This week, American Horror Story got into the Christmas spirit. Their holiday-themed episode “Unholy Night,” came complete with a certifiably insane Santa (played by guest star Ian McShane). It was a real treat if you don’t mind the delayed gratification of central plot lines.

The Players:

  • Director: Michael Lehmann
  • Writer: James Wong
  • Cast: Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, Jessica Lange

Episode Title: “Unholy Night”

Following the Angel of Death, another mythical character appears at Briarcliff — Santa Claus. Okay, not the actual Santa (although, it’s AHS so it could happen). This guy is less jolly St. Nick and more crazy serial killer with a Christmas fixation.

The Good:

  • Kana/Lit: Can we give these two a couple name? We personally like Kana. It’s a totally platonic and imperfect relationship, but when Briarcliff’s wrongly-imprisoned sane people team up, it’s great. Lana spilled all to Kit about Dr. Thredson and Bloody Face, vowing to clear his name and set the record straight. The crazy thing is, even though she’s locked up and possibly pregnant with the spawn of a serial killer (she’s vomiting in a way that screams “morning sickness”), you can’t help but believe she’ll pull through. When Dr. Thredson returns to Briarcliff to stop Lana from calling the authorities, he bears bad news for Team Kana. He’s destroyed all the evidence at his house. Bloody Face is no more. He’s ready to kill Lana and wipe out the sole surviving witness to his reign of terror when Kit saves the day. They tie him up and trap him in a closet. Lana, understandably, wants to kill him and be done with it, but Kit convinces her to keep him alive because he’s the only proof of Kit’s innocence.
  • Sister Jude: This season, Sister Jude came out of the gate as a badass and hasn’t backed down. She’s gone from villain to maybe hero. It turns out, she has a past with Crazy Santa and canceled Christmas at Briarcliff after he literally bit a guard’s face off. With Jude out, Sister Mary reinstates the holiday and lets Santa out. Dr. Arden double-crosses Jude when she returns to Briarcliff and sets her up for a cage match with Crazy Claus. Jude wins by stabbing him in the neck. She’s not your average nun.

The So-So:

    • Bad Santa: Ian McShane really stole the show as the crazy Santa killer. But it’s hard to justify the point of a good one-off character at this stage of the game. With a million plots that need to be tied up (Aliens! Present-day Bloody Face! Mary Eunice’s possession! Dr. Arden’s mutants! Sister Jude in general!), it feels like a waste of time to meet a new, no-future character.

The Bad:

    • Aliens: Before Dr. Arden can dispose of Grace’s body, the aliens come and zap it up. We need to know about the aliens. They are by far the most under-developed part of AHS: Asylum’s many plots and we’re nearing the end. Come on Murphy: It’s time to explain this one.


“Unholy Night” is a fun episode, but does little to advance the season arcs. The guest performance from McShane is amazing, but the whole story felt unnecessary. If you want answers to any burning questions, this isn’t the episode for you.

Rating: 7/10

American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

What did you think of this week’s episode?