American Horror Story: Asylum 2.02 "Tricks And Treats" TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer: James Wong
Director: Bradley Buecker
THE ONE WHERE We delve into Sister Jude’s history and discover some of Dr Arden’s dark secrets. Meanwhile, the priests perform an exorcism on a farm boy – with disastrous results.
VERDICT There are several main strands to this week’s episode. In order of interest: Dr Arden, Sister Jude and the exorcism. Arden and Jude, especially, are fleshed out – one becoming more sympathetic, the other even more despicable.
So, Arden. If there were any doubt about what kind of a man he was after last week’s episode, it’s erased here. He’s a viscious sexual predator, with a serious nun fetish. There are some disturbing (and obviously entirely coincidental) parallels with what’s been dominating the news in the UK recently, with Arden preying on the unfortunates in his care. He tries to seduce Sister Eunice, beats Shelley, and in the episode’s most disturbing sequence, attempts to rape a prostitute. James Cromwell is wonderfully creepy in the role, making Arden both uptight (he tells the hooker off for talking dirty) while clearly being a monstrous perv. It's a great bit of casting.(opens in new tab)
Jude, meanwhile, becomes a far more complicated character. At her absolute worst, she’s torturing Kit and asking Arden to perform electro-shock treatment on Lana to erase her memories. But at the same time, we delve into her past and find a much more relatable person– a normal woman who has been warped by a drink driving accident (which she caused). Here she’s tormented by the memories of the girl that she ran over (a neat inversion of Constance, Lange’s character from season one, who actively took pleasure in the fact that she had murdered Moira). She's still a nasty piece of work, but a more layered one. Also super MILFy in that flashback sequence.(opens in new tab)
Less successful is the big spooky event of the week: the exorcism of young farmer and serial masturbator, Jed. It’s all so clichéd! Admittedly there’s only a limited number of ways to portray an exorcism ( The Devil Inside tried to spice things up by having one in a moving vehicle, and look how that movie worked out...), but from the spirit taunting Jude about her past (she’s shagged 53 men, apparently) to the priest being hurled across the room, we’ve seen it all before. Many, many times. Let's hope the series has got it out of its system now and we can move on – though by the looks of it, Eunice appears to be possessed now.
THIS SEASON'S HEAVY-HANDED SUBTEXT Female sexuality and the way it's abused by men. It's everywhere in the show this year. From Shelley commenting on society's hypocritical stance towards female promiscuity, to the revelations about Sister Jude's past and the sane women who have been locked up simply because they're gay. There's also a hammered home religious metaphor in the scene where Arden attempts to seduce Eunice with an apple in a garden. Subtle.
THE ALIENS Are absent this week. Sad face.
WHO IS BLOODY FACE? At this point, and with no evidence at all, I reckon it’s going to turn out to be Dr Thredson. He’s just too nice for this show!
Dr Arden: ”Show me your mossy bank!”