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'American Horror Story: Aslyum' Recap: Exorcism, Prostitutes, and The Singing Nun


Joseph Fiennes and Zachary Quinto get to dispel some demons (and more sexy scenes from Jessica Lange)

Photo credit: Michael Yarish / Courtesy FX

Two episodes in, and American Horror Story: Asylum is already juggling so many plotlines that an actual exorcism felt like a throwaway, included to reveal backstory.

As bad as things are for our friends at Briarcliff, things are a little worse for that poor lesbian teacher who had Lana committed. That's right: Clea DuVall bit the dust tonight at the hands of Bloody Face, the same Bloody Face who seems to have lived 50 more years to rip the arm of the lead singer of Maroon 5. "I'm a teacher!" she begs, but Bloody Face is having none of it.

As for the alleged Bloody Face, Kit, he's just trying to make friends with Lana, but she's having none of it. She might be in a bad mood because her lover had her committed, or maybe it's the electroshock therapy administered by Sister Jessica Lange to erase her memories of the institution's atrocities (it's kind of amazing to see Lange, 30 years after Frances, on the other side of that machine). Or maybe Lana's just cranky because the only song allowed to play in the common room is the Singing Nun's "Dominique." Little does Lana know in 1964 that Soeur Sourire was a lesbian who would enter into a suicide pact with her lover 20 years later.

Whatever the reason for her dislike of him, Lana screams for the guards when Kit catches up with Lana and Grace on their way to Sister Mary Eunice's secret tunnel for their escape. The result? Lana and Grace get to watch as Sister Jessica Lane administers 40 whacks of a cane to Kit's bare ass. (Audience members only get to hear two, and then cut to commercial.)

The Not Very Good Dr. James Cromwell was well represented this week, first by practically force-feeding Sister Mary Eunice a candy apple--it was both heavy-handed and creepily sexual. Then he rejected the advances of nympho Shelley, who uses his calling her whore to spout a lengthy monologue about loving pleasure. She just wants to feel the sun on her skin, and men who like pleasure aren't called whores; why can't she have a little fun and get a tan? No dice. Instead, the Not Very Good Dr. Cromwell has a date with a prostie, who is not unsurprisingly freaked out when he carves up a roast while discussing the exploits of Bloody Face. She isn't calmed much after she has to dress up like a nun and discovers photos of women bound and gagged, some bloodied, in a box on his dresser. Caught, she tearfully lies back on his bed and begins to slowly reveal her "mossy bank" before biting deep into his arm and escaping.

Then there was the exorcism, presided over by Joseph Fiennes and Zachary Quinto. Someone please cue the fan fic starting now. The farm boy whose parents found him naked in the barn, covered in blood from ripping open their best Guernsey and eating its heart seems pretty possessed, considering he can throw people across the room and knows all about Sister Jessica Lange's tawdry past as a nightclub chantootsie who killed a little girl while drunk driving. "The town pump," he calls her, counting no less than 53 cocks in her mouth. Sister Jessica Lange isn't thrilled by these memories, but the flashbacks do fulfill Lange's contractually required sexy scene for the episode, finding her in a tight red dress, drunk, and making out with a soldier.

And that possessed boy? Well, he died. Sorry. No happy ending. Except that just before he died, he locked eyes with simple Sister Mary Eunice, who fell straight backwards as the lights came back on. The demon lives! And suddenly, Lily Rabe's acceptance of the role makes total sense, especially after we see next week's preview, which finds her Lily Rabe-ing all over her dialogue. Between her and Lange, stylized has never looked or sounded so good.

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Mark Peikert