American Horror Story recap: Booby Trapped

Twisted mother issues and bizarre baby trouble curdle the horror and spoil some heroic triumphs in 'Spilt Milk'  
Ep. 11 | Aired Jan 9, 2013

Ponder The Plight Of The Incidental Bigamist. Two babies. One wife. One fiancé. How the hell will newly free Kit Walker (Evan Peters) provide for them all on a gas station attendant's salary? Maybe he should write a book...

Byron Cohen/FX

The cinematic allusions continued during the final confrontation between Lana and the monster that made her play surrogate mommy. The setting: Mad Men Misogyny Manor, aka Dr. Thredson’s swinging Mid Century Modern domicile. Winters – scrubbed clean of Asylum stink and dressed to kill – was waiting for Thredson as he came home. She cut the image of a film noir femme fatale as she held him at gunpoint, the long shadow of her armed hand cast against the wall. She had already sent the tape to the police, and she wanted to prevent Thredson from running away before the cops cuffed him. She also had a burning question: What did Thredson do with the body of her lover, Wendy?

Lana believed she was in total control of the situation. She was certain she had Oliver trapped. But Thredson knew something she didn’t, and AHS made sure we knew it, too: He had a gun. He lit the electric fireplace. He fixed a martini. He took his time telling Lana what she wanted to know, and many things she didn't. He explained that he had chopped up Wendy and scattered and incinerated her remains… but not before using her body for sex practice, a sick feat he couldn't accomplish without turning her face down. (He couldn’t look her in the eye while defiling her.) (Oh, and for the record: Ewwwwwww!). As Thredson drank and orated like a pulp serial villain explaining his machinations, our dread mounted as we waited for Thredson to make his move. It was textbook application of Hitchcock’s “bomb theory” rule for manufacturing suspense, plus Chekhov’s gun: You knew before the scene was over, one was going to shoot the other.

Making this sequence even more interesting was how it cut to more bits between Johnny Morgan and Pandora in the present. Despite filling his gut with Pandora's milk, the scion of Bloody Face still ached with need, still smarted with disillusionment. His suckling laid bare his impoverished character, and of course, he blamed his (alleged) mother, Lana. Johnny was hopelessly fixated on “that cold bitch,” that loveless lesbian wrecker of horribly misunderstood and marginalized Thredson men, and worse, he knew he was hopelessly fixated. He was a rabid dog trapped in a psychic cage, and he raged. Our dread mounted, again per the rule of Bomb Theory: We knew everything Pandora didn’t -- Johnny’s violent potential; the true extent of his perverse, possibly adopted Unwanted Child pathology – our awareness heightened by the switches to Lana and Oliver as they discussed how she intended to abort his baby as soon as she could. The intercutting was presented as fluid, blurring bleeds from one point in time to the next, and as such expressed Johnny’s unfolding psychic/psychotic breakdown and reinforced the idea of historical cause-and-effect, linking the sins of the father to the son, be he spawned from Thredson’s loins or just his cultural impact. And so Johnny began to eyeball the woman he had hired to play mommy with a different kind of awful desire. He grabbed Pandora by the neck and squeezed. “You know what the bitch did to me?!” Johnny seethed as we swooshed again into his (alleged) past, never to return again. Did Johnny go all the way? File not found. But we must assume that this next gen Bloody Face had claimed another victim.

To be clear, I totally believe that Johnny intended to murder Pandora the second he opened the door and let her inside. Sure, maybe he didn't allow himself the conscious thought. But he should have recognized his pattern. He should have known what he was risking. Similarly, I think Johnny’s maybe-parents had agendas they weren't acknowledging. I think Lana wanted to kill Thredson. Yeah, she said she wanted to see him fry in the chair. But she wanted her hand on the switch, and the closest she was going to get experiencing that sensational satisfaction was pulling the trigger on her gun. And you know, I think Thredson wanted her to do it – unless, of course, he could get the drop on her first. “I’m actually relieved. Living with secrets... Is.... Not... Healthy!” said Thredson with a smirk and exaggerated nods. His tone was disingenuous, if not condescending to an infuriating degree. But I would argue his conspicuous attitude was intended to manipulate Lana into making a move against him...

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