Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Episode 7 of FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum," titled "Dark Cousin."
I wouldn't call "Dark Cousin" the best hour of "American Horror Story," but it was one of the more grounded and moving episodes. In a show like "AHS," you expect death to be around every corner. But for some reason, when there's actually a conversation with Death, that's where it gets deeper. Frances Conroy guest starred as the Angel of Death, being called upon or summoned by multiple characters this week.
The best one-on-one with Death was, without a doubt, when Jude sat down with her in a diner. See, Jude has already had run-ins with Death, and knows her better than anyone really should. While in the diner bathroom, we're shown Jude slitting her arms and bleeding out on the floor. For an instance, I thought, "No ... they couldn't," and they didn't, as it was just a "passing thought." Once she exits, she joins Death at a booth. Jude asks what makes this time any different than the others. Why hadn't she died those other times? The first time she thought about it was after her husband gave her syphilis -- which made her barren -- and after, ran off. Then she asks why she didn't die the night she ran over that girl after having one or five too many. "That was the night God revealed he had a plan for you," Death says. That obviously resulted in Jude joining the nunnery, and the rest is kind of history after that. At the end of their powwow, Jude says that she's ready to die, but she has to do one quick thing first.
There isn't much good news in the world of "American Horror Story." It's often filled with dread, hopelessness, insanity. When Jude went to the house of the parents' whose daughter she had run over all those years ago, she was ready to confess to what she had done. But when that girl, 15 years old, walked through the door, it was like the heavens opened up. OK, that's just my hyperbole, but you get it. It brought a sense of relief; not only for Jude, but even for me, the viewer. It's clear that Jude has shed most of her stern bitchiness from the beginning of the season. She's now this lost puppy that is confused and terrified. She's lost her way. That can be said about most of the characters this season. They're just misunderstood, on the wrong path.
Just look at Lana. At the beginning of the episode, she was being raped by Thresdon, wishing for death, and Death answered her call. She was ready to give up and leave it all behind, but she felt that she still had an ounce of hope left. That's incredibly commendable since nothing good has happened to her since the beginning of the season. Literally. I would say luck is not on her side. That's why I was rooting for her when she escaped Thresdon's kill basement and made her way to the outside. She hopped in a car, hoping to be taken to the nearest police station. But, no, this is Lana we're talking about. Nothing good can happen. The driver of the car had just discovered that his wife of 10 years had been cheating on him and he's spouting sexist remarks left and right. He pulls out a gun. Death shows up on the back seat. Lana knows this isn't going to work out well, but instead of the guy killing Lana, he turns the gun on himself and the car crashes. She wakes up back in Briarcliff, under the care of Sister Mary Eunice. Throughout the season, she's escaped one evil to be held captive by another evil, and she escaped that evil only to return to the evil she originally escaped. Rough, Lana. Real rough. You just can't catch a break.
The Angel of Death wasn't only lurking on Lana and Jude. It visited Grace at the beginning of the episode, who was hemorrhaging from whatever the aliens did to her. She was ready to go. Death leaned in for the kiss, but Grace was resuscitated in the nick of time. The "botched hysterectomy" caused a life-threatening infection, and I suppose Arden had perfected his weird antidote-to-everything in the meantime, so he brought her back to seemingly full health. That only lasted for so long, since when Kit returns to the asylum to break Grace out (he's a fugitive now after escaping custody), one of the security guards shoots her when she runs in front of Kit. OK, it wasn't quite a run. More of a brisk walk. Definitely not fast enough for the guard to accidentally shoot her. But whatever. Death comes and asks her if she's ready. Grace obliges, and Death kisses her on the lips. Her last words are "I'm free," which reminded me of Lana Del Rey's video for "Ride," but that is neither here nor there.
"Dark Cousin" was more of a filler episode, not really unearthing anything brand spankin' new. It was kind of a lull for me. I don't know what the story of the season is anymore, so I don't know what I should be paying attention to most of the time, and that might be where the season is failing for me. And when I say "failing," I don't mean it harshly because it is a great season nonetheless. At the beginning of "Asylum," there was positive criticism, saying that it's more focused than the previous season. But for me, it's actually kind of lost a lot of its focus as it progressed. It's all over the place now. While it's moderately enjoyable to have all these things going on, I don't have any sense of how they're going to wrap up the season in the second half. Obviously there's going to be a final battle between good and evil (Jude vs. Mary Eunice). The story of these characters is permanently ending at the end of the season, and I just hope we get something that is all exciting, fresh and satisfying.
"American Horror Story: Asylum" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.