After the events in last week's 'The Name Game,' which brought the story of Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) to an abrupt end, one really couldn't help but wonder exactly where American Horror Story: Asylum would be headed with its last three episodes, especially now that the two major sources of conflict had been dealt with so swiftly.
As such, there's a feeling you get while watching 'Spilt Milk' that, after the oven door closed on Arden, consigning him to his fiery death, co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk high-fived, congratulated the other on the successful completion of season 2, and then headed out to Chili's to grab a light beer and some Kickin' Jack Nachos, only to realize later they had three more episodes and a handful of plotlines left to wrap up. So, in their haste, they drew up a plan to zip through the better part of a year, bringing the Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) and Lana (Sarah Paulson) story arc to a close, and tossing in enough elements of Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Kit Walker (Evan Peters) to better stretch out the episode's runtime.
That's not to say 'Spilt Milk' was a bad episode; it just lacked any real sense of conflict or drama, and because of that, watching Lana's tale of woe essentially come to an end in a rather mechanical manner, felt a bit like the character had been shortchanged somehow. Of course, that's all likely to change as the craziness is almost certain to go off the scales in the last two episodes, but here, it was presented like the show was simply picking up the pieces – which, given what Lana, Kit and Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) have all gone through over the course of the season, may actually have been the point, we'll just have to wait until next week to find out.
So much emphasis had been placed on Lana's story that seeing her suddenly freed on behalf of the mother superior, and then treating the audience to what amounted to a highlight reel of what happens next, robs the arc of the drama the creators likely intended. There are some good elements at play here, such as the dreamlike quality of Lana's final showdown with Thredson – where the scene is all flashing red and blue lights, and sirens in the background, and the way she refuses to look at her son after reluctantly agreeing to feed him. But knowing there are still two episodes left, these elements don't have a sense of finality to them, and because of that, perhaps their effectiveness is called into question.
So, really, what 'Spilt Milk' is up to is, going back to the formula Asylum has been using all season long, which is to split the characters up and threaten to move them away from Briarcliff, only to find a way to have them reconvene at the asylum to continue, or in this case, end the story. To be fair, the trick has worked a few times, most notably with the end of 'I am Anne Frank,' which disrupted the normalcy of the storyline to such a degree it took a few episodes for the season to find it's footing once more. That's likely the case here, too, which explains why Monsignor Tim (Joseph Fiennes) has managed to slide into the role of bad guy. Because the show has managed to kill off the other antagonists, the only guy left is the one who lost his "virtue" to the devil, and once thought he'd be pope. It will be interesting to see if Tim vs. Jude has the juice to carry the season to its end.
There're also plenty of questions left regarding the apparent return of Alma (Britne Oldford), who, according to Grace, didn't survive the alien's experiments, and yet, just when Kit, Grace and young Thomas are ready to start living as a family, there's Alma, with a child of her own. Chances are, with three kids floating around in the 1960s and a psycho killer on the loose in the present, one of the little bundles of joy will turn out to be Son of Bloody Face. We've been led to believe that Dylan McDermott's character is indeed the son of Dr. Thredson, but the episode gives the smallest of suggestions that may not be the case.
In any event, as we push into the final two episodes, Asylum really feels like it could head down several different paths. This possibility could bring about a startling conclusion to the storyline, or it will continue to peter out due to a distinct lack of the particular mechanism that had been driving it all season.
Various other items:
- We can probably blame Kit Walker's death certificate idea for Monsignor Tim manufacturing the demise of Sister Jude.
- The amount of time that 'Spilt Milk' spans seems troublesome, considering it basically leaves Sister Jude in solitary for the duration of Lana's pregnancy. If the season is going to pick up after that, are we going to be treated to a series of rapid-fire flashbacks, filling in the time, or do the details even matter at this point?
- Grace tells Kit that his son is going to be someone important someday, that people will listen to him. It would be sort of great to find out that Dylan McDermott was this child, but instead of moving on to greatness, he went down the wrong path due to a paperwork mishap, which led him to believe that he was Son of Bloody Face.
American Horror Story: Asylum continues next week with 'Continuum' @10pm on FX. Check out a preview for the episode below: