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

And yet, when Little Miss ‘Damn Plucky’ and company barged into Briarcliff and demanded Judy’s release, Monsignor Timothy informed them that the former Bride of Christ had taken her own life – hung herself in her cell – just two weeks earlier. We later learned this was a lie: Judy was alive and not-so-well, languishing in a secret hold. Father Howard put her there for a few reasons. She had tried to rally the Briarcliff unfortunates to reject the meds ("horse tranquilizers!") that were keeping them passive, numb, and dumb. (Judy's trajectory: From Nurse Ratched to Randall McMurphy.) Then, during a verbal altercation with the Monsignor, Judy all but demanded that he renounce hits vows and resign from the priesthood because he had lost his virtue to The Devil. Timothy would not. Since he banished Satan from Briarcliff by throwing Sister Mary to her death, the Monsignor had become even more ends-justify-the-means cynical about advancing The Church, as well as advancing within The Church. "I have too much to give, too much too offer," he explained. "I can't just throw it all the way." Judy was repulsed. She hated him for his "magic carpet ride fantasy" of becoming Pope -- and she hated herself for believing in it. "Can you imagine the disillusionment, the shame, and the disgust I feel now that I see through your stupid, pitiful, naked ambition!" That was enough for The Monsignor. "Shut your filthy mouth!" he commanded, as if she were some hounding, tempting demon that needed to cast out and away. But Timothy couldn't afford that. And so he made her disappear.

As the orderlies dragged her away, Judy Martin said, ominously, with an almost possessed air, "You will never prevail, Timothy. My god will never allow it." My god? Did she mean the God that Monsignor Timothy believes he serves but truly doesn't? Or does Judy now serve another deity? If so, what would be his or her or its name? Maybe it's less of an entity and more an idea, like Faithlessness, Cynicism, or Disillusionment. Gulp. Could it be... Satan?!?

When I saw Judy rotting away, I immediately hyperlinked to the opening sequence of the very first episode, and the moment when Leo’s arm got ripped off by the mystery monster lurking within that Briarcliff cell. Has that dismembering demon ever been ID’d? Could it have been Judy? My prediction for one of the season’s final images: The present day Massachusetts PD will examine Teresa’s phone – the one Leo used to snap a pic of whatever was inside that cell – and the cops will see Judy’s furious, awful mug scowling back at them, and us.

The final beats of Lana’s story found her in the hospital, several months later. She had just given birth to Thredson’s baby. She almost had an abortion -- performed in secret, in the home of a skilled female doctor using swiped hospital equipment – but she stopped the procedure when memories of her Briarcliff/Bloody Face ordeal many months earlier flooded her mind and overwhelmed her. So much violence. So much blood. No more. It felt to her – made sense to her -- that if she wished to stand in opposition to the horror show of her culture, she should save the life inside her, not destroy it. “No more death,” she said. Did anyone see this as some kind of “pro life” endorsement? I did not. In fact, as much as I was expecting this about-face, I’m not sure I bought it. Was this something Lana would really do, or was this something the story needed her to do, for the sake of plot or theme? And yet, it makes total sense she’d shut down the operation, if only because the physical procedure itself was going to be too psychically painful, too evocative of the trauma and violation inflicted upon her by Thredson. In a way, you could say that Bloody Face still held her hostage. And yet still another voice in me wonders: Lacking clarity – what’s the right thing to do? – perhaps erring on the side of “keep” is better than "abort." I'm of many minds on this. What did you think?

Back on point: Lana decided to bring the baby into the world. But she did not want to keep him. She didn't even want to see him. So when a nurse entered with the wailing infant, and asked her to console the distraught lad by nursing him, Lana got huffy. “That’s not my problem,” she said. Oh, but it was, and she knew it. It just wasn’t in her nature to turn her back on a suffering innocent. And so, as the nurse was about to leave the room, Lana called her back. “Bring him here,” she said. She took the baby, brought him to her breast. Memories of another Thredson who wanted her in a similar fashion must have come to mind, and it must have been hell to fight through that sick static in order to give the baby what he needed. Damn that man for perverting and making painful every bit of her feminine being! The measure of her heroism – or her resignation – was seen in her free hand: From a fist, it opened, and then joined the other to reluctantly cradle the kid. As she nursed a baby who may or may not grow up to be the demented Johnny Morgan (what do you think?), Lana looked up, and saw the crucifix over her bed, upside down, and I was struck by the portrait of a woman trapped in a world gone topsy-turvy from the rape of meaninglessness. Hang tough, Lana. Hang tough.

The plucky heroine of American Horror Story wasn't the only one juggling baby trouble. Kit Walker -- his name cleared; his liberty restored -- negotiated the same deal with Monsignor Timothy that Dr. Thredson tried to negotiate with him regarding the tape. He agreed to keep forever silent about the Briarcliff horror show, if Father Howard released Resurrected Grace (who was technically dead, anyway) and their miracle baby (whom Thredson and Howard tried to ship away to St. Ursula's). Kit -- who promised to make Grace an honest woman -- brought his new family back to the home he kept with the woman who had been his late, great true love, Alma, who, according to Grace, had died during her epic ethereal captivity with the strangelove extraterrestrials who had impregnated both of them. I thought maybe Casa de Walker would have been sold to fund Kit's defense, or become some kind of True Crime/UFO nut tourist trap, but no: The structure had stood empty and unmolested during Kit's incarceration. Even the spare key was still under the mat. (Okay, we roll with it...) The Briarcliff lovers were going to make the house their own. Kit was going to buy Grace a horse. Happily ever after seemed to stretch before them... until they found a pair of complications sitting on the bed: Alma and child. What the hell, indeed. I find myself at a loss for theories when it comes to the Kit/Grace/Alma/E.T. intrigue, and I really don't know how much I can trust born again Grace; there is something eerie and not-quite-right about her, as if this new Grace is the uncanny valley version of the old Grace. I really do suspect we're headed toward some kind of nothing-has-ever-been-what-it-seems-with-Kit twist. He's an alien, I tell you! An alien!

Quick Hits!

+Monsignor Timothy on the persecuting press: "Hopefully, if we remain resolute in our silence, they will eventually tire and go away." His whole storyline: A metaphor for The Catholic Church poor, unacceptable response to the abuse scandal, which has cost it much credibility and integrity in the eyes of believers and non-believers alike. (Remember when I expressed some degree of admiration for Father Howard last week? Well, admiration gone.)

+Judy jamming to "Love Potion Number 9" on the jukebox, surrendering to Satan's parting gift to Briarcliff:  "She got one thing right. This jukebox, it has a strange healing affect. It keeps the joy alive." Perhaps Judy's new god is the golden calf of... pop culture?

+I want a Barb and Lois spin-off!

Your turn. What did you make of "Spilt Milk"?

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

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