‘American Horror Story’ 2.09 Recap: “The Rabbit Died”

The next new episode of ‘American Horror Story’ won’t air until January 2nd! How will I get through the next couple of weeks without my fix of this show? In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with last week’s episode, which featured the triumphant return of yet another Season 1 cast member.

In the framing story to ‘The Coat Hanger’ (the title alone is enough to inspire revulsion), first season star Dylan McDermott plays Johnny Morgan, an agitated man who visits a therapist (a clever inversion of his character last year) to cure his “compulsions.” When the female shrink inquires to learn exactly what habit he’s trying to break, Johnny reveals that his real last name is Thredson. “I’m the son of Bloody Face,” he declares, while explaining that he has inherited his father’s uncontrollable urge to murder and skin women. This isn’t exactly what the doctor expected. Of course, the next time we see her is in the form of a mutilated corpse. Like father, like son.

Back in the ’60s, Lana discovers that she’s pregnant. When Mary Eunice refuses to let her have an abortion, Lana tries to take things into her own hands with a wire coat hanger. Believing the job successful, she tells Thredson about the baby and tricks him into confessing his crimes on a hidden tape recorder. Kit stashes the recording in a bathroom. Later, Lana returns to kill Thredson using a shiv made from the same hanger, only to find him gone. Mary Eunice has found and released him, and further taunts Lana by telling her with supernatural clarity that the abortion failed. Baby Thredson has refused to let go, and is clinging to her insides like a monstrous parasite.

By this point, I should know better than to assume that a character is dead just because we appear to see him murdered on screen. Lee the psycho Santa (Ian McShane) has survived being stabbed in the neck by Sister Jude, and is acting remarkably sane. Jude has been blamed not only for attacking him, but also framed for the murder of Frank the security guard. Monsignor Howard believes that she snapped. Jude is remanded into the custody of the asylum as a patient. Oh, how the tables have turned.

Let loose into the institution’s general population, Jude apologizes to Lana for all she did, and vows to find a way to help her escape. Having heard this same story from Thredson, Lana is skeptical.

Dr. Arden tells Kit that he believes his story about the aliens, and in fact wants to use him as bait in an experiment to lure them back to Briarcliff. Because the aliens seem to respond when Kit’s life is in danger, Arden wants to use a drug cocktail to effectively kill him for a few minutes, then revive him. Eager to be reunited with his wife, Kit agrees to this crazy scheme. “This is going to hurt,” Arden warns him before stabbing him in the heart with a giant needle. When Kit flatlines, flickering strobe lights fill the lab. Arden follows the lights to a room where he finds Grace, restored to life and now pregnant.

Mary Eunice wants to play Lady Macbeth to Monsignor Howard on his career track to popedom. An important stepping stone in this journey will be the rehabilitation of serial killer Lee. Howard offers to baptize him into the church and cleanse his sins. Lee plays along, but then attacks Howard in the baptismal pool and crucifies him in the middle of the church. As he hangs from the cross, Howard is visited by the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy). I’d be inclined to believe that this means he’s about to die, but there are no guarantees with this show. I’m sure we’ll see more of him.

Despite some of my initial misgivings, the last several episodes of this season have won me over. I like the direction that the storylines are going. Even a small delay to the next episode will feel like torture to me.

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