If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for the next installment of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story for what seems like a year. Oh, wait. It has been a year. Wow! Time doesn’t fly as fast I thought. Moving on, it’s back! This is the show that took the Horror/Suspense/Thriller genre from big screen to small screen. You literally feel like you’re watching a movie, but in reality, it’s a television show. Well, actually, Murphy of Glee fame, has commented that it’s indeed more like a mini-series which in his opinion is why it’s appealing to many actors and actresses.
The first season was all about the dysfunctional family, the Harmons, who moved into a haunted house. Now, this season is all about a haunted asylum called Briarcliff Manor. And believe me, I was hesitant to the concept of a whole new story and all new characters. As an avid television watcher, we like some stability in our shows. We cheer for certain characters and we enjoy the somewhat predictable story lines. However, American Horror Story throws that television rule book out the window and it gets weird, it gets weird fast. So fast that sometimes once you cling onto a character, they might not be around that long or they take an unexpected turn you didn’t anticipate.
Okay time for the ****SPOILER ALERT****SPOILER ALERT*****. I am going to discuss this season’s premiere so stop reading if you haven’t watched it yet, go home immediately, watch it, and then we can discuss.
Here we go! The first five minutes was pure brilliance and explains why Ryan Murphy should stop worrying about singing teenagers and focus on the art of Horror. So Adam Levine, of The Voice and Maroon 5 fame, opens the stage as a newly married man who is on a haunted honeymoon with his new wife. They are visiting the 12 most haunted places and “screwing their brains out in every one of them.” We also get the backstory of the present day asylum known as Briarcliff Manor. It was originally a tuberculosis ward built in 1908 where 46,000 people died. It was also said that they shuttled the bodies out through the death shoot. Then the Catholic Church bought the manor in 1962 and turned it into a place for the criminally insane. One of the most famous residents was a serial killer named “Bloody Face.”
Note to self: Don’t ever take a honeymoon like this, although it wouldn’t shock me if this becomes the next trend in the honeymoon world. The couple explores, they get a little frisky, and then a strange noise occurs. It’s always a noise, and the girl always wants to check it out. When will people ever learn?!?!
Anyway, they go and “check it out” which leads Leo (Adam Levine) to getting his arm ripped off in the mist of receiving a blow job from his new wife Theresa. Start opening credits, which are scary, however, I think season one’s opening was better.
Flashback to 1964 where season one fans will see a familiar face, Evan Peters, who is playing a gas attendant and not a teenage ghost that shot five classmates and then himself. He arrives home and we learn he is married to an African American woman, which was quite a scandal in the 1960s. Then it gets weird. What Kit (Peters) thinks is his friend playing a joke on him, is…wait for it – an ALIEN ADBUCTION! Yeah! With probing and all! I told you it gets weird! However, it is done cleverly enough to not look too Sci-Fi. The audience just gets flashes, a tease of what happened. It’s still unclear the exact events of that night, but next we see Kit, he is being referred to as “Bloody Face” and being brought into the asylum.
In the moments prior to “Bloody Face’s” arrival, we are introduced to some more familiar faces, Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters, a newspaper reporter there to do a story on the Blaircliff bakery. My first thought is that I wouldn’t normally put a bakery and an insane asylum together, in the same place. It’s odd. She is greeted by Sister Mary and lead to meet Sister Jude, played by the amazing Jessica Lange. A moment please, Jessica Lange is amazing! She single handedly steals any scene she’s in. Ryan Murphy seems to cater to her strengths so that she shines. It’s brilliant to watch.
Back to the story at hand, we walk in on Sister Jude shaving Shelley’s (Chloe Sevigny) head. Sister Jude explains that Shelley was diagnosed as a nymphomaniac but you can tell Sister Jude doesn’t believe in that mental diagnosis. Immediately into their dialogue, we can tell that Lana isn’t there about the bakery, she is there for “Bloody Face.” Kit is admitted into the asylum and we learn that he is accused of de-skinning women and then wearing their flesh. Sister Jude dismisses his stories of “little green men.” Here, the audience gets a glimpse into Sister Jude’s character. She is devoted to God and his teachings. She rules the asylum with an iron fist and isn’t shy about using force to punish the patients, which considering the era was normal.
Next, we get introduced to a French woman named Grace who claims she too is not crazy, revealing the reason for her admittance into Blaircliff (she is accused of chopping up her family). During a dinner with Father Timothy Hard, Sister Jude inquires about Dr. Arden and his operation at the asylum, seeing that four patients have gone missing. He tells her not to worry as she imagines stripping down for him, naughty nun.
Meanwhile, Dr. Arden comments to Sister Mary, who seems to know more secrets than she’s letting on, that “they” are getting hungry. Questions that pop into my head: Who? What? Human experiments? Dr. Arden = Dr. Frankenstein? Did he “create” a monster? So Sister Mary goes into the woods with buckets and leaves them there. Are they cutting up human remains? She runs into Lana, who is determined to “blow the lid” off of Briarcliff. Lana can tell Sister Mary is nervous and uses a little blackmail to gain access into the asylum. We then see Dr. Arden injecting something into Kit’s neck.
We flashback to the present, where a clearly dying Leo is lying on the floor. Theresa tries to retrieve his cell phone from the car, however, mysteriously all the doorways are chained and locked.
Abandoned by Sister Mary in the men’s ward, Lana runs into Shelley, who was “servicing” a male orderly, and tells her Kit is in solitary. Lana tries to hide in an empty cell but is grabbed by an arm. Cut to Dr. Arden who is hooking up poor Kit to machines. The doctor slices Kit’s neck and discovers a microchip bug. Dr. Arden is definitely in mad scientist territory with a major God complex.
The season premiere wraps up with Sister Jude yelling at Sister Mary for allowing Lana to enter Briarcliff. A side note here, I think Sister Mary knows more than she is letting on. That she is playing up to Sister Jude in order to gain her confidence. Just a theory. Lana is then admitted into the asylum as a patient, she awakens strapped to a bed, in a head brace. Sister Jude promises to cure her of her homosexuality. Well, you got what you wanted Lana, a way in.
We see Sister Jude standing outside the room Lana was attacked in and then it cuts to Leo in the present. So, was Leo’s arm the one that grabbed Lana? Or was the room both the one Leo’s arm entered, as well as the room Lana was in? Some propel or cage for one of Dr. Arden’s “experiments”? The doctor is seen disinfecting the room and both the audience and Sister Jude see deep scratches all over the walls. Jude vows to find out what was living there and we end, back in the present with Theresa, running down the same hallway that Sister Mary and Lana were using to exit the woods in 1964. And there, in the last few seconds we see, who I am going to assume was “Bloody Face,” with bulging eyes, torn skin, holding an ice pick. End credits.
Mind-blown moment! Who is “Bloody Face”? Is it actually Kit or is it something that Dr. Arden created? And is he really alive? Or is this a trick? As usual, so many questions, but I know Murphy and his American Horror Story team will answer them. I must say that I’m officially hooked. It’s comforting, in a weird way, to see so many familiar faces from the previous season although they are portraying different characters, it’s nice seeing some old faces in a new house of horror. There are layers upon layers of mystery, secrets and lies all weaved together in this perfect story. And each week, we will slowly peel back the layers or in some cases, the layers will be ripped off like a band-aid so the audience will be left in a cloud of WTF.
And the best part is, you don’t have to cram a season worth of television in one night to “catch” up. You’re on the same page as everyone else who watched last year. Don’t you love it?!