Deep inside horrible killers, there is a lonely child just waiting for someone to come along and love them, believe in them and tell them everything is going to be all right. Well, maybe not, but American Horror Story: Asylum does want to take some time away from the rather frantic pace of the last two episodes to better explore some of the motivations behind those who've been committing atrocities in and around Briarcliff. Unfortunately, in doing so, 'The Origins of Monstrosity' doesn't just slow things down to take a peek inside the minds of its resident psychos, it ends up creating a languid and uninventive hour of television.
With Kit (Evan Peters) unwittingly taking the fall for the crimes committed by Dr. Thredson/Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto) seems to have resigned himself to spending time with Lana (Sarah Paulson), in the hopes of creating a surrogate mother, since his biological one abandoned him. While granting the world another serial killer with mommy issues is as unoriginal as it gets, it causes one to wonder if Thredson is looking to get away from his Bloody Face persona – at least long enough to spend some quality time with "mom" and maybe work out some of his more troublesome issues.
Placing Lana once more in a confined space seems like a repetitive mistake since 'Nor'easter' basically played the whole escape routine to death, but there're glimpses that her story with Thredson is taking a more unexpected turn; one that's not necessarily going to end with her skin adorning his next lamp.
Murphy and Co. have clearly intended a parallel with Dr. Thredson and the psychopathic youngster, Jenny (Nikki Hahn). But whereas Bloody Face was born of abandonment and mistreatment, Jenny is something far more pure, at least where evil is concerned. Her mother asks Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) to take Jenny on, but, alas, there is no children's ward at Briarcliff (though it is a dream of Sister Jude's), so Jenny's mother forces the issue by abandoning her child at the sanitarium. Jenny's strange disposition is reminiscent of other horror films in which the child is harboring something evil – or is just plain evil – which, for whatever reason, grants them a mostly placid face and incredibly monotone voice.
Still, what excitement Jenny lacks (purposely or not) is made up for in a clever scene with her and the recently converted Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). Eunice, chopping vegetables, gives Jenny the straight dope on life and all the doors an amoral existence can provide. Whatever evil inhabits Eunice is sharing her experiences and feelings, which are more than a little resentful toward the general population – as they are shown in flashback to have taken every opportunity to humiliate Eunice.
The big (as much as it's actually big at this point) reveal this episode, though, is just how Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) came to believe Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) was going to make his transition of Briarcliff from a TB ward to a sanitarium one that could also count various medical breakthroughs among its esteemed achievements. Arden gets the Monsignor to give Sister Jude the boot, and winds up with (nearly) all of Nazi-hunter Sam Goodman's (Mark Margolis) research into Hans Gruper. As Dr. Arden learns, sometimes a killer such as himself doesn't just get someone who might love and believe in him, he gets something much, much worse.
Perhaps it's the change in director, or the subject matter, but 'The Origins of Monstrosity' simply failed to capitalize on the storytelling and creative direction that 'I am Anne Frank' had. Here's hoping the season manages to pick things up.
Various other items:
- The Monsignor's motivation to allow human trials feels a little thin, even by AHS standards.
- It's nice to see that Spivey (Mark Consuelos) is under the impression his compulsive behavior is improving.
- Thredson's desire to have Lana tell "his story" seems like the apparent storyline and best possible scenario for the young journalist at this point, no?
- It looks like we can check Shelly (Chloë Sevingy), Spivey and now Mr. Goodman (Mark Margolis) from the cast. That seems awfully quick.
American Horror Story: Asylum continues next week with 'Dark Cousin' @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: