After a frightening and successful first season, American Horror Story has returned with an entirely new set of characters and setting as American Horror Story: Asylum. In this unrelated sequel to the popular TV series, prominent actress Jessica Lange takes on the dominant role of Sister Jude in a church-haven for the criminally insane. It’s 1964, and treatments for mental illness and disobedience are—let’s face it—unreasonably sadistic.
The season premiere on October 17th opened with characters Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan), two twisted honeymooners visiting the most haunted places in America. After an unpleasant encounter with a legendary serial killer “Bloody Face” that leaves Leo left-handed, we are taken back to the 60s and introduced to reporter Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) and a Kit Walker (Evan Peters) who both have unwillingly managed to get themselves thrown into the asylum. Kit is charged with the murder of his wife and is presumed to be mentally ill after he explains she was abducted by aliens. Lana Winters is a reporter looking for a scoop within the gates of the asylum, and ends up captured and blackmailed by Sister Jude after she discovers Lana’s homosexual relationship.
There was definitely a lot to keep viewers glued to their screens during the first two episodes, including a horrendous exorcism scene, the gruesome mistreatments of the insane patients, and the twisted Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell). We also meet Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) and Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto). By the end of the second episode, we have witnessed the attempted escape of Kit Walker and his friend Grace, and their heavy penalty once they’re captured, thanks to Lana. We are left with the idea that Sister Mary Eunice has been possessed after exorcising a demon and a taste of next week’s episode.
In no way did that preview prepare us for what we would actually see this week: the guilty mess that is Sister Jude, the cannibal creatures that Dr. Arden has been feeding, and the madness that we witness near the end as things become more and more complicated. The last twenty minutes were the best of the three episodes so far—chock full of suspense as Kit, Grace, and Shelley once more attempt to escape, this time graciously allowing Lana to tag along. Shelley is captured by Dr. Arden, raped, and nearly killed, while the other three escapees are forced to return to the asylum or face Arden’s grisly forest creatures.
This episode was especially great for a night like Halloween, and I’ll be the first to admit that after it was over, it took me a few hours to fall asleep. Not only were the visuals phenomenal, but actress Jessica Lange did an outstanding job showing Sister Jude’s remorse, and Dr. Arden was just the right amount of creepy. Next week’s episode on November 7th looks just as promising, as we continue to explore the secrets of the asylum and its psychotic patients. Score: 8/10
Stay tuned for weekly updates on every coming episode of American Horror Story: Asylum as part of the weekly Oracle TV Club.
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor