This post contains spoilers for the “American Horror Story” Episode 2.12. If you do not want to be spoiled, DO NOT read on!
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Ryan Murphy
The camera pans around Kit’s house. It is now 1967 and he, Grace, Alma, and the two children are living together as a family. He pulls a bloody axe from a body and sits down with it. From another room, a small child calls out, “Daddy?” and he replies, “Daddy will be there in a minute.”
Grace draws a detailed picture at the kitchen table as Alma comes in with vegetables harvested in the garden. The children are tearing apart toilet paper and it is obvious that Grace is not keeping an eye on them. Kit comes in, excited about an upcoming march. He wants the whole family to attend, but Alma isn’t so sure about taking the children. Grace offers to stay with the children, but Alma directs the conversation to Grace’s pictures, which she thinks are not appropriate for the children. Later, Kit kisses Alma in their bedroom, but Alma’s mind is on Grace’s obsession with the abduction. She suggests that Kit spend more time with Grace to snap her back to reality and Kit finds her in her room, drawing more pictures of the aliens. She hopes her drawings will show the children where they came from, but confesses to Kit that she worries about becoming violent again. As the night progresses, bright lights flash in the windows and Alma instantly thinks that the aliens have returned. In reality, it is vandals who try to light the family’s house on fire. Kit tries to tell the police about the arsonists, but the officer disregards him, choosing instead to focus on Kit’s polygamous relationships. Inside, Alma sobs, traumatized by the flashbacks.
Grace sits on the floor with Thomas, teaching him in French about the aliens. Julia runs through the house and falls, but when Grace tries to go to her, Alma stops her. The two have an argument about how the abduction has affected them; Alma is still deeply traumatized, but Grace sees it as a blessing. Grace tells Alma that the aliens selected Kit because he is so kind and open-minded, but Alma reminds her that she was his original wife and knows him better. She brings up Grace’s violent past and Grace accuses her of being uptight. When she brings Julia into the argument, Alma slaps her, but immediately apologizes. Kit comes in and sees that there’s been an altercation and calls a family meeting, but Grace blows him off, taking her son with her.
Later that night, Kit finds Grace drawing in the living room. They talk about their blissful life together and Grace encourages Kit to embrace what brought them together. Her monologue is interrupted when Alma strikes her in the back with an axe. Kit pulls Alma away and pins her to the floor as she tells him that Grace wanted to bring the aliens back and that they need to hide from them. Kit kisses Grace on the cheek and pulls the axe from her back, as the opening scene repeats.
In 1968, Jude, Pepper, and several other patients play Candyland in the common room at Briarcliff. A television broadcasts President Johnson’s reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but no one pays attention. They are focused on the game, and it’s clear that Jude is the unofficial leader. Monsignor Howard asks Jude to speak privately, using her religious name, but she pretends not to hear him and mocks him about renaming her “Betty Drake” after he had her declared dead. After some cajoling, he gets her to speak with him. He is leaving Briarcliff because he’s been appointed cardinal of New York. The Catholic church has donated Briarcliff to the state, which plans to use it as an overflow facility. The Monsignor promises to release Jude, but she has little hope he will follow through.
Jude and Pepper work in the bakery as the police bring the first state-confined inmates in. Among them is the Woman in Black, who Jude instantly recognizes as the Angel of Death. Jude confronts the woman, but she acts as if she doesn’t know what Jude is talking about. She’s a regular inmate who murdered her boarders for the pension checks. The new inmate offers Jude a chance to be in charge with her, or become just another inmate.
Jude confides in Pepper about trouble coming and hopes out loud that the Monsignor will stay true to his promise, but Pepper isn’t so sure and reminds Jude that he can’t be trusted. As they talk, more new inmates are brought in below, including Alma. Jude is escorted back to her room by a friendly orderly. She says she’ll say a prayer for his mother’s quick recovery, but encourages him to pray as well. Jude finds the new patient in her room and the orderly explains that she is Jude’s new roommate. When he leaves, Jude discovers that the woman stole her cigarettes and the new patient explains that everything in the cell is her property, including Jude. She tries to make a sexual advance on Jude, but Jude rebuffs her.
In the common room, Jude seems distracted during their daily game. The new patient comes in, flanked by her lackeys, and zeroes in on Alma. Alma hurries away when the woman tries to stroke her face. The woman confronts another patient who disobeyed her orders to save up his medication, already exerting her new power. She stabs him and passes the knife off to her friend to hide, then blows Jude a kiss.
Later, Jude wakes up to find the woman in black leaning over her with her wings spread. Her screams reverberate through the halls as guards run to her room. They find her straddling her roommate and punching her in the face. As the guards pull her away, we see that it is not the woman in black, but another patient.
Jude sits in her old office, restrained in a straight jacket. The new administrator of Briarcliff, Dr. Crump, questions her about the altercation and Jude simply says she dislikes her roommate, rather than trying to explain what she thought she saw. Dr. Crump threatens her with solitary confinement, but Jude agrees to behave. She asks about the Monsignor, but the doctor reveals that he was appointed cardinal two and a half years before. She tells Jude she is confused and Jude starts to boil over with rage, but is able to calm herself down. She tells Dr. Crump to talk to Pepper, but the doctor reminds her that Pepper died shortly after the state took possession of the hospital. She comforts Jude gamely, and tells her that she will remind her doctor to up her medication. Jude starts to cry, confused by her missing memories and the odd time jump.
It is 1969. In a bookstore, Lana does a reading from her book about her ordeal with Bloody Face. It is a best seller and the women in the audience are thrilled to meet the author. She reads from the book, which has clearly been embellished. Suddenly, Dr. Thredson stands up, calling her out on the fabrication. They argue about the ethics of mingling false events with the truth. Lana tries to justify her actions, but she is confronted by another ghost – Wendy, who is furious that Lana described her as a “roommate”. Thredson accuses her of only writing the book to become famous. The woman hosting the reading puts a hand on her shoulder, and Lana is brought back to reality; the audience’s concerned faces looking on. The hostess commends her for her bravery and the audience applauds as Lana basks in their approval and pats her hair demurely. During the signing, her assistant tells her she forgot to bring snacks and Lana gripes about the warm soda she gave her. She orders her to get ice from the diner across the street and the assistant scurries away. As she returns to her signing, Lana sees a familiar face. She and Kit embrace and she gives condolences for Grace’s death, but cites her busy schedule as the reason she didn’t write to him after it happened. She brags about her success, telling him that she sold the film rights to her story.
The two go out for coffee and Lana continues to talk about her newfound fame, particularly a recent appearance on “Cabot”. When Kit asks if she’s been back to Briarcliff, Lana begins talking about her latest project, a book about Lee Emerson, the crazed Santa who crucified the Monsignor – after his escape, he killed seven nuns. Kit confronts her about going back on her promise to expose Briarcliff and get Jude released. He reveals that Alma died in Briarcliff of a heart attack and that when he visited his wife, he discovered that Jude was alive and still an inmate there. She spends her days watching “The Flying Nun” and she believes that it’s based on her life. Kit tries to convince Lana to finally write the expose, but she says that Jude got her just desserts. She returns to the book signing and he returns to his battered truck.
In the present, Johnny Thredson pulls up to the bookstore, which is now going out of business. He asks the owner about an autographed copy of Lana’s book, but the woman tells him that it was her mother’s copy and it’s not for sale. He tries to convince her that he is Lana’s child, but she knows the history of the case and tells him that the baby died at birth. She does show him Lana’s signature, however, and as she starts to put it away he tells her about his plan to confront and kill Lana. Terrified, the woman hands the book over.
- The series fast forwards to 1967. Kit, Grace, Alma, and the two children are living together as a family. Kit pulls a bloody axe from a woman’s body. In the background, a child’s voice calls out for “Daddy”.
- Grace obsessively draws detailed pictures of her alien abductors. Alma, hoping for a normal life, is worried about Grace’s fixation and encourages Kit to spend more time with her.
- Vandals attack their home, but the police are unsympathetic because of their unorthodox lifestyle. The lights and fire causes Alma to flashback to her traumatic abduction. She and Grace argue about their differing interpretations of the abduction and Alma slaps Grace in a fit of anger.
- Kit finds Grace doing more drawings in the middle of the night. As they talk about their future together, Alma drives an axe into Grace’s back, showing how we got to the opening scene. She was afraid that Grace would summon the aliens back and they would take the children.
- Time moves forward again, and it is 1968. As the world is alerted to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jude, Pepper, and other patients play Candyland. The Monsignor interrupts to tell Jude he has been appointed as cardinal of New York and that Briarcliff has been turned over to the state to be run as an overflow facility. He promises to get Jude released.
- One of the new state inmates is the spitting image of the Angel of Death. Jude is terrified, but the inmate appears to be a regular woman, incarcerated for killing her boarders for their pension checks. She makes it clear to Jude that she intends to rule the roost.
- As Jude tells Pepper of the Monsignor’s promise, Alma is brought in with the other new patients. The woman in black is Jude’s new roommate and she immediately makes sexual advances on her. Later, in the common room, she tries to do the same to Alma and then stabs another patient after he disobeyed her orders to stash his meds.
- Later, Jude hallucinates that the Angel of Death is trying to take her, but when guards hear her screaming and rush in, it is just another patient. After talking with the new administrator, Jude discovered that two years have passed. The Monsignor – now Cardinal – never had her released and Pepper is dead.
- In 1969, Lana does a reading from her book about Bloody Face. She has embellished the story to boost sales and has a hallucination in which she is confronted by Dr. Thredson and Wendy. Kit attends the signing and the two talk over coffee. While Lana is enjoying her fame, Kit is angry that she never exposed Briarcliff and did not keep her promise to Jude. He reveals that Jude is still alive, despite the Monsignor’s claims. We also learn that Alma died from a heart attack while at Briarcliff. Lana plans to write a book about Lee Emerson, the crazed Santa, and refuses to write about Briarcliff or help Jude.
- In the present day, Johnny Thredson attempts to get an autographed copy of Lana’s book from the now closing bookstore. The only copy is from the owner’s mother’s personal collection. While she refuses to sell it to him, she allows him to look at the signature. He tells her of his plan to confront Lana and kill her for abandoning him, and the bookstore owner gives him the book, terrified by his claims.
They definitely had to pack a lot into these last two episodes and it showed. This one felt overstuffed and bit unfinished. I felt like they started several cool subplots, but never really finished them, particularly with the woman in black. What was that about, other than to show that Jude is going crazy?
I’m hoping they tie everything together in the last episode. I did like Lana succumbing to fame, which they set up beautifully in the previous episode. That was the most believable and well-founded part of the episode. I was equally happy to see her get called out on the lies in her book, even if it was just in a hallucination.
I was really hoping that Jude would get out, so seeing her eventually go crazy was disappointing. Murphy did offer a glimmer of hope as Kit left, but there’s a good chance that Jude isn’t going to make it out of Briarcliff alive.
I’m anxious to see how they wrap up this season. I’m going to reserve my final judgment for the finale in the hopes that everything really comes together.
The Best Bits:
Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson stole the show, as usual. I loved seeing Lana as the fame-consumed authoress!
What did you think of Continuum?