American Horror Story: Asylum – Dark Cousin Review

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In one of the strangest and most disturbing episodes of the season, much is revealed, and Jessica Lange gives one of her best performances. But it’s not quite enough to save the episode from itself.

This week’s plot revolved around the arrival of a dark angel, summoned to Briarcliff to accompany patients swiftly to death by kissing them. Her presence is extremely alarming to Sister Mary Eunice, and momentarily draws the real Mary Eunice from the devil within her, and she begs for release. But the devil is dominant, and Sister Mary Eunice also shows Dr. Arden just how powerful she and the dark forces that have taken over are.

Grace has fallen extremely ill, presumably due to an infection from the alien abduction experience. Dr. Arden manages to save her, but before he does Kit gets word that she’s sick and escapes prison. He gets back to Briarcliff to save Grace, but ends up losing her anyway. She is shot dead by a guard who was aiming at Kit.

The most involved storylines this week were where they belong, with the show’s strongest characters: Lana and Sister Jude.

Sister Jude discovers through a series of events just how evil Sister Mary Eunice is. She summons the angel of death by contemplating suicide, and so much about her past is revealed in one of my favorite scenes so far, delivered with perfection from Jessica Lange. We learn that the girl she thought she killed actually survived, and that she was close to getting married once. By far the most interesting character, she gets more complex every week and the facets of her personality make more and more sense.

The tragic heroine Lana Winters had an extremely rough episode. After being raped by Oliver Threadson/Bloody Face, the angel of death appears to her, but she says she’s not ready to let go yet. She manages to fight off Dr. Threadson when he tries to sedate her, so that she won’t suffer when he kills her, and escape from his house. She jumps in front of a car on the highway and hops in. For a moment, we think that she’s saved. But the man whose car she chose goes on a rant, and shoots himself, crashing the car. She wakes up from the accident back in Briarcliff. She tells Sister Mary Eunice that Dr. Threadson was Bloody Face, and she believes her, flashing back to the exorcism when the demon called out Dr. Threadson.

The gruesome images this week of wrist cutting, Dr. Threadson raping Lana, and the monstrous creature who attacked Kit upon his reentry to the asylum were simultaneously difficult to watch and captivating. And the revelation that there is still a bit of the true innocent Sister Mary Eunice hiding beneath the demon possessing her was also interesting. The best part of the episode was absolutely Jessica Lange, as it usually is. But beyond all that, the episode got in its own way because the concept of this dark angel of death felt so out of place. She felt like a gimmick, something I think this show usually successfully manages to avoid. Her presences was so distracting that it took away a lot from the episode, an episode that had a lot of potential given Jessica Lange’s part in it. I understand that she was supposed to provide a foil to the demon in Sister Mary Eunice, but I can’t help but think the writers could have come up with a less cliché way to accomplish that. I hope this is the only episode she’s in, because I’ve already had enough of her. Grade: B-


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