Sister Mary Eunice loves two things: killing and encouraging others to kill. She does plenty of both in this episode.
Her newest recruit: Santa Claus. Or not really Santa, but a deranged madman who is locked up for killing 18 people from five families in one night, all while donning the traditional Santa outfit.
"I'm not feeling very Christmassy,' he said before putting a bullet through the heads of a man and his wife.
The scene was the first of two flashbacks showing the dangerous nature of the bearded patient.
As the couple's daughter Suzy walked down the stairs minutes prior to the shooting, I got the feeling viewers weren't in for a Cindy Lou Who moment where the young girl's innocence would help move the nutcase from his psychotic ledge.
"Where's your beard," the girl asked him.
"I shaved. It was scratchy."
"Why are you here? Christmas isn't for six days."
"That's what you get for letting Rudolph organize your calendar," the crazed man answered.
We can only assume the girl was one of the 18 victims.
In the second flashback, we are shown that Sister Jude has plenty of reason to fear the terminator version of Santa.
During a Briarcliff Christmas party, the patient went Hannibal Lecter and chewed off an orderlies' face. His punishment: rotting away in solitary confinement for a year without a check-up from Sister Jude.
But the holidays come early for crazy Santa when Sister Mary Eunice releases her newest pawn from his cell. Briarcliff's resident security guard Frank becomes Sister Mary Eunice's latest victim with a slashed throat in the process.
Santa's first visit as a free man is to see Sister Jude. The killer didn't exactly have Jude on his "nice" list, but more on that later.
An unlikely union
It took Sister Jude and Dr. Arden a lifetime to figure out what everyone else in the asylum already knew. Sister Mary Eunice is not the same shy girl who was afraid to take a bite of Arden's candy apple.
Dr. Arden tests this notion by offering Sister Mary Eunice a romantic gift: ruby earrings he confiscated from a dead Jewish girl who kept the accessories hidden in her stool.
Hoping for rejection, Arden gets mad when Sister Mary Eunice likes his distasteful present.
"I was expecting you to throw them back in my face," Arden says, telling the nun that he knows she's the devil.
"If you're against me, even God can't help you," Mary Eunice tells him.
I would think that threatening an atheist with religious omens would be unsuccessful, but it rattles Arden enough to ask his arch-enemy Sister Jude for help in bringing down the corrupt nun.
"I don't believe in God," Arden says. "But I believe in evil. I've seen up close and personal."
Arden agrees to bring Mary Eunice to Sister Jude's room. But there's one problem. Dr. Arden is evil. He always has been and always will be. The error in judgment makes for a stunned Sister Jude when killer Santa walks through the door to her room.
"Guess what?" nutcase Santa asks Sister Jude rhetorically. "There is no God. But there is a Santa Claus."
As the crazed Santa pummels Sister Jude inside a locked room, Arden can't help but to be proud of himself.
"I trust my loyalty is no longer in question," he says to Mary Eunice.
Santa continues punishing Sister Jude, lashing her with a cane.
Earlier in the episode, Arden told Mary Eunice not to underestimate Sister Jude, but Arden himself does this by thinking Jude will be killed by a man who has been locked up so long, he probably couldn't see the sun through a telescope.
Sister Jude stabs Santa in the neck, ending the Christmas festivities.
Bloody Face reborn
Lana picks up at Briarcliff where she left off in Dr. Thredson's basement -- bed-ridden. That is, until she sees Kit drugged up and realizes the authorities are unaware of her situation and no one is coming to save her.
If she were Kit, Lana would probably smash a security guard over the head with a telephone to escape. Instead she uses a phone for its more conventional purpose and tries to call for help.
What Lana doesn't know is that Thredson is lurking in the shadows waiting for his opportunity to reclaim his victim.
"You made me kill Bloody Face," he says to her. "But like the phoenix, Bloody Face had to burn so he could be born again. Your skin will be the start of a whole new Bloody Face."
Thredson grabs Lana and begins his intimidation routine, but the doctor is a lot of talk. His lecture gives Kit enough time to reach the scene and knock Thredson unconscious.
Lana wants Thredson dead, but Kit needs the doctor to corroborate his story and prove his innocence in the murder of Alma and the other girls. Instead, Kit and Lana tie Thredson up and leave him in one of Birarcliff's abandoned rooms.
"One day I'll bury you," Lana says.
The devil displays a good sense of humor as Mary Eunice. When she's not killing people, Mary Eunice is usually messing with their minds. In this episode, she used Christmas as another opportunity to have some fun. With Sister Jude no longer in charge, Sister Mary Eunice decided to celebrate her own way.
"That mean old Grinch tossed out all our ornaments, so we need to improvise," she tells the patients.
Mary Eunice then proceeds to decorate the tree with dentures, jars and other possessions.
Best known for playing Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean, Ian McShane was convincing as the deranged Santa. Too bad that like Mark Margolis' character Sam Goodman, McShane's character had a short life on the show.
There's a scene at the end of the episode where Dr. Arden is carrying Grace's body in a wheelbarrow when a bright light intervenes and the body disappears. The aliens must be a species of lonely men. They seem to only abduct women.
What we learned
Never trust Dr. Arden. Wait, didn't everyone in Briarcliff know that from day one? Apparently Sister Jude's drinking had a big impact on her short-term memory.
Santa doesn't care if you're naughty or nice. He's an equal-opportunity killer.
The mad Santa was thrown in jail around Christmas after stealing a loaf of bread and there he was raped by other inmates. The crime was so traumatizing, it led the man to wear the Santa suit and kill to show his displeasure with Christmas.
What to expect next week
It's Sister Jude's turn to be held captive. Monsignor Timothy Howard continues to support Arden by chaining Jude to a bed. Will she get the electro-shock therapy treatment? It would be a welcome sight for Lana.
Dylan McDermott makes his return, this time playing the role of patient consulting a psychiatrist. He has a lot to get off his chest, including a confession to a surprising secret.