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

Speaking of the devil (and continuing with the theme of demonization), we next descend into Dr. Strangelove’s laboratory, where Arden is doing more experiments on Kit Walker. He shows him the black alien chip. It’s bouncing up and down in a bottle like a jumping bean. Arden notes that the weird little wafer seems to recognize Kit, that it’s drawn to him -- that it wants communion with him. Might Kit Walker have more tech embedded within him, tech that’s communicating with the chip and relaying intel to his foreign masters? Put another way: Kit Walker, are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party? “This is not the first attempt to infiltrate my labs,” says Arden, once again teasing us for backstory to come. He accuses Kit of being a mole for the East German Stazi. Or maybe the KGB? Or worse, maybe the rats who've allegedly infested every corner of American government. You know who we’re talking about. “Jews,” says Arden, “and fellow travelers.” He coldly pokes and pokes at Kit’s flesh, digging for more black bugs, and Kit screams hot. (Later in the episode, we'll see Dr. Arden babysitting that spazzy chip and reading a book about mind control -- an interesting allusion to drop in an episode about the power and influence of Christian-shaped culture. Again, Ms. Nin: "When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.")

Of course, to each generation, their own bogeyman. Black magic witches. Pinko commie bastards. Those damn immigrants, legal or otherwise! And so we circle back to The Mexican. We find her worrying her Rosary and feverishly praying to God as The Asylum’s true red menace enters her cell. Sister Mary slaps those beads away and orders the woman to get on her knees. The Mexican scrambles to reclaim her charm, begs Lady Satan for mercy. Sister Mary asks The Mexican to join her in prayer, and The Mexican obeys. There’s no fight, no resistance. Confronted with The Adversary, The Mexican’s faith fails her… or rather, The Mexican fails her faith. The point is underscored by the irony of the words Sister Mary asks The Mexican to recite: “Father in Heaven, ever-living source of good, keep us faithful in serving you.” Regardless: The Mexican’s a goner. Time to kill some Christians! Sister Mary stabs The Mexican in the neck with a pair of scissors, then through the heart. She admires the gush of blood, as if pleased with quality of sacrifice…

And then carts the corpse out to Arden’s Garden and watches The Creatures chomp chomp chomp away. It’s a Movable Feast for the abused, degraded, objectified unfortunates living on the fringes of Asylum society, albeit at the expense of someone not unlike themselves.

Sister Mary’s shock therapy tour makes its final stop of the day in Dr. Arden’s lab. The bow-tied brute brightens at the sight of his idolatrous crush, the manifestation of the innocence he never had and craves to possess. He praises Sister Mary for her compassion for The Creatures, and helps himself to a queasy-paternal pat-stroke-grope of her thigh. With that, the She-Devil drops the Sister act and busts him on his lurid-lustful heart. Arden is repulsed. My milky little Madonna?! Talking like the Whore of Babylon?! Say it ain’t so, you Ho! “This little bride of Christ has had an awakening. Not the lord, but to the power of sex, lust and desire,” teases The Scarlet Woman, blooming full Thelema. She crawls on his desk, hikes up her robe, and offers herself to him. Arden snaps. He strikes her, calls her a whore (his favorite word), strikes her some more. Sister Mary cackles, and hexes him where it hurts: His manhood. “I didn't know you were such a sad little panty waste.” She exits, leaving him looking broken and impotent – more than he knows. Dr. Frankenstein, made small by his dream bride turned monstrous. "Friend?" No.  “She. Hate. Me.”

Tough s—t, jerk.

While Sister Mary pushes her subversive agenda throughout The Asylum, Dr. Thredson pursues his own in the Common Room. We see him take charge of Sister Jude’s makeshift cinema paradiso, directing the orderlies on how to hang the screen. He’s approached by rebellious Lana Winters, who suspects him – correctly – as being a fellow traveler in the war against evil empire that is Sister Jude’s Briarcliff. Making like Princess Leia – sounding like Princess Leia – Lana begs Dr. Thredson to play R2D2 and transport a message to true love Wendy, the one person who can save her: “Help me, Dr. Thredson. You’re my only hope.” He pierces her with his gaze; we think he’s going to spurn her invitation to rage against the machine. “You’re asking me to betray Sister Jude, who is the administrator of this sanatorium?” But then he snatches and pockets the note, and they share a knowing, conspiratorial smile.

NEXT: Come As Your Madness


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