AHS: Asylum “Tricks and Treats”

american horror story tricks and treats

“Tricks And Treats”

Fading in with a scream, this episode begins by picking up where it left of in the beginning of the previous episode.  Newlyweds Leo and Teresa are in the rotting, abandoned asylum in present day, and Leo’s arm has been ripped off by an unseen killer.  His identity is revealed when Teresa attempts to flee, and she is forced to watch Leo’s murder through the food tray slot of an isolation room.

Identity is the key theme to this episode, which would also have been ideal thematically for next week’s Halloween slot.  The 1964 sequence begins with Lana’s girlfriend, Wendy, being consoled by two other friends.  A knock at the door has all of them alarmed, but when one of the friends answers it, they find three early trick-or-treaters standing on the porch.  All three wear masks, hiding their faces and subtly setting the tone for the rest of the episode.

After a room search, Sister Jude finds Lana has been taking notes on her observations inside the asylum.  After the nun confiscates them, Lana informs her that she has a good memory, which prompts her to recommend electroshock therapy.  By wiping Lana’s memory, Sister Jude also wipes away a part of her identity.  Lana continues to take notes, but her ability to remember much beyond the moment is clearly diminished.  As a reporter, Lana identifies herself as a collector of facts, but finds herself quickly reduced to just another patient destined to be lost in her unspecified sentence.

Dr. Thredson, sent by the court to evaluate Kit, identifies the young man as clinically insane, sealing his fate.  Although Kit denies both the murders and his diagnosed insanity, both have been branded upon him.  His good deeds throughout the episode challenge this, and only when it is too is late Lana able to see past said brands.

The theme of identity becomes even more apparent when a seventeen-year-old, Jed, is brought in by his parents for evaluation.  There is no denying the boy has been possessed, his Latin speech, demonic voice, and effects on the rest of the hospital being both terrifying and profound.  The actual boy Jed is a non-character, his identity taken from him by the possessing entity.  The exorcism costs him—and the priest in charge of the ceremony—his life, but not before he is able to disclose Sister Jude’s deepest secrets.

Sister Jude’s identity before becoming a nun was that of a hooker.  The catalyst to her change was apparently a drunk driving accident in which she killed a young girl.  With this in mind, it is interesting to reflect upon her behavior.  In her violent punishments against her patients, her own self-loathing becomes obvious; from them, she is attempting to beat away the qualities she hates most about herself.

Dr. Arden’s response to nymphomaniac Shelley is equally as telling.  He calls her a whore, another branding of character by trait, to which Shelley responds the unfairness of men being allowed to enjoy sex, but for women who enjoy it equally being considered sexual deviants.  She makes a pass at him, but he shoves her away with disgust.  Remarkably, he hires a hooker to his room that night, presenting the evening as a “date,” complete with dinner and expensive wine.  When he compels her to dress as a nun for sex, she discovers pictures he has taken of other women, all of them tied to the bed and tortured.  In an instant, we learn that the doctor is far more disturbed than the first episode let on, and suddenly have no choice but to suspect him as possibly being the true “Bloodyface.”

The episode ends with Sister Mary Eunice in bed, believed to have had a fainting spell during the exorcism.  Dr. Arden is disturbed to see her “out of costume.”  Consider the language here; she is not “out of her habit,” but “out of costume,” as if she merely plays a role in the doctor’s mind.  He leaves, and we learn that she has been pushed far beyond the identity of “out of costume” nun, as she throws the sheets off her body and an invisible force trembles the crucifix on the wall by her bed.

leigh lane

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Leigh M. Lane lives in the beautiful mountains of Montana, where she writes speculative fiction that spans from sci-fi to horror. All of her writing contains a gritty realism that hallmarks her unique voice, which also often has social or political undertones. Her recent full-length releases are Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods. Leigh’s influences include H.G. Wells, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King. For more about Leigh M. Lane and her works, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

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