American Horror Story: Asylum Review: “The Coat Hanger” (Season 2, Episode 9)

Per usual, The Coat Hanger was an episode that featured fantastic performances (welcome back Mr. McDermott!) and demented subject matter that never reaches excessive amount, because in American Horror Story: Asylum, there is no such thing as excess.

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Mid-season breaks suck. Hard. American Horror Story: Asylum decided to finally rev up its game just in time to disappear for two weeks and give us all plenty to think on until next time. Every character and storyline is crammed into this episode and expounded upon, including a new twist that was a nice little surprise to round out the future of the asylum-dwellers.

WARNING! Full Spoilers Below

The Coat Hangerbegins with a disturbed man (Dylan McDermott) seeking psychiatric help for his obsession with killing and skinning animals. Before there is even time to wonder about how something seems a bit off, it’s revealed that he is actually the son of Dr. Thredson, seeking to live up to his father by becoming the newest incarnation of Bloody Face that attacked the group at the abandoned asylum. This realization comes into play later in the episode, so we’ll cross that corpse bridge when we get there.

Lana discovers that she is pregnant with Thredson’s child, which she quickly decides must die, because it might be too darn handsome. But this is American Horror Story: Asylum, and there won’t be a simple tumble down the stairs that can get the job done. See the title of the episode to get an idea of how Lana disposes of the baby. It’s horrific, disgusting, and perfect for the show. Lana uses her pregnancy as a means to get Thredson to confess to his crimes, which Kit records in hopes of getting himself off the record.

Later, Lana returns to kill Thredson, only to find him released and missing. Who would have thought that leaving an experienced killer gagged in a closet would go wrong? Before she can find him again, she has a run in with Sister Mary, who confirms that she is still very much pregnant. That baby might need an eye patch, but it’s still kicking around in there.

Sister Jude has been framed for Frank’s murder and is the newest inmate at Briarcliff. Strapped down to the bed for most of the episode, it’s nice to see Jude get a taste of her own medicine, even if she is becoming one of the few dependable characters on the show. She finally apologizes to Lana for putting her in there at all, and vows to make it up to her,  beginning with smashing that blasted, annoying record they always play in the dayroom. Good on her for keeping part of her promise.

Leigh Emerson is still around, which is a great surprise since Ian McShane’s performance is too good to write off so quickly. Acting as a repented sinner, his true intentions come to light after he crucifies the helpless, dopey Monsignor. Whether he will escape or continue to stalk the asylum is left to be seen, but at least he hasn’t lost that crazy gleam in his eyes just yet. The Monsignor meets with the Angel of Death in the last few seconds, but seeing as how he plays prominently in the preview for the next episode, it looks like his work isn’t done just yet.

Dr. Arden and Kit make an uneasy alliance, as the two try to discover just what the alien activity surrounding Kit is all about. Arden proposes to kill Kit momentarily and summon the aliens, as he postulates they would want to “protect” him. After doing this, the aliens appear and Dr. Arden finds Grace, naked, beautiful and extremely pregnant. That’s all we get to see for this time though, leaving a plethora of questions in everybody’s head to drive them crazy over their holiday break.

The revelation that Bloody Face did actually have a son leaves a lot of questions that either have obvious answers or are more shrouded in mystery than we think. We’re forced to assume that he is the baby that Lana is carrying now, but if this is the truth, then where does it leave both Lana and Thredson? His son discovers his origins, meaning that the word gets out who Bloody Face is, but is this because of Kit’s recording? Or will something else happen to reveal the true killer?

So for every question answered in this episode, about three more are asked and left dangling for us to ponder on for a few weeks. Per usual, The Coat Hanger was an episode that featured fantastic performances (welcome back Mr. McDermott!) and demented subject matter that never reaches excessive amount, because in American Horror Story: Asylum, there is no such thing as excess. The most perplexing storyline (the aliens) is progressing nicely, but where does it fit in the grand scheme of things? It looks like the best Christmas gift we’re going to get is some answers in 2013.


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Christian Law
An avid gamer, moviegoer and music lover, he can be found giving his opinion on entertainment to anybody who will listen, and especially to those who won't. Otherwise, he's busy writing film and music reviews over at the Speakeasy Online Magazine.