The first season of American Horror Story introduced me to a delightfully twisted world where literally anything goes. Season two seems to have upped the ante, even going so far as to add mutants, Nazis, and aliens (a sub-plot I haven’t grown too fond of, honestly). “Dark Cousin” continued this trend by bringing the angel of death into the mix, played by the always lovely Frances Conroy, who I’ve been madly in love with since seeing her in Six Feet Under. So let’s let loose our big, black wings and do a barrel roll into the mad world of American Horror Story: Asylum.
Plenty happened in “Dark Cousin” but the most important bit was the aforementioned introduction of the angel of death. Conroy manages another brilliantly ethereal performance as the dark angel, where she manages to be dark and creepy and even oddly sweet and gentle. Her role in this episode is mostly about teasing a few of Briarcliff’s patients with a literal kiss of death, and seeing who accepts her offer and who turns her down was fun to watch.
Also, every image in this article is going to be of that black-winged beauty, because my love for her is true and she’s just that good. Deal with it.
The episode starts off with Grace, who’s finding it difficult to stay alive after the aliens scooped out her baby-making parts. Naturally, Arden, or Dr. Nazi, is thought to be the man behind this. Conroy makes her first of many mesmerizing appearances here. Grace comes close to getting the kiss she wants so badly, then their make-out session is cut tragically short by a shot of epinephrine to her chest. Sorry, Grace.
Oh, what’s that? You want another look at Conroy? Well all right, here you go.
Even Evil Sister Eunice thinks Arden’s to blame, proving the devil actually doesn’t know everything. Arden gets all up-in-arms about it and slaps her, which, understandably, pissed her off a little. He tries to get physical again, but his hand never makes contact because Eunice Fus-Ro-Dah’s him into the wall. I bet he’s wondering where she learned that neat little trick.
Conroy only gets two kisses in this episode — Grace (more on that later), and a new patient we haven’t seen before. The first guy decides its best to rest his wrist on a circular saw (bad idea, kids), leading to the first of two brutal wrist-cutting scenes in this episode. If you have trouble watching stuff like this, you’ve been warned.
The recently slice-and-diced patient admits he doesn’t want to live in this world anymore, cuing another appearance by the dark angel. After she plants a wet one on him, Eunice enters the room, leading to one of my favorite scenes in the episode. There’s a brief moment after Conroy recognizes the demon that’s taken residence inside poor Sister Eunice where the real Eunice is let out. She pleads for help before the demon gets back in control, leading me to believe that’s not all that easy maintaining control. I hope this isn’t foreshadowing a potential inner battle that could lead to the demon’s exorcism, because I love evil Eunice.
Also, Bloodyface/Dr. Threadson totally rapes Lana — who he chose as a substitute for his goddamned mother. Yeah, let that simmer in your brainstuffs for a bit.
All this getting to be too much for you? All right. You know what’s better than the sweet tune that plays every time Conroy appears in this episode (yes, she got her own theme song, and it’s delightful)? Her eerie, silver eyes.
Okay, back to Bloodyface’s Torture Chamber and Sex Dungeon. The angel of death comes to save Lana from Dr. Threadson, but she turns down her kiss. Not a good idea, because immediately after her poorly made decision, Threadson returns — he even says “Lana, you decent?” before entering. That made me crack up.
Apparently, mom-banging is where he draws the line, because now he has to kill Lana. Threadson has one of my favorite lines in the episode, where he says “I don’t want to hurt you, so I’ll give you a choice. I can either cut your throat, or I can strangle you. I DON’T BELIEVE IN GUNS.” It’s a serious scene and Lana’s losing her shit, but by now I’ve laughed out loud twice, and I’m starting to feel bad about it.
Thankfully, Lana bashes the doctor over the head with a framed picture of her murdered girlfriend and escapes. Now, she had two opportunities to make sure he didn’t follow her: she could’ve finished the job when she was strangling him, or she could’ve cuffed him to the bed and left him to rot. She chose neither, and instead decided to make a run for the nearest road where she runs into the worst person ever.
Any time you see William Mapother, who plays creepy alarmingly well, you know something bad is about to happen. It seems Lana caught him after a bad break-up that leads him to say a few bad words before promptly killing himself. The car crashes and Lana is knocked out, only to wake up back in Briarcliff.
Dear American Horror Story writers: I love you more than anything, but seriously, fuck you. I need to calm down. Can we get another picture of Conroy, please?
Lana’s maddening situation aside, you want to know who else is going through some stuff? Ex-Sister Jude’s having issues, that’s for sure. Her only hope for exposing Dr. Nazi has a shard of mirror in his neck, and she’s having trouble with her past (the little girl she hit with her car), present (the guy bleeding out in front of her, her past coming back to haunt her, etc.), and future (will she get back in the church?).
We get to learn more about Jude after one of her “passing thoughts” of suicide, where we see the second scene with a tough-to-watch wrist slashing. She meets up with Conroy in the diner where she was planning on offing herself, who she’s apparently seen before during one of her other suicide attempts. She breaks down in front of the dark angel, saying she never rose to “His (God’s) challenge,” because she’s still a “drunken whore and a murderer.” Conroy offers to end it all, and Jude accepts, but first, she has to take care of something.
She decides to visit the family of the little girl who she thought she murdered with her car. This is why you should stop and maybe poke the body of the thing you just ran over, so you know whether or not it’s actually dead. The girl didn’t die, in fact, she’s a nurse and a mother. Jude starts losing it again, then we return to Briarcliff, where Kit’s decided to return in a futile attempt to save Grace (you know, the girl who murdered her family and lied to him about it).
Long story short: things go bad, a nurse gets her throat torn out by one of those mutants who live in the forest surrounding the asylum, Grace gets shot (and finally gets her kiss), and Kit gets caught — though we don’t necessarily see this happen, so maybe he escaped?
Burning Questions: what’s up with Lana and Kit both returning to Briarcliff? That’s annoying. Also, is Conroy here to stay, and why hasn’t she been seen before? Plenty of people have died, more often than not in horrible ways. Does she only appear if summoned? Lastly, are there any other big mysteries in store for us? We know about Arden’s Nazi past, Bloodyface has been unmasked, Jude’s past has been more or less sorted out — it seems like there are too many answers and not enough questions. What did you think of this episode?