TV Review: American Horror Story 2.10, “The Name Game”

Five Stars Will Joseph Fiennes’ Monsignor Howard prove to be Asylum’s saving grace? Though Lana is still lined up to…

Alex Trivilino

Contributor

AHS2_Bandages_DDT_10_FXWEB_1280x720_34380795

Five Stars

Will Joseph Fiennes’ Monsignor Howard prove to be Asylum’s saving grace? Though Lana is still lined up to serve as the lone hero of the year, now that the priest has been given more to do in the latter half of this season, he has quickly embarked on enough trials as of recent to serve as the one who may just save us all (or at least make one last sacrifice to enable the success of our heroes). After being strung up and left for dead, Monsignor was confronted by the Angel of Death and told he had more to do. Having  lost his virginity to a demon of Lucifer, he eventually threw Sister Mary off of a balcony, freeing both her soul as well as the one possessing her. The Angel told her she’d take “both of them” with a single kiss, relieving the show of one of its principle characters.

After last episode’s reveal of Grace’s shocking return, it is nice to see that the show is still willing to claim a few of its characters as we enter its end game. See also Dr. Arden, who tragically rides into the incinerator alongside Mary’s body. It’s a tender moment, and given that Arden has been slipping (placing a gun in his eye while with Mary, and staring at her with sadness and horror while she was taking the good priest’s innocence), it’s only appropriate that he should perish in the same hour as Mary. I only do wish that he was able to have a moment with the Angel. Though it may have interrupted the nice flow of the scene, it would have been fascinating to watch him stand off with such a spirit (while simultaneously giving the Six Feet Under reunion I’m sad to say will not seem to happen).

For an episode entitled “The Name Game,” it was only fitting that there was good talk about identity in various capacities, as quietly as Mary giving Jude an arbitrary number for her patient name, or as loudly as the Name Game musical sequence, easily the highlight of the episode. Or season. Heck, it may even be the best thing the damn show has ever done! What was so great about this musical number was that it simultaneously dug into the mindset of Jude, embraced the season’s themes, and gave us a twistedly absurd bit of horror that was most effective due to the fact that the show does not frequently dive into bits like this. Paired with eerie moments like the patient slamming his head into the pillar, and Lana and Kit’s initial confused looks elevating into becoming backup dancers, the sequence was nothing short of inspired. The show should embrace more moments such as these, but only in sparse instances to not dilute their power. It was exactly the terrifyingly absurd moment the show needed, and all the more powerful to contrast the muted tone of Jude this week, having been subjected to electrotherapy in another brutal sequence.

I do hope that with only three episodes left, the narrative can get a bit more focused. With Arden and Mary gone, Thredson will hopefully stand as the central final conflict (as well as Thredson Jr in the present day), with the Catholic Church potentially aiding our heroes. To compliment the threats of the crazed serial killer, we have the alien subplot as well, which received an interesting info dump from Peppa of all people. It’s nice to see that she had  a greater purpose to her role planned from the start beyond window dressing, and the continued absurdity of her enlightened state was just odd enough to work.

And yet with my desire for a streamlined conclusion to this season, I simultaneously almost wish that there could be a little more mention of some plot threads that now feel a little extraneous. Arden slaying the mutants in the woods may have ended that plot thread, and though his experiments were always a running presence throughout this season, the attention devoted to them in the earliest episodes (along with the promos for this season) seemed to pose them more as an intriguing mystery, rather than just another weird element for weirdness’s sake. While not a total fail, it may have just turned out to be one moment too many (unless there’s a lone survivor and Chekov’s Mutant ends up eating Thredson).

At this moment, I’m also conflicted about Murder Santa. At first, he was a mere inmate of the week. Then in the episode prior to this one, he proved that he had a larger role to play. Having escaped in this hour, he retrospectively proved to be more of a plot device than a character (provided he doesn’t return), albeit an incredibly entertaining device. Again, I wouldn’t want too much time in our precious last few hours devoted to him, but I’d love if there was a way to stitch his significance back into the playing field. Time, it seems, will tell when this crazy season comes to a conclusion.

Crazy Horror Conspiracy of the Week: The Name Game song means that those brats on Glee are actually crazed beings (low-hanging fruit, but I couldn’t not go there)!