband’s “baby gravy,” two ounces to be exact. Plus there’s a ton of dancing people, unbelievably hot peppers, blood, and Bassett giving her all as a shaman-like voodoo conjurer, dancing around a fire, bringing out the spirits. The entire thing is pretty awesome, maybe the best large sequence yet so far in Coven. Because it’s not the typical witches dressed in black stuff. Something more akin to Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow than to a traditional witchcraft film. But this is only imagery: Laveau will never perform the spell on a daughter of Fiona Goode, Marie’s “sworn enemy.”
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-40-11-pmElsewhere, Fiona is drawing out the powers of Madison who is oblivious to the older witch’s true intentions. Can we be sure Fiona won’t do the same thing to Madison as she once did, in 1971, to Anna-Lee?
Lots of spooky business at the academy. Queenie eats in the kitchen while LaLaurie cooks. But the old woman sees the Minotaur outside, growling and lurking in the shadows. He’s come back for Delphine, let loose by his eternal master Marie Laveau. Now, he’s laying siege to the house trying to get in, smashing his horns against the door to hopefully bust in. LaLaurie reveals herself to Queenie, her true identity, and tells her how Fiona brought her back; naturally, a strong black woman such as Queenie isn’t too impressed with this immortal racist. And yet still she tries to defend the woman, offering to have a hand at confronting the Minotaur. Outside Queenie tries talking gently to him, and lures him out into Cordelia’s greenhouse building. Instead of calming the Minotaur, she has a violent sexual encounter with him.
At the Spencer house, things with mom and son aren’t exactly right. No surprise after what we’ve seen so far. Mom is sick, she’s not only attracted to him but has a strange love for him, real romance. It’s nasty. She doesn’t expect what’s coming, though. After trying to turn him on – gross – Kyle ends up beating her to death with a trophy off his shelf. Lots of bloody flying, wet, smacking sounds against the meat of her dead body. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve it.


Speaking of unsuspecting, Madison is out on the town with the older version of herself, Miss Fiona. They’re both having a great time. Only not so much for the older of the pair, she sees how men are drawn to Madison, almost like magnets. There’s a great edit where Fiona sees Madison morph into the young Fiona, right before her eyes. Just another great instance where the editing in this series is spot on, something you can easily see throughout any given episode.
The finale was a shock to me when I first watched this one, back as it aired the first time. Now, I still enjoy it. Such a brutal and great scene between two excellent actors, each of their own generation; two strong women. Lange and Roberts compliment one another so well, this whole episode with them together is a treat, but especially at the episode’s close. I won’t spoil it any further, most of you will have probably already seen it, anyways. Just a solid finish for “The Replacements”, a full, grim circle of an episode.


Next episode is titled “Fearful Pranks Ensue“, directed by Michael Uppendahl.

American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 2: “Massacres and Matinees”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 4, Episode 2:
 “Massacres and Matinees”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Monsters Among Us” – click here
* For a review of the next episode “Edward Mordrake: Part 1” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-00-04-pmSome of the sweeping shots of the carnival itself, such as the opening shot of “Massacres and Matinees,” really remind me of certain scenes in HBO’s Carnivale. Great look and feel.
This episode begins with a news report of a missing policeman. Of course, he was buried, dead, by the freaks – led by Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) – at the end of the first episode. Everyone is on edge, naturally. Things get even worse once two more detectives show up poking around, they advise Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) a curfew will be put in place, which effectively poises to ruin her business.
Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) find themselves called into the mix. The police are very interested in her, the entire band of freaks, and in plain language make it clear to Elsa they’ll be regulars around their neck of the woods.
Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) is up to more murderous fun again. In a shop full of toys, Halloween decorations, and so on, he hides as a clerk looks for his boss. When the clerk does find him, only a head, Twisty stabs him through the back of the neck, piercing his throat. A pretty unsettling scene and then it turns into a bloody, nasty little mess for a minute.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-01-21-pmBack at the carnival, Jimmy’s having a harder time than anyone else dealing with what happened to the cop. He was the one who killed the man, after all. Back at the hole, he tells Paul (Mat Fraser) and Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin) how he feels back, worrying the man may have had a family and children. They tell him he had no choice, it had to happen. Meanwhile, they’ve got to transplant the body somewhere else with all the cops and their heat sniffing around.
Good thing, too. Eve spies the man’s badge in the dirt. That could’ve certainly caused a few problems down the line.
Worse than any of them at the show – by FAR – is rich boy Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock). I mean, the guy has a little baby’s bottle made of crystal he drinks from, it has a gold cover over the nipple. Fuck this guy. Worse than that, if you can imagine it, is the way his mother Gloria (Frances Conroy) cleans up his messes and caters to his every whim. Then their maid Dora (Patti LaBelle) tries not to lose her mind in the middle of it.
Things get thicker in the plot of Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates). Once a new performer named Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) show up, everything changes a little. Elsa eventually agrees to take them on: not only is Dell a strongman, a good one at that albeit a terribly troubled one, Desiree has got lots going on under the hood with a set of male and female genitals + three breasts. It takes some convincing, but Elsa goes with their talent, despite any suspicions.
We come to discover Dell and Ethel were together at one time. In fact, Dell is a father to Jimmy. But he’s only there to capitalise. He reveals to Ethel, who is not impressed with his showing up to the carnival at all, Elsa has hired him on as security for their show and grounds. Lots of good tension already between these two, plus Bates and Chiklis in scenes together? The chemistry is there already, now let’s watch this one play out!


Dandy even ends up at the freak show asking to be taken in. He believes himself to be a freak, like them, only on the inside. Jimmy tries talking some sense into him; wouldn’t you like normal hands instead of flippers? It’s sort of offensive to someone like Jimmy if a ‘normal’ guy like Dandy walks in claiming to know what it’s like to be an outcast as they’ve been. He’s tossed aside. Spoiled little brat he is, Dandy loses his mind and smashes his face off the steering wheel in his car.
Luckily back home in the mansion, Gloria, mother dearest, has picked up a clown for Dandy, so they can play together. Best part? It’s Twisty; she’d found him wandering along the road. I’m sure those two have a lot in common. That’s not at all a joke, Dandy is clearly a budding psychopath.
Bette and Dot are being touted as the headliners of Elsa’s show, though, she would much prefer to be deemed the star. Only problem being neither of them are particularly brimming with talent. At least not until Jimmy is able to draw out a beautiful voice from Dot.
In this moment, a zoom on Lange’s face, eyes pointed, we see how Elsa is immediately threatened by this emerging talent. It’s the start of a big dynamic between the twins and Ms. Mars. Works well because in each season from Asylum on, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange have been setup as these very opposite characters, in strained relationships with one another. So I’m glad to see a new one, with a fresh and intriguing aspect. Great actors working together constantly in such a consistently solid manner is impressive.
Oh, Dandy. What a sick, twisted bastard this young man with too money is, and how painful yet fun it is to see his character open up with each episode. Watching him with Twisty is downright scary at times. First, I was beginning to think Twisty might hurt him, or even actually kill him; especially after Dandy goes through the clown’s bag and looks at his things. But no, Twisty just picks up and runs off leaving Dandy with a goose egg on the back of his head.


Jimmy Darling and the crew of freaks – Pepper (Naomi Grossman), Paul, Eve, and others – show up at the diner looking for a meal. Everyone is properly grossed out for the 1950s, weak minds not willing to let people be people, regardless of how they look or talk. After Paul causes a little disturbance, eating off a plate yet to be bussed with food on it, in walks Dell who gets in a confrontation with Jimmy. Outside, he pounds the boy a few good shots and really lets Jimmy have it. Bastard.
Twisty heads back to his little home sweet home, the ragged rusted bus in the woods, and greets his captives – Bonnie Lipton (Skyler Samuels) and Corey Bachman (Major Dodson). He seems pretty laid back, a bit rattled by his time at the Mott residence. Then he takes out a little wind-up toy, displaying its walk for Bonnie and Corey, trying to be an actual clown and make them smile. Hard to do when his own smile is mortifying. We get a raw look at what’s under the plastic mask over his mouth, as Bonnie manages to crank him with a piece of wood and escape.
Lucky for ole Twisty, his new friend Dandy came back to the bus and followed him. He’s able to help capture Bonnie before she makes off. Sick and twisted are not even close to the words useful in describing Dandy’s character.
Another musical number comes out of “Massacres and Matinees” with Bette and Dot performing a Fiona Apple number. Loved this sequence for several reasons.
Reason the 1st – Sarah Paulson gets to perform a bit of music, proving she has a decent voice and getting a chance at doing one of these scenes. Reason the 2nd – we get to see how savagely jealous Ms. Mars is becoming, episode after episode. So at the start, Bette/Dot were a draw for her, she was rooting and scheming to have them in her show. Yet now, after their true talent is revealed and is emerging quicker than expected, Elsa sees them as threatening. Will this lead to anything sinister? Elsa strikes me as someone who values herself above anyone else, as well as she has a delusional view of herself as a big star still poised to rise.


When the cops show up, more of the relationship between Dell and Jimmy begins to unravel and it brutally affects what will come next. Jimmy tried to place the badge in Dell’s tent, in order to get him hauled away and out of their lives, out of the carnival. Only Dell is too keen, for such a dirty bastard – he planted the badge in another tent. Instead of seeing Dell carted off to a cell someplace, little Meep (Ben Woolf) gets taken. Excruciating to see Meep falsely put in jail, a bunch of scary looking, much bigger men crowding around believing him as a killer; you can feel something terrible is about to go down.
Elsa sneaks in to see Bette while her sister sleeps. Dot wakes up midway through and spoils Elsa’s fun. Clearly she’s playing a dangerous game with the twins; divide and conquer, all within the same body, one entity. It’s hard to tell where this will take any of them because Bette is very starry-eyed, while Dot in complete opposition is so cold and rational, there’s bound to be a good measure of disconnect between them both.
It gets even more brutal when Elsa leaves Bette with a small, sharp penknife, after filling her head with pessimistic thoughts about Dot. Uh oh.
Jimmy takes the weight of Meep being carted off all on his shoulders, he starts to drink for the first time getting absolutely hammered. His mother is worried, but Jimmy only worries about Meep— “hes not tough hes just weird.”
No sooner does he say the words and runs outside, Jimmy and Ethel see a car drive by, dropping a wrapped up lump to the dirt. Inside is the lifeless body of Meep. A bloodcurdling scream comes out of Jimmy and rings into the night as the episode closes.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-07-39-pmIntense finish to this one! Cannot wait for the next episode, titled “Edward Mordrake: Part 1”, directed by Michael Uppendahl.

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 11: “Spilt Milk”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 11:
 “Spilt Milk”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Name Game” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Continuum” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-36-32-pmThe beginning of this aptly titled episode, “Spilt Milk”, gives us one of the more disturbing bits this season. Johnny Morgan (Dylan McDermott), a.k.a young Bloody Face, has a prostitute come over to his place and breastfeed him. I mean, did Oliver (Zachary Quinto) pass everything on, or did he pass everything on? God damn. To each their own, but compounded with the fact Johnny likes to murder people, particularly he’s got a problem with women, he’s also got a breast milk fetish, a fixation. All in all, he is one awfully messed up dude.
Great, nasty open to one of the final trio of episodes left in Season 2 Asylum!
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-36-55-pmKit Walker (Evan Peters) is continually being manipulated, still, by Dr. Thredson. Kit gets to go see Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) and his newborn baby, Thomas, though it’s not long. Even more than that, poor Pepper (Naomi Grossman) gets to talk but she doesn’t get much else, ushered off at Thredson’s orders for some archaic hydrotherapy, y’know – 1960s style.
So while Kit, Grace and their boy get to have a little time together, a slight few rays of happiness, there is still darkness cast over everything. Most of that is Thredson, trying to grasp onto anything which will allow him more power.
Then there’s the fact Grace was taken away, somehow brought back to life. She saw the “bright lights” we all hear about so often. But these lights were different, they were those creatures, the alien life forms. She came back pregnant with Kit’s child.
There’s an amazingly trippy sequence where Grace floats in this empty darkness, also in a pool of water. It’s creepy and sort of has this wide, isolated feeling, like she was just lost in nowhere. Brief few shots yet highly effective and interesting.
Oh, and Kit proposed pretty suddenly. That happened. Right before Monsignor Howard (Joseph Fiennes) shows up with Sister Colette (Tacey Adams) who intends to take the baby to a home for lost children. Thredson turns up for a little gloating, just to rub it in Kit’s face.
Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) surprises Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) with documentation of everything on record that happened to her while at Briarcliff. The faithful nun, listening to what Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) had told her previously, helps Lana to get out of the asylum; into a cab and speeding away.


Love the split-screen sequence here, as Thredson and Kit talk while Lana comes down the stairs on her way to escape with Mother Superior. It’s great how Kit helps Lana, in their silent understanding in passing; the double shot of Lana’s face is perfect. Nothing beats the moment when Thredson sees Lana in the cab, tape of the confessions against the window and middle finger to boot.
This leads directly to a scene between the two, back at Oliver’s place where Lana is waiting, police on the way. Brilliant acting from both Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto – tense and nastily fun moments abound.
There’s an amazing cut (which could’ve easily been done naturally with connected sets) taking us through to the present again where Johnny Morgan sucks on the prostitute’s milky breast, coming off with a mouthful. Another cut returns us to Thredson’s living room. Just downright excellent filmmaking on television (can I say that? you know what I fucking mean). This whole section, back and forth from past to present, it really makes the scene between Oliver and Lana become even more weighty, the intensity bearing down on us until – BAM!… I won’t ruin it for you, if you’ve yet to see it.


With Ms. Winters out, Briarcliff gets hammered with vicious criticism in the papers and comes under scrutiny for employing Bloody Face. At the same time, Monsignor Howard is having trouble keeping Jude quiet as she raves at him, stuck there rotting as a patient – better yet, inmate. She is disgusted with his refusal to accept the sin he committed, giving his flesh to the devil in (the now dead) Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). He can’t take it anymore.
It’s terribly tragic the lengths to which Howard goes to in order to secure his job, his life, his so-called legacy. I’m not going to spoil this either, so later in the episode near the end this will play out: be prepared for sadness.
Best of all, though, in the scuffle at the asylum after Lana breaks her story: Kit is able to leave and go free. Furthermore, he uses the death certificate made out for Grace (by Arden when she’d been presumed dead) to secure her release from Briarcliff; they also manage to get their son back and find a way to be a family.
Back at the old Walker homestead, Kit and Grace bring their boy home to a messy, beat up place from long before when Kit was thrown in the asylum. Regardless, they’re happy to be away from all the madness.
Or are they? Turns out Alma Walker (Britne Oldford) is back. Even better than that: she has a baby.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-38-46-pmSpeaking of babies, Lana has tracked down a woman willing to help perform an abortion on her, to get rid of the evil spawn inside her. She explains her situation, gets herself prepared for the procedure… but just can’t do it.
No more death,” Lana says.
Naturally we had to expect this, as Johnny Morgan – Bloody Face II – has already shown up in the present time frame. Though, it is a truly full-blooded horror scene. Great psychological stuff going on, perfect editing with quick and appropriately disorienting cuts.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-41-21-pmThe end of the episode is highly fitting, returning us to Johnny Morgan’s problem with women, his longing for a breast on which to feed, as Lana begrudgingly lets baby Johnny suckle at her own for milk; all the while clenching her fists, hating each moment. So there’s an incredible cyclical movement to this episode, I love it.
The next episode is “Continuum”, the penultimate episode of Season 2 Asylum, and is directed by Craig Zisk (credits include ShamelessNip/TuckNYPD BlueWeeds, and much more).
Stay tuned for the next one back here at FatherSonHolyGore!

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 10: “The Name Game”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 10: “The Name Game”
Directed by Michael Lehmann (TyrantTrue BloodDexter)
Written by Jessica Sharzer

* For a review of the next episode, “Spilt Milk” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Coat Hanger” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-30-52-pmWith the return of Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré), now pregnant, along with Pepper (Naomi Grossman), Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) lies to Kit Walker (Evan Peters). He tells the young man they did not come, therefore keeping Grace and the baby insider her under wraps.
Meanwhile, Pepper has been given the gift of gab. She tells Arthur all about how the higher alien lifeforms mostly laugh at him and his crude experiments. Even more than that, we get the sad story behind Pepper’s life; she did not, in fact, kill her sister’s child, but merely got thrown in jail because of the shape of heard, as she is microcephalic. It’s an AMAZING SCENE because Pepper gives the doctor a dose of reality, ironically enough. Almost too much for Arden to take, especially to hear it from someone he’d so long ago written off as mentally challenged and useless to him.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-31-06-pmMonsignor Howard (Joseph Fiennes) survived his crucifixion at the hands of Leigh Emerson (Ian McShane). Now he’s being confronted with the ultimate evil of Satan within Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe).
Nice flashback to the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) telling Howard to cast out the devil from Mary. He’s advised to guard his thoughts, to keep his rosary close, and hopefully this may help him combat the demonic forces at work in Briarcliff. We’ll see if that’s the truth in the long run or not.
Still feel absolutely terrible for Jude (Jessica Lange). At least she now has Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson); their relationship has changed immensely now that Jude’s been introduced back into the asylum. Mary Eunice taunts Jude as much as she possibly can, certainly a ton since Jude smashed the “Dominique” record in last episode.
Lana has her own troubles, of course. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) is still kicking around. Sister Mary Eunice has brought him back on in a permanent position – Bloody Face and Satan together is one SAVAGE combination! Phew. What’s awful here is the way Thredson taunts Lana, talking about her carrying the child, breastfeeding it, so on and so on. Hearing all this Kit utters one of my favourite single lines of the season: “You’re one sick twist.”
The worst has come for Jude. She underestimated the devil inside Mary Eunice. After a bit of argument between the two, the young and awful nun brings Jude in to Dr. Arden where they give her some especially brutal shock treatment. Again, I feel horrible. Jude is getting way more than she’d ever brought upon herself.
When Mary Eunice tends to Monsignor Howard’s stigmata-like wounds, he attempts to appeal to Satan, however, she turns the tables. Miss Satan holds the Monsignor down on his bed and rapes him. The first time I watched this, when it came on FX originally, I actually didn’t realise Satan held Howard’s arms down initially with unseen force; doesn’t last the whole way through, but still, long enough to qualify it as a rape. Arden walks in and sees the end of all this, part jealous and probably part turned on in a sick way seeing the devil work with the body of Sister Mary Eunice in such a dastardly fashion.


One of the best scenes out of the entire series comes in this episode. We’re treated to a great rendition of “The Name Game”, which is of course why the episode is titled as such. After coming out of her shock treatment, Jude has this incredible dream type of sequence. It’s so cool because everyone else goes with it. At first, Lana and Kit seem weirded out, but then they’re each a part of it – love the way Lana jumps in so reluctantly to start, then Kit ends up jiving in after awhile. There’s something so ridiculous about the scene, yet at the same time I cannot help but love every second of it. Because it’s beyond trippy while being fun – there are some inmates rocking out in a highly creepy way. Even Pepper gets down like crazy.
But it’s just perfect once the whole sequence ends, Jude lifts her head up off the new jukebox Sister Mary had put in, then – BAM! – she’s right back with Lana again. So perfect, right down to the editing itself. Wonderful sequence.
One thing Jude successfully accomplishes is telling Mother Superior about Lana – that she put her in the asylum, wrongfully, and asks Mother to help Lana get out.
Arden is beyond a broken man. He tries to kill himself while out feeding his monsters, but can’t bring himself to do the deed. Satan herself tells Arden he’s pitiful and throws him to the ground. While Dr. Arden is completely despicable, I think his own final chance for hope of redemption, for any hope of walking away from his horrible and disturbing past died when the devil entered Sister Mary Eunice. Her innocence maintained him in a sense, now he’s completely run off the rails after witnessing Howard being raped by Satan.
At the same time, Howard goes to Jude who is completely rocked by the electroshock therapy and apologises for not having believed her about the devil being in Briarcliff. He’s unsure of what to do, if he ought to renounce his vows, and hopes Jude will help. She can only advise: “Kill her.”
I highly doubt the Monsignor is in any shape, both mentally or physically, to do the deed. Particularly when you consider the fact Satan appears SO STRONG while in the skin of Sister Mary Eunice, as if her innocence and mild nature feeds the deep, dark evil like oxygen on a roaring blaze.
Yet Howard proved me wrong. Able to quickly turn the tables on Satan, he throws Sister Mary Eunice to her death from the third floor of Briarcliff to the lobby floor. As she perishes, the Angel of Death comes for Mary. Grim and gorgeous little moment here, something I actually did NOT see coming, as you can tell by what I said not a moment ago.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-34-32-pmIn Arden’s office, Thredson ends up coming across Grace – Pepper pops up from between her legs and tells him she’s crowning. Uh oh. This is bad news for Kit because Thredson now has leverage he’ll be using with which to try and manipulate him. Almost immediately, this leads Thredson to the place where Kit stashed the tape of the Bloody Face confession. However, Lana switches everything up by taking the tape, not telling Kit nor Oliver, and using it as her own leverage – now Kit is safe. For now, at least. Who knows what will happen in the last three episodes.
Another of my favourite scenes out of the entire series comes – something I’d never expected when first watching this in its original run – when Dr. Arden puts Sister Mary Eunice on the conveyor into the furnace to be cremated and he lays atop her lifeless corpse, then hits the button and goes on in with her. SUCH A FITTING DEATH! It’s a weirdly romantic gesture, at the same time that dirty Nazi bastard gets a karmic end in a furnace like he’d done/watched done to so many European Jews during the Holocaust.


Amazing, amazing episode. Love it so much.
Next one is titled “Spilt Milk” and is directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
Stay tuned for more horror and depravity!

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 5: “I Am Anne Frank: Part II”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 5: “I Am Anne Frank: Part II”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Town That Dreaded Sundown)
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “I Am Anne Frank: Part I” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Origins of Monstrosity” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-01-35-pm
At the top of this episode, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) meets with a man named Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis) – he is a Nazi hunter, a Jew who was in the camps during the Holocaust of World War II. She’s finally caved and believed what might be the truth: Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) could possibly have been a Nazi. They talk, and Goodman warns not to do anything to make the man run.
This also brings in the real life fascinatingly disturbing Operation Paperclip – look it up.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-02-03-pmFurthermore, the supposed Anne Frank (Franka Potente) busts in on Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) with Arden at gunpoint. Luckily for all, mostly Arden, guard Frank McCann (Fredric Lehne) saves the day. Or does he?
Probably so, once Sister Jude is met at the asylum by Anne’s husband – or that is, Charlotte Brown’s husband. Jim Brown (David Chisum) shows up to tell Jude all about how Charlotte became delusional after reading Anne Frank’s diary while she was pregnant, then went to see a play adaptation and fell into a deep spiral; even going so far as to tattoo a death camp tattoo on her arm.
What I love most about this whole section of the episode is how we get these truly creepy, eerily shot pieces of flashback like they’re being done on an old 1950s/60s era camera – scenes of the Browns at home, documenting Charlotte’s madness and her husband Jim becoming more and more frustrated trying to care for their child with an insane wife at home, raving constantly about the Holocaust and the Jewish peoples experiences during World War II and how they need her, the baby doesn’t need her like they do. It’s amazingly effective, this whole bit. Very cool and so creepy.
Kit Walker (Evan Peters) and Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré) are awaiting sterilization now at the hands of Briarcliff Asylum and Sister Jude Martin. It’s a sick, true to life reality of many in the system during this era. Sad yet wildly true.
The twist comes as Kit is told, by the now very devilish Sister Mary Eunice, he won’t be sterilised. Good news, right? Not so much for Grace, who is likewise informed by Mary Eunice, but informed instead she’ll still be going ahead for the procedure.
Afterwards, while alone in her cell, Grace appears to see a rattling, shaky light coming in at her through the door. Could it be the aliens are about to visit Grace? Will she have some proof then to help Kit? Or do they… need her, for some reason?


Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) still has a plan for Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson). He tells her, off to the side, they’re leaving at the end of his day. She’s obviously extremely happy and there’s finally some end to the cruel tunnel through which she has been crawling at Briarcliff, a light approaches.
Thredson is also attempting to help Kit with his troubles. However, suspiciously Thredson has Kit confess to his crimes on tape, in order to hear how it sounds to him – to try and learn something about what he may have done to his wife. While Kit seems to trust him, there’s something not quite right about the doctor’s theories here, his methods. But then again, neither were his intentions with the aversion therapy he conducted on Alana in order to misguidedly cure her lesbianism; oh, the tragic state of “mental health” in the 1960s. Still not even that long ago, scarily enough. I love how this fictional show takes on very real issues such as mental health and those of the LGBTQ community.
Grace has indeed been visited by the aliens Kit saw. She’s taken – somewhere – she is greeted by Alma Walker (Britne Oldford) in a blank, vacant white space where the aliens once took Kit. Who knows what their plans for Grace are now.
She shows up later, bleeding and confused. Kit finds her in the recreation room sitting in a chair, dazed. At the same time, cops show up to arrest Kit for his supposed crimes; coincidence? Hmm. And Grace starts screaming she’s seen everything – the aliens, Alma – they’re all real, she’s alive. An INTENSE moment between these two, especially for Kit himself.
Jude calls off Mr. Goodman after discovering Anne Frank is actually Charlotte Brown.
Best of all now – for Dr. Arden – is that she’s off his case a good bit with all this fracas. Furthermore, he’s got Sister Mary Eunice, possessed and loving it, on his side. She helped dispose of Shelley (Chloë Sevigny), the now mutated beast, which Charlotte had seen in the last episode in Arden’s lab.
CRAZY SCENE as a bunch of school children and their teacher discover the deformed and ragged Shelley, a virtual monster, crawling up a stairwell. Awesome, awesome shocker scene. Loved this quick and nasty moment!
Charlotte gets tossed back into the asylum by her husband, after she tries to smother their baby at home. An amazing sequence is enacted when Jim Brown asks Sister Jude to take Charlotte back, but he wants Dr. Thredson – who was understanding of her beforehand – to treat her.
This is right as Thredson is leaving with Alan in tow. Jude sends Frank off to find the doctor, and there’s this incredibly tense, suspenseful sequence where they sort of barely slip through the fingers of Briarcliff. Really excellent writing, as well as the fact it’s directed expertly.
Instead, Charlotte is trusted to the care of Dr. Arden who plans on giving her a pre-frontal lobotomy. Y’know, to calm her down.


Sister Jude has a disappointed conversation with Frank, retelling a story of when she was a young and took in a baby squirrel, keeping him in a shoe box. She says one day she came home, realising she forgot to feed him, and he was dead. Jude, as a small girl, prayed for hours over the squirrel, but her mother came home and lost her mind, throwing it in the trash.
In the end, the rest of her story stands to show how Jude is disappointed with God. Even as a nun, even as someone who wants SO BAD to be pious and holy and wants to be a good nun, she has those doubts about God.
Frank makes a terribly poignant remark about how she “never really had a chance” because she’s a strong woman and men don’t like that. While you get the sense Frank probably isn’t, for all his faults, one of those men, it’s a big stinger for Jude to hear; even if painfully obvious anyways.
So as Charlotte is being lobotomised, just a little, Jude puts on her bright red lipstick, heads to a bar for a drink and a smoke, then picks up a man.
Back at the home of Oliver Thredson, the doctor brings Lana inside to a comfortable, safe environment for the first time in so very long for her. His house is quite the chic-looking abode, nice modern type furniture and layout.
But as the minutes wear on, Lana realizes something is not right with Oliver. He flicks on a light – you can clearly see the lampshade has nipples. When he offers up some mints, they’re sitting in a skull-shaped bowl; no, damn it if the thing ain’t an ACTUAL SKULL.
What I love about this section is not so much the surprise that Thredson is Bloody Face, it’s the fact Bloody Face takes a good deal of bits and pieces (get it?) from Leatherface, as well as the real life inspiration mostly from serial killer Ed Gein. There’s a ton of macabre stuff to mine out of Gein and I find Ryan Murphy & Co. do an excellent job starting out with doing a few things we’ve not yet seen from the serial killer’s real story.


The end of “I Am Anne Frank: Part II” hits hard like a weight in the guts.
We watch as Charlotte Brown has become the perfect little housewife for Jim. He takes most of her research on World War II, Anne Frank, et cetera, and goes for the trash. While the episode closes out with Leon Bibb, Ronnie Gilbert, and Robert De Cormier singing “It Could Be a Wonderful World”, we also zoom in on a picture of Nazi officers saluting together, and one of them we end on is ABSOLUTELY MOST POSITIVELY DR. ARTHUR FUCKING ARDEN!
Love it. No better way to close off a two-parter episode.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-08-31-pmCan’t wait to review the next episode, “The Origins of Monstrosity” directed by David Semel (HannibalThe StrainHomeland). Stay tuned, horror hounds!