American Horror Story: Asylum, S2:E11, “Spilt Milk”

“It’s an extraordinary thing, you know that? You throw me in a madhouse, you strip away everything I have, everything I know, you treat me like a rabid dog, like a madwoman, and you know what happens? I am more sane now as a madwoman than I ever was as the head of Briarcliff.”

She's plucky, remember?

She’s plucky, remember?

 

Much like “The Coathanger,” the episode opens with Bloodyface Jr. Johnny is smoking a bowl. His lampshades are not made of people, and he greets the arrival of “Pandora,” a recently post-partum woman he is paying to indulge him in a nursing fetish. “Breastfeeding is so important for early development,” Johnny notes, echoing his father’s own sentiments from “The Name Game.” When Pandora asks what he would do for a little mothering, he says he’d kill for it.

Back at Briarcliff, Oliver Thredson is maneuvering. “If there’s anything that I hold sacred in this world, it’s a child’s need for love and protection,” he explains to Kit Walker. “You and I, we’d both move heaven and earth for our children.” Pepper, who has been keeping the other patients away from Grace and the baby, reacts strongly to Thredson inquiring after Grace’s milk production, and he sends her away. Once alone, Kit asks what Grace remembers. She claims, “Time works differently up there; it felt like a hundred years to me.” She adds ‘they’ aren’t perfect, and says they make mistakes in regard to Alma before explaining that Kit is the link between the two women, and that he, and now his son, are special. Monseigneur Timothy arrives with Sister Colette of St. Ursula’s Home for Lost Children in tow, and as Kit and Grace struggle to keep their baby, Thredson slides back in. “Maybe I can help.”

True to her word, The Mother Superior frees Lana from Briarcliff, giving her the patient file as ‘irrefutable proof’ for her expose. “I want [Briarcliff] pulled down, and the earth salted.” Lana gets her evidence tape, promises Jude she won’t leave her here, and flees. Thredson is working on Kit in the hall, promising in exchange for the tape, “I will not only see to it your son is not swallowed by the system, but I will also do everything in my power to secure your freedom so you can be with him again. You and Grace together, as a family.” And since the police will need a new ‘credible suspect,’ Thredson volunteers the suspiciously absent Arden, who has already been considered as a suspect anyway. Kit keeps Thredson talking so Lana can sneak behind him. He sees her but it’s too late; the cab pulls away as Lana presses the tape to the window and gives him the finger.

Lana is waiting in Thredson’s apartment with a gun. “Good, you are here. Saves me the trouble of having to look for you.” he deadpans, and Lana reveals the police have the tape and are on their way; he’s been exposed. In a way, Thredson realizes, he is relieved. “Living with secrets is not healthy.” She keeps the gun steady on him, vowing to put him in the electric chair. Thredson, incongruously cool, fixes himself a drink almost like he isn’t grasping the gravity of the situation. “There is no alcohol where I’m going. I’m not gonna let you take away my last chance to have a martini.”

As Lana calls Thredson crazy for chaining her to a bed and calling her ‘mommy,’ the scene cuts to Johnny and Pandora, who coaxes, “Go ahead, baby, you can call me mommy.” Johnny finishes nursing and lights a cigarette. He calls his mother a cold bitch and Lana questions a wily Thredson about Wendy. He reveals he ‘practiced’ on the corpse, twisting the knife by adding, “Wendy allowed us to create this life you have growing inside of you.” Regarding the corpse, he claims she’s scattered from Plymouth to Springfield, but they’ll always have Paris. Meanwhile Johnny is losing his cool. He attacks the prostitute and where Johnny’s reflection should be the mirror shows Lana and Thredson, a reminder that Johnny lives in what was once his father’s house, where this whole confrontation happened. He’s even got a couch in the same place.

Thredson knows that, free of Briarcliff, Lana won’t keep his baby. “So I shouldn’t expect little Oliver to come visit every few months?” Lana reminds him she intends to see him fry, and he insists he’ll be institutionalized. “I’m clearly insane!” If she won’t be the mother of his clild, the best she deserves is to be his last victim, but he barely reaches for the gun concealed in his bar when Lana shoots him. “Prison’s too good for you.”

Later as Lana visits Wendy’s memorial, she admits to her friends, “I was going to do anything to get that story. I just didn’t realize how much it was going to cost.” She admits that reporters are vultures, “attracted to the scent of rotting meat,” and as she climbs into a car amidst a flurry of questions and photos all she says is to read her book.

Monseigneur Timothy’s vision swims with headlines decrying Briarcliff, its staff, management, and treatment of patients. Carl summons him to the common room, where Jude has been causing problems. She confronts him. “Have you fully recognized the irony here? You relinquished your virtue not to a loving woman, but to the Devil.” As she rails at him he tries to deflect her observations and accusations, saying he doesn’t know this person she is being. No longer blinded by her doting love for him, Jude sees him for how shallow and ambitious as he truly is. He insists this clarity sounds insane and has her sent to solitary. Jude challenges, “You will not prevail, Timothy. My God would never allow it.” Perhaps she feels their god has forsaken him, or perhaps she realizes he worships himself and power rather than the lord; in either instance they are the words of a strong woman who might be right about how she’s less crazy that she’s ever been.

Carl brings Kit’s release papers, and Kit wants to see the Monseigneur. In exchange for his silence about the injustices at Briarcliff, Kit wants Timothy to release Grace and reunite them with their son. He points out that according to Briarcliff’s records, Grace is already dead. “You can make all your problems go away, Father. Nobody ever needs to know.” The negotiation works, and a cab drops the new family at Kit’s old house. The inside is still a mess from the alien abduction, and as Kit follows a suspicious noise he finds Alma, alive and with another baby.

Lana is visiting a doctor for an off-the-books abortion; she has given a false name and the doctor insists she needs to be quiet so they aren’t discovered. Lana flashes back to all the blood and mayhem of the past months and can’t go through with the abortion. “No more death.”

Several months later she presents her manuscript of evidence to detectives, trying to get a court order to access Briarcliff for Jude to substantiate her claims. One detective asks if Bloodyface is her baby’s father, and she replies, “This baby doesn’t have a father.” Lana is tough, but she’s no cookie. They grant the court order, but the Monseigneur says Jude has committed suicide. He shows them paperwork and talks of her cremation. “She died outside a state of grace. I could give no last rites, no absolution. She was denied a Christian burial.” But a lonely food plate is wheeled into solitary for a delirious Jude, who is still praying for rescue.

Another time jump reveals Lana has birthed her baby, and though she refused to see it the boy is allergic to formula and the nurse convinces her to nurse the baby anyway. Lana looks up at the crucifix, which from her angle is inverted.

 

So AHS has got BABY FEVER. It’s all babies all the time, from grown men with nursing issues that are clearly not because their mother never nursed them (unless Johnny isn’t really Lana/Thredson’s son) to mysterious quick-grown alien babies. Have we seen a single female character have sex without getting pregnant in this season (In spite of her nymphomania, Shelley seemed to specialize in fellatio)?  I’m guessing Lana will reluctantly raise her son but be an inattentive mother. I’m also guessing Kit will luck out and Alma and Grace, having bonded over their shared alien abduction experience/shared man will be loving sister wives.

Timothy has done another 180, going from sympathetic victim struggling to do the right thing in the face of a great evil to refusing to do the right thing in preference of his grand ambitions. Kit gave him the idea for how to lock down Jude’s recriminations, and as she has staunchly refused to fall in line with his goals she’s had her death faked so she can be locked away like so much Bertha Rochester. I was reminded of Frank’s sentiments in “I am Anne Frank, Pt. 2,” asserting that Jude’s strength would never be accepted by men, and how Shelley and Charlotte were both dumped into Briarcliff by husbands who couldn’t control them. With Jude’s delirious thoughts of marriage to Timothy in episode 10, this makes her another woman locked away by a man she loved when she had too many opinions and desires of her own and wasn’t subservient to his needs.

Thredson and Wendy will always have Paris. It figures he would get his most sentimental about a woman he killed then raped. He’s able to view Wendy exclusively as a lover, while his sex with Lana was tainted by his maternal thoughts of her. He’s got enough psychology education to realize–if not consciously–that Lana as a living person has her own needs, while Wendy as a dead one could exist solely to fulfill his. He considers this his own Bogart-esque noble sacrifice for the greater good; though he had to dispose of Wendy’s remains so he could continue on with his life, a life that now includes Lana’s unborn child, he’ll always remember how Wendy made him feel.

Then there’s the usage of the Candyman theme, composed for the Clive Barker film by Philip Glass. American Horror Story did something similar in Season 1, linking Tate’s backstory/murder rampage to 1968’s Twisted Nerve, a tale about a boy who lies to earn a girl’s attentions. Given how that seemed to parallel with Tate’s successes/failures with Violet, I wonder if this music choice suggests that in trying to bring the truth about Bloodyface to light, Lana will succeed in becoming well-known but will be destroyed in the process, like Candyman‘s Helen Lyle.

 

 

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