I don't want to speak for my fellow man and particularly not people as intelligent and well-rounded as you guys are, but my attention span is the worst these days. I don't remember anything and that sometimes includes my phone number and parents' faces. But you know what? I decline to blame myself. No, I blame television. It has ruined me! At some point television delicately hammered an ice pick into my eye socket and now here we are. I only like loud, shiny, or shirtless things and everything else just coasts over my head like so much electronic fog. But that's probably the reason why I love American Horror Story with the type of fervent passion to rival the— See, I forgot where I was going with that. Oh right, American Horror Story's brilliance: It's basically custom-made for modern audiences! Limiting serialized storylines to 12 episodes. Re-using faces in a way that doesn't necessitate prior knowledge of former characters. Lots and lots of horrifying imagery that shocks and jolts but somehow isn't a total deal-breaker. Yeah, despite the terrible state of my very smooth brain, American Horror Story still casts a long shadow. I think about it so much! I remember it, even. It's just that kind of show.
And WHAT a show it was this week. "Dark Cousin" was immediately one of my favorite ever episodes of AHS the second that guest-star Frances Conroy appeared onscreen as a goth geisha and unfurled her feathered wings. YES. Everything about her dark angel character was inspired, plus we were treated to an episode full of some of the most elegant pathos this side Tilda Swinton's filmography. Plus an absolutely outrageous guest star scene! Plus a shocking death even! A lot to like, basically. Let's talk about it.
We began in Grace's room where she was NOT doing so well after her alien abduction hysterectomy. (They don't do a very good job, it turns out.) That's when the Angel of Death appeared:
Despite Grace openly welcoming the dark lady's kiss of death, some pesky nuns ended up reviving Grace and she forced to live to die another day.
Meanwhile Sister Eunice was quite done palling around with Dr. Arden, and for some reason was now on his case BIG TIME.
She was mad at him, something to do with botching Grace's sterilization and Sister Eunice being all annoyed about covering it up. Didn't matter, because that was when Dr. Arden got slappy.
After slapping her once (to almost no result) Dr. Arden tried it again but then something awesome happened:
Sister Demon made him do the MAD SCIENTIST SLIDE!
So good. It's ABOUT TIME we saw some of those demon powers come into play. Up until this moment the extent of her demon-hood had been just doing some crotch thrusts at a wall crucifix and also just giving everybody 'tude. But now we knew: She will push a mad scientist across a room if need be.
A character we'd never met before was given a hearty scene in which he dealt with the voices in his head by carving up his wrists on a meat slicer. It was a truly awful thing to see! The weird thing was that he fell into a fugue state and then scrawled blood on the wall in Aramaic, and that seemed to really rattle Sister Demon.
Then the angel of death appeared and finished the guy off, but then was interrupted by Sister Demon:
Apparently the demon was a "dark cousin" of the angel of death, a fallen angel, as 'twere. Also we learned that the original Sister Eunice was still inside trying to fight her way out, but the demon was stronger. So they WERE separate entities. I'm still kind of confused about how those two entities were sharing a brainspace, but whatever.
Meanwhile at the local prison for non-crazy people, Kit was trying to talk his way out of being tried for mass murder. But it wasn't going so well because Donna's dad from That '70s Show was being a real ball-buster.
Fortunately Kit was a quick thinker and happened to have a three-hole punch handy. Sorry, Donna's dad from That '70s Show!
Elsewhere Lana was not having a great day.
When we'd last left off Dr. Thredson was just trying to make her his mom, but as it turned out he was feeling pretty Oedipal (which is Latin for mom-humpin'). Anyway, after that he decided that they didn't have enough sexual chemistry during the rape and he needed to kill her. Which would've been cool with the angel of death (who was chillin' nearby), but Lana decided it wasn't time to kick the bucket just yet.
That's when Lana hit him in the face with a picture frame, strangled him with a chain, and then pushed him onto a table before running outside into the night.
Fortunately someone picked her up!
Unfortunately that person was a crazy person (Ethan from Lost!) who ranted about how all women were terrible and then started waving a gun around (which made Lana nervous because of the angel of death in the backseat).
Fortunately he just wanted to shoot himself.
Unfortunately the car was still moving.
Poor Lana! She was suddenly back in Briarcliff and probably daydreaming about getting into a new profession. DeVry, night school, whatever it took.
Then we picked up where we'd left off between Sister Jude (a.k.a. Judy the tramp) and Saul Goodman. He was still dying, basically. But he DID whisper something about a nun having murdered him, so at least there was that.
I loved that after murdering him with a mirror shard, Sister Eunice had planted a bottle of Jude's favorite booze knowing FULL WELL that it would prevent Jude from calling 911. She needed to get her buzz on BAD.
So then we got an extended flashback sequence from 1949 in the days after Judy's hit and run accident. After holing herself up in her room during a drunken stupor, Judy's foxy boyfriend came over and kicked her out of their band and also dumped her, so Judy decided to pack up her things and go sleep in her car in front of a nunnery. The next morning would change her life for at least 15 years:
So yeah, that's how that happened.
Meanwhile in the present day, Sister Eunice phoned the murder scene and 'fessed up to the murder (so now Sister Jude was 100% apprised of the demon situation), and also told her she'd left her a straight razor for suicidin'. (Thoughtful!)
Next thing we knew, Sister Jude was in a diner bathroom carvin' her arm all up. This made me GASP:
Her suicide was only a fantasy! Man my heart was racing so bad, you guys, seriously. Jessica Lange cannot be killed off! It's not allowed!
Back at her booth, the angel of death wanted to know why Jude was always summoning her all the time. And what happened next was one of the best scenes/monologues of any television show ever?
I mean, look at Jessica Lange here. Now imagine she's saying some of the most tragic, poetic stuff about the nature of existence ever written. SO good I don't even want to ruin it with a joke. These two actresses are such legends. #alltheawards
So after that Jude decided she had an important mission: To somehow contact the parents of the girl she believed she'd killed. But here was a shocker:
The girl was never killed!
I was kind of shocked too because according to the newspaper clipping we'd seen, the girl had gone missing after the accident right? For like 6 days? I don't know. Whatever happened Jude did a great job of never following up on this story over the course of 16 years, so honestly this misunderstanding was pretty much her fault. (Well, in addition to boozing while driving and hitting the girl in the first place). But still. Kind of a cool turn of events for Sister Jude (if also a terrific example of a life squandered in a nunnery).
Meanwhile back at Briarcliff, Kit broke in to help break Grace out.
But that's when things got UNSANE.
First a nun caught them trying to leave. It all got worse from there:
Yeah all that happened in about 20 seconds, and 5 of those seconds were intestines spilling out of the mutant that Kit disemboweled. (Someone better scrub that kitchen, very unsanitary.)
Alas, it was finally the end for poor Grace. Her story arc had been completed a few episodes back so it was only a matter of time, but this final shot of the angel of death finally giving her the dreaded kiss was still packed with poignancy. Poor Grace!
And poor mutant! A shocking and disgusting ending to be sure, but in true American Horror Story fashion, it was also pretty devastating. For me this episode was one of the greats of the whole series so far. Beautiful, haunting, nauseating, disturbing, offensive, all the things we modern TV watchers need to sustain our— Wait, what was I saying? I can't remember. Ooh a shiny thing...
... Seriously, where is Pepper?
... Is Sister Jude gonna invade Briarcliff with switchblade and a grudge?
... Will Lana ever catch a break?
... Who should murder whom: Dr. Arden vs. Sister Eunice?