Thredson grew up in a government-sponsored orphanage after being abandoned by his thirty-three year old mother at a very young age. "The System", as Thredson called the orphanage, was a hard place to grow up in and he had suffered growing up with other children who he thought were less intelligent than he was. He eventually left and went to medical school, where one of the first cadavers he worked with was the corpse of a thirty-three year old woman. He deluded himself into thinking it was his mother, but when he tries to embrace her, he becomes revolted with her cold skin, which smelled of formaldehyde.
Realizing his longing for a maternal presence, he sought out the touch of a live woman to replace his lost mother, which is that of a woman's skin. He began kidnapping women whom he thought had maternally potent skin (skin that feels like that of a mother's). Any woman he found inadequate, he skinned and beheaded, disposing of the corpse and turning the skin into furniture and/or his "Bloody Face" mask. However, to the public, he appears to be a calm and somewhat friendly doctor who listens to his patients.
Personality and Appearance
Unlike most of the staff at Briarcliff, Dr Thredson was stoically calm and clinical around patients at the beginning of the series. He also had a less barbaric outlook towards treatment, saying that more compassion would greatly improve conditions for the patients. He was willing to look at the patients as more than just insane criminals in comparison to the sadistic treatment of Sister Jude. However, in his alter ego as "Bloody Face", he reverted to his darker side - an unhinged, sadistic murderer with deep-seated maternal abandonment issues.
An important aspect of his personality is the fact that being an abandoned child from an early age, he can't stand the idea of his own child being aborted or abandoned. The abandonment syndrome is deeply-rooted in his personality.
Thredson first came to Briarcliff in order to judge Kit Walker's sanity to stand trial. He first believed Kit to be guilty and delusional, and diagnosed him as insane. Later, he complained to Sister Jude about the barbaric methods she employed upon her patients, further straining their already frail relationship, as Dr. Thredson is more convinced in the power of science than religion as a psychiatric tool. This was demonstrated when he offered his medical opinion to the parents of Jed Potter when they tried to have him admitted to Briarcliff. When an exorcism was called upon Potter by Monsignor Howard and Father Malachi, he was invited to participate and tend to the boy's medical needs.
When someone planted a newspaper relating to Sister Jude's hit-and-run accident on her desk, she accused Dr. Thredson. Though he in fact intended to discuss Jed's death, by guessing that she was trying to protect her own guilty conscience he accidentally implied that he had planted the newspaper, leading her to demand that he leave in two weeks. Lana, who had grown to trust Thredson's calm, clinical manner, begged him to send a letter to her ex-girlfriend Wendy. However, when he later reported back to Lana, he claimed to have found her house empty and disheveled, a tell-tale sign that the Bloody Face killer had visited. With this evidence, he admitted to Lana that he was now unsure of Kit's guilt. During the movie night, he noticed Lana, Grace, and Kit's disappearance during the film, but did not report it, perhaps suspecting that the storm would drive them back inside.
Thredson later tried to question Lana about her disappearance, but she did not admit she tried to escape. He confided that he did not believe she belonged here, and offered to help treat her homosexuality with more benign methods than Sister Jude. He also believed Kit was neither guilty nor insane, but hoped that he would admit that the story of aliens abducting his wife, Alma, was a delusion. He attempted to "cure" Lana of her lesbianism through chemically-aided aversion therapy, but eventually realized that the attempt was fruitless. Later, he visited her after a sleepless night, apologizing for resorting to the controversial therapy. Giving Lana a photograph of Wendy, he swore they would leave Briarcliff together at the end of that week.
In order to help his case, Kit let Thredson record him describing and admitting to the murders even though he still did not fully believe he committed them nor recall them. Thredson then helped Lana escape, taking her to his home. However, inside his seemingly cozy house Lana began to notice several macabre objects, including a bowl seemingly carved from a skull and a lampshade made from human skin. Excusing herself to go to the bathroom, she accidentally opened a room filled with tools and human body-parts while searching for an exit. Thredson, discovering her, admitted they were all his; as a "hobby", he constructs furniture - primarily human-skin lampshades. He then pushed a button, sending Lana through a trap-door. When she awakened, she found herself trapped in the clinical "Playroom" that Thredson kept in the basement, with another companion: the frozen, preserved corpse of Wendy. Thredson entered, encouraging Lana to continue her therapy by kissing Wendy. When Lana refuses to do so, he says that Wendy won't bite. He then puts on a leathery mask partially decorated with teeth, pointing out that he took her teeth. Lana starts screaming uncontrollably realizing that all along, Thredson was the real Bloody Face, and by "treating" Kit Walker he had framed him for his own crimes.
Lana awoke the next morning, still in the "Playroom", chained to a metal bed, as Thredson prepared a croque-monsieur for her. He proceeded to tell Lana that his mother abandoned him, and he grew up in the orphanage/foster home system. Though ostracized by his peers and made to continually feel 'different', an event in medical school changed his life: an encounter with a female cadaver who had been the same age as his mother when she abandoned him. It was then he realized that his problems stemmed from a lack of a mother-figure, causing him to continually seek out "replacements". All of his previous candidates proved inadequate, and he used his medical training to carefully skin and then decapitate them; he became convinced that Lana was "The One", the maternal replacement he had long sought.
Later Kit called, confused that Thredson had given the taped "confession" to the police. When Thredson refused to help him, he became angry, calling him a liar and a bastard. Enraged, Thredson returned to the basement, catching Lana in the middle of an escape. This infuriated him further, making him feel abandoned by his "mother" again. As he donned his "Bloody Face" mask and prepared to kill Lana, he began to cry. He revealed that he had overheard Lana "before Briarcliff" saying that even a monster such as Bloody Face had once been someone's baby. It was then that he believed that she would be the only one to understand him. Lana, grasping his meaning, attempted to play along with his fantasy, calling him "baby". Emotionally overwrought, he removed the mask and tearfully began to breastfeed from her.
Thredson later raped Lana while she was in a near-catatonic state, and having completed this action felt that their relationship had reached an "impasse" and that he must kill her. In the ensuing struggle, Lana stabbed him in the crotch with his own hypodermic needle and escaped, only to become involved in a car accident and returned to Briarcliff. Thredson took care to destroy all the physical evidence of his crimes, fearing Lana would go straight to the police; upon reading of her car accident in the newspapers, he cornered her in Briarcliff, intending to use her skin to create a new Bloody Face mask and begin again. Before he could accomplish this, he was knocked out by Kit. Kit and Lana then imprisoned him in a disused room near to Briarcliff's bakery, hoping they could find a way to expose him as Bloody Face.
When Lana discovered that she had become pregnant with Thredson's child as a result of his raping her, she visited him. She informed him of her intent to have the child adopted, as Sister Mary Eunice would by no means allow it to be aborted. Horrified at the thought of his progeny experiencing the same torments he did as an abandoned orphan, Thredson pleaded for Lana to give him one more chance to be honest. To prove it, he confessed his crimes as Bloody Face and admitted why he performed each of them, only for Lana to reveal that his confession was being tape-recorded by Kit, utilizing the same trick that he used to frame Kit. Lana further claimed that she had already aborted his child, an act he deemed more despicable than any of his murders. When Lana later sneaked out of her room to kill Thredson, she found he had been released by Sister Mary Eunice, who also revealed that their child was still very much alive in Lana's womb.
After his escape, Thredson returned to Briarcliff, offered a more permanent position by Sister Mary Eunice. Using this new authority, he intended to wait until Lana gave birth, then murder her again, keeping her alive only until she had breastfed the baby - "the health benefits are myriad". Knowing that Kit had hidden the taped confession incriminating him, he implied that he intended to torture the information out of him as "therapy". Later, while searching for Dr. Arden's sodium pentothal, he discovered Grace giving birth in the doctor's surgery, with Pepper acting as midwife. When Grace's baby was delivered, he used it and Grace as leverage against Kit, blackmailing him into telling him the location of the tape. When he went to find it, however, it had already been replaced with a copy of "See Spot Run"; Lana had hidden the tape again, and used that secret to blackmail him into not harming Kit or anyone else.
When Thredson attempted to convince Kit into finding out the location of the tape in return for his freedom, Kit stalled him to hide Lana's escape from Briarcliff with the aid of Mother Superior Claudia. Thredson caught on just in time to see Lana get into a taxi, hold up the tape and display her middle finger at him. When he returned home that night, he found Lana waiting for him with a loaded gun; her tape had been delivered to the police, and they were on their way to collect him. Seemingly relieved that his secrets were at last out, he went to mix a martini, wanting to taste alcohol one more time before imprisonment. At gunpoint, he admitted to Lana that he used Wendy's corpse for "practice", attempting several times to have intercourse with it before finally turning it over so that she did not appear to be looking back at him. Later, following Lana's escape, he dismembered the body, burned it and publicly discarded of most of the ashes.
As he went for a refill of his martini, he speculated that Lana would never keep her baby; she agreed, but stated that even if she gave birth, he would be executed before he ever got to see it. Disagreeing, he pointed out that he is mentally ill, and therefore more likely to live under care than be sentenced for his crimes. As he eyed a gun in his drinks cabinet, intending to make Lana his final victim before he was arrested, she vengefully shot him through the back of the head, preferring this to the thought of his going to prison.
- He is the second character to be portrayed by Zachary Quinto. The first was Chad Warwick.
- Oliver Thredson has been absent in only one episode throughout the season. That episode is Welcome to Briarcliff.
- Commentary: Jensen, Jeff (2012-11-15). Zachary Quinto on this week's shocker and 'the most brutal, unsettling, affecting stuff I've ever done' (en). Inside TV.
- He is the 60's era Bloody Face. His son Johnny Morgan is the 2012 Bloody Face.
- To Sr. Jude: "I realize you're likely unfamiliar with the work of B.F. Skinner but positive reinforcement is proven to be far more effective. In lay terms, Sister, a little compassion would go a long way."
- To Sr. Jude: "You have quite a suspicious mind, Sister, bordering on the delusional. Or maybe it’s just a form of projection; a defense to protect your own guilty conscience."
- To Lana: "Don't worry, she won't bite. I took her teeth."
- To Lana: "Baby needs colostrum."
- To Lana: "Now that you're here, all of that work is behind me, Mommy."
- To Lana: "Nutmeg makes all the difference in the world."
- To Lana: "Living with secrets is not healthy."
- To Lana: "I'm clearly insane!"
- To Lana: He took her teeth. (Lana screams, The Caroling Group sings probably "He Took Her Teeth" or something like "He Took Her Teeth", Lana screams again and two people lay in/on their bed with the fan on and hear Lana's screaming and screaming echoing.)
- To Lana Winters: "I hardly think so, Lana. I'm clearly insane. I'll be institutionalized. At the very worst, I'll live a long life in prison. Maybe I'll even start some therapy groups. God knows, there are some disturbed individuals behind bars."
See also: Oliver Thredson/Media