I’m a little late to the party… my excuse is that I was abducted. Yeah, that’s it!
Wednesday night FX premiered “American Horror Story: Asylum”, their second season of “American Horror Story” that’s set at an East Coast asylum for the criminally insane in 1964. The upcoming season revolves around Jessica Lange’s new character — a nun — and her boss at the institution, played by James Cromwell.
Episode 02.01, “Welcome to Briarcliff”, takes the viewer inside Briarcliff Manor, a notorious insane asylum home to the deranged serial killer, Bloody Face. Lurking in the shadows of this “sanctuary of healing” are terrifying evils that blur the boundaries between reality and insanity.
Much like I did with the season premiere of “The Walking Dead,” I wanted to take a few minutes to highlight everything Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk did right with the premiere. Unlike “Walking Dead,” the only way “American Horror Story” can go is down. Major spoilers follow.
1: “ASYLUM,” really?! The biggest cliché in horror is the ol’ haunted asylum logline, where a group of teens are picked off one by one by a ghostly presence. There have to be literally hundreds of these in production, if not already completed. Much like they did with the horror cliches in the first season, “AHS: Asylum” approaches everything from a different perspective, mostly highlighted by the fact that they can spend the time showing the viewer how the asylum became haunted in the first place.
2: It’s a period piece, mostly. While they use a sex-fueled couple as a device to tap into the mythos of the asylum, the audience is transported back to the 1960s where ignorance is the name of the game. The series brings it on THICK as they touch on themes of racism, sexuality and religion. There’s a plethora of social commentary trickling through the first episode, most of which piques my curiosity about how theses themes relate to the season’s overall arc.
3: JESSICA LANGE WINS ALL! Most of the Season 1 cast has returned, but none so important as Lange who, this time around, plays a super bitch nun with an East Coast accent. She’s an old dominatrix who’s a strong lead that’s both manipulating and incredibly sexual. It’s astounding to see such an empowering role reversal, which is something that’s never been done before on TV. The most interest aspect of her character is that, since Cromwell is obviously the villain, Lange could secretly be the anti-hero.
4: There’s motherfuckin’ aliens! While we already knew such a spoiler, nobody expected it to be such an integral part to the story. There’s some frightening shit in there that could only be compared to the infamous Fire in the Sky. This leads me to the final important thing about “Asylum”…
5: “AHS: Asylum” presents only questions. There are literally zero answers. The best television leaves you hanging. “Asylum” opens the door to an enormous amount of content that’s only been touched on, and unlike “Lost,” we’re sure to get everything answered by the season finale. If Bloody Face popping up with a skin mask didn’t leave you in a state of shock, I don’t know what will.
“American Horror Story: Asylum,” which (as of this writing) is the best horror show on television, returns next Wednesday with some tricks and treats. Talk back below and tell us what you thought of the premiere!