“American Horror Story” returned Nov. 28 with the aptly-named episode “Dark Cousin.”
Three key players, Lana (Sarah Paulson), Kit (Evan Peters) and Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) seem to hit rock bottom in this hour long evil excursion. Usually when this happens to a character, things start to turn around and there is some sort of upward climb.
However, this is “American Horror Story,” the reigning groundbreaker on defining and delivering darkness on television. There are still two viable outcomes for each of these characters: They will withstand the forces of evil and overcome or they will eventually succumb to madness and/or death.
This eerie and other-worldly focused episode is jam-packed with surprises and ultimately begs the question: What kind of horror is so hard to endure that death becomes an alluring alternative?
AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy hinted in a Nov. 29 “EW” interview that Lana, if anyone, might at least have a shot at a positive outcome. He said, “I didn’t wanna do something that was just so awful and then there’s your bad ending. There are many characters in the show and most of them don’t survive. But I thought the Lana story was really about the power of the spirit to survive any and all horrors.”
This doesn’t offer Lana’s ironclad survival, but, seems hopeful. What about the “most of them don’t survive” part? We can’t say we wouldn’t be sad to see Arden or Thredson go. What about Kit and Sister Jude? Are they going to live through their horror just long enough to die?
Grace’s Mysterious Misfortune
Grace is sick and hovers near death. A furious Sister Mary Eunice confronts Arden, saying that his botched sterilization on Grace is going to draw too much attention.
Arden denies operating on her and they trade insults until Arden slaps Eunice in the face. Uh oh.
Demon Eunice sends Arden airborne and he crashes against the wall and drops to the ground. Okay, we don’t want to cheer for Satan – but, Arden certainly deserves this – and much more!
Grace sees a very lovely Frances Conroy as the Angel of Death. But, Arden decides her time has not yet come and saves Grace’s life to save himself.
Who cut Grace up like that, then? Did she really have an alien encounter or was it Thredson or Mary Eunice, trying to frame Arden?
Plus, Demon Eunice has a very compelling standoff with the dark angel. The devil seems somewhat afraid of her and tries to deny the angel’s claim that he’s “a fallen cousin.” Of course, Satan is the ultimate master of deception.
Lily Rabe and Frances Conroy are truly fascinating to watch in this supernatural battle of wits. They wholly transform into these two “entities” and it’s very eerie to watch. Round one, it seems, goes to the dark angel.
Lana Goes to H**l and Back
The cut to Thredson (Zachary Quinto) grinding away on a helpless Lana is probably the most desperate scene so far this season. And, Sarah Paulson, once again, is brilliant in conveying Lana’s utter despair and despondency.
It’s almost as if Lana tries to make herself numb or exist outside her own body as Thredson relentlessly carries on his assault. The anguish on her face is so heartbreaking and raw.
The dark angel appears and a weakened Lana tells her she’s not ready to go.
Then, surprise! Thredson apologizes to Lana and we almost think he regrets taking her. But, heavens no! He’s just trying to figure out how to “end her” without hurting her. He offers a choice between slitting her throat or strangling her – with a bonus injection to “put her out” so she won’t feeling anything.
Who else cheered when Lana manages to overpower her creepy captor and inflict some serious pain? Yay Lana! Almost…
Its non-stop nail-biting tension as she flees the house and runs down the road and then almost gets killed by the first car she sees. She gets into the car and we realize right away that something’s not right with the guy, as he rants on about terrible women and how his wife betrayed him.
Why, oh why, Lana are you such a freak magnet?
We’re totally shocked when he pulls out a gun. The dark angel appears again in the back seat and Lana begs for her life – not now – not after everything she’s endured. The guy shoots himself which causes a car crash.
Our hearts sink when Lana wakes up back at Briarcliff, confined once again. She tells Demon Mary Eunice that Thredson is Bloody Face and begs her to call the police. Eunice consoles her, but ends up telling Frank Lana’s “very confused…”
A flashback ala Mary Eunice reveals the possessed boy Jed complimenting Thredson on his great work as Bloody Face. So, we know that the devil knows the truth and it’s just soooo creepy!
What is Thredson going to do to Lana next? We know in the preview he comes to see her in Briarcliff. He’s obviously got to keep her from exposing his secret and his tactics most definitely will not be pretty.
Ryan Murphy addresses the issue in the same “EW” interview, saying, “The question in the next episode is what happens to Thredson and obviously he has to shut Lana up because she holds the keys to the kingdom.”
Other Big Surprises
This episode delivers some other really big surprising twists.
First, Kit escapes custody and returns to Briarcliff to save Grace. Only, a Rasper follows Kit through the death chute and attacks them, just as they start to leave. Kit stabs him and he drops to the ground.
A security guard sees this and shoots at Kit but hits Grace instead. The Angel of Death returns and seals Grace’s death with a kiss. Goodbye Grace, parting truly is such sweet sorrow…
Next, Sister Jude contemplates suicide. The Angel of Death appears and they have a serious conversation about Jude’s life and her faith and where it all went wrong. Jessica Lange shines as Jude ultimately “stares death in the face.” She decides she’s ready to go, but there’s one more thing she has to do…
The final shocker comes when Sister Jude goes to make peace with the family of the little girl that she hit. It turns out the girl lived through the accident. Jude meets her and along with her shock and surprise, the guilt of being a “murderer” visibly falls away. She didn’t kill anyone! This feels like a huge victory for Jude. But, will it ultimately be too little, too late?
By the looks of the preview for next week, Sister Jude returns to Briarcliff. She’s most likely gearing up for battle with Mary Eunice, now that she knows she killed the investigator.
What a riveting showdown this will be! Can Jude (or anyone) stand up to the devil and win? Plus, what will Kit do now that Grace is dead? Will Lana be his ticket to freedom? Or, will his connection to her merely lead to his death?
“American Horror Story” airs Wednesdays at 10 PM ET on FX.