American Horror Story: Asylum, S2:E9, “The Coat Hanger”

“It started as a trickle, but within an hour it was a bloody mess.”


I’m not gonna say I told you so, but Lana is pregnant with Thredson’s creepy-mommy-rape baby. Also, aliens.

“The first time I tried it, it was scary, but felt amazing. My whole body came alive.” Calling himself Johnny Morgan, Dylan McDermott’s character seeks a psychiatrist to stop his compulsions; what started as a foster child finding and skinning dead animals has progressed to killing the animals, and eventually trying his hand at women. He feels inferior, explaining he’s actually the son of Oliver Thredson (and by implication Lana), affectionately known as Bloodyface, and can’t compete with Thredson; he ‘lacked medical training.’ He doesn’t want to stop the compulsions because he knows they’re violent and wrong, but because he can’t do justice to his absent father’s legacy. From the hypersaturated flashes to a woman (Teresa?) strapped down, presumably this happens on the 2012 timeline. It echoes back to The Origins of Monstrosity, implying that Johnny is a bad seed.

in 1964/65, Lana is summoned to Sister Mary Eunice’s office. Mary Eunice notes that while Lana must have ‘overcome her sexual perversions,’ she’s pregnant. To twist the knife further she goads Lana about Thredson and insists she keep the baby. “You’re worse than Jude. You’re a sadist.” Lana manages to keep her strength until she stands, reading the prognosis, and faints.

Monseigneur Timothy is with Sister Jude, and it quickly becomes evident Leigh Emerson has not died from her stabbing, and that she’s being blamed for Frank’s death. As Timothy, Mary Eunice, Dr. Arden, Leigh, and the Mother Superior provide testimony, it’s also clear the rampage Mary Eunice hinted at in “Unholy Night” was not Leigh, but rather Sr. Jude. As Leigh works to impress everyone of his rehabilitation, Jude is remanded to Briarcliff and stripped of her clerical standing.

As Timothy and Mary Eunice pack away Jude’s things, Mary Eunice hints at Jude’s feelings for him with the red lingerie. She talks of his Rome ambitions, validating his desires. “I’m here to serve you. I want to help you save souls all the way to Rome.” He dishes a subtle rebuke, for the first time implying he’s not blind to Jude’s virtues or Mary Eunice’s flaws.

Jude wrestles nurses, refusing to take pills. They taunt her about Frank’s murder just as she taunted an arriving Kit Walker about Alma’s. Timothy visits and she tries clinging to him, but he clearly can’t see her feelings still and views her with pity instead of respect. Leigh forgives her, flashing to 1963 when he was the one strapped in and he was in charge, and Timothy is overjoyed by Leigh’s journey to redemption.

Lana sees a rack of clothing in the bakery and steals a hanger. Kit has been draining his sedation medication into a bedpan. Lana insists they kill Thredson, but Kit still needs his confession. “It’s the ultimate cosmic joke; you got me pregnant.” Thredson receives this with the assumption that she intends to birth and abandon the baby just as his mother did and pleads with her not to put it into the system that failed him. He wants to be a father, thinks his determination and strength of will can make him a good one. Lana doesn’t intend adoption, though. She plans to abort it, “This is a mercy killing, Oliver.”

Lana leverages the pregnancy to entice a confession from him. As Oliver tries to prove he can be a good and honest man, he walks right into her leading questions about Bloodyface’s murders. While other women had qualities he liked or desired, he chose Wendy because of something he disliked, “She never loved you. She locked you away.” Kit reveals they’ve recorded the confession and hides the tape, and Lana tells Thredson she’s already aborted the baby, calling it easier than she thought, but still a ‘bloody mess.’ He calls her a monster and she promises to kill him. “I wanted to know what it’s like inside the mind of a killer. Now I know.”

Arden has been down to the death chute, investigating alien footprints left from Grace’s disappearance. He finds Kit hiding the tape in the hydrotherapy room and talks with him over some scotch. “I’ve seen what you’ve seen.” He hypothesizes they’re following Kit, studying his reproduction with Alma and Grace, and that if Kit’s life is threatened they’ll step in. “And a good scientist always protects his subject.” Kit wonders aloud if Arden intends to kill him and Arden corrects, “No, Mr. Walker. I want to almost kill you.”

Carl prevents Lana from stealing a knife from the bakery to deliver on her promise of killing Oliver. “You are nothing but trouble, lady. Gimme that. You ain’t got the guts to kill no one.” There’s a creeping implication that if she can’t kill anyone, her home abortion has failed. Lana practices stabbing a pillow with her coat hanger. When she goes to Oliver to keep her word, he’s gone. Mary Eunice finds Lana in the hall, confiscates the hanger and determines through Satan-magic that her abortion attempt was a failure, and it’s a boy. The scene cuts to the red-haired psychiatrist, discovered dead and overlooked by a bloody Johnny Morgan-Thredson.

Leigh prays, explaining to Timothy, “Nobody ever gave me this shot to rehabilitate myself.”  The Monseigneur is excited, saying Leigh could be his miracle. Their conversation is intermingled with baptism footage. “If I can turn a man like you towards Christ, imagine the reforms I could make on a national scale…. I just want to serve, make a real difference in the world.” Leigh is shown drowning Timothy in the baptismal font, clearly not rehabilitated at all.

Jude joins Lana in the common room. She apologizes, and when Lana asks what they’ve done to her Jude confesses it’s nothing she didn’t do to Lana. She asks permission to use her first name, admits her actions were immoral. The contrition seems genuine but Lana doesn’t trust anyone or anything, especially after the last person who promised to free her from Briarcliff. Jude vows things will change, and smashes the singing nun record to mixed cheers and alarm from Briarcliff’s residents.

Arden administers Potassium chloride to stop Kit’s heart, planning to revive him with atropine and adrenaline. Alien lights arrive on schedule and Arden follows them to a cell, finding Pepper and Grace, who is assessed by Pepper (in full sentences) to be full-term. Pepper volunteers to look after Grace, and Arden is stunned. Meanwhile Kit?

In the chapel,  a janitor finds the Monseigneur crucified. The Angel of Death arrives. “I’m here.”


The bucket-of-chicken woman who finds Johnny and the psychiatrist leaves the implication that post-hypnotic suggestion therapy doesn’t work. People can’t really change–Johnny will keep following Thredson’s footsteps, while Thredson himself could never reform enough to be the good father he promises Lana he could be. Arden is still the Nazi doctor at heart, Leigh’s baptism and reform is an abysmal failure. Jude, in spite of being a patient at Briarcliff now, retains an air of command and determination, while Lana retains her sense of purity by failing to become a murderer. Even Grace, who was legit dead, is alive once more. With God, Satan, and aliens, everything is possible in Briarcliff.

There’s also a theme of proteges going horribly awry. Sister Mary Eunice doesn’t have Jude’s sincerity of vision; whether or not she’s possessed by the devil she lacks her mentor’s strength and disposition, even in spite of Jude’s many flaws. Leigh, whom the Monseigneur envisioned as his greatest miracle, symbolically helps Timothy ascend to the highest position in the church, but it’s not exactly how the man envisioned it. Morgan, a self-determined protege of his father, lacks the surgical skill and precision to execute the ‘delicate work’ his father did; he truly is the ‘bloody mess,’ like Lana’s attempted abortion.

Also, by his own definition is Arden a good scientist? Does he protect his specimens? While he has an almost paternal fondness for his ‘creatures,’ his methodology otherwise  is portrayed as almost reckless; between his history as a Nazi doctor and how he pokes and prods Kit in early episodes, cutting into him to find the alien bug chip, his approach is detached rather than invested. Shelley, in spite of being one of his creatures, is ejected from Briarcliff by Mary Eunice, and has to be euthanized by the Monseigneur. Even his plants are beginning to wilt and die, in spite of his determination to revive them.

And Pepper…. Pepper. Pepper seems fully lucid, speaking in complete sentences and using appropriate pronouns instead of referring to herself in the third person. Has she been in that room the whole time? Loose in Briarcliff? Abducted by aliens who tinkered around and ‘fixed’ her? Even Arden seems at a total loss here. And what’s so special about Kit, that aliens would follow him and every woman into whom he ejaculates?

Supplemental: I’m not willing to take anything on faith here. I’m not certain Timothy commits to death, or that Morgan actually IS Thredson’s son instead of just believing it, or that it’s this Lana/Thredson pregnancy–all this tells us for certain is that Thredson as Bloodyface has become public knowledge, so Kit and Lana must have succeeded in setting the record straight.

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