Thursday, November 8, 2012

'American Horror Story: Asylum' : Making the case for our Bloody Face

Now that we’re four episodes in for the second season of American Horror Story:Asylum the question on everyone’s mind is what is up with Bloody Face? Well there’s a character that we believe to be the top suspect, and he was the very same character that explained the most case info to date regarding Bloody Face’s murders. The cards are on the table more than ever and we believe that the series has been misdirecting its audience so far in an attempt to shock and stun when the killer’s identity is revealed. If only because it’s a ‘good’ character and because many aren’t expecting this actor to play a character somewhat similar to one he has before.

The Bloody Face M.O.
First, let’s take a good hard look at Bloody Face (the 1964 version, we’re not talking about the shenanigans in 2012) and what his seeming victim choosing profile included was revealed on Wednesday night. During a particularly candid conversation with accused murderer Kit Walker, Dr. Oliver Thredson went through the case file of Bloody Face’s victims. Each had a similar story of a woman being abducted, tortured, and finally killed—their body discovered approximately two days or so after their disappearance. Thredson included Alma in the list of victims in order to try to get Kit to confess to his crimes. However, if we consider the previous victims Thredson describes, as well as Wendy, then Alma just doesn’t fit the victim profile we've come up with from what the show and Ryan Murphy she’s inconsistent if you consider the possibility that the body found with Kit isn’t hers.

Alma is no victim of Bloody Face, and may even be alive still
Bloody Face’s M.O. is to leave his victims skinless and headless. In 1964 DNA testing just wasn’t an option so we’re talking about the fact that the local authorities found a body near Kit and that body, as Kit said in episode two, didn’t have a head. It also didn’t have skin and in this period of time without being able to use dental records or fingerprinting it would be highly impossible to prove with absolute certainty that the body attributed to Kit was Alma.The very fact that Alma is not a Caucasian character is not only a social statement about the perils of having an interracial relationship, it’s also the perfect element to have in the story of a wrongly accused young man.That alone should be enough to rouse suspicion about the railroading of Kit Walker never mind the fact that we saw Wendy encounter Bloody Face when Kit was locked up tight at Briarcliff. Not only does Kit have nothing to do with Bloody Face but Alma is not a victim of Bloody Face either—that body could be anyone at all. She could easily still be alive somewhere like Kit thought.

The profile of a Bloody Face victim
Completely outside of the fact that the mystery body could easily be anyone without any determining characteristics to prove it’s Alma there’s another reason why her character being included in Bloody Face’s victims doesn’t fit. On Wednesday night’s episode ‘I Am Anne Frank’, Dr. Oliver Thredson provides some exposition for the other victims of Bloody Face. One woman was a librarian, and another was a secretary when Wendy is added to the roster we have a schoolteacher. What do all of these women have in common? They are working women in a time when women were inspired to get out of the home and find their place in the professional world alongside men.

Alma more than likely stayed at home due to the secretive nature of her and Kit’s coupling as well as the fact that the Civil Rights movement hadn’t fully blossomed yet. She just doesn’t fit the profile. One person who definitely fits this Bloody Face profile however, is an ambitious intelligent female investigative journalist. Ryan Murphy even said in a chat with Entertainment Weekly:by the end of 5 we’ve pretty much told everybody what all the secrets and back-stories of all the characters are. And I think the social statement that it makes about women in the time is very sort of great. ‘That definitely lends credence to the thought that Bloody Face in 1964 was no fan of women in the workplace and he had something to say about it. When Det. Byers meets with Sister Jude he very plainly states that Kit doesn’t look like the kind of person with the necessary medical training in order to pull off the technical aspects of Bloody Face’s victims.

Now that we’ve laid out everything that encompasses Bloody Face’s m.o. and his potential profile in picking and choosing his victims let’s make the case for our number one Bloody Face suspect.

The illusion of Dr. Oliver Thredson
Let me take a minute here to talk about how a magician performs a successful illusion. There are three parts to any illusion and yes, if you’ve seen The Prestige it’s the same three parts: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige itself. Apply this to the very first episode of AHS this season and how its top-billed actor, Zachary Quinto, was nowhere to be found within it. What the first episode accomplished was the setting of the stage, everyone was in their places and their roles were made plain to the audience in a way that would make anyone think of certain characters as being capable of committing horrible acts before others--it created prime suspects before the game board was even full yet. The character of Dr. Arden was presented as this sadistic medical professional, willing and able to commit similar acts to someone like Bloody Face. The entire world of Briarcliff and the tensions, relationships, and struggles of most of the characters were already set up by the time episode two aired and Dr. Oliver Thredson appeared.


This is where the turn is performed by Ryan Murphy and co. as so far all we’ve seen at Briarcliff are the oppressive and harmful members of the staff. In walks Oliver Thredson, the beacon of hope in a white doctor’s coat. He immediately positions himself as someone that can control the fate of more than just the patient he’s assigned to as he involves himself in other matters. Namely, the possession of Jed Potter and Lana being trapped against her will at the facility. Finally we have a hero for our favorite characters to turn to and have him help them escape possibly grisly fates. Or so it would seem. We have now arrived at the impending occurrence of the prestige wherein we believe that Dr. Oliver Thredson is going to be revealed as the Bloody Face character.

The prestige is when the illusion is complete, when what has been presented as ordinary or status quo is revealed to in fact be extraordinary.If my little magic trick analogy isn’t enough for you to believe me then let’s break down all of the behavior that Oliver has exhibited on the series which match up with the actual traits of real life serial killers.

Charming/helpful demeanor
Oliver is never more helpful than when he is with his new favorite patient Lana Winters. He has presented himself to her as someone that will listen to her pleas and assist in her quest for liberation. So far, he has accepted a note to pass on to her lover, Wendy as well as personally taken it upon himself to cure her so that she can leave. It goes beyond Oliver just being helpful toward Lana as he really seems to relish how much of a victim she is and how he holds a great deal of power over her—especially because she does not see him as a threat as she does people like Sister Jude and Dr. Arden. He very much plays it up with her that he’s on her level, that of an intelligent forward-thinking person who will do everything in his power to be her savior. In this week’s episode, he swore to Lana that he was going to take to her with him when he left Briarcliff. That’s going to be something she’s going to regret wanting.

Keeping or obtaining mementos
One of the major things that serial killers do is keep mementos of their victims. In the most recent episode during an extremely uncomfortable scene involving Lana and an attempt at aversion/conversion therapy a photo comes up during Thredson’s slide show which shows her girlfriend Wendy in a very suggestive position. It was a private photo that he would have had to dig around for in order to include. He does give it back to her, but the point of it was Oliver gloating about what he’d done to Lana’s girlfriend while she was completely unaware of the monster standing before her. You could also make the case that his need to possess the case files of all the other Bloody Face victims, (as well as the autopsy report for Jed Potter who died under very mysterious circumstances that Oliver may have been responsible for) is part of keeping mementos. He’s part of Kit’s case only, and really all he would need would be Kit’s own case file. But if you were someone of high standing, such as a respected member of the medical profession, then it wouldn’t be difficult to get your hands on any kind of document that you wanted. Think of his collection of photographs and case files as his own personal box of blood slides, to borrow Dexter Morgan’s way of memento collecting.

Mommy issues
Jed Potter was mentioned before, but let’s go back to that as we discuss one of the first major red flags with the character of Dr. Thredson. During the ill-fated exorcism scene, the possessed Jed Potter pulled one of the better tricks that the Devil has in his arsenal by channeling what appeared to be Oliver’s mother. The man was taken aback when faced with the voice of his mother exclaiming, ‘look what you’ve become, no wonder I gave you up.’ There are abandonment issues there that could easily extend to someone taking out their issues on unsuspecting professional women for ‘leaving’ their children even if it’s in a less significant way than he might have been abandoned. Or simply he just has a twisted hatred of women that spawns from his mother leaving him in a way that we’ve yet to fully see.

Fixation on potential victims
Starting with the third episode of the show, Oliver has been very fixated on Lana. He’s stalked her, he’s been in her home, and he’s convinced her to trust him. These are all part of the game of it all—the hunt and that’s something that Oliver could have even done with other victims we just haven’t had it revealed yet. This show loves to show us one version of events only to show the truth later on when a major secret is revealed. Oliver could have gotten to know the other victims, and maybe even Wendy too before he struck.
Medical training
The seed of doubt in Kit Walker’s ability to perform the precision of the murders was truly planted in episode four. New character Detective Byers was our first skeptic regarding Kit being the true Bloody Face namely because it would require someone with medical expertise to perform the types of kills the murderer is known for. Complicated acts were performed fairly cleanly that included draining the bodies of blood, skinning them entirely from the feet up and finally the severing of the head. Obviously, the show wants people to look Dr. Arden’s way again as he would easily fit this role. It’s true that we have seen him do awful things to patients at Briarcliff as well as be incredibly intimidating in the presence of a hooker he’d hired for some twisted fun. But it’s worth noting that in order to be a psychiatrist, one has to attend med school first. Thredson would possess similar training to Arden and it was even something that they made sure a character said about Thredson that he had the capacity to be an attending medical presence during the Jed Potter exorcism scene. Subtle hints that there is someone who has the training to make those horrific bodies happen and he’s right under our noses.

Issues dealing with authority—especially to a woman
The profile of Bloody Face has already been theorized about in reference to his targeting of professional or working women ; the kinds of women who are prone to be more independent and much more liable to talk back against their male counterparts. From the very moment Oliver met up with Jude, their scenes are filled with this resentment from both parties. Oliver resents this woman who, within Briarcliff at least, is in charge and he can’t really go over anyone’s head about it if the Monsignor isn’t there. Jude resents yet another man in her life that is trying to tell her how to run her asylum.

How Quinto has Oliver react to Jude is something that on repeat viewings stands out more and more as a hostility below the surface of his calm exterior. Oliver greatly enjoys playing mind games with people and he got the chance to do so when she accused him in the third episode. Jed Potter died during the exorcism and it was Oliver who administered drugs, attempted CPR, and pronounced the young man dead on the scene. A close watch of the scene combined with the fact that the devil in Jed knew about Thredson’s dark secrets could easily lead someone to think that Oliver intentionally killed him before Jed could tell anyone what the Devil knew about him.

Jude accuses Oliver in the middle of their conversation about Jed Potter but unbeknownst to Oliver, Jude is talking about another matter altogether. There’s this moment where he gets this challenging look in his eye that suggests for Jude to prove it all while his body posture gets very aggressive with his hands flat on the table as he leans in to stare Jude down. But when he realizes she isn’t at all mentioning anything that was his doing, Oliver loses interest and his posture becomes less threatening. There’s a disappointment there almost as though he was testing Jude for his next victim and she failed the test. Oliver wants a certain level of challenge with his victims and shortly after that scene is when he inserted himself into Lana’s problems.


It's been promised that in episode 5, which is next week, Bloody Face will finally be revealed. So we'll know if the case we've made for Dr. Oliver Thredson will be proven correct or not in just a few days from now. No matter what, it's going to be hard to deny that he's just genuinely a total creeper and something isn't altogether right with Oliver Thredson.

1 comment:

  1. this is such a great observation. I have to say, I'm convinced!