American Horror Story: The Coat Hanger

Posted on December 13, 2012

My goodness, we’re getting awfully spoiled now. Two episodes in a row with linear narrative techniques and events following each other with something that resembles a natural progression. In fact, when the episode opened with a whole bunch of characters framing Sister Jude for the murder of the security guard, it was all so well-presented and straightforward that we almost believed she actually did it. Is it too much to hope that the ADHD style of storytelling has now been purged from the writers’ systems and we can expect a fairly conventional manner of storytelling going forward?

HaHa! Psyche!

Sister Jude is stripped of her habit and accused of murder, which means that, because this is AHS, she goes straight into a mental institution because that’s how the law works in this world. Lana finds out she’s pregnant with Bloody Face, Jr.  She steals a coathanger and does a little home-aborting. She and Kit tape Thredson admitting to the Bloody Face murders. Dr. Arden reveals that he knows about the aliens and thinks he understands their motives. He gets Kit to agree to temporarily die. Sister Mary Satan releases Thredson from his little home-made prison. She also tells Lana that she didn’t quite finish the job on Bloody Face, Jr. The Monsignor is naive, preening fool who winds up getting crucified by Killer Santa. Also, Grace is alive! And REALLY pregnant! And pinhead girl is suddenly lucid and intelligent! Also, Bloody Face, Jr. is a hot, grownup serial killer in 2012 who seems to know that Dr. Thredson was the original Bloody Face.

See? TOTALLY straightforward.

We suppose we’re lowering the bar a bit when we praise an episode like this. After all, if, say, Mad Men tried to use the storytelling techniques on display here, we’d howl long and loud in protest. But you have to take a show on its own terms and AHS would be nothing without its frenetic, hyper manner of relaying information. Part of the reason why this works is because the cast is composed of some seriously talented actors and because the show just plain looks great. And part of the reason it works is because it provides some truly engrossing or thrilling scenes every now and then. In short: it’s not the kind of storytelling we’d like to see replicated anywhere else, but the show knows what it is and in the end, manages to entertain, even if it occasionally frustrates or veers off into very silly territory.

At any rate, it seems like the drawstrings are being pulled ever tighter and all the disparate elements that earlier made no sense or seemed to have no connection to each are slowly starting come together. Sure, we’re still dealing with zombie-making Nazi doctors, serial killers, Satan-possessed nuns, Angels of Death, and aliens – all in one story – but against all odds and reason, it’s actually starting to feel like one story instead of a half-dozen unrelated ones. As always, we truly have no idea where it’s going to wind up, but as the season starts to head into the home stretch, we find all our earlier complaints and eye-rolling to be fading away. We’re in for the long haul and we can’t wait to see Judy face off against Satan, Lana face off against Bloody Face, and Kit … well, we honestly have no fucking clue what’s going on over in that corner.

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  • TheDivineMissAnn

    Okay, last night was the first time I watched AHS and will admit I was really creeped out.  It’s been a long time since a show/movie has given me the heebie jeebies.   Will watch again.  With the lights on.

    • That’s how I have to watch it. This show scares the crap out of me!

  • Sobaika

    I have no idea what’s going on in the alien corner either, but it seems to be headed somewhere, and for that much I’m grateful. It was getting sidelined a bit too much what with all the rape and Santa Claus shenanigans.
    I would appreciate this show a lot more if it wasn’t so damn predictable. How many episodes ago did you two call the baby Bloody Face storyline?

  • MilaXX

    I actually liked last night’s ep. A little linear plotting goes along way.

  • Terrie_S

    Was there anyone who didn’t give a little internal cheer when Jude smashed the record?

    • Loved when Lana said “Well, hot damn!”  Took the words right out of my mouth.

      • notterriblybitter

        I loved the two of them sitting at that table, smoking and casting wary looks at each other. I hope they become best frenemies. They’re a pair of smart, tough gals and will give Sister Mary Satan a run for her money if they can bring themselves to little trust in each other.

  • xmixiex

    THERE WERE SO MANY THINGS IN THIS EPISODE.  Bloody Face Jr.’s therapist is none other than the original “gonna be skinned to make stuff” Brooke Smith.  BFJ originally gives his last name as “Morgan” then goes on to talk about his foster family finding out that he kills animals, and that it’s an indicator of a sociopath serial killer… a wink to Dexter Morgan?  Then Monsignor is crucified in a dramatic display- another silence of the lambs reference? 

    • Sobaika

      I saw a lot of little references to the original season – love that McDermott was going in to see a therapist.

      • Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson cozying up over smokes (IIRC they smoked in S1) and all the pregnancy (though I suppose that might be close to saying all the blood and murder).

  • Isana Leshchinskaya

    evan peters is so great. i kinda wish he got cast as peet mellark, but then he may not have had the chance to do this season. and joseph fiennes got what he deserved. and ian mcshane makes everything so much better. i hope they don’t kill zachary quinto just yet. he is very, very attractive…and talented, but i think that’s just a given with this cast.

    • Sobaika

      He would have made a far better Peeta than he guy they ended up casting.

      • Isana Leshchinskaya

         yes! at least peters looks like a man. and he’s a much better actor.

        • Exactly! Sorry to go off on Hunger Games tangent but as a late 20s woman who loved the book, I just could not buy ANY romantic energy between Katniss and the Peeta they went with. I ain’t that old and I ain’t that young but Evan Peters pulls off 17 with a lot more charisma and chemistry. He can literally play anything.

  • Inspector_Gidget

    You know things have gone off the rails (in a good way) when you realize that the inmates were probably better off when Sister Jude was in charge!  

    So many funny lines last night…

    “Do you think it’s too late?”
    “It’s never too late to turn yourself in.”
    “I mean to go to medical school!”

  • I haven’t watched AHS, though I have kept up with TLo’s recaps. But I did watch five seasons of Nip/Tuck and two seasons of Glee.  I’m not sure I’d call Ryan Murphy a misogynist, but this guy has serious issues surrounding pregnancy and motherhood.  Serious.  Issues.  

    • Agreed. SO MANY TROPES.

      •  Yes–I’m not sure if Ryan Murphy hates women.  I don’t think so.

        But fetuses?  He doesn’t like those very much.  Not much at all.

  • FrickNFrack

     I’ve been saying for a while that the schizophrenic story
    telling this season has worn me out. There are so many things going on that it
    really is hard to keep everything straight. It’s nice to know that things
    really are coming together. You just never know with American Horror Story so I’ve
    always got my DISH Hopper ready to record the show and with four times more
    recording space than your average DVR I know I don’t have to rush to delete
    what I’ve already recorded. The fact that the present Bloody Face knew who his
    dad is was kind of disturbing but my DISH co-worker says that it’s classic AHS
    and that’s true. The whole back story for Dylan McDermott’s character is really

  • The actor who plays Dr. Arden is the same one who was mean to Laura Ingalls’ sister-in-law Liza Jane on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE circa 1980. He carries a history of meanness on his shoulders.

    • aritae

      Saying James Cromwel (the actor who plays Dr. Arden) “carries a history of meanness” due to a two-parter Little House episode and AHS is akin to saying “Sean Penn is a tender, beloved innocent” because he did “I Am Sam” and played a kid in one episode of “Little House”, also.  Cromwell’s played a lot of good-hearted characters along with the good ones–you should check out some of his other stuff.  

      • PaulaBerman

         Loved him in Babe! I think he has a versatile face. He can look cruel and mean, or sweet and fatherly. He’s a great actor and I love seeing him and Jessica Lange interact. This show boasts an extraordinarily talented cast. Hope Cromwell is on next season too.

        • dharmabum8

          He’s also Zefram Cochran, the inventor of warp drive in the Star Trek universe.

  • the_valkyrie

    I don’t know, but I’m finding this season decidedly not scary. There’s too much gore and guts. The story is okay, but I think the first season scared me much more, cause it was a bit more brooding. This season is much more WHAM BAM BE SICKENED!

    Huge props to the cast though,they are doing an amazing job