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Recap: “AMERICAN HORROR STORY 210, The Name Game”

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It seems AMERICAN HORROR STORY can still surprise. Midst the
madness that is ASYLUM, there was the question of Monsignor Timothy Howard, and
if his cowering ways would remain intact throughout or if Joseph Fiennes would
really get his hands on something. The tenth episode, “The Name Game” saw him
take serious responsibility and do away with the show’s greatest character. It
was a somber affair, and maybe all a bit unceremonious.

But maybe that’s a point AMERICAN HORROR STORY is endlessly
trying to make. Death is often unceremonious, and often freeing. Frances Conroy’s
Angel of Death is a peaceful character, doling out moments of reprieve, moments
of ease. It’s the heinous, difficult events that befall characters both before
and after their time of death that make up the bulk of this series. Sister Mary
Eunice, before her untimely demise, even spells it out, taunting the Monsignor
with just how punishing the act is. Was that supposed to prepare us, or build
up to what was surely a difficult moment for the clergyman? On a second
viewing, it’s certainly more powerful, but as the “The Name Game” ended, there
couldn’t help but be a feeling of, “That’s it?” Was that really the end of
Sister Mary and her affliction? Did Sister Mary, or for that matter, her demon
aggressor deserve more? Maybe not in the world of AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

At least Mary got a few more moments to shine. Lily Rabe, as
usual, was tops. Sass was abundant, as was electro shock therapy; she brought a
jukebox to the rec hall and at the height of her wicked ways, sexually devoured
Timothy Howard. In her final moments, we got a flinch of the real Mary Eunice.
Rabe hit every note before she hit the floor. Get down girl, go ‘head, get down.

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And as we mourn Mary, we say goodbye to Dr. Arden as well,
whose last straw was the Nun’s rape of Monsignor (Nunsploitation achievement
unlocked). It wasn’t her clearly evil plans or disturbed ways, but sexual
betrayal and rejection of purity that did him in and (as it is with her defeat)
a second look at the episode reveals his resignation. After murdering his
mutated experiments, Arden cremates himself alongside Mary’s body. He has
nothing to strive for anymore, and it’s time to face the Hell he knows he’s
headed towards.

The weight of this episode—didn’t it seem unusually deprived
of color?— was relieved by the one thing this series was missing: a dance
number, and a nod toward creator Ryan Murphy’s main squeeze, GLEE. The parallel
was unavoidable, given the connection, but not wholly irrelevant. Both shows,
at heart, are about outcasts, misfits and the troubled and both musicals and horror
operate on similar levels of heightened emotion and scenario. Whether examining
true-to-life troubles through song and dance, or murder and fright, it’s all gripping
and visceral.

With “The Name Game” number—an episode in the ongoing saga
of Sister Jude—it became clear that again, this is Jessica Lange’s show. However
the remaining mysterious figures/bads come into play in the next three
episodes, Briarcliff belongs to Judy Martin and likely no amount of Bloody Face or
extraterrestrials will take that away.

Next week, Lana gets out?

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About the author
Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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