American Horror Story recap: Suffer Not A Woman

Not a good night for the ladies, as Bloody Face shows his true face and Dr. Arden seizes control of The Asylum 
Ep. 05 | Aired Nov 14, 2012

"HEIL ME!" Suspected Nazi war criminal Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) bluffed Sister Jude out of power and silenced a threat to his freedom with a few taps of his orbitoclast in the conclusion of "I Am Anne Frank."

Byron Cohen/FX

Regardless, Dr. Arden made a deal with the devil, literally and figuratively. He had one more follow-up question. How exactly did Sister Mary get Shelley out of Briarcliff? “You’ll be surprised,” she said. “She weighed very little.” From there, we cut to...

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Shelley… And a scene that seemed to indicate that Sister Mary had already betrayed Arden. For if Doc Frankenstein assumed that the twisted sister had fed Shelley to the creatures in the woods outside Briarcliff, he couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, Sister Mary took her to a schoolyard and left her at the bottom of a stairwell. A little girl found her and screamed. Other kids and their teacher joined her. They screamed and ran away. Still: She had been seen. And that can’t be good for you, can it, Dr. Arden? (Well played, Sister Mary, who continues to act in ways that cause us to wonder just how devilish this alleged devil truly is.) We left Shelley looking boiled and furious, as we watched her climb and ascend, on her own hideous, die hard strength. No wolf’s head cane for her. Pure arm strength!

Be afraid, Hans Gruber. Be very afraid.

While we’re working the Die Hard references: THEORY! Does Dr. Arden have an evil twin? “Hans Gruber” + Die Hard With A Vengeance = Jeremy Irons, who played the villainous Simon, the brother of Alan Rickman’s Die Hard rogue, in the third installment of the Bruce Willis hero-cop franchise. What if Dr. Arden has a sibling? What if this doppelganger was the nefarious Dr. Hans Gruber of Auschwitz, the one who experimented on kids; the one that we saw take a keen interest in a pair of twin lads in “Anne Frank’s” death camp flashback? What if Arden’s dark half is alive or clinging to life somewhere, and Arden is trying to develop cures for evil or death to save his beloved bro from eternal damnation?

What To Do With Inconvenient Women. “You didn’t give her much of a chance!” declared Sister Jude when Mr. Brown returned to Briarcliff with Charlotte, desperately searching for help. His wife’s psychotic break had proceeded to genuine psychosis: In one of those soap opera/home movie cutaways, we heard baby David crying, we saw Mr. Brown order Charlotte to deal with the colicky kid (“You want to hold your baby?” he said as he was about to sit down with a cocktail and paper), and we witnessed Charlotte snap. She threw her own cocktail against the wall. “Yes, darling,” she said. “Why don’t ‘I’ do that?” Mr. Brown watched her disappear into the nursery – and then heard David go silent. He raced to investigate and found Charlotte trying to suffocate the baby with a pillow. He rescued the child just in time.

Now, at Briarcliff, he told Sister Jude that he needed Charlotte fixed, and fast. “I have to go to work! I’m afraid to leave her alone!” He wanted professional help. He wanted that trustworthy looking shrink with the Clark Kent glasses. Sister Jude decided she had no choice but to swallow that bitter pill and asked right hand man Frank to go fetch Dr. Thredson. But the two-faced psycho(therapist) was already on his way out the door…

And it didn't matter anyway, not after Mr. Brown bumped into Dr. Arden in the hallway, just as the fiendish physician was leaving Charlotte’s cell. (We weren’t privy to his entire visit with the woman who failed to kill him. I dug the shot of Arden’s towering dark shadow cast upon the wall of the room as Charlotte shrunk away in fear. “And now, your highness, we shall discuss the location of… your evidence implicating me as Hans Gruber.”) Mr. Brown saw the cane and the limp and made the connection. He apologized for his wife. He fretted the consequences. He wished there was something that could be done to cure her of her madness. Dr. Arden stopped in his tracks. A plot quickly bloomed. “I see no reason for punitive action. Not when there is a far more humane remedy at hand,” said Arden. “As a matter of fact, we could do it tonight. Then she would be home by tomorrow. A new woman.” Cue implicit diabolical cackle.

An ominous makeover loomed for Sister Jude, too. She prayed for deliverance from Dr. Arden’s machinations, not to mention to mention the inevitable, long-deferred consequences of mistakes made long ago. She wanted to keep her job. She wanted to maintain her place in this safe haven from her past. She implored her namesake, the patron saint of lost causes, to pull her ass out of the fire one more time. But when Frank reported that Lana Winters had gone missing – one more fiasco in a series of them of late – Sister Jude knew she was done.  This set the stage for a soliloquy that said a lot about Judy’s pathology, and her past (including her last name), and also spoke to the themes of the episode…

NEXT: Squirrel Baby!

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