Tagged James Cromwell

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 (Tyrant, True Blood, Dexter)
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!

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American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 9: “The Coat Hanger”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode
9: “The Coat Hanger”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa (True Detective, The Borgias)
Written by Jennifer Salt

* For a review of the next episode “The Name Game” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Unholy Night” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-25-15-pmIn current day, we’re treated to the return of Dylan McDermott as Johnny Morgan.
He meets with Dr. Gardner (Brooke Smith) for some therapy. Johnny wants to try to get better, he has “impulses” – scary ones. Though he makes nothing perfectly clear at first, soon it’s obvious he killed animals as a young boy – it made him feel wonderful. Now he doesn’t harm animals; he grew up. But into what has he grown? There’s a very tense air between Johnny and his doctor.
Tense air which turns vicious.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-25-58-pm I’m LOVING McDermott being back. Especially in juxtaposition with his role in the first season, this is a dark, dark turn on his part. You see, his name isn’t Morgan – it’s Thredson. He is the son of Bloody Face.
Wait, what? The son? But that means….
Damn I am just all over the beginning to “The Coat Hanger.” Plus, you’ve got to imagine, what could that titular coat hanger be alluding to? Starting the episode out with the bombshell concerning Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) somehow having a son – wait to see where THAT leads – it’s interesting this episode is titled as it is— very suggesting.
Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is now with child. The news comes saucily from the devil within Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). Are we getting how important this episode’s title is with more context?
Oh my, how vicious. Worst of all, it’s clear Satan – via Mary Eunice – is going to let that child make its way into the world. Because why not, may as well have another little antichrist running around, cutting people up, as is evidence by watching the present day opener with little grownup Johnny Morgan/Thredson.
After trying to kill Leigh Emerson (Ian McShane) in the last episode, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) wakes up in bed with Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) hovering above her. He recounts what’s happened – she’s being framed for the killing of Frank McCann (Fredric Lehne), which Sister Mary perpetrated. Furthermore, it’s all being compounded through everything from Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) recounting Jude’s tale of demonic possession at Briarcliff, to Leigh Emerson’s concocted tale of what happened during the Christmas shindig, and so on.
Poor Jude. This is comeuppance for all the bad things she’s done, but far too much. She deserves a good reprimand for how she handled inmates at Briarcliff, though, Jude does not deserve being imprisoned in that hateful place under the care of Dr. Arden and Sister Mary Eunice. Even Howard has now left Jude behind, Mother Superior too it seems as of now (because of the manipulation by Arden and Mary), so she’s up shit’s creek.
Even worse, Leigh Emerson feigns remorse, wanting to repent and become a good soul in the eyes of God. Yeah, right. Can we believe this at all? Bad things shall happen again soon at the asylum.


Though I’m not religious, I do feel bad for Monsignor Howard. He’s starting to go head to head with Sister Mary Eunice – a.k.a Satan hisher grand self. There’s nothing at all positive awaiting him at the end of this road. She’s already playing at him, teasing and poking, prodding like he’s a tiny little creature in her wake.
While Sister Jude starts to rot away already, naturally as she is being framed so heavily, Howard brings Leigh in to talk with her. A part of his repentance, I suppose. He offers her forgiveness for what she did to him.
Another flashback to ’63 when Jude doled out some corporal punishment on Emerson, who it seems had some sort of relations with one of the nuns. Then back to present day, as Leigh actually kisses Jude on the forehead. It’s unbelievable the psychological torture she’s now being subject to at the hands of EVERYONE around her. Poor, poor Jude.
Lana found the coat hanger. She went to her room, poised to do a homemade abortion. But nothing more is shown
A little later, she gets to see Kit Walker (Evan Peters). Last episode at the end, she survived her encounter with Thredson and they ended up tying him, hiding him in one of the unused rooms of Briarcliff. Now they need him in order to get Kit free from his crimes.
Lana reveals to him the pregnancy. She also tells him he won’t be a father because now? She’s performing the abortion via coat hanger right there and then. Or is she?
She makes him tell her about his crimes. Bloody Face confesses to his murders, so they can.. bond, or something. Who knows with Oliver, that sad mommy’s boy who never got to be mommy’s boy.
TOO BAD FOR OLIVER – the confession was recorded, Kit hiding out of sight with a recorder, and so sad for him the abortion was performed already! A bloody mess for the son of Bloody Face.
Yet we already know, supposedly, that Johnny Morgan/Thredson – the new Bloody Face of present day – is alive. So, we shall see what happens from now until the end of Season 2.


Kit hides the tape of Thredson’s confession, however, Dr. Arden walks in on him. It doesn’t appear he cares much about the tape, though. They go back to Arden’s office for a “special occasion“, which sees him break out some smokes and fine liquor. Very strange, seeing Dr. Arden/Hans Gruber be friendly.
He tells Kit he’s seen the “little green men“, but of course “theyre not green, are they Mr. Walker?” Arden says slyly. What Arden believes is that the aliens are experimenting, in eugenics he says (of course he’d say that the fucking Nazi), and that the aliens are in some way protecting Kit; that if he brought Kit to the edge of death, they would come to find and protect him, “their specimen.”
This is a strange and tenuous bond between Arden and Kit. Highly weird and at the same time interesting. I can’t wait for more with them, to see where the alien subplot goes. Some didn’t find this angle of the season interesting, I do because while I’m a sceptic I would LOVE if aliens/things not of this world were actually real. Plus, the Nazi-alien dynamic is something we’ve not got a lot of good instances of in film or television. Ryan Murphy and the writers solve that.
Oh, Leigh Emerson is still trying to be saved by the Lord. He tells Monsignor Howard he wants redemption. In a ceremony with only the two in attendance, the Monsignor offers him a baptism in the name of Christ. Everything goes wonderfully, as Leigh is dunked back into the water, given new life in the arms of the church and God alike.
But, yes, you guessed it – Leigh’s got some better, more nasty ideas. He and the Monsignor have a little wrestle in the water, the latter getting his own dunk now and held under. Leigh obviously doesn’t care, as I thought, about religion. He simply wants to give Howard more of the terror which he is SO GOOD at handing down. The unfortunate man ends up crucified right up on the cross like Jesus, living yet barely hanging on.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-29-34-pmWhen Lana goes down to kill Oliver, seems Dr. Bloody Face has escaped his ties. Turns out the devilish Sister Mary Eunice let him out. WHOA! Satan really plays hardball. No doubt.
Creepiest scene goes to the one between these two, as Mary puts her hand against Lana’s stomach and feels the STILL BEATING HEART of the Bloody Face child beginning to grow inside her. What a brutal shock for Lana and the audience! Doesn’t surprise me the devil can do that, but it’s a rough way for Lana to find out because it must be confusing; she has no idea Satan is creeping around inside the young, delicate nun.
Saddest scene has to be when Sister Jude shows up in the recreation room, as Lana watches her shuffle in. I just feel beyond terribly for Jude, though, she seems to feel awful about what she did to Lana, admitting nothing that was done to her wasn’t something she didn’t do in her time as head of Briarcliff. And while Lana does have her fair share of anger for Jude, they do have a bit of an understanding.
Lots of changing relationships here in this episode, which I find awesome! Switches things up in a fun way, as we can see now Lana and Jude are becoming friendlier with Jude understanding life as a patient/prisoner there at Briarcliff.
Back to Arden and Kit. The doctor plans to essentially kill Kit, then revive him with adrenaline and a sharp punch to the chest, all in order to try and bring the aliens down to save the young man. Each with their own worries and apprehensions, the experiment begins. VERY COOL AND CREPY MOMENTS! Love how the alien scenes are shot, it stays consistent throughout the various directors of Season 2; another reason this is a series that has a great overall layout and vision.
Another thing I don’t mention enough is the camerawork, in the sense of how I love the way American Horror Story has this ominous and unsettling cinematography in tons of scenes using low and high angles. It throws us off, unsettles, as well as forebodes with the skewed framing at both low/high angles and creates this very cool, unique effect other shows do not use. Amazing horror technique, in my opinion.
GRACE IS BACK! Pepper (Naomi Grossman) has also returned, having disappeared awhile back under the radar. Turns out, Grace is also pregnant and Pepper somehow talks perfectly. THE ALIENS – THEY’VE RETURNED!
Wow. This part blew me away, I was never expecting this at all. Can’t wait for more of this next episode.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-30-03-pmAnother great one, a favourite of mine in this season. Next up is “The Name Game” directed again by Michael Lehmann who last directed “Unholy Night”.
Stay tuned for more madness, aliens, horror, blood, and SAVAGERY!

American Horror Story – Asylum, Episode 8: “Unholy Night”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 2, Episode 8
: “Unholy Night”
Directed by Michael Lehmann (Tyrant, Dexter, Big Love, The Larry Sanders Show)
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the next episode “The Coat Hanger” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Dark Cousin” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-21-18-pmOne of my favourite of ALL-TIME opening scenes on this show comes in “Unholy Night”.
Starting out on a snowy Christmas eve in 1962, a Salvation Army Santa is out front of a store collecting donations, ringing the bell. All of a sudden, Leigh Emerson (Ian McShane) shows up. He shoots Santa.
Cut to Leigh, dressed up in the suit, playing with a train set in a family’s living room. A little girl meets him there, as he plays friendly; though, there’s a tell-tale stain of blood down the front of his white trimmed red coat.
The most terrifying wake up ever? Santa Leigh has the little girl bring him up to mom and dad, greeting them for an early Christmas. Downstairs he ties the mother and father up, taunting them terribly. An awfully terrifying scene as McShane just goes SAVAGE, mostly with his words. All before putting a bullet in the scared and pleading couple.
I love, love, love Ian McShane. He’s great in everything, especially on Deadwood as the surly saloon owner Al Swearengen. Here he plays a downright unsettling, shocking character who’s good for every last second he winds up in the frame.screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-21-34-pmSister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) changes the rules now that Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) has been dismissed. It seems Christmas is back at Briarcliff. She has all the inmates line-up, improvising ornaments for the tree; quite a macabre yet funny scene.
Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) is having a bit of a hard time quelling his feelings for the devilish yet oh-so-innocent Sister Mary Eunice; something that’s been apparent from the start. Perhaps it’s because Arden has a fetish, maybe it’s something he’d rather subject the darling nun to because he feels something for her.
At the same time, Frank McCann (Fredric Lehne) is mourning the death of Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré), one which he caused inadvertently when she jumped in front of a bullet meant for Kit Walker (Evan Peters).
Loving the first big confrontation between Sister Jude and the devil inside Sister Mary Eunice. She sneaks up behind the demon, putting a blade to the young nun’s throat. But before much else happens between them, Arden shows up. They have Jude escorted, however, there’s no doubt each of them have their own ideas about the problem now presenting itself. Arden warns not to underestimate the older Sister Jude.
Now Sister Mary Eunice goes to see Emerson in his cell; he’s now an older, bearded, lost soul in the darkness. At the same time, a flashback comes from 1963 during a Christmas event at Briarcliff. Leigh causes a bit of trouble for Sister Jude. When a photographer comes in to do some pictures, Leigh takes his chance and bites off an orderly’s face; or, parts of it.
In present day, the devil in Sister Mary presents Leigh a Santa costume. She knows all about him – how he’d been jailed for stealing a loaf of bread, there on Christmas five men, the jailers, raped him. This is what precipitated his Santa-centric killings. She wants Leigh to put the costume back on, have a little fun on that special day near the year’s end.
What’s in store is sinister.


A particularly grim scene between Dr. Arden and Sister Mary Eunice, which I can’t get enough of. He gives her a pair of ruby earrings belonging to a “jewess“, as he puts it. She would hide them, swallowing each one every day so they would not be stolen by the Nazis in the camps. Eventually she died, Arden retrieved them. He says that Sister Mary Eunice is worthy of their beauty.
Sweet? Strange? All of it?
Arden was in fact hoping for “a glimmer of that precious girl.” But the devil in Mary has no time for his sweet, saccharine lovey-dovey bullshit. In so many words, she tells the doctor to get moving or get out of the way.
Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) is a trusted friend of Sister Jude. She’s not sure what to do to help, however, she is always there. Jude seems a little more clear, while certainly a bit revved up and panicked, but we know she has SEEN the devil, she knows where the devil resides. Luckily the passion in Jude convinces Mother Superior to help her.
Then out of nowhere, Arden shows up at the church where Jude is meeting Claudia. What we’re seeing is a plan slipping into action: Arden is convincing Jude to come back and help with Sister Mary Eunice, and while it seems he wishes to make amends, a little anyways, there’s no trusting a former Nazi doctor out of Auschwitz.
Back at Briarcliff, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) praises Mary Eunice for having the innovation to dress the Christmas tree with impromptu decorations. Leigh is dressed up, full Santa, whispering naughty nothings into another inmate’s ear. Even Dr. Arden seems to be having a slightly decent time.
Will it last? And for how long?
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-23-22-pmKit is having dreams of Grace and Alma (Britne Oldford), their faces interchanging between one another in his head. He’s asleep in a bed at the asylum. Next to him – Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), who finds herself adjusting once more to life back inside the horrid walls of Briarcliff Asylum. She talks to Kit as he sleeps, finally coming to understand his true situation after Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) revealed himself to be Bloody Face.
I find this part super interesting because there’s a new dynamic between Kit and Lana. She knows for sure what Thredson did and she’s prepared to fight. Luckily for Kit, Lana is a true survivor. However, soon enough she’s got to deal with more than simply being back at Briarcliff.
Oliver shows up again, without the Bloody Face mask. Uh oh!
Disturbing as his character may be, I do think Arden is one of the most interesting to me.
He’s letting Sister Jude in incognito, via the bakery. She tells him to bring Mary to her office and lock the door. Jude believes she and Arden are in cahoots.
Is this really the case? I feel as if not.
Upstairs in the recreation room, Frank McCann places the star atop the Christmas tree, but Leigh tosses him off the ladder attacking him with an ornament. McCann lays into Emerson a little and then goes to haul him off to solitary; clearly the Santa suit was not a good idea. Maybe it wasn’t… for anyone else except Arden and Mary Eunice.
Because while Frank brings the nasty Santa down to a solitary cell, Sister Mary cuts the guard’s throat while Leigh looks on with a laugh and a smile.


It’s all led to here – Jude is put in a room alone with Leigh, Santa suit to boot. He says he’s there to “open his present.” IT WAS ALL A PLOY! As I knew it, Arden merely wanted to show how he was on the devil’s side, for the that sassy demon inside the young nun.
Absolutely creepy, chilling scene between Ian McShane and Jessica Lange. Two world class actors showing off their chops. It’s a disturbing scene, as we’re sort of waiting to see what exactly is going to happen. This made me truly worry for Sister Jude – watching on in horror wondering what Leigh Emerson would do to her.
Paralleled with their confrontation, Oliver tells Lana all about how he scoured his home for any evidence, making sure it was all gone; he ‘killed’ Bloody Face, so to speak. This is another tense, suspenseful moment. There’s these two tough women in peril and I honestly could not tell what would happen next. Great writing and execution to have these scenes playing back to back!
Though I give a good scan of everything happening, I’ll leave these NASTY TASTY LITTLE BITS for you to watch on your own.
Needless to say, though, the last ten minutes of this episode are pretty damn incredible. One truly excellent and bloody moment comes quick during the scene with Lange/McShane; gnarly!
Dr. Arden finds himself in the path of the alien creatures which have visited both Kit and Grace. All of a sudden, as he brings Grace through the tunnels below, they come and take Grace into the thin air, vanishing. This is going to be something to watch closely because I love how they’re including the Nazi doctor in with the alien subplot; anyone who knows anything about Hitler and the Nazis knows they were into some weird stuff, so Arden is bound to be very intrigued, wanting to find out all he can about these creatures. Kit will play more and more into this now, especially seeing as how Grave has disappeared without a trace and the doctor will need someone in order to find out more about them.
screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-3-24-44-pmThe next episode, “The Coat Hanger” directed by Jeremy Podeswa (True Detective Season 2’s “Down Will Come”, The Pacific, The Walking Dead, The Borgias), is one of my favourites from this season, as well. Very brutal and macabre and extremely fun in a horror type way!
Stay tuned, horror fiends. Come along for the ride.