It's Christmas at Briarcliff, and Devil Eunice has decided to reverse Sister Jude's Grinchy ban on all things yule and bring back festivities like a tree and holiday music. (Of course, she does so by hanging patients' dentures and locks of hair from the tree, which Monsignor Howard finds cute, but Monsignor Howard is an idiot, you know?)
But there's trouble in Eunice's paradise (lost). Frank is feeling the guilt from having shot and killed Grace, and he's enough of a stand-up guy that Dr. Arden's vague threats to keep quiet or else be blamed for her death don't deter him. Something needs to be done. The other thing, though, is that Sister Jude shows up and puts a razor to Devil Eunice's throat. Arden walks in before she can do anything (and I'm not sure she would, since she seems to genuinely care for Mary Eunice so much), and Jude is removed from the asylum, but before she goes, she plants a seed in Arden's mind that Eunice is wicked. Later -- after a gift of Holocaust-obtained ruby earrings fails to horrify Eunice -- Arden approaches Sister Jude in supplication: she was right, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to get Eunice back.
While all this is going on, Devil Eunice brings a patient named Leigh out of solitary after over a year locked up. Leigh (played by Ian McShane so deliciously I could die) went on a rampage two years ago, killing 18 people while wearing a Santa suit. Then last year, at the Last Christmas Pageant Ever or whatever, he ruined Sister Jude's nice family photo by biting the face off an orderly. Eunice frees him so that he will murder Frank for her and take his guilty conscience out of the game. When that doesn't work, Eunice simply slashes Frank's throat herself (R.I.P., buddy) and sets Leigh upon Sister Jude in a locked office. Seems Arden was merely proving his loyalty to the Prince(ss) of Lies and walked Sister Jude right into the lion's den. Leigh menaces Sister Jude and plans to take his revenge on her for her mistreatment of him, but she manages to find a sharp object and stabs Leigh in the neck.
Meanwhile, Lana discovers that Kit is back in Briarcliff as well, and being kept in a drug haze. The manhunt is still ongoing for him, which tells Lana that no one knows he's here. No one knows SHE'S here either, which means Thredson is roaming free. She unhooks Kit's IV drug drip and tells him everything about Thredson, before finding a telephone to call the cops. But she's cornered by a returning Thredson, who tells her he purged his house of all Bloody Face paraphernalia, and now he's going to take out the one living witness to his crimes: her. Kit gets the jump on him, though. And while Lana desperately wants to kill him, Kit convinces her to merely imprison him until they can figure out how to expose his crimes and exonerate Kit. Good plan! Can't see how it'll backfire!
Featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as performed by Ian McShane as Grinchy Claus and some little girl as Cindy Lou Who; the Silence of the Lambs scene where Lecter bites that guard's face off, as performed by Ian McShane; and the Christopher Walken scene in Pulp Fiction, as performed by James Cromwell and Lily Rabe.
Next week: Brooke Smith and the Origins of Dylan Face!
It's 1962. You can tell because the whole world has the carefree air that comes with not knowing what it's like to have a First Lady named Lady Bird yet. It's also Christmastime, which you can tell because some little brat is whining to his mom about what presents he wants, while "Here We Come A-Wassailing" plays on the supermarket PA system and some guy dressed as Santa rings a bell for the Salvation Army. Mom hands Kid a dollar to put in Santa's kettle, and Santa gives Kid a candy cane and tells him if he's good, he just might get that coonskin cap he's after. Mom and Kid leave because the store is closing, and when the lights shut off, Santa begins to close up shop.
Suddenly, he's approached by a man in the possession of the mellifluous voice of Ian McShane. You guys. Ian McShane is the best. Deadwood was the best. Kings was even the best, despite no one watching it. Ian tells Santa that the kid is going to be awfully upset if he doesn't get that cap. Santa Guy just kind of brushes it off, saying either the kid's parents get it for him and he's happy, or they don't and the kid blames himself for being bad. Ian thinks this is a bit of a racket Santa's got going. He gets all the praise for delivering presents, but if the kids don't get what they want, well, blame The List. Santa Guy lowers his beard and is like, "Look, Crazy, I just ring the bell two nights a week so I can get out of the house." But before he can go on at length about his harpy wife or whatever, Ian pulls out a gun and shoots him right between the eyes. And God bless you and send YOU a happy New Year, sir!
Still 1962. This time, it's the classic Americana scene where the little girl wanders downstairs in the middle of the night to find a man in a red suit with white fur trim fiddling with gift boxes under the Christmas tree. And be it a mommy-kissing Santa or an underhanded Grinchy Claus, there's a proud tradition of spying on Santa while he's not entirely on the up-and-up. This being American Horror Story, obviously we're about to get something much, much worse. And indeed, here's Ian McShane dressed up like Santa -- sans-beard, but still -- with a big ol' bloody stain down the front of his costume. He's playing with a train set, of course, and when the girl approaches him, he's exceedingly friendly. Too, friendly, of course, but this girl isn't so much a little girl as Innocence Personified, so she doesn't really get suspicious. She's sure full of questions, though: like why is he here six days before Christmas and why did he break in through the front window instead of using the chimney? He finally tells the girl, Susie, that the whole Santa thing really makes no sense if you think about it for longer than two seconds. "They call me crazy!" he says, which, yes, I can see why people would call him crazy. After he assures her that the blood on his costume is not his, he asks her to take him to Mom and Dad.