American Horror Story 2×08 Unholy Night Recap and Review
This engrossing and just plain gross holiday themed installment of American Horror Story starts at the exterior of a department store what appears by the text style of the advertisements to be the 1960s. A young boy is talking to his mother about what he wishes he could get for Christmas. They pass a Santa Claus ringing a bell for charity who can hear everything he is saying. The mother donates some money into the pot. The rather ominous appearing Santa gives the boy a candy cane and says that he is sure to receive the precious raccoon skin hat he covets. Suddenly, the Christmas lights on and inside the store go out, which never signifies anything good. A well-dressed, clean-shaved man appears and trash talks Santa for telling the boy a lie since he will probably never get that hat. The Santa removes his beard and says he is just ringing the bell in a Santa suit to get out of the house. Unimpressed, the well-dressed man then brandishes a gun and kills Santa on sight, shooting him in the forehead.
Cut to 1962. A young girl runs downstairs in her house toward the living room to meet a blood-stained Santa, who is the strange man in the previous scene. The girl asks why this Santa has broken in through a window six days before Christmas. The man responds that the conventions of Christmas are too silly to abide by. He then asks the girl Suzy, to meet her parents. Suzy naturally obliges without question. This was long before that Joan Collins-segment of Tales from the Crypt became a holiday standard, of course.
The parents are then woken up by Suzy, and greeted with the man’s gun. The man takes them downstairs in the living room and wraps them in the Christmas lights and conks the father with a bell. He reveals he wanted this house b/c of the Christmas decorations, a likely reason. He decides to be charitable and let them decide who is going to die first. The parents beg him to let them go, so the man kills both of them since he isn’t as charitable as he thought he was.
Cut to 1964, in Briarcliff. Sister Eunice plays traditional Christmas songs. She is trying to bring Christmas joy to Briarcliff since Sister Jude banned the holiday. Her plans involve setting up a nice tree and making ornaments out of the patients’ hair ribbons and dentures since Jude had the real ones removed, like any other caring nun would do.
Cut to Frank praying over Grace’s corpse, trying to cleanse himself of any unintentional guilt. He says he wants to rectify everything. Frank speaks to Dr. Arden and says he wants to tell the police everything, even the stuff about the mutilated patient and Kit. He does not seem to care what happens. Dr. Arden seems to go along with him.
Cut back to Sister Eunice sitting in front of a fire, listening to her Christmas songs. It is now a perfect time for Sister Jude to emerge and hold a razor to Eunice’s throat and speaks how Satan and Rudolph the red Nosed Reindeer are in cahoots, when she is unsuspecting of it. Eunice seems to make light of it and throws candy canes and a Christmas music record at Jude. Dr. Arden appears and Eunice orders that Jude be taken away by security. After Jude is gone, Dr. Arden gives Eunice something unknown and mentions the “problem” they have with Frank wanting to go to the police.
Eunice hatches a plan of her own and then goes to the cell of the killer Santa from 1962 to get him out of solitary. He has a very special appearance to make.
It is now 1963 and Sister Jude says that a special Christmas photo is to be taken of the patients. Apparently, the killer Santa murdered eighteen people from five different families in one night. One of the nurses gives out prize bags when the photographer appears. Of course, when an orderly comes close to the wannabe Santa wearing a Santa hat, he treats his face like a candy cane and tries to chew it off. This is what made Jude ban Christmas, of course!
In the Santa’s cell in 1964, Eunice tries to get him excited with the prospect of wearing his costume once again. Eunice then mentions his name is Lee Emerson that he went to jail for stealing bread. In jail, the guards allowed him to be raped by the inmates since they went caroling, which made him quite a Grinch for every Christmas after. Lee explains with the typical naughty and nice alibi. How very Les Misérables
Later on, Eunice is relaxing by the fire and lights up a cigarette. Dr. Arden appears with a very special present for her: ruby earrings! In true Pulp Fiction fashion, Arden got them from a Jewish woman in the concentration camp he was a guard at. Apparently, this woman hid the earrings by eating them and digging them out of her waste products on a daily basis. Naturally, she died of stomach problems. When Eunice hears of this, she merrily puts the earrings on. Dr. Arden seems displeased that she is not disgusted by them, as his true intention probably was.
Cut to Lana vomiting in a bed pan. Could it be morning sickness…or just the regular kind? More than likely, Lana officially has Thredson’s bun in her oven. Eunice appears to talk with her. Apparently, Eunice will go to the police as she promised. Lana then asks who is on the opposite side of a divider. Naturally, it is Kit.
Then, Jude appears determined to talk her way back into Briarcliff by begging the Mother Superior. She then receives a call about a visitor.
Sister Jude tries to convince Mother Superior she needs to get back in Briarcliff. She gets a call about a surprise visitor. Jude finds Arden waiting for her. Arden seems suddenly interested in having Jude back since they apparently have a common obligation toward Briarcliff. Arden makes it sound like Eunice is corrupted and not her sweet self any longer, which bothers him. Jude initially spits in Arden’s face (figuratively), but Arden persuades her to work with him. As a condition, Jude orders Arden to do as she commands.
Back in a nice room, the Monsignor decorates the tree by taking out a fancy star. The Monsignor believes Lee to be rehabilitated, since he cannot hear that Lee is flirting with a patient.
Next, Kit arrives home with a tree for Alma and the soon-to-be-born baby. Kit thinks he is speaking to the baby, when he looks up and instead sees Grace. Kit says he is sorry. Lana then realizes that they don’t know she is there if they are still searching for Kit. Kit then alerts Lana of Grace’s death. Lana notices that Kit is drugged so she removes the IV. Lana politely tells him that Dr. Thredson is Bloody Face and she needs to call the police and promises to be right back as she finds a phone.
Cut to the bakery, Dr. Arden allows Jude in the midst of Eunice’s Christmas party. Jude demands to have Eunice brought to her office alone and not to be interrupted.
At the Christmas party, Frank gets a ladder to put a star on the tree of his own. The Monsignor is there and loves what Eunice is doing and compares the tree to Marcel Duchamp. He then orders her to finish the job she’s doing since he seems to like her so much more than Jude. As the Monsignor exits, Frank falls off the ladder, leaving Lee to stab him deeply with the star in his Santa finest, sending the patients rioting. Of course, Lee is restrained by two guards and sent back to solitary, which is not what Eunice wanted. Dr. Arden is then seen entering to meet with Eunice.
Cut to Lana trying to call the police, only to see Thredson behind her.
Next, Frank gets Lee in the cell. Eunice is there, unexpectedly. Eunice then wonders if Lee gave him any trouble. When Frank responds in the positive, Eunice uses this vulnerable moment to cut his throat open with a razor while Lee watches. Eunice then asks innocently and hopes a real riot does not form. Maybe setting Lee free will do the trick.
Somehow, Lee finds his way to Jude’s office while she is praying for forgiveness. Eunice uses this opportunity to lock them in the room together. Arden appears and Eunice makes sure they are on the same page now. Jude finds the door locked. Lee flashes a letter opener at Jude, since he still upset she locked him away. Jude screams for Arden’s help, but he just walks away and lets her rot, like a true Nazi.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thredson dismantles the phone. He mentions he has cleaned his house since Lana escaped and that no one will believe Lana since she is a patient at a mental hospital. Thredson is upset that he shared his life stories with her and tries to express that angry by strangling her with the phone cord. Lana fights back, but Thredson uses his strength to pick her up. He says he will start a new mask with her skin. As he is leaving, Kit arrives and conks him on the head, saving Lana!
Back in the cell, Lee tosses Jude around and gets into her caning closet. Lee recollects Jude whipping him, so he decides to give her a taste of her own medicine. Lee puts Jude over the desk and canes her aggressively. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jude discovers she actually likes it.
Lana is released from her restraints and says she wants to do away with Thredson for good. Kit tells her to spare him so Thredson can testify and save from getting the electric chair. Lana understands this, but doesn’t understand why Kit hasn’t been turned in yet. Suddenly, the search for Kit has gotten a lot quieter.
Cut to a basement. Arden is about to toss Grace’s corpse into an incinerator-concentration camp-style! Suddenly, an alien light appears and blinds Arden. When the light disappears, the corpse is gone. It seems this higher power has a plan for Grace.
Meanwhile, Lee drags en exhausted Jude to the bed and probably doesn’t intend on just sleeping with her. We see a quick flashback that shows Jude didn’t leave the desk without her handy letter opener. As Lee gets on top of her to rape her, Jude stabs him in the neck with the letter opener, hopefully finishing him off.
Finally, Kit and Lana drag the still unconscious Thredson to an empty storage space. They seem to think that no one will ever find him there. Lana vows to bury him. Something tells me Lana has her work cut out for her.
Though it was too story- specific to stand on its own, it seems we have a new classic holiday episode of American Horror Story to watch annually with…well…every other cynical holiday TV episode. I think I’ll watch it every year between Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas myself. At least it gives me a new excuse to throw Bad Santa out of the mix.
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