The Coat Hanger

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"The Coat Hanger"
American Horror Story episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 9
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by Jennifer Salt
Production code 2ATS09
Original air date December 12, 2012 (2012-12-12)
Running time 40 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Unholy Night"
Next →
"The Name Game"
American Horror Story: Asylum
List of American Horror Story episodes

"The Coat Hanger" is the ninth episode and mid-season finale of the second season of the FX anthology television series American Horror Story. The episode, written by co-executive producer Jennifer Salt and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, originally aired on December 12, 2012. This episode is rated TV-MA (LSV).

In the episode, Lana (Sarah Paulson) and Kit (Evan Peters) get Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) to confess being the serial killer; Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) convinces Kit to temporarily die and force the aliens to return; Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) gets officially removed from her position and admitted as a patient, causing Monsignor Howard (Joseph Fiennes) to lead a penitent Leigh (Ian McShane) to be baptized with disastrous results; and a modern-day killer (Dylan McDermott) seeks therapy. Ian McShane reprises his role from the previous episode.



Lana meets with Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), who seems to know that Lana is pregnant. Lana tries to deny that Dr. Thredson raped her and Mary Eunice gives her a document confirming her pregnancy. Lana and Kit discuss what should be done with the hostage Thredson – she wants him dead; Kit needs him alive to prove Kit's innocence in the killings. They agree to get him to talk. She shows Thredson the pregnancy document and convinces him to confess. He relates the three killings to her and a hidden Kit plays back the recorded confession. Lana tells Thredson she has aborted the fetus with a coat hanger and Kit hides the tape in the hydrotherapy room. She later returns to kill Thredson with the coat hanger but he has been released and is missing. Mary Eunice stops her and sees the coat hanger, with which Lana admits to aborting the fetus. Mary Eunice assures her that the fetus still lives in Lana's womb.

Monsignor Howard visits a strapped-down Jude to inform her that the hospital board has officially stripped her of both position and clerical standing. Several people have given testimony, including the Mother Superior Claudia (Barbara Tarbuck) and Leigh Emerson, who also admits to "being responsible" for the deaths of others and appears penitent. The monsignor allows Leigh to forgive Jude of his mistreatment while in her care.

Dr. Arden investigates the death chute to find the empty cart Grace was taken from and inhuman footprints leading out of the tunnel. He later shows Kit a plaster cast of the footprint, believing it to be alien. He asks Kit if he had sex with wife Alma (Britne Oldford) and Grace (Lizzie Brocheré) before their abductions, thinking the aliens are experimenting with eugenics. Arden asks Kit's permission to cause his temporary death to see if the aliens return. Kit consents, believing it will allow him to see Alma again. Arden renders Kit dead by a potassium chloride injection, promising to revive him in a few minutes with atropine and epinephrine. Bright light and loud sounds fill the hallways, and Arden leaves Kit to find Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and a naked full-term pregnant Grace.

Jude sits at Lana's table in the dayroom and apologizes for mistreating her. She promises to help Lana get out of the asylum, which Lana does not believe nor trust Jude. Jude smashes the "Dominique" record and vows things will soon change.

In the asylum chapel, the monsignor offers to baptize the penitent Leigh, who hopes his only hell has been on Earth. Leigh gets baptized, then he violently holds the monsignor underwater. A janitor later finds Monsignor Howard nailed to the crucifix above the baptismal. The Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) appears as the monsignor begs for help.


Johnny Morgan meets with a therapist (Brooke Smith) to discuss his compulsive behavior. He tells of being in foster care when he first skinned a dead cat, then later of skinning live ones. His thoughts "told" him to seek out his biological parents and to skin women, revealing also that he has skinned Teresa alive on the examination table. He discovered what has caused his compulsions by learning that he is the son of "Bloody Face" Dr. Thredson. The therapist's next-scheduled client later finds her dead as a bloody Johnny enters behind her.


"The Coat Hanger" is written by co-executive producer Jennifer Salt and directed by The Tudors alum Jeremy Podeswa.

In a December 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly, guest star Dylan McDermott spoke about being in the second season of American Horror Story, "I loved doing the show. It's like being home for me. We talked about it I think early in the season. He [Ryan Murphy] called me over the summer and we were trying to figure out what was the best plan and in what capacity. I wasn't sure myself and obviously he's the master and the genius that figures this shit out. So the day the show premiered he called me and he explained it to me because I hadn't read any of the scripts. He explained to me what my character was going to be and I was like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? I love this! I love this! It's beyond!' To play the modern day Bloody Face and to have this whole back story of a guy who's thrown away and aborted and still lived! It was just like, are you kidding me? It was music to my ears, maybe nobody else's. But to me? I couldn't believe it. It's so twisted and dark and fucked up. That's why I'm on the show because I love stuff like that."[1]

Series creator Ryan Murphy also commented about McDermott's therapy scene, "As soon as we wrote this scene, I said, 'Couldn't Dylan play this part? Does he look enough like Zach[ary Quinto] and Sarah [Paulson]?' And we all held up pictures in the writer's room. We wrote one scene and I offered it to him so that was a happy accident. And then Brooke Smith just auditioned [for the therapist] and that was a happy accident. I do think it came together in a weird tribute to many things but that was all by accident."[2]


"The Coat Hanger" was watched by 2.22 million viewers and received an adult 18-49 rating of 1.3, down from the past two weeks' episodes.[3]

Rotten Tomatoes reports a 100% approval rating, based on 15 reviews. The critical consensus reads, ""The Coat Hanger" boasts controversial themes, effective scares, well-played justification of the illogical, and noteworthy performances all around."[4] Matt Fowler of IGN thought "The Coat Hanger" was "a bit busy; focusing in on all the characters and most of the storylines", but added, "It also revved up the story a bit and gave us all some tough meat to chew on over the break."[5] Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club stated, "It's kind of depressing that at this point in the show's run, an episode... is run of the mill, but that's the point we've reached with American Horror Story, and I'm not sure I'd have it any other way."[6]


  1. ^ Stack, Tim (December 13, 2012). "'American Horror Story': Dylan McDermott talks his 'Asylum' debut and playing Bloody Face -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Stack, Tim (December 13, 2012). "'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on Dylan McDermott's return and the upcoming episode in which 'half the cast dies' -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  3. ^ Bibel, Sara (December 13, 2012). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'Moonshiners' & 'Amish Mafia' Win Night, 'American Horror Story', 'South Beach Tow', 'Shipping Wars' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  4. ^ "The Coat Hanger – American Horror Story: Asylum, Episode 9". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Fowler, Matt (December 12, 2012). "You Can Be My Miracle". IGN. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  6. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (December 12, 2012). ""The Coat Hanger"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 13, 2012.

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