|American Horror Story episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Michael Rymer|
|Written by||Tim Minear|
|Featured music||"Help Pick Up The Pieces" by Buddy Stewart|
|Original air date||November 28, 2012|
|Running time||41 minutes|
"Dark Cousin" is the seventh episode of the second season of the FX anthology television series American Horror Story. The episode, written by Tim Minear and directed by Michael Rymer, aired on November 28, 2012.
In the episode, several asylum patients wish to die, one of which is Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) causing the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) to appear, which does not sit well with Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe). Before also planning to use the angel's services, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) attempts to make peace with the parents of the girl she hit years ago. Jude is stunned to learn the girl survived the accident. After Lana (Sarah Paulson) is able to get away from Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto), she is injured in a freak car accident and taken back to Briarcliff. Kit (Evan Peters) escapes custody to break Grace out of the asylum, but she is accidentally shot by Frank (Fredric Lehne).
Michael Rymer was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Television Film for his work on this episode. This episode is rated TV-MA (LSV).
Grace begins suffering from an infection brought on by the botched hysterectomy. As she begins to die, an angel dressed in black (Frances Conroy) appears to her and is about to give her a "kiss of death" before she is resuscitated by one of the nuns. Sister Mary Eunice confronts Dr. Arden (James Cromwell), telling him that he botched the sterilization, but Arden states that he never performed a hysterectomy on Grace. His anger leads Sister Mary Eunice to release her supernatural powers on him, establishing their hierarchy. Later, in order to prove that Grace's condition was not his doing, he cures her of her infection, "just to set the record straight."
Later, patient Miles (Tongayi Chirisa) attempts to commit suicide by slicing his wrists. As the staff stem the bleeding, Sister Mary Eunice notices that he has written the name שָׁחַת (Shachat: to destroy, corrupt, go to ruin, decay) in ancient Aramaic on the wall. She urgently questions him, asking if he "summoned her," though he does not remember doing it. He is bandaged and placed in solitary. There, the angel appears to him and he begs for her help to release him from life. She complies and his stitches open up, causing him to bleed out and die. The angel senses someone watching her and reveals her true name, Shachath, and sees that it is Sister Mary Eunice. The angel recognizes that Sister Mary Eunice is possessed by "one like [her], but fallen." Sister Mary Eunice's true personality tearfully calls out to Shachath to free her from her possession, however, the demon possessing her regains control and tells Shachath that she will not leave Sister Mary Eunice's body. The angel says that unlike the demon, she was invited to Briarcliff and still has work to do, leaving Sister Mary Eunice alone.
Kit meets with his state lawyer (Don Stark), who tells him that Dr. Thredson's taped recording of Kit's confession has made his chances of avoiding execution unlikely. Kit insists that Grace's testimony that Alma is still alive might save him, but the lawyer reveals that even if people believed her, Grace is unlikely to survive until the trial due to her injuries. Kit attacks the lawyer and escapes back to Briarcliff to find Grace.
In Thredson's playroom, Thredson rapes Lana, who begins to see Shachath, but refuses to die just yet. Thredson returns and offers Lana to die by strangulation or having her throat cut. As he tries to administer a sedative, she attacks him, renders him unconscious, and escapes into the street. She is picked up by a man (William Mapother) who begins to go on a misogynistic tirade against women and his wife who cheated on him. He refuses to take her to the police and begins driving at high speed, becoming manic and pulling out a gun. Lana sees Shachath in the back seat of the car and the man shoots himself in the head, causing the car to careen wildly. Lana wakes up in Briarcliff, having been returned there after the crash was discovered. She frantically tells Sister Mary Eunice that Kit is innocent and that Bloody Face is Thredson, urging her to tell the police. Sister Mary Eunice – who has known this all along – says she believes her, and tells her she is safe in Briarcliff. As she leaves, she tells the guard, Frank, that Lana is just confused from her accident.
Back in the motel room, Sister Jude learns from the dying Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis) that Sister Mary Eunice was the one who attacked him. She goes to call the police, but sees that Sam's periodicals also feature investigation into her hit-and-run accident, with blood on the TV set saying "Murderer". Sister Jude panics and reflects on the day after the accident: She was fired from her band after failing to show up and drove drunkenly into the night before waking up, finding herself at the steps of a convent. She is startled from her memories by a phone call from Sister Mary Eunice, who tauntingly reveals that she has arranged it so that police will think Sister Jude killed Sam for investigating her involvement in the hit-and-run. Sister Jude realizes that Sister Mary Eunice is possessed by the demon from the exorcism.
Sister Jude spends the evening in the motel diner, where she sees Shachath waiting for her. Sister Jude knows her to be the Angel of Death, but questions her about why she has appeared now, instead of the many other times when she attempted suicide: the night her husband left her after she told him he had infected her with syphilis, leaving her barren, or the night she committed the hit-and-run. Shachath tells her that the other times, she still had hope and purpose, but now she is willing to help Jude find peace. Sister Jude agrees, but says she must do one last thing. She visits the parents of the girl she killed, Missy, claiming to be a nun who found her calling after hearing of Missy's accident. She is intent on telling them the truth, when an adult Missy (Kristin Slaysman) walks into the home, revealing that she had in fact survived the accident. Sister Jude is stunned and the parents recount that they never learned who was responsible, but have made peace with it.
Meanwhile, Kit makes his way into Briarcliff through the hidden tunnel, unaware that he is followed by one of Arden's "superhuman" creations. He finds Grace and they begin to escape, but are seen by a nun, who is then attacked by the creature. The creature then attacks Kit, who manages to disembowel it. Frank finds them and pulls his gun on Kit. Grace jumps in his way and is shot. Shachath appears and asks her if she is ready. Grace responds, "Yes," and the angel kisses her. As she dies, Grace says, "I'm free."
In a November 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly, series creator Ryan Murphy spoke about the inspiration for "Dark Cousin": "Well the episode is one of my favorites because I think it just has great performances and I really love what it's about. I love Franny [Frances Conroy] and she and I were presenting at the Creative Arts Emmys and I said, 'I think I have something really good for you, sort of the opposite of what you did last year.' She and Jessica [Lange] loved working together. So we came up with this character and I like that she's around in all the individual stories at that pivotal moment of are you going to fight or are you going to die." He added: "But when we were coming with the idea of it, I was meeting with hair and make up and Lou Eyrich, the costumer, and we at first came up with this idea that she was the black version of Miss Havisham. But I didn't like that. I thought let's do something unexpected. So our inspirations were very bizarre. We took sort of like 1940s, hard-boiled noir women and mixed it with a sort of Comme des Garçons meets Japanese thing. I was very proud of that look and I thought Franny was very yummy. You could see why people would want her to kiss them."
"Dark Cousin" was watched by 2.27 million viewers and received an adult 18-49 rating of 1.3, an increase from the previous episode.
"Dark Cousin" received critical acclaim and is the best-reviewed episode of the season. Joey DeAngelis of The Huffington Post called the episode "one of the more grounded and moving episodes", but added that it was "more of a filler episode, not really unearthing anything brand spankin' new. It was kind of a lull for me." Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club stated: "It was the presence of that death angel that most intrigued me tonight. I liked how we could trace just how broken these people were by those who would break them by seeing if they could see the angel or not."
- Stack, Tim (November 29, 2012). "'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy talks the Angel of Death's arrival to Briarcliff and teases season three — EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Bibel, Sara (November 26, 2012). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' & 'Duck Dynasty' Win Night, 'American Horror Story', 'Restaurant Impossible', 'South Beach Tow', 'Conan' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
- DeAngelis, Joey (November 29, 2012). "'American Horror Story: Asylum' Recap: Death Comes To Briarcliff In 'Dark Cousin'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (November 28, 2012). ""Dark Cousin"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 30, 2012.