Review: ‘American Horror Story’ returns with a bang

By Angela Hernandez


The second season of FX’s hit television show, “American Horror Story,”started, and didn’t disappoint.

This season is a completely different storyline than the first, so new viewers can jump right on in without having to catch up on past episodes. Each season is treated like a mini-series that goes along with a theme. The new season takes place in an East Coast mental institution in 1964 called Briarcliff.

Adam Levine’s character, Leo, and his on-screen wife take a tour of the abandoned asylum for their honeymoon in present time at the start of the show, but then an unfortunate encounter comes about. Leo’s arm is torn off by an unseen force that kicks the audience back to Briarcliff in its heyday.

Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is admitted into the institution when he is believed to have killed and skinned his wife, Alma, earning him the name of Bloody Face, but the audience knows the last time Kit saw Alma was when he was trying to save her from being abducted by aliens.

The staff of Briarcliff consists of Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), who is fond of punishing her mischievous patients and believes mental illness is an excuse for sin. Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) is very timid, most likely due to her fear of disappointing Sister Jude. Dr. Arthur Arden should be looking after the health of his patients, but instead is doing experiments on them and trying to satisfy something just beyond the walls of the institution.

Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is a reporter trying to get some inside information on the asylum and its happenings, but she gets admitted into Briarcliff after her investigation gets in the way of Sister Jude running her institution. Her lover, Wendy, signs her over to the asylum, so Sister Jude does not out her as a lesbian.

Other patients include Grace, who was admitted after her family was butchered; Shelly, a woman taken to Briarcliff for her nymphomania; and Spivey, the asylum bully.

Every event in this first episode does a great job of building the anticipation for the episodes to come, such as the creature(s) in the forest, the alien abduction, and the true identity of Bloody Face.

Some actors are returning from the first season and show their range. Evan Peters in the first season played the antagonist, but this time his character, Kit Walker, is the good guy who has been dealt a bad hand with having to hide his marriage to his African American wife, Alma, being abducted by aliens and being accused of his wife’s death.

A difference from the first season is that the writing for “Asylum” is much subtler and decides to take a slower pace in unraveling the storyline. I like the approach that is taken with mental illness especially for this time period. Some patients do need medical treatment while others are there due to corrupt laws. Viewers are left to wonder if it’s the patients that are crazy or the staff. Last season had a lot of jump scares, blood and gore, and sex. This time around, the writers take their time with the scares. There wasn’t too much gore in the first episode, but the writers kept the sex in.

If viewers have the same expectations for the storyline they may be disappointed with this new approach to writing, but the storytelling is still phenomenal.

A same-sex relationship, the struggle between science and faith and interracial marriages are also the subtopics of the first episode. I admire how the writers added these hot-button topics for that time period.

“American Horror Story: Asylum” is definitely going to maintain its fan following with this new season. It may even gain more of an audience with its multiple guest stars such as Adam Levine. The show will also sweep the award ceremonies like it did last year. Writers and creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk didn’t hit a sophomore slump with this new season.


Angela Hernandez


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