Dr. Crump gave the woman she knew as Betty Drake a look full of pity. She told her not to worry. She told her she’d ask Dr. Creighton to increase her drug dosage. “Everything is going to be all right,” promised Dr. Crump. Judy looked to the glass pitcher and saw her reflection turned upside down in the water. Perhaps she was remembering something she once said about false hope. Or maybe that memory had also been lost in the discontinuous mess of her mind.
"Betty Drake" wasn’t only one who had become an unreliable narrator to her life’s story. Moving into 1969, American Horror Story re-introduced us to Lana Winters, born again as a Feminist heroine and blossoming brand name in the burgeoning field of True Crime literature thanks to her best-selling book Maniac: One Woman's Story of Survival. Her success was well deserved, for sure. But as we watched and listened as Lana read from her ripely written opus during a signing at Newman's Books, we began to sense that something unseemly has seeped into Little Miss Damn Plucky. And for all of us who had tracked and suffered her ordeal right along with her, we could tell that there was something flawed in her written recollection of playing Mommy to Dr. Oliver Thredson while chained in his bloody basement dungeon.
How long had it been? 20 minutes? 20 hours? 20 days? In a windowless room without a clock, time felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford. I reminded myself that any moment now, my time could end, and all the minutes I could extract with my lies and my shows of affection and empathy could slip through my grasp like sand through my fingers. CLICK! CLICK-CLICK! The fluorescent lights flickered on. Adrenaline coursed through my body. My muscles tensed. My heart pounded through my chest. His appearance was always unexpected. I came to believe he was always watching me, waiting to catch me off guard.
But this time, there was more than one coming down the basement steps. Another woman -- her hands tied behind her back -- staggered in front of him. She stumbled down the steps and landed hard on the tile floor. She looked up at me, and it was as if I was looking in a mirror and saw my own despair. That’s when he turned to me and said, "Say 'Hi' to our new toy."
Yet that never happened. Just ask Dr. Oliver Thredson, who suddenly stood up from his seat and called "Bullshit!" on the woman who killed him in the previous episode. "You told me that's what you were going to do," Lana coolly replied. "You tortured me with the idea that I would be somehow be responsible for another victim." Yes, sure, okay, fine, retorted Dead Thredson. But she was still lying. "You put it into your book to sell more copies," declared this figment of Lana's guilty conscience. "You sold out!"
"I'm a writer," Lana the horror show recapper responded. "It's my job to tell the essence of truth."
That's when an alienated aspect of Lana's tortured identity took to its feet and spoke in protest. "Is that why you called me your 'roommate'?" asked Imaginary Wendy. "I was your lover! But in your book, I was covered in a cloak of asexuality. Our life together disappeared." (I wondered: How many times have storytellers used that shameful device in popular fiction? On a related note: I Googled the words "cloak of asexuality" and found them in a book entitled Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender In Post-War America 1945-1960. I think you'll find the passage -- which refers to an inquiry into homosexuality and "the aggressive predatory lesbian" at a women's prison in Framingham, Massachusetts -- Framingham being where Judy Martin ran over The Innocent Girl In Blue those many years/episodes ago -- kinda sorta relevant.)
"That part of my life wasn't pertinent to the book," replied Lana, somewhat weakly. "It would have distracted the reader from the central theme."
Back to Dr. Thredson for final word: "Face it, Lana. You're only interested in one thing: Fame." An astute diagnosis, indeed.
NEXT: The endgame comes into focus