American Horror Story recap: Cinema No Paradiso

Devil-possessed Sister Mary turns Sister Jude's movie night into a bloody black mass in 'Nor'easter'
Ep. 03 | Aired Oct 31, 2012

What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? Only Sister Mary (Lily Rabe) knows. AND THE DEVIL INSIDE HER.

Byron Cohen/FX

Inside the wasteland of The Asylum, the horror freaks are amusing themselves to death.

Bloody Face, a legendary serial killer who wears a stitched mask made from flayed female flesh, hammers on the steel door separating him from Teresa, a kinky creepshow fetishist whose perverse passion for Chiller channel pop is now biting her in the ass. She scampers to snatch her phone and call for help but it’s too late: The awful American idol explodes into the cell with “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” swagger. The Butcher of Briarcliff is about to make like Vlad the Impaler with his lobotomy pick when Leo – Teresa’s husband – rises from near death and tackles Bloody Face to the ground despite being down one arm. They wrestle; Bloody Face loses the orbitoclast. Lion-hearted Leo grabs it and makes like Van Helsing, driving the metal stake into his Bloody Face’s chest. The beast is down…

But Teresa isn't done. She’s got adrenaline coursing through her veins and rage surging in her heart and all of it needs to be purged before she can move on. She sees the brain skewer embedded in Bloody Face’s torso, yanks it out, and stabs him with it over and over and over again, looking as terrible as the abysmal shadow creature she desires to destroy, looking like Buffy gone berserk, until she’s spent of her anger. “Theresa” spelled with an ’h’ means “angel.” But “Teresa” without the ‘h’ means “reaper.” And so we slay our demons and become our monsters.

The “Haunted Honeymoon Tour” is over. Teresa and Leo want out of The Asylum. She shoulders his dying weight as she calls 9-1-1-. The operator asks about the “nature of the emergency”… and that’s when the Bloody Face clones come marching in. Holy what-the-what?! narrative subversion! There’s one copycat cretin coming from one direction, another from the other. And one of them has a gun. POP! POP-POP! The lovers drop “like a sack of potatoes,” to use the shooter’s giddy metaphor. He pushes up his Bloody Face headdress and reveals himself to be a pale-faced young man. He whoops-whoops, gunman style. “So sick! It was like BANG! Lights out!” His accomplice isn’t as gleeful. “Cooper” peels away his death mask and bemoans a “s—t” game gone “way too far.” Gunman Geek: “This went as far as it can go. Don’t puss out on me, Cooper!” (Says the man who prefers killing at a remove with a pistol. Would Bloody Face really approve of such alleged innovation?)

Who the hell are these lunatic fringe skin-head jokers, these Bloody Face Fanboys? Are they aligned with the first Bloody Face that was hunting Leo and Teresa? How did they know The Lovers were in The Asylum?

The BFFs have questions of their own. Gunman Geek notices Leo’s severed arm. We see it, too; the “Angeles” tattoo conspicuously visible. “I wonder what the hell could have done that?” asks Cooper. Clearly, they don't know jack about The Thing Behind The Door...

But do they know anything about THIS fearsome fella walking down the mischief-wrecked hallway, heading straight toward them. Bloody hell! It’s another Bloody Face! An ever-growing legion of indecency! Do these deviants belong to the same wild bunch death cult? Or is this former Catholic madhouse buggy with multiple sects of rival horror freaks?

We won’t be finding out this week. BF No. 4 struts toward Nos. 3 and 2, whose faces go slack with fear, and as we wonder if they’re suddenly going number one in their pants, we leave the Monster Mash and cut to the credit sequence, a Stanley Brackage-esque "Eye Myth" of religious madhouse horror. And so continues this show within a show, this twisted cliffhanger serial about the awful legacy of awful events that have their own awful precipitant histories…

November, 1964. Libra has waned, and Scorpio is Rising, and a wrinkle in time is about to unravel the tightly-wound control freak named after the saint of lost causes. Sister Jude presides in her office at the top of the Stairway to Heaven, pushing bakery biz paper and grooving to sweet, sweet Catholic death metal. On the radio: A concert version of Faure’s “Requiem in D Minor” – choral-orchestral music for the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead, famed for its “Libere Me” and “Pie Jesu” movements. Gabriel Faure – who wrote the piece “just for fun” – explained that his so-called “lullaby of death” was suffused with his belief that shedding the mortal coil was “a happy deliverance.” The episode would give us plenty of people who would sharply disagree.

Enter Sister Mary Eunice. Is she Satan possessed or Goddess enhanced? Baphomet infused or Thelema imbued? We wonder. Oozing Discordian sass in the wake of her Maladay episode, Sister Mary plops a stack of mail on boss lady’s desk and announces that a tempest is about to rock and roll the joint. “A big fat storm,” she adds with ominous punctuation, sounding almost sincerely spooked. Perhaps there are things that can even scare the devil... like, say, an army of the heavenly host, who look like E.Ts. and travel by spaceships?

NEXT: Bad Religion

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