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It’s unclear whether “Spilt Milk” can be judged on its own.
As AMERICAN HORROR STORY begins to wrap up its second season in earnest (and
not just its typical stop-start-reset fashion) it may be integral to view this eleventh
episode of ASYLUM alongside the final two that follow. That could be the key to
figuring out whether, in the end, this all works. Because right now, after a
truly head-tilting opening in which Dylan McDermott’s present day Bloody Face
visits with a lactating prostitute, who can really be sure of anything?
Like much of ASYLUM, a lack of sure footing hung over “Spilt
Milk.” Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who previously directed “I Am Anne Frank, Pt 2”
with much success returned to the series with dizzying style on full display.
Rejon feels like a perfect match for AMERICAN HORROR STORY. His work is
constantly flared, very influenced (and easy to see by what) and occasionally
resonates thematically, but mostly just aims to be dazzling, empty or no. As
“Spilt Milk” swept along, some sequences, like Grace’s time with the aliens
and Lana’s split screen escape were properly suspenseful, disorienting and
evocative. Other choices, like the many swooping overheads and wide lenses
ended up reinforcing the sense that in AMERICAN HORROR STORY, everything feels
off all of the time. But if that’s the case, and the viewer is constantly
being beat over the head with visual confirmation of such, when does impact start to
Maybe the aliens of ASYLUM and their brief scenes are still
effective because in a season where we’ve seen everything we can, they’re still
kept in the shadows, mysteriously plugging away. Dr. Thredson/Bloody Face
revealed all. His anger, obsessions, tactics were poured out and much like Mary
Eunice’s final moments (however beautiful they were), there was a feeling of
anticlimax once Lana pulled the trigger. Was that all it was ever going to
take to put this maniac down? Clearly he lives on in his future son, who
inherited a fury at his own mother, but Johnny is a pathetic scoundrel. He
commands nothing, and simply loses his temper.
Lana and Thredson’s confrontation was undeniably and
expectedly stylish, however. Rejon poured on the noir-ish affectation—with
shadows and booze and hushed hatred—transitioning through mirrors and tits from
one deadly encounter to another. But Johnny’s scene undoubtedly carried far
less weight. It makes one curious if we’ll see Kit and Grace’s baby in the
future (and for that matter, Kit and Alma’s as well, since she’s all of a
sudden alive) and what will become of them.
For the second time, in only two seasons, Ryan Murphy and
Brad Falchuk are finishing out with birth. Are the creators simply
acknowledging a cycle, here—with so much death, it’s only natural to see the
world replenished—or is it something else they’re getting at? This season, for
however ridiculous it is, has often tried to touch on social context and
parallel. Unless there’s some twist in which Johnny isn’t Lana’s, modern day
Bloody Face is the product of a psychotic, murderous rapist. Hate begets hate
and in this case, does so in the face and womb of someone marginalized because
of gender and sexuality. If that is a factor here, it will only be confirmed or
refuted once the fates of Kit’s children are revealed.
Next week, it looks like Murphy makes good on his promise of
taking ASYLUM through the ages. Just how do Lana and Johnny get along?
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