There's nothing like having the tables turn on you from a power position to one of servitude and imprisonment in TV drama twist land.
Poor Sister Jude / Judy Martin (Jessica Lange), correct in all her summations of the sorry state of Briarcliff, but bested by a devil in nun's habit. Lange endured the unthinkable last night.
Ryan Murphy's visual jewel "American Horror Story" combined a surreal dance fantasy montage to the famous American ditty "The Name Game" as we witness our Jessica Lange blanked out by a near lethal jolt of Electric Shock Therapy thanks to her underling Sister Mary Eunice, possessed by Satan. Dr. Arden turns his back on the devil and the devil socked it to Jude by cranking the RPM's on the EST machine to over 100, despite Arden saying to keep it no higher than 50.
"The Name Game" was one of the best episodes of the season, and between the musical number by Jessica Lange and the self-cremation scene with Dr. Arden and the gorgeously lensed Sister Eunice fall to her death, the artistry behind the camera (DP, set and production design, wardrobe, makeup, hair, editing) along with the performances earns this series high marks for overall exceptionalism.
There are but three episodes left in this Massachusetts 1960s to modern day Gothic, as we say goodbye to Sister Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden.
A moment for actor James Cromwel.
This is the thespian who took us from the loving "Babe" farmer to the corrupt chief cop in "L.A. Confidential," and who turned out an imperious Andrew Mellon on the last "Boardwalk Empire" this year, putting Nucky in the catbird seat.
His Dr. Arden, a plant loving Nazi in hiding with heavy female issues, was the turnkey character that made this series keep all four of it's crazy tires on the tarmac. A season of aliens to Exorcism, lesbians in hiding to serial murderers, it's been a bumpy ride.
Arden takes Sister Eunice's devil seduction of the naive Monsignor to heart, it wounds his soul to see them in flagrante delicto. He will end his misery like his creatures in the forest, by killing himself in a fiery show. Arden lays on top of the dead nun, a women he objectified as a beacon of purity, and the conveyor belt takes them both into the oven. Cut to the screams of his character burning alive, a bit of penance perhaps for the Jews he tortured and murdered in Germany.
After the physical seduction, the devil inside Sister Mary Eunice does her best to cleave the Monsignor to her playing on his pride and ego but he fights. The devil has had it and tells Fiennes' Monsignor: "I'm done with you and with your sweet nun. I'm about to devour every last morsel of her soul!"
The Monsignor is given a moment of clarity and luck as he pivoted and symbolically throws our fallen angel over the stairwell in a stunning lensed shot as the devil/angel peacefully plummets face up to her death. Kudos to all for getting that shot.
The star of this episode however is our lioness, Jessica Lange, and her inserted reverie performance of "The Name Game." Th rollicking joy was shared in fantasy dance by all the lost, nameless souls of Briarcliff who of course, have relinquished their identity and are mere numbers in beds.
Also the "plucky" Sarah Paulson (Lana) and Evan Peters (Kit) in scene with the brilliant Zachary Quinto (Bloody Face/Thredson) was taught and a great scene to savor. Quinto is a restrained and uber smart actor who has us at the edge of our seats with his tenacious survival skills.
We also get Pepper back in full force this episode, the pinhead sentenced to Briarcliff for killing a baby, now serving as ersatz mid-wife to Kit and Grace's alien baby.
"The Name Game" reunited Kit and Grace, despite Arden "killing" him at the end of the last episode so that the aliens would come (and they did). Thredson, thanks to the devil is now a full-time doctor at Briarcliff, finds our Grace in labor.
Thredson now is in the enviable position as the lead villain. The aliens and the Arden cannibal creatures are no longer in the forefront of the story (although the aliens may be in the new baby) Jude's broken mind is still reeling as her fantasy of marrying the Monsignor in the Vatican has the Mother Superior a bit concerned.
There was a lot of subtext in this episode and I am still processing. What say you all? Are we done with the devil? What about Lana's doomed baby boy? Chime in...
"American Horror Story: Asylum" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.