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American Horror Story recap: Booby Trapped

Twisted mother issues and bizarre baby trouble curdle the horror and spoil some heroic triumphs in ‘Spilt Milk’  

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American Horror Story
Byron Cohen/FX

American Horror Story

TV Show
run date:
Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters
Current Status:
In Season

Johnny Morgan, the man who believed he was the son of Bloody Face, sat in the gloom of his suspected father’s old home stewing in his scruffy tank-top skank and toking on a hash pipe while waiting for something stronger to make the pain go away. She arrived in the form of a call girl named Pandora, a spirited treasure chest filled with playful vice, whose bulging bosom was more juiced than usual thanks to a recent transformation: She was a new mom. “New and improved,” she flirtatiously cooed. “Had my baby three weeks ago.” Johnny wanted to know for sure that Pandora was the good-time object he ordered off the Internet: The website marketing her services focused only on her bust, and didn’t show her mug. “Oh, you won’t be looking at my face, not once these triple Ds come out to play,” she said. “Trust me. I haven’t had one complaint yet.” Yes, Pandora’s milkshake always brings the boys to the yard…

Johnny pulled out a wad of bills. New mama was dazzled. “You understand what I want, right?” he asked gravely. Pandora could barely suppress a smile. “You were, um, very clear,” she said. “I’ve been saving up all day, honey. Even gave my baby a bottle of formula, so there’s no way I’ll run dry.” Johnny earnestly asked if it was true that lactating mothers leaked at the sound of a child’s cry. Pandora turned her affirmative response into a talk-dirty seduction. Nothing like a “soaking wet bra” story to get a client’s motor running! But sad eyed Johnny stayed cool, so serious, so sincere: “Breast feeding is so important for early development.”

She removed her top, sexy-like. “I’m going to take care of you, Johnny. All you need is a little mothering,” said Pandora. “But you don’t have to cry to be my baby. Are you hungry, baby? How badly do you want to taste this?”

“I’d kill for it,” said Johnny.

“Come to mama.”

Now that got the blood pumping. Like father, like maybe son.

He beelined for a boob. He suckled greedily, as if making up for all the lost time and nurturing he felt he never got from his cruel, withholding mother, that he never received from the cold, worthless institutions that raised him. He believed he was being loved in a way he had never been loved before…

But Johnny Morgan, one very wrong dude, might have been horribly mistaken about this, too.

Back to 1965. Back to The Asylum. Mother Claudia – charged by Judy Martin to help liberate the wrongfully imprisoned Lana Winters – followed through on her mission. Lana was understandably skeptical when the nun pulled her aside in the bakery and told her that a cab was waiting to take her anywhere she wanted to go. But the Mother Superior proved she was worthy of Lana’s faith when she revealed they shared a common purpose: Shuttering Briarcliff. “I want it burned down and the Earth salted!” Lana extracted the tape of Dr. Oliver Thredson’s Bloody Face confession from its hiding place, a sack of flour. She made a goodbye promise to Judy: “I’m coming back for you, Jude. I won’t leave you here.” And then she made her escape.

Or tried to.

“Spilt Milk” – one of American Horror Story’s best directed hours — was sprinkled with visual and thematic homages to director Brian De Palma, whose filmography is filled with homages to his idol, Alfred Hitchcock. A po-mo influence-wearing storyteller/imagemaker like De Palma was a fitting, ironic touchstone for an episode about fixations and fetishes, the legacy of horror, the echo chamber of pop culture, the warp of those who nurtured us, and that which we allow to have power over us.

One of “Milk’s” most overt nods to De Palma: The suspenseful split-screen staging of Lana’s exit. On one side, we watched her descend the Stairway to Heaven and slip by an oblivious Dr. Thredson, who, on the other side of the screen, stood halfway up those same stairs tensely negotiating a deal with Kit Walker: Freedom for Kit, Resurrected Grace and their alien baby in exchange for the tape. Kit’s distraction gave Lana the jump she needed: By the time her lunatic captor-rapist-tormentor cottoned to the proverbial Statue of Liberty play fake-out, she was out the door. I loved the shot overlooking the Briarcliff steps and the driveway curving away on either side of the icy grounds, the elements combining to form the outline of… a devil’s horned head. (Speaking of homage: The Asylum’s satanic silhouette was the same shape hidden within the stained glass in the front door of Murder House in season 1 of American Horror Story.)

Lana slapped the tape against the cab window, then flipped Thredson the bird. Loved that, too. Winters flew the coup. Bloody Face was sunk.

NEXT: Bomb Theory + Chekhov’s Gun = Suspense!