American Horror Story Episode 10: “The Name Game”
Written by: Jessica Sharzer
Directed by: Michael Lehmann
Original Airdate: 2 January 2012
This week’s episode of American Horror Story was easily the best yet. It had it all from pregnancy, a failed exorcism, a raping, multiple deaths and even a musical number. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk kicked off the New Year with a number of mind-blowing plot twists.
With Sister Jude now imprisoned in the asylum that she ran, a plot twist horror buffs will appreciate (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari there was also a Psycho reference in the previous episode too) Sister Mary Eunice is able to torture her. Upon finding a cucumber in her room, Sister Mary Eunice decides her punishment will be a heavy dose of electro-shock therapy.
This leaves Jude in a haze, finally feeling sorry for her; Lana approaches her and asks if she knows her own name. The audience are then treated to a twisted rendition of “The Name Game” like an even creepier version of Glee. Only twenty minutes into the episode, this definitely throws the audience off. At first it feels like instead of getting Jessica Lange for a guest spot on Glee, creator Ryan Murphy brought Glee to American Horror Story. It’s random and lengthy but then it cleverly cuts back to the exact shot of Lana that occurred before Jude broke out into song. Once the audience is thrown back into the warped reality of Briarcliff, then they can appreciate what they have just seen. The purpose of the scene is debatable but it is still very well done, the cinematography and choice of costume is spot on as always, it is amusing, unexpected and most importantly it is engaging.
Before this sequence we see the monsignor, who didn’t die on the cross, visited by the Angel of Death. In a hauntingly beautiful scene she tells him the Devil lives at Briarcliff in the form of Sister Mary Eunice. Whilst she changes the dressings on his hands, he attempts to free her from the devil by performing an exorcism. She pushes him away almost immediately and begins to mock him with dirty limericks, and tempting him making both him and the audience highly uncomfortable. She eventually takes off her habit and rapes the poor, virgin monsignor. American Horror Story has this way of constructing scenes that are usually of uncomfortable nature but are impossible not to watch. The power of the claustrophobic shots, quick cuts and the way they make the audience feel trapped really is what makes it amazing television. It often toys with your values and makes you question why you’re watching it but you of course continue to watch it.
After this traumatic event, the monsignor has a private moment with a very weak Jude in the bakery. He apologises to her and admits Sister Mary Eunice is possessed but pleads she is too strong and states he has failed to exorcise her. Struggling to knead the bread, Jude finally speaks, two powerful words: “Kill her.”
With a stronger determination against Sister Mary Eunice, the monsignor can now see through her teasing and believes the purity is still alive and resides in her somewhere. In an emotional breakdown, the demon allows her to reveal herself. Apologising, she embraces him and he pushes her over the banister. In a superb slow-motion shot we see her fall from three stories high. My favourite part of this episode is when the Angel of Death kisses her, promising to “take both of them.”
Against the monsignor’s wishes, Sister Mary Eunice is cremated, with Arden insisting on cremating her alone. The audience is set up to believe she will either wake up or maybe Arden is a necrophiliac, thankfully he isn’t and just sends himself into the fire too.
If Arden and Eunice are gone, the show is left with Dr. Thredson as its primary villain, but with the majority of his storyline revealed he’s not that interesting anymore. With the majority of the other story lines and mysteries revealed all we are left with is the weird, alien storyline which is the least interesting.
With the season’s breakout character dead(?), and with a Bloody Face junior thrown into the mix, it’s natural to be skeptical about the rest of the season and where the writers will go with it.
Is Grace having an alien baby? Is it her baby who actually grows up to be Bloody Face?
Here’s to hoping the remaining three episodes do not disappoint.
– Tara Costello