'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on Dylan McDermott's return and the upcoming episode in which 'half the cast dies' -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM]

FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum aired its last episode until the new year on Wednesday and certainly made it a doozy for viewers. We got our first real scene with Dylan McDermott who is not only Bloody Face but also the son of Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto). Lana (Sarah Paulson) revealed that she was preggers with Thredson’s child which seems to mean that she’s then McDermott’s character’s mother. Meanwhile, Kit (Evan Peters) and the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes) both appeared to be on the brink of death by the end of the episode. Plus, Pepper (Naomi Grossman) got really smart! With so much to discuss, EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about this episode and the next installment in which Murphy says, “half the cast dies.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The opening scene is so genius because not only does it pay homage to Dylan’s character on the first season, therapist Ben Harmon, but then also features Brooke Smith from The Silence of the Lambs. I’m assuming that was all planned?
RYAN MURPHY: Well, it was actually a strangely odd happy accident. We wrote that one scene and we had not yet cast Dylan. Dylan and I had been talking and he wanted to come back and I wanted him to come back. I said, “Well, I don’t want you to be the Dylan McDermott white collar guy.” So as soon as we wrote this scene, I said, “Couldn’t Dylan play this part? Does he look enough like Zach and Sarah?” 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 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.

Is that Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) being killed in the flashback?
Yes. Teresa bit the dust.

I liked this episode because there were scares but real humor with Lily Rabe and Ian McShane.
I love what Lily has done this season because I think she gets the dark comedy of it. She’s not afraid of it. She’s not playing a possessed person in movies or television I’ve ever seen. I think the devil delights in what the devil does.

Ian just loves that weird f—ing psychopath. He loved it the moment he read that opening scene and went for it. I love that baptism with Joe Fiennes. And I love that last image with what Ian has done to Joe Fiennes. We don’t go back to Ian in person but toward the end of the season you find out what he did after he escaped. Well, he did something very naughty which we talk about in a very funny way.

So I’m assuming when you come back in January, we’ll find out if Monsignor accepted the Angel of Death’s kiss?
Yes, you do find that back. The funny thing about coming back in episode 10 of 13, half the cast dies in episode 10. So when the script came out, everyone was like, “What?! I die now?” So I had to make a lot of calls. Episode 10 is very good, dramatic…all the cliff hangers are answered and there’s some really juicy stuff because half the cast dies.

So, Lana attempts to abort her baby with the coat hanger. But it seems like it’s still alive based on Sister Mary Eunice. Did the devil keep the baby alive?
No. That’s answered in a future episode. I think the devil knows everything but also likes to f— with you. One of the interesting things of the show this year is it’s very interested in social issues. Again, the melding of science and religion and at that time in the country abortion was illegal. The Drano margarita is a real thing that women actually took. The coat hanger abortion many women did it that way and many women died and some of the attempts were not successful. So it’s something we answer in upcoming episodes.

We saw the return of Pepper and now she’s…very intelligent.
That’s right! It’s one of the things we were talking about when we were researching all these insane alien abduction stories. Many people who claim that that happened claim that they were returned with either additional skills, some weird sort of enlightened creativity or heightened intelligence. So that’s sort of the idea with Pepper. She started off as a pinhead and came back as Gandhi. Also, Pepper, let’s be clear, is pure comic delight and we cast an actress at the very beginning who could play both those things. Pepper has a very long monologue in episode 10 where she talks about the plight of the physically impaired in our culture and how many were framed for crimes, which is true and many were locked away. People like that were just thrown into institutions at that time. It would have been hilarious and fine if Pepper came back and did her gobbledygook but I wanted her to have a say and a voice. And the whole thing is so strange that I think many people will say, “Wait, is this a dream?” And I think that’s an interesting theory.

You won’t say if it is or not?
No.

Grace or someone who looked like Grace came back. Will we see her give birth?
Yes, you will see that.

Is that an alien baby?
Well, that’s in episode 10. No, I’ll just say it right now that it’s not an alien baby. I think that’s too Alien. What I was interested in was the idea of eugenics. That’s another crazy f—ing thing when you research these people who were abducted in the ’50s and ’60s. Some of the women who say they were pregnant claim that they came back and their pregnancy had been moved along a couple months as if they were in some weird time continuum.

I love how in the final moments Lana and Jude form a new alliance, like the two unfairly imprisoned ladies.
Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s also something that the Kit character and the Lana character have to deal with as we reach the end which is, How do you recover from that? And the only way you really do is to imbue some sort of forgiveness. Do they forgive Jude or not?

What is episode 10, airing on Jan. 2, called?
Episode 10 is called “The Name Game.” We move forward into 1965. There’s a great musical number in it that goes on for like two and a half minutes that I love. There was a 1950s Shirley Ellis hit called “The Name Game” so Jessica Lange does that song with all the insane people. I just started editing it — it’s not to be believed with Jessica out of her mind and dressed up like Dusty Springfield. And I would say a large number of these characters die and have their story lines resolved in episode 10 as we move toward the conclusion. So it’s a really big, dramatic, fun, juicy episode that is also full of many surprises. There’s the musical number, there’s the Pepper explanation. All the cliffhanger questions are answered. It’s really good. It’s really fun.

Read more:
‘American Horror Story’ scoop: Who’s back? Who’s pregnant? Who’s dying? 5 teases from the winter finale
Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ production designer Mark Worthington on creepy Briarcliff Manor
‘American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on Ian McShane’s psycho Santa and the return of Pepper — EXCLUSIVE

Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack


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