AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM “The Name Game” Episode Recap
Welcome to 2013 American Horror Story: Asylum fans! Here is an episde recap for the new year , so let’s get to it!
This week’s episode, “The Name Game,” referred to an episode not only about identity, but also to the practice of “naming” a demon during exorcism, all wrapped up within a well-known classic song.
We open right where we left off before the holiday break, with Dr. Arden reviving Kit after knocking him out in order to try and encounter the aliens. Once revived, Kit asks if Arden met with the monsters, but Arden denies it, and says nothing of his encounter with Grace either.
Immediately after, Arden enters a hidden room with pregnant Grace. Eerie theremin music plays, which has been used on the show before. Traditionally, especially in older films, theremin music has been used for sequences involving mad science or alien noises, so it’s appropriate here. Arden talks with Pepper the pinhead, who seems to be acting as Grace’s guardian, and perhaps even has the ability to teleport now. It seems this is a gift granted by the aliens, though I’m a little suspicious if Pepper many not be an alien herself (knowing this show, there’s a good chance we’ll never really know). Arden wants to X-ray Grace’s pregnant belly, but Pepper says the X-rays won’t work since she is now “protected.” Arden considers whether an emergency C-section might be the method to undergo instead, but Pepper warns him against this, and when Arden grabs a scalpel, it flies out of his hand across the room. “Why don’t you go to your whore nun and have her soothe your deflated ego,” Pepper scoffs.
In the next scene Sister Mary wheels Father Howard in a wheelchair, his hands wrapped in bandages from his sacrilegious encounter with Lee. Given the appearance of the Angel of the Death in the previous episode, I had assumed that Howard had been killed, but clearly that wasn’t the case. We learn that Lee is at large in various states around Briarcliff (once again, so much for being admitted to Briarcliff and “never getting out” as was the mantra in the first episode). In flashback, we see what really happened between Howard and the Angel of Death. “The Devil lives at Briarcliff in your favorite young nun,” the angel whispers, “You must cast her out.” It’s clear Howard doubts himself, and when we come back from the flashback, he timidly clutches his rosary in desperation.
In the common room, Sister Mary brings in a used jukebox. Jude, smoking, tells Lana, “she’s doing this to taunt me.” Mary plays the song “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, dedicating it to “Miss Judy Martin” (I would love an AHS: Asylum classic ’60s soundtrack, by the way). “That’s your name, Judy Martin?” Lana asks. “Not anymore, we’re all just numbers here,” growls Sister Jude. Or should I just call her “Judy” from here on out, since the “Sister” label hardly seems appropriate anymore? Kit enters the common room, eager to talk to Lana. Lana starts to tell him how Thredson is already loose, but he already knows. How? Well…at that moment Dr. Thredson enters the room, looking cool and collected. How the hell did he get out?
Thredson sits with Lana and Kit, telling Lana the only reason she is alive is because of the baby inside of her (something Kit was not aware of). Kit asks Thredson why he doesn’t turn him in since he is a wanted man, but Thredson won’t do it, knowing the illegally taped confession would also get out to the world. Thredson is well aware the best place for both Lana and Kit is to be stuck in Briarcliff, and Thredson also plans to continue Kit’s “treatment,” since Sister Mary has offered him a full-time position. He also remarks Mary is “surprisingly adept at untying slipknots.” Well, at least now we know Arden wasn’t the one who let Thredson escape…
Later, on the ward, Judy and all the other patients are brought out as Sister Mary orders a room search. Lana confronts Mary about giving Thredson a job, but Mary shrugs it off (Lana seems to be one of the few at this point who does not know Sister Mary is the Devil).
Upon inspecting Judy’s room, Mary “finds” a cucumber. “I bet you got this idea from Shelley,” she sneers, and taunts Judy by asking if she thinks about Father Howard during the night. Mary decides Judy ought to be “punished,” which leads into the next scene where Judy is strapped down for electroshock treatment. Arden warns not to give Judy more than 50% power, but Sister Mary cranks the lever to the max without Arden knowing, and what’s left of Judy’s deteriorating brain is zapped to pieces.
Later Father Howard unwraps his bandages, and Mary notes how fast his hands are healing. She notes it is almost too fast, since it would be better for Howard to suffer a bit in order to be a potential “future saint.” Howard suddenly presses his rosary against Sister Mary’s forehead, trying to exorcize her, but Mary throws him across the room to the bed. She then mounts the weak Howard, throwing off her habit and revealing the red lingerie. “We’re like Adam and Eve, two innocent children exploring each other’s bodies for the first time,” she coos, “this is your first time, isn’t it?” It is, and Howard is having trouble resisting as she begins to ride him. Just as things start to escalate the pair is interrupted by Dr. Arden, looking shocked and heartbroken.
Judy enters the common room, her senses zapped out of her skull. The music playing from the jukebox is almost unintelligible, but Judy manages to stumble across the room, trying to shut it off. Lana goes to hep her, and Judy looks at her in a daze. “It’s me, Lana,” she says, “Lana banana. Do you know your name?” Judy then turns to the jukebox and picks another song: “The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis. And with that we are treated to a fun, though incredibly silly and surreal sequence.
We see Judy dressed back in her old lounge-singing days, singing the Name Game to all the other patients, replacing the lyrics with her own name, as well as the names of other patients such as Kit, Lana, and Pepper. All the other patients cheer and dance, and it’s a lot of fun, though clearly all in Judy’s head. We finally wipe back to Lana, who tries to tell Judy, “Your name is Judy Martin,” hearkening back to their first scene in the common room together in this episode. It’s unclear whether this revelation sticks in Judy’s head.
Outdoors, Sister Mary catches up with Arden, about to feed his creatures. She notes that an afternoon feeding is unusual (usually this is done at night). Arden is clearly upset about the night before with Howard. As the creatures stumble out of the woods, Mary wants to talk about giving Judy a lobotomy, but Arden shuts her down, clearly recognizing the Mary he once loved is gone. Pulling out a pistol, Arden shoots all of the monsters, declaring “the experiment is over.” “My my, quite a tantrum Arthur,” laughs Mary. Arden then tries to shoot himself, but can’t bring himself to do it, sinking to his knees in despair. “You have no idea what it means to have lost you,” he sobs. “Jesus Christ,” sighs Mary, “You’re being pitiful Arthur.” “Then have pity on me,” he begs, but Mary shoves him into the dirt, where he lies sobbing.
In the kitchen, Judy works with the other patients. Howard enters, calling everyone to the common room except Judy, whom he asks to stay. He begins to console her by giving her a lesson in pressing the doughy, then admits he just needed to talk to her, saying she’s always had the gift of “moral clarity” (that’s certainly not true, but Howard has never been the most self-aware tool in the shed). Howard says that he knows about the devil in Sister Mary, and that he failed to cast it out. Judy looks pretty zoned out, but a part of her seems to understand. “My virtue is gone, Jude,” Howard laments, “She took it from me, violated me.” Howard wonders if he should renounce his vows. I wonder if Judy is jealous, but her blank expression doesn’t read that way. Howard then puts a hand on Judy, seeking counsel, and Judy closes her eyes, enjoying the touch. The same music from Judy’s fantasy with Howard in the first episode plays (another good example of how strong the music has been as a through-line this season). “What should I do?” Howard asks, and for the first time since her electroshock treatment, Judy speaks: “Kill her.”
Thredson talks to an orderly, asking that Kit be brought to his office later. Thredson then sneaks into Arden’s (absent) office, looking for truth serum. When he hears screaming, he finds something far different; Grace is going into labor, with Pepper watching over everything.
Alone, Father Howard prays for strength, when Mary enters, finishing the prayer in a sinister manner. Howard backs away, terrified, and Mary asks, “Did our little tryst turn your stomach into knots, or are we ready for round two?” Mary knows Howard plans to kill her, but doubts he’ll be able to go through with it. She taunts him about the various ways he might do it, even asking if he’ll choke her the way he choked Shelley (the Devil knows all!). Sister Mary then lays out her plans; how she’s plotting to rise in the hierarchy with him, knowing he will become pope. “I’d rather die than allow you to defile the church,” he replies. Howard finally angers the demon within Mary when he promises to cast her out and return Sister Mary Eunice to her state of grace. Mary pushes Howard agains the side of the stairwell, snarling, “I gave you a chance, you just pissed it away,” and that she plans to devour the last bit of Sister Mary’s soul she is inhabiting. Just then the real Sister Mary appears, crying to help and begging for forgiveness. “I won’t let go,” she cries. “Then let go of me, Sister.” Sister Mary does, at which point Howard grabs and throws her OVER THE EDGE OF THE BALCONY!!!
As Sister Mary falls, there is a flash of red lingerie (I couldn’t help but notice), and a look of thanks in Mary’s eyes as she crashes to the floor. As blood pools around her head, she looks into the eyes of the Angel of Death. “Take me,” she pleads. “I’ll take both of you,” Shachath replies.
Next we see Mary in white robes (the symbol of purity) holding a cross, as she lies in a bed while Howard prays to her. Arden enters behind him. “She’s been released from Satain’s grip,” says Howard. “Satan’s, or yours?” Arden asks, hearing that Mary “fell” from the third floor. Howard doesn’t acknowledge what really happened, saying it is time to plan burial arrangements. However Arden requests cremation. Howard is against he idea because it is a pagan practice, but Arden insists, as well as demanding he does it himself, and Howard relents.
In a straight jacket, Kit is brought into Thredson’s office. Thredson shows Grace and Pepper to Kit, as well as the fact that Grace has had a baby (a baby that looks human, but who knows?). Thredson tells Kit that the baby is his son, and Grace confirms it. “What are you going to do?” Kit asks. “That’s entirely up to you,” replies Thredson. My question is whether or not it has really been 9 months since Kit and Grace had sex, which seems unlikely given the timeline of the show. Maybe alien babies gestate faster?! Who knows. Regardless, Thredson’s threat has worked, and Thredson rushes to the bathroom where Kit hid the tape. He finds it, only to discover it’s in fact a picture book wrapped in cloth. Lana then enters, stating that she’s hid the actual tape, and now she’s the only one who knows where it is. If Kit is harmed, Lana promises to find a way to get the tape to the police. For once, Thredson actually looks pretty scared…way to finally do something right, Lana!
In the common room, Judy points at the various patients, slowly remembering their names as it all comes back to her. She then recognizes Mother Claudia. Apparently Judy was repeating Claudia’s name in her delirium, so Claudia came to see what was the matter. Judy stammers that she called upon Claudia to say goodbye as she she believes Howard was taking her to Rome, and even to get married. It’s clear Judy is still rather delirious, though she speaks of the Devil and Sister Mary being killed by Howard’s hand. Sister Claudia shows pity and tries to calm Judy down. It seems to work, at which point Judy points out Lana Winters (the “name game” seems to have worked!), and admits that Lana is innocent. She asks Claudia to get Lana out, since Lana is sane and doesn’t belong in Briarcliff.
In the final scene, Arden is alone in the crematorium. He stokes the fire, then looks at Mary’s face. He then gets on top of her body, and pushes the lever to cremate her, sending himself into the cremation chamber in the process! As the door closes, Arden burns himself alive, screaming in agony. Whoa!!!
Wow, that episode wrapped up a lot! Arden’s monsters are dead, and so is the threat of possessed Sister Mary, and Dr. Arden himself. The only real remaining danger seems to be Dr. Thredson at this point, and whatever is to be made about those aliens. And there are still three episodes left!
An interesting conundrum is Kit’s safety…if Mother Claudia does well on Judy’s request to set Lana free, Kit will suddenly be in hot water with Thredson again in the time that it takes Lana to reach the police. But either way, it seems Thredson is in a tight spot. I wouldn’t count on it, but maybe this season will have a (mostly) happy ending after all? We shall see!