'American Horror Story': We all go a little mad
Flashback-heavy 'The Origins of Monstrosity' gets its psycho-semantics on
By Kenny Herzog Nov 21, 2012 10:09PM
Last week, we witnessed the end result of unchecked evil. Poor, mutated Shelley was disposed of down a grade-school stairwell, while Dr. Thredson introduced unsuspecting Lana to his super-awesome serial-killer hideout, where her dead and frozen girlfriend was waiting to be unveiled. Good times.
Tonight, we were offered glimpses of just how psychopaths like Doctors Arden and Thredson (interesting that both are medical professionals) transgress from someone's sweet little boy or girl into an unfeeling, merciless sadist. And, for good measure, a kid killer who seems to operate on pure id enters Briarcliff's walls, providing yet one more reason to lament God's will.
Bing: "American Horror Story: Asylum|Joseph Fiennes
So, without further, "Time to hold feisty journalists captive as surrogate mothers and breastfeed on them while they're shackled to a bed in my torture chamber," here's the five things we learned after absorbing "The Origins of Monstrosity":
HITCHCOCK AND YOU DON'T STOP
The insinuation of Dr. Thredson's Anthony Bates-ian backstory is aptly timed. Hollywood's been psycho for "Psycho" homages this season, notably HBO's "The Girl" and upcoming theatrical flick, "Hitchcock" (not to be confused with Will Smith's slacker-superhero blockbuster "Hancock"). It's also no coincidence that on "Asylum," Kit's possibly alien-impregnated wife is named Alma, same as Alfred Hitchock's real-life spouse. Of course, Dr. Thredson is an entirely different composite beast than momma's boy Bates altogether. As played with giddy intensity by Zachary Quinto (continued kudos for throwing us with the bookworm head-shrinker routine in early episodes), Oliver also invokes Ed Gein's lust for skin and bones, not to mention the lady-snatching, deceptively charming guile of a young Ted Bundy. But the meat of Thredon's character, a la Anthony Bates, comes from his obsessive desire for maternal affection, something we desire prenatally and never quite can do without. Like good students, the "AHS" creatives looked to their genre's master for foundation.
OH, SO THE MONSIGNOR'S JUST A COWARD
It's difficult to surmise whether Monsignor Timothy is intended to represent a Catholic Church that, historically, failed to properly resist at least one major 20th century atrocity. In a flashback, we see Dr. Arden (then head of Briarcliff's tuberculosis ward) persuading gullible, do-gooder Timothy toward the virtues of his experiments. He even angrily cites the Pope's inaction toward Nazi crimes as proof of a double standard, completely indignant when Monsignor bristles at his logic. Yet, Timothy relents, foolishly accepting Arden's paranoid-delusional rationale about creating a better species of human in event of nuclear destruction. Of course, all Dr. Insane in the Membrane wanted was a nice, clean place to continue his ritualistic torture, uninterrupted. By the time Timothy sees Shelley's condition in a local hospital and wakens to his atrocities, it's too late. He's made his pact with Satan incarnate, and that's some binding stuff.
WE CAN LIVE WITH OR WITHOUT KIT AND GRACE
Chances are, Briarcliff's answer to Mickey and Mallory are both cuckoo for caraway seeds. You also get the sense that Kit might be vindicated (Dr. Thredson wouldn't exactly hold up well on the stand, given his hissyfit on the phone with a furious Kit), and will be free to pursue whatever intergalactic tryst he desires with Grace, Alma and assorted outer-planetary extras from "Fire in the Sky." But if we're being honest (and hey, what the heck?), Evan Peters and his aw-shucks New England accent, coupled with his humdrum courtship of Grace, are this "AHS" chapter's least compelling ingredients. So far at least. There's plenty of season to go, and the small matter of that basement-dwelling creature Sister Jude may or may not have encountered in her wasted state.
PRESENT-DAY BLOODY FACE AIN'T PLAYIN'
The local PD investigating 2012 Bloody Face's slaughtering spree have their hands full. Specifically, of bodies hung from several feet high, leaking blood but concealing any info on BF's whereabouts. What they do know is one-armed Leo's bride, Teresa, is likely still alive, as her body's nowhere to be body-bagged. Flash to Bloody Face, lithe and clad in leather, hovering over a terrified Teresa, who's strapped to an operating table in a dingy room not even Dexter would use as a kill space. Here's the thing: The detectives confirmed Leo and three additional bodies, all of which they suspected as teen Bloody Face impostors. But, counting Leo and his lady, the pair of copycats who assaulted them and the still-stalking maniac readying to carve Teresa up like a Thanksgiving fowl, that makes five total known individuals inhabiting Briarcliff at the time. The cops' tally makes six. Wethinks Mr. Dead Skin Mask isn't slaying solo. Maybe one of those supposed corpses lowered from the second floor will turn out not to be postmortem? Or, perhaps, any further speculation is premature.
THE DEVIL SUPPORTS GIRL-POWER
What timing for the "Asylum" braintrust yet again. Just weeks after Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me" was transformed into a pro-Obama, neo-feminist election anthem, Sister Mary Satan Eunice celebrates Jude's dismissal by slipping on some of her red lingerie and performing an abbreviated burlesque singalong with the iconic tune. Only difference is she was directing her pronouncement of independence at Jesus via a hanging cross on Jude's wall. And, granted, her advice to kiddie murderess Jenny about following her impish instincts was probably more corrupting than empowering. But one way or the other, this Satanic sister is pulling all the strings at Briarcliff, and she's doin' it for herself.