‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Episode 8 – A Little Terror Under the Tree

Published 2 years ago by , Updated December 6th, 2012 at 6:08 am,

Joseph Fiennes and Lily Rabe in American Horror Story Asylum in Unholy Night American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 8 – A Little Terror Under the Tree

With any luck, Ian McShane (Deadwood) will have enjoyed his time on American Horror Story: Asylum enough that his dance card won’t fill up to the degree he can’t take part in the as-yet undisclosed lunacy of season 3.

While AHS has enjoyed the presence of other guest stars during the course of its two seasons, none have so gleefully bought into the madness, and enhanced the proceedings quite like the man who made ol’ Al Swearengen such an iconic piece of television history.

At any rate, it’s time to celebrate Christmas at Briarcliff, and, as you’d expect, ‘Unholy Night’ gets off to a typically dark start and just gets darker from there. We begin with a glimpse into McShane’s violent, holiday-themed obsession, which sees him murder some poor schlub dressed in a Santa outfit taking donations. The guy’s only there to get out of the house and avoid his wife, so while he’s free with the Santa-like advice to a pint-sized Davy Crockett wannabe, soon-to-be-dead-Santa isn’t too keen on McShane’s criticism of the “win-win” racket St. Nick’s got going on. He’s also not around long enough to offer much of a counterattack.

Homicidal Kriss Kringle then makes his way into a suburban home, explaining to an inquisitive little girl that Rudolph had messed up Santa’s itinerary – which is why he’s hanging out under the tree several days before Christmas. All told, Santa murders 18 people in their homes, and earns himself a one-way ticket to Briarcliff.

As much as ‘I Am Anne Frank’ cleverly managed to deconstruct the basic set up of Asylum, at the expense of the last two episodes –’The Origins of Monstrosity‘ more so than ‘Dark Cousin‘ – things have essentially returned to normal. Of course, Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) is still dead from the gunshot wound inflicted by a very repentant and mournful Frank (Fredric Lehne), and Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) has been cast out of the sanitarium by the devilish Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) and Dr. Arden (James Cromwell). So by ‘normal,’ I mean the action is once more centered inside the walls of Briarcliff.

Lily Rabe and Ian McShane in American Horror Story Asylum Unholy Night American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 8 – A Little Terror Under the Tree

But this Christmas romp is also a return to form after Asylum took a short break to get things lined up for the final push toward the end of the season, and what we can only imagine is also the end of the Briarcliff storyline. While it lacks the more artistic nuances or cohesiveness of ‘I Am Anne Frank,’ ‘Unholy Night’ makes up for it with a swiftly moving plot that manages to expose more of Dr. Arden’s twisted past, while acknowledging that everybody is pretty well aware that pure evil is using Sister Mary Eunice as a vessel for general mischief and a whimsical misappropriation of Briarcliff’s facilities. It’s very nearly a random entry in a series that has frequently been filled with them, but somehow, this episode manages to bring most of the major plot points together for the next installment. Besides, it’s a Christmas episode; everybody goes a little crazy over the holidays.

Who knows what the endgame is, but hopefully it’ll involve Frances Conroy and a whole bunch of aliens (who’ve taken Grace’s body, by the way) storming Briarcliff, while Dylan McDermott reveals his character to be the vengeful son of Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis)…or something like that.

Ian McShane in American Horror Story Asylum Unholy Night American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 8 – A Little Terror Under the Tree

Various other items:

  • Sister Jude’s rant about the devil orchestrating society’s decay through things like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sounds a bit like another television-centric rant that’s been in the news lately.
  • So, Lana (Sarah Paulson) and Kit (Evan Peters) have Dr. Thredson/Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto) right where they want him and they decide to lock him in a storage closet. For once, the reasoning behind such a thing sounds somewhat reasonable.
  • The look on McShane’s face when the cabinet of caning rods opens before him is absolutely priceless.
  • “I can’t be babysitting a deranged nun all day.” Dr. Arden is a busy man, Sister Jude.

American Horror Story: Asylum continues next Wednesday with ‘The Coat Hanger’ @10pm on FX. You can take a look at the episode below:

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  1. Is it weird that after everything that has happened in this show, the use of a gun seems so un-creative and not nearly as deranged? Loved this episode and I’m having a blast with this season.

  2. Thought this was one of the best eps, and to some degree there were some satisfying moments in the show.

  3. Why do I watch this depressing show? Car accident ahead, turn away! No, I don’t think so.

  4. After last nights episode and from watching the trailer for next week my theory is…
    Lana is pregnant (we saw her getting sick) with Thredson/Bloody Face’s child and that child grows up to be Dylan McDermott who is the Bloody Face of today..

    • someone said that on another website i believe before this particular ep and from the preview of next week’s ep i would have to agree with you.

  5. Always enjoy watching Ian Mcshane. I thought this entry was disjointed, hurried and lacking cohisiveness. Although that might have had something to do with me and Mr. J. Daniels. I don’t know. It seemed hurried and written solely to shock. Re: DR. Arden’s history of the ruby earrings. Anyway, I was really rooting for Sister Jude. I thought she got her mojo back. Of course you never know with AMH.

  6. McShane was awesome… especially his “santa comes once a year” line which was so dementedly disturbing. Here’s hoping that in season 3 he shows up. Also, Lily Rabe is profoundly entertaining as Sister Mary Eunice. I am curious as to what the f##k is up with the aliens…. they seem to take anyone who could be knocked up by Kit.

  7. This felt like a filler episode to me

  8. For me this season feels like its has no Focus at all !
    Compared with season 1 ! Am I the only one seeing this way ?

    • I will admit that in some way i can see your point while at the same time, i personally will not compare this to season one at all for it is more disturbing and nsstier than the previous season.

      it does seem disjointed with different themes thrown together but i somewhat see a little bit of cohesion to the mess of the show that is distrubly awesome to some extent.

      really do not know the main plot line thus i can see where there is somewhat no focus but on the other hand the focus is on the asylum and the main characters in the sixties which gives us a history of the asylum and the craziness that was going on while directing us to the present where we see a new bloody face and i assume his distorted mind set.

      but hey that is my two cents for ya

      merry early christmas