American Horror Story Episode 11: “Spilt Milk”
Written by: Brad Falchuk
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Original Airdate: 9 January 2012
This week’s episode of American Horror Story is the triumph of Lana and definitely the most visually interesting yet. Thanks to Sister Jude confessing to wrongly imprisoning Lana, she is released from the asylum with the help of Mother Claudia, a nun who wants to close Briarcliff. Cue the tensest scene the show has ever produced.
Each episode the cinematography and execution of scenes gets stronger and the scene that stood out most this week was Lana’s escape. Coming down the stairs in not the best disguise, Lana rises to the challenge of sneaking past Dr. Thredson and Kit at the bottom of the stairs. Halfway down the stairs, Kit notices her in “disguise”, and in possibly the tensest split screen ever the audience are left lingering for seconds waiting to see what Kit will do. Successfully exiting before Thredson notices, she gets into a waiting cab with all the evidence she could possibly need sending Thredson her regards after he chases after her (best moment from the entire episode).
After turning in the evidence from the police, she meets Bloody Face at his home and informs him of what is going to happen in another brilliantly tense scene. As he is talking to her and making himself drinks, Lana watches him closely, never taking her off of him. Even after he reveals he raped her dead lover and chopped her up, Lana stays strong and the audience fears for her life throughout. This scene also includes multiple time-jumping cuts to add to the tension and creepiness, another brilliant editing technique American Horror Story have employed. Just before the scene’s climax, Thredson informs her that instead of getting the chair, he will go to Briarcliff, as he is “clearly insane”. Finally Lana gets her revenge in what is the second most satisfying scene from this episode.
As a show that is notorious for insanity and repulsiveness, this week’s episode seemed tame in comparison to the previous episodes, last weeks in particular. The twists and turns were easier to follow and seemed strangely serious though the episode did have its moments (the brilliant Dylan McDermott as a modern day Bloodyface with his creepy mother issues). The straightforwardness of the plot allows more focus on the breathtaking cinematography that can be seen throughout this episode adding to its dreamlike (or nightmarish) quality.
There are a number of clever edits and tricks featured in this episode such as an extravagant tracking shot of the inmates to heavy use of fisheye.
Usually too much fisheye is a bad thing but in American Horror Story this is certainly not the case. It works very well as it adds to the tension and is crazy and disorienting much like the show. Though the alien storyline is not the strongest or most interesting, it should be noted that they are always very well done. With much brighter lighting and more disorienting editing techniques used it is clear that this is separated from the warped reality.
With a strong Candyman theme in this week’s episode, the music is repeated often to great effect and there is noticeable link between Lana and character Helen from the film. Both share a similar goal, as they are both set out to write statement papers, chasing after something dangerous.
There is still the question of the demon – did it leave Sister Mary Eunice and enter someone else? The beauty of American Horror Story is with all their seasons being different ‘stories’ anything could happen and this is what makes it such an addictive, terrifying and engaging television show.
It was also revealed this episode that Jude is still alive, locked away somewhere when the monsignor lied about her suicide (?!) and now Kit has two newborns, it will be interesting to see where they will go next.
With only two more episodes left, fans are speculating theories behind plots, what is going to happen next and what’s in store for season 3.
– Tara Costello