American Horror Story: Asylum 2.06 “The Origins Of Monstrosity” REVIEW

American Horror Story: Asylum 2.06 “The Origins Of Monstrosity” TV REVIEW

Episode 2.06
Writer: Ryan Murphy
Director: David Semel

THE ONE WHERE Thredson torments Lana, Jude gets closer to exposing Arden and a murderous child is the latest arrival at Briarcliff.

VERDICT After last week’s big reveal, it’s time to get to grips with Dr Thredson as Bloody Face. And how’s that for an ambitious episode title? “The Origins Of Monstrosity”. Ryan Murphy’s script takes a half-hearted stab at exploring this theme with his exploration of Thredson’s backstory, but the answers are, unfortunately, fairly prosaic. Not that this is a bad episode. It’s entertaining, as usual. But giving the big bad “mommy issues” is a hoary old cliché. It robs the character of some of his menace – though the grim necrophilia sequence adds an extra layer of queasiness.

Contrasted with Thredson is Jenny – the murderous child brought to Briarcliff. It was only a matter of time before an evil kid showed up, wasn’t it? But again, while her mum nervously asks, “Could she have been born that way?” the episode gives no answers of any great depth. It feels like the show is trying to suggest some psychological reasoning for the characters behaviour, but this is rather undermined by the presence of an actual, literal devil, in the form of the demon possessing Eunice.

These weren’t the only origins explored this week. There was also more on Arden the Nazi (er, he was evil), Monsignor Timmy (er, he was quite nice) and Eunice (er, she was NUDE). We got a fair bit more on what Arden is up to. His experiments are an attempt to create “the next stage in human evolution”. No, not the X-Men – a mutation that would be able to survive a nuclear war with Russia. A b-movie explanation if ever there was one, but a fun idea all the same. Eunice’s flashback was rather redundant (she was teased a bit), but the flashback to 1962 fleshed out Timothy. It seems that he at least came to Briarcliff with good intentions, though those have been eroded since. It was a nice touch to see Briarcliff in hazy sunshine for the first time (that I recall anyway). Happier times, before Arden became the real power there.

Oh, and yes, okay, I missed the thing about Kit’s mum last week. Sometimes I am dumb. Anyway, his story crawled along this episode – though he has finally worked out that Thredson is a rotter. C’mon show, give us more. I wanna know what’s going on with those damn stinkin’ ETs…

IN THE PRESENT DAY There’s a brief, but fantastic, pre-titles sequence where the police find the bodies of Maroon 5 Guy and the Bloody Face imposters strung up in the rafters of Briarcliff. At the end of the episode the cops get a phone call from Bloody Face – still going strong 50-odd years later. That’s awfully old for a serial killer. Does that imply that Thredson is in line for Arden’s experimentation table? After all, he did tell Shelley that she would be “immortal”… Then again, the voice on the phone call didn’t sound 100% like Zachary Quinto’s. Does someone else take on his grotty mask?

IMMORTAL, EH? …But not invulnerable, as was proved when Shelley was put out of her misery by Timothy. Man, that girl had it rough. It’s a shame, as she was one of the more interesting characters this year.

THE NAME GAME Look, I’ve searched around and I can’t find a spelling for Arden’s real name anywhere. Is it Hans Gruber? Gruper? Groper (that would be apt) or Grueber? I have seen all of these variations and more. Does anyone know? It’s driving me mad.

GROSS… “Baby needs Colostrum,” says Thredson as he nuzzles into Lana’s boob. It’s one step away from Little Britain’s “bitty” sketch, and is – oddly, given the necrophilia earlier in the episode – the week’s creepiest image.

BEST LINE
Arden: “You seem to have mistaken the broom closet for the playground where you used to expose yourself to innocent little boys and girls.”
Spivey: “Never the boys, Doc. I have my standards.”

Will Salmon

New episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum air in the UK on FX, Tuesdays at 10pm

• Read our other American Horror Story Asylum reviews