American Horror Story: Nor’easter

Posted on November 01, 2012

Hey, remember last week when we said that we didn’t think Dr. Arden was necessarily an evil character? Well, how you like me now, nympho-Shelly? That’ll teach you not to laugh at a man’s penis.

Okay, so we were wrong about Arden, but since we have maintained all along that you can’t apply normal narrative or televisual rules to this show, we’re just going to hang on to that and proclaim ourselves right again. Also, those are our names up top so we can do anything we want.

As for this episode, well…uh…okay. This is the point in American Horror Story where we the reviewers and audience are simply going to have to decide to ride things out and not think about them too much, because that was one crazy, fucked-up hour of television, no? And we don’t mean it in the “WOW, that was one crazy, fucked-up hour of television!” sense so much as the “Oh jeez, that was one crazy fucked-up hour of television.” one.

A moment, please, before we continue, to observe the death of … whatever her name was; Jenna Dewan-Tatum’s character. We turned to each other, upset, and said “Our little TV star friend got killed off! Well, shit!” Or did she? What the hell is actually going on in the present-day scenes? So those two Bloody  Face guys were just… what? Serial killer fans? And then the real Bloody Face shows up?

Did you like the part where we acted like the story doesn’t make sense in the present-day scenes? Because the story doesn’t make sense, top to bottom, in EVERY scene. We’re struggling not to make this a complaint, because we’ve said all along that you can’t really apply the rules to a show like this, but well…okay, we’re gonna complain.

Sure, the rules don’t apply, and at the end of last season’s equally fucked-up story, most of us looked back and said, “Hey, that was actually a lot of fun.” But that doesn’t mean that the show creators are going to pull the same trick off twice. We shouldn’t do it, but we’re starting to worry that season 2 might just go completely off the rails. That exact moment occurred when drunken Sister Jude (which we could have watched all night) came face to face with what looked like an alien to us.

For all it’s wackiness, last season was essentially a haunted house story with lots of flash. As of last night’s episode, we have a serial killer, aliens, a nun possessed by a demon, flesh-eating zombies, and torture porn in the form of Dr. Arden and his tiny penis. That’s just a tiny bit much, Ryan Murphy. And when you throw so much shit at the wall to try to get some of it to stick, you know what you wind up with?  A shit-covered wall.

Anyway, there was still some fun to be had. As we said, we’ll take Jessica Lange acting drunk and bitter any day of the week. Sister Mary Eunice and her slutty, demon-possessed ways are also a lot of fun, especially her lip-smacking joy at seeing Christian’s slaughtered in an old toga movie. Chloe Sevigny finally brought some real life to her character and made her relatable and vulnerable. And any time Zachary Quinto and Miss Jessica get to do a scene together, the paint on the walls crackles and bubbles and peels right off.  As for the escape attempt, we’re reminded of the many attempts made last season to exit that damned house, and after a while, it just got boring and repetitive. We hope this is the last time we see an escape attempt. The story’s in the hospital and there it should stay.

Oh, who are we kidding? The story’s going to bounce all over the place before it’s done. For instance, what, exactly, was the point to Dr. Arden painting lipstick nipples on the Mary statue and calling her a whore before smashing it? Will there be repercussions to these actions? Will it play out somehow or be followed up on later in the story? What do you think?

We want to believe this is going somewhere and it’s all going to work in the end, but please, Ryan. Please don’t give us nothing more than a shit-covered wall this season.



[Photo Credit: FX – Stills:]

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  • MilaXX

    I didn’t enjoy last night’s episode and I think you just pointed out why. When it gets really wild and crazy like that I get bored. It’s like added gore for no good reason and instead of any sort of narrative you get a bunch of random scenes.

    •  We’re so behind on the Fringe recap (we’re blaming everything on Sandy this week), that we think we’ll put up a double recap on Saturday.

      • Yay! That gives me time to get caught up on Fringe, too.  Rock on, dear TLo.

      • MilaXX

         okay, I can deal.

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    I”ve just become bored by Ryan Murphy’s penchant for throwing all kinds of dreck out and pretending that somehow just throwing this stuff out is so creative. No, Mr. Murphy, sometimes it’s just laziness or demonstrates a genuine lack of creativity.

  • nannypoo

    Well, I thought it was great fun. I don’t care if it makes sense or has a message. I even kind of like it when a character turns up with an entirely different personality than she had before. What I never understand about Jessica Lange, though, is why in every role she plays she reverts to a southern accent. She’s from Cloquet MN. This show seems to be set in New England and last year they were in LA. Why is she always Blanche DuBois? Anyway, I thought last night’s episode was hilarious.

    • BerlinerNYC

      Yes. I hope we get a LOT of mileage out of that possessed nun, who brings fun to the evil in all the ways that the doctor just makes it creepy. Without the fun bits, after that last scene (no spoilers!), I probably wouldn’t keep watching. I’m not precious about these things, but I also won’t just sit down and watch an hour of torture-porn.

    • They SERIOUSLY need a dialect coach on this show.  Jessica Lange’s and Mark Conseulos’ and James Cromwell’s Massachusetts accents are horrible.  The only one that comes close is Evan Peters and he’s only 85%.

  • I thought last nights episode was awesome! Yeah, lots of loose ends that expect may or may not get tied up but I’m willing to just go along with the ride. For me, in a way, some pieces ARE starting come together but not in ways I can clearly articulate in words. lol

    Also, the point of smashing the statue…the statue represented Sister Mary. She referenced her rosebud nipples (not sure how much I can repeat here lol) when she was trying to seduce him. His saintly image of her was tainted and smashed so he did the same thing to the statue. Why? Cuz he’s a crazy person with penis and mommy issues and he has to act out.

    Can’t wait for next week and love reading your recaps!

    • Thanks, for stating.  I thought that was fairly obvious too.  Don’t know why so many people were acting like it made no sense.

      • I think it’s because “Why? He’s crazy!” doesn’t count for much as an explanation.

  • Patrick Donalds

    Last night’s episode was great, I thought.  I will agree though this season has been way too chaotic and is trying to do too much. I think Lily Rabe’s performance as Sister Eunice is much better possessed than playing innocent and naïve. I’ve been recording the season on my Hopper so I don’t miss a moment.  It has 2000 hours of recording time available which means I have plenty of space for Asylum and all my other favorite shows.  I like the overall theme of the season, it just lacks focus.  My coworker at DISH has an interesting thought: if sanity is a central theme of the season, then how can we be sure what has actually happened?  What if it’s all a hallucination?

  • tereliz

    I really enjoyed the scenes with Sister Mary Eunice, her shift from wide-eyed virgin to possessed whore-nun really showcases her acting abilities and she’s obviously having a lot of fun with it. Jessica Lange and Zachary Quinto were amazing as usual (I loved when he was like, “you’re asking me to go behind Sister Jude’s back?” and took the note without another word.), and I was genuinely scared for Shelly and scared of Dr. Tiny-Penis, but there was an awful lot of offal left over. I could do without the present day scenes altogether, and if they don’t follow up on the aliens AND the crazy zombie-flesh eaters in the woods, I will be very put out. 

  • MaryanneGirl

    I’m torn. I like this show, and want to like this season, but you hit the nail on the head with this review, TLo. I almost turned it off last night with 20 minutes left because so much was happening, I felt completely overwhelmed.  To me, the shock value we’re supposed to feel from all of this started to become numb.  “Oh look, an alien-type creature,”  “Oh look, zombies in the forest,” “hey…he’s desecrating a Virgin Mary statue, oops, he knocked it over,”…etc. I want to stick with it, but it just all overwhelmed me so much, that I may be completely turned off.

  • Pish Posh – this was a good episode, off the walls crazy, but good.  Moreover, that one look Sister June gave Dr. Arden (if you watched, you know which look) makes up for every shortcoming.

  • UsedtobeEP

    I think I would like the whole thing better without the alien subplot. I am not an alien fan. The aliens are probably related to what Dr. Arden is doing somehow, though—has someone said that already?

  • I’m Out.

  • Sobaika

    Him lipsticking the Virgin Mary statue and crashing it was one of the weirdest things I’ve seen on TV. And it was weird without purpose, which is more than a bit annoying.

    Either way, I like this show (if onto for all the wacky) and will continue to watch.

    • dgh

      That scene made me wish David Lynch was directing.

  • CJ Michalak

    If I may, to quote the masters, “Girls, THIS is not your show”.

    Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain…

    TLo, of the many things that make you so great, and us such avid fans of yours, is your impeccable attention to detail.  You established both with your original recaps of Project Runway, showcasing your ability to to i.d. a wonky hem (before PR was even broadcast in HD), calling out designers (said like Tim Gunn) for inconsistency and immediately knowing what exactly is and is not in a designer’s wheelhouse.  And you did all of this much better than the PR judges. 

    Anyone reading your fashion recaps of Mad Men and the detail and thought you put into explaining how the costume choices impact the characters’ story lines recognizes this skill/gift of yours.  Thus, turning on anything Ryan Murphy-created is going to send your bitchy, witty and keen eyes for a manic tailspin.  Murphy doesn’t do consistent.  He does hyper, ADD-driven, forced relevance and treacly, completely unsubtle commentary on republicans, Catholicism bullies, etc.. .  Hence, Glee. 

    No Murphy show is going to appeal to you, so I recommend taking a breather and appreciating it for what it is.  Rather than looking for a Diva Lopez, only to be disappointed by a Juicy Couture (<– irony, right there) sweat suit, resist the urge to hope that this show turns into Murphy's Helena Bohnam Carter.  This show IS your Chloe Sevigny in all her multipersonality glory.  It will not pull off vintage Westwood in any way that WERQs.  But it will entertain the crap out of us for the length of crazy it shows and but-slapping, bj-giving boundaries it pushes.

    If you must satisfy your detail-oriented nature, focus not on the plot (b/c Murphy, clearly do not), but on the music chosen for the show.  For example, if you look into the back story of the Singing Nun, used for all of the scenes in the common room, and Dusty Springfield, played during Wendy's pre-murder shower, there are some pretty clever parallels to be found.  The show is clearly bat-shit crazy, but they hired someone pretty smart to pick their music.

  • TLo, you were not alone in your doubts about Arden.  I had the following conversation with my husband Jeff last night after the show:

    Jeff:  I guess Arden is REALLY EVIL!

    Me: Um, you think?  It took you 3 episodes to figure that out?

    Jeff:  Well, this show has a lot of red herrings, so you never know.  They could just be messing with you.

    Me: So in the first episode, when he was torturing Kit and feeding the patients he killed to the monsters in the woods, you thought he might not be evil?

    Jeff:  Maybe the patients were bad and the monsters in the woods were good!  Again, you can’t know these things for sure.

    Me:  And last week, when he was tormenting a prostitute and making her dress up like a nun, and the pictures of women he probably killed and the “mossy bank” shit…didn’t figure out the whole evil angle at that point either?

    Jeff:  Aha!  You said “probably”!  You didn’t KNOW he killed those women!  Anyway, this is the kind of show you just can’t know for sure what’s going on.  He could seem like a bad guy and then turn out to be a hero by the end…I wasn’t totally convinced he was pure evil.

    Me:  But this week by the time he used the word “Whore!” over a hundred times, desecrated a religious statue and amputated Shelly’s legs, you were at last convinced of his evil?

    Jeff:  Yep.  He’s evil.  Totally evil.  No doubt about it.  He’s the evilest!

    Me:  I’m so glad we’re finally on the same page with the whole Arden is evil thing.

  • nc17

    hmm. I’m also worried. Not only did the first season essentially a haunted house story, but at its center was a family that was falling apart, the writers were able to wind their relationships in with the story. Here, no one really has a relationship, it”s just all of these different people thrown in together and I don’t see their relationships developing.

    I suspected by the end of the first episode that Adam was punking Jenna in the present day story, but I guess I was wrong.

    Also, Where was Joseph Fiennes in this episode? 

  • PrunellaV

    And what about the superfast, extra vicious ZOMBIES!

  • I’ll stick with it as long as Lange delivers lines like “The incomparable Charles Laughton…who I understand is an enormous whoopsie”

  • Amy

    Guess Dr. Arden really bought into that whole virgin/whore complex.

    I am sticking out this season but I have to say, I’m not into the gore and torture. I like my scares psychological. Not gross!

    • schadenfreudelicious

      couldn’t agree more, way too much gore and torture for my taste, it’s turning into American “Saw” Story…

  • I’m assuming the crazy doctor ends up as some ex-nazi Dr. Mengele type.  The preview for next week mentioned something along those lines. But why the hell did he cut the ends of her legs off and what the hell is that thing he took out of Tate’s neck?

    • tessasouthworth

      He cut her legs off so that she wouldn’t try to run away again, and the thing he took out of Tate’s neck is some kind of “bug” ostensibly put in by the aliens from episode 1.While I’m here, thank you gentlemen for continuing to review AHS. As it was with Lost, you and Doc Jensen are my favorite accompaniments to Mindf#ck TV!

  • I’m not even sure what this is. Are we not supposed to write about the show because we gave it a mildly critical review? Or are we supposed to write about it but NOT be critical at all?

    Honestly, we’re confused, because if you read over our AHS posts, you’ll see that we adore this show and we’ve lauded it for its unpredictability. Maybe you should take a break from reading our AHS recaps. Or maybe you should write your own.

    We will never understand the “I don’t like what you wrote here, so you should stop writing about this, or you should write about it in the exact manner I’m about to dictate to you” comments. Why not just engage our points and tell us why you disagree?

    • LordZoe

      totally on the other side of this one cj! tlo, love your recaps of AHS – I dont watch it a bit because am in foreign, but mostly cause its scary. :/  but am SO entertained reading your recaps.  closest i’ll get to jessica lange’s fabulousness. i would say more more more, but i think you guys get that a lot…

  • oohsparkley!

    Thanks Tlo.I’ve only seen one episode and I still enjoy the recaps.

  • dgh

    This show’s wall is already blanketed in shit, but that’s ok. I usually watch slightly drunk and surfing my blog feeds so I don’t really care if it doesn’t make sense, but the BloodyHead Triplets were just annoying, and I’m still stuck at “WTF??” over Jessica’s apparent alien sighting. So far, Cabin in the Woods was a way better mash of every concievable horror cliche packed into the same tight sausage casing. But I have to say this week’s episode title was a startling bit of inintended synchronicity. “Nor-easter”, huh? At least that tunnel didn’t flood.

  • Just a mess. Seriously, I’m gonna need something like Buffy’s “Hellmouth” to justify all this random crap going on. Very explicitly doing the immortal-masked-and-stabby serial-killer, the aliens, the zombies, the possessed nun, and Dr. Torture-Porn in one episode was just comical. 
    I’m still just hoping that there’s some reason for all of it, and will stick it out til something is offered on that front, but I just don’t know. It’s ridiculous.