Seems that every episode of “American Horror Story: Asylum” will leave fans with new questions, and last night’s episode 6, “The Origins of Monstrosity,” was no exception. Monsignor Howard (Joseph Fiennes) recognizes Shelley (Chloë Sevigny) when he’s called into a hospital to perform last rites on a tuberculosis patient, an amazing feat since she was virtually unrecognizable. He determines her state, with legs amputated and face covered with sores, as the handiwork of Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) and promptly strangles her with his rosary to cover up his hospital’s misdoings. He then confronts Arden and threatens to expose his abominable experiments.
Flashback two years prior shows the origins of the alliance between the two, with Howard sanctioning Arden’s work as a means to achieve fame and power. Arden then shows Howard his latest victim, Spivey (Mark Consuelos), threatens Howard with uncovering some yet unknown dark secrets about him, and convinces him to dispose of their shared nemesis Sister Jude (Jessica Lange).
With homages in prior episodes to “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Stepford Wives,” and “The Exorcist,” among others, last night’s episode nods to evil child movies like “The Omen,” “The Other” and “The Good Son,” but most especially “The Bad Seed.” A mother dumps her daughter at Briarcliff because her daughter stabbed her only friend to death with a pair of scissors. Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) bonds with the girl while revealing the origins of her own monstrosity as the girl always abused by her peers. Evidently, Mary Eunice releases the girl as a later scene shows she’s killed her entire family.
In the meantime, Sam (Mark Margolis) calls Jude to confirm her suspicions about Arden’s past and entreats her to get his fingerprints. While Jude congratulates Arden on his victory in effecting her transfer, thus getting his prints on a glass, Mary Eunice, having learned of Jude’s impending dismissal, then beats Jude to Sam, kills him, and confiscates his evidence against Arden. When Mary Eunice tells Arden, he becomes suspicious of her motives, and, indeed, what she has in mind remains a big question that no doubt will have a big answer in upcoming episodes.
While other origins are examined, at the heart of the episode’s title lie Thredson’s (Zachary Quinto) admissions to Lana (Sarah Paulson) that his obsession with skin (and skinning his victims) stems from his deprivation of physical contact while growing up. Seems ace reporter Lana never took Psych 101, allowing the doctor to explain to her (and the audience) about Dr. Harlow’s experiments, which showed monkeys preferred a fake monkey mother covered in cloth to a wire mesh one that contained food. Seems he wants Lana to be his mommy.
Thredson tells Lana she’s special and thus he desires to keep her rather than kill her. But after receiving a call from Kit (Evan Peters) deriding Thredson for his misuse and trickery, Thredson discovers Lana’s attempts to escape. He’s then ready to give up his prize and dons his Bloody Face – which, seen up close, even given the gamut of disgusting things seen previously, proves an amazing achievement in monstrosity. Just before he slices her, Lana cunningly appeals to his immense need for contact and talks him down, ensuring her life, at least until the next episode.
The episode began with what clearly sounds like Thredson’s voice, in the present day, calling police to clean up the mess at Briarcliff, where they find the bodies of the copycats strung up, for which Thredson takes credit. He denies having killed Leo (Adam Levine), however, and as the police search for Leo’s bride, viewers see Bloody Face over a bound Teresa (Jenna Dewan), her fate suspended, at least until next Wednesday night when episode 7, Dark Cousin, shows on FX at 10 p.m. Eastern. The attached trailer shows Mary Eunice indeed possesses otherworldly powers, but her plans may be foiled with the appearance of the Dark Angel (Frances Conroy).