American Horror Story: Asylum – The Name Game Review

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On several occasions this week, I found myself asking, “Is Ryan Murphy playing a joke on me?”

I know that the theme of this season of American Horror Story is sanity. And if the goal of the writers this week was to make me question my own sanity, then this was the most brilliant episode of the season. If that was accidental, then it was undoubtedly the worst.

A slew of confusing things go on this episode. I’ll go over them in no particular order, in part because this episode was so strange that the chronology hardly matters. Pepper is now the smartest person at Briarcliff, thanks to the still mysterious aliens. Grace gives birth to a son she claims is Kit’s, though the timeline and alien involvement makes this questionable. Dr. Arden shows something resembling remorse or mercy when he shoots his experimental subjects, putting them out of their misery. Sister Mary Eunice seduces the Monseigneur despite his objections and his knowledge that she is indeed the devil. Threadson is employed at Briarcliff once again, and tells Lana he’d kill her if not for their unborn child. She, plucky as ever, threatens him with releasing the tape where he confesses his murders. Lana seems to be regaining her strength, her hope, her “pluck” as Threadson called it. With the help of Sister Jude’s confession this week to the Mother Superior, she just may get out and get her revenge. And Sister Jude. Where to begin with the confusion around Judy this week…

No one can question Jessica Lange’s brilliance as an actress, but I am beginning to question the role she’s been placed into as the season has progressed. It’s unnerving to see her play a comatose mental patient, and while I’m sure that’s the effect they’re going for, I’m not enjoying it. I miss her strong presence in a position of power. And her musical number…it’s hard for me to talk about. After a session of electro shock therapy, she approaches the new jukebox in the common room, and hallucinates what is basically a Briarcliff music video to “The Name Game”…it made me wonder if I was hallucinating. (Was I? Seriously, did you guys see that too?) She does, however, offer some sound advice to the Monseigneur when he confides in her about Sister Mary Eunice. She tells him to kill her.

And that’s exactly what he does. He pushes her from the third floor staircase, and the dark angel reappears to take Sister Mary Eunice and the devil within her from Briarcliff. Dr. Arden is broken up about the loss of her innocence to the Monseignuer and her death, almost equally. He insists on her cremation, and on performing it himself. He eases himself into the flames alongside her, killing himself. And so this week sees the demise of two of the strongest antagonists of the season.

It’s hard to imagine where the next few episodes will go sans Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden. Especially Lily Rabe’s performance this season has been exceptional. It’s honestly hard to see where any of the storylines are going. I didn’t know how to feel as this episode ended. How I feel about this episode is really dependent on what happens in the coming weeks. While I’m hesitant to grade this week at all, I’m giving it a tentative “B-”…but honestly that may change. I’m starting to think that Ryan Murphy is some sort of evil genius. Grade: B-

By Meghan Coan

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