A homicidal Santa (Ian McShane) brings a little Christmas spirit to Briarcliff, leading to the final fall of Sister Jude (Jessica Lange)…
Ian McShane is the star of this festive double bill of American Horror Story episodes (the last ones before the series resumes in the New Year). He’s brilliant as a very bad Santa who has been locked in solitary at the behest of Sister Jude since an unfortunate incident last Christmas.
His encounter with Jude (lured back to Briarcliff by Arden and Eunice as part of a plot) seems final, but in the second episode he’s back and this time has the upper hand as Jude is the one confined to a cell in the asylum. McShane fulfils the promise of his leading role in Deadwood here, as an insane, scheming degenerate who is playing all the angles. It’d be great if he were a regular addition to the cast and was to return next season in a new role (as many have this year).
Other threads move stories on, but offer few conclusions or answers. Eunice and Arden seal their pact, while Arden uses Kit to move forward his explorations of the alien presence at the asylum. Lana also enlists Kit in her plan to unmask Dr Thredson as Bloody Face, while the present day ‘son of Blood Face’ is revealed as Dylan McDermott (who played a lead character last season).
A series of great images conclude ‘The Coat Hanger’, as fan favourite Pepper (is she an agent of the aliens?) returns with a full-term pregnant Grace in tow (not as dead as she seemed), Jude smashes the endlessly irritating Dominique record, and the Monsignor is discovered crucified (presumably by McShane’s psychotic Leigh)—in an image that is a direct steal from low budget British religious mid-1970s shocker Beware My Brethren!
Verdict: As crazy as ever, American Horror Story greets the holidays in style!
Episode 9 ‘Unholy Night’: 9/10
Episode 10 ‘The Coat Hanger’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb