Sunday, May 21, 2017

American Horror Story Asylum- Episode 5- I Am Anne Frank Part 2

**This post contains spoilers**

The Story: Continuing her quest to expose Dr. Arden, Sister Jude enlists the help of Sam Goodman, a Nazi hunter and a holocaust survivor, who dedicates his life to tracking down Nazis. Refusing to take any money for the investigation, Goodman emphasizes the importance of secrecy, and he warns Jude about the dangers of openly confronting Arden.

Meanwhile, Anne Frank holds a wounded Arden at gunpoint in Jude’s office, but Frank steps in to stop Frank. Frank is sedated, when her husband, Jim Brown (David Chisum) arrives at Briarcliff. Brown tells Jude Frank’s real name is Charlotte Brown, and together, they have a sick baby. The illness was too much to handle for Charlotte, so she obsessed over Anne Frank’s story to escape from reality.

Charlotte is released from Briarcliff, and she returns home with Jim, but Charlotte can’t adjust to a normal life. After she tries to smother their child, Jim readmits Charlotte at Briarcliff. Looking for a solution, Jim agrees to try Dr. Arden’s suggested lobotomy. Unaware of Dr. Arden’s true intentions, Jim returns home with a calmer and more subdued Charlotte.

Dr. Arden tells Sister Jude he will press charges against Jude for Frank’s shooting, and Arden has plans to talk to Monsignor Howard about removing her from Briarcliff. Jude is distraught at the thought of being forced out of Briarcliff, and she doesn’t know about Mary Eunice secretly removing a deformed Shelley from Arden’s office to protect him.

Dr. Thredson finally coerces Kit into confessing for the killings as Bloody Face, and Kit’s sterilization procedure is cancelled, but Grace is not so lucky. Sister Mary Eunice informs Grace her procedure will go on as planned, but Grace receives a visit from the aliens first. Eventually, Kit is arrested by Detective Connors and Detective Byers for the murders.

Dr. Thredson follows through on his promise to free Lana from Briarcliff. Thredson brings Lana to his home, but Lana slowly realizes something is off. To protect the secrecy of his actions, Thredson doesn’t allow Lana to make any phone calls. A panicky Lana wanders through Therdson’s house, and Lana learns the truth about Wendy and Thredson’s strange behavior, when he reveals himself as Bloody Face.

Review: The ground is shrinking beneath Sister Jude’s feet, and she knows it. Arden finally has something concrete to use against Jude, he doesn’t have to worry about Charlotte anymore, and it’s clear Monsignor Howard is not in Jude’s corner. Lange shows a more vulnerable and emotional side of Jude, when Jude tells Frank about her past, including Jude having a squirrel as a kid to fill the void in her empty house, her mother being an alcoholic, and God answering prayers.

It’s getting to a point, where Jude is backed into a corner, and the deck is stacked too high against her. Mary Eunice is trying to destroy Jude, Monsignor Howard doesn’t trust her anymore, and Arden is close to driving the final nail into Jude’s coffin.  Jude is slipping (i.e. the one night stand with the random guy at the bar), and using Goodman to expose Dr. Arden is Jude’s last shot at putting an end to Arden and keeping her job. Mary Eunice continues to prove her loyalty to Dr. Arden. Dumping Shelley at the bottom of the stairs leading to the school playground (a deformed and weakened Shelley crawling up the stairs, with the children watching and screaming is truly a horrifying and uneasy scene to watch here) proves Mary Eunice is willing to risk everything to protect Arden.

Grace’s run-in with the aliens, and a sighting of a pregnant Alma raises a lot of questions, and now we know Alma is still alive. Grace and Alma’s futures are uncertain,  and barring a miracle, Kit’s fate is sealed. Thredson is using Kit as fall guy, and there’s no reason for the police to continue their search for Bloody Face.

The set up for Thredson’s reveal as Bloody Face and the execution towards the build is flawless. After a while, you realize something is not right at Thredson’s house, and Thredson’s subtle taunts towards Lana adds to the tense series of events at his house. He’s showing Lana a candy dish that’s made out of a skull, and a lampshade made of skin, because he knows he has Lana right where he wants her, and it’s only a matter of time before he kills or takes Lana as his prisoner. The little slow burn build to Thredson’s reveal doesn’t work without Sarah Paulson’s unnerving facial expressions and her body language, and that horrified look on Lana’s face, when she realizes Dr. Thredson is not her knight in shinning armor really pulls everything together. Wendy’s corpse laying next to Lana is a creepy sight (Thredson used her teeth for his mask…yikes), and Lana is trapped in a place that’s worse than Briarcliff now.

In the closing moments, they show a picture of a young Hans Gruper standing behind Adolf Hitler, confirming Jude’s suspicions about Gruper’s fake identity. I know he didn’t care anymore, because he was focused on other plans, and this is just a theory on my part, but if you stop and think about it, Thredson could’ve saved Charlotte from the lobotomy and a life as a robotic personality. Remember, Jim asked for Thredson’s opinion and his help, when he returned to Briarcliff, and Frank did his best to convince Thredson to listen.

I Am Anne Frank Pt. 2 delivers a memorable shocker with the big Bloody Face reveal, and I can’t forget about the flashbacks for Charlotte and Jim’s life before Briarcliff. You’re basically watching an unconventional 1960’s sitcom about a married couple with the TV screen POV, and the irony here is, the picturesque lifestyle of a happy married becomes a reality, when Charlotte returns to her house after the lobotomy.

Rating: 10/10

Monday, April 24, 2017

American Horror Story Asylum- Episode 4- I Am Anne Frank Part 1

**This review contains spoilers**

The Story: Grace finally opens up to Kit about the murders. Apparently, Grace’s stepsister, Patsy and her boyfriend, Red were in cahoots, and together, they came up with a plan to kill Grace’s father and her stepmother. Red used an axe to murder Grace’s father and her stepmother, and Patsy fingered Grace for the killings. Grace and Kit have sex after Grace’s confession, but Frank catches them in the act.

Sister Jude demands separation for Kit and Grace, and Jude issues orders to sterilize Kit and Grace. They’re determined to stick together, but Sister Mary Eunice gives Kit something to think about, when she gives Kit Grace’s file. Kit demands the truth after reading Grace’s file. Reluctantly, Grace finally tells the real story: Grace murdered her father after years of sexual abuse. Grace went to her stepmother for help, but she just gave Grace candy to stay quiet, so Grace murdered her.

Dr. Thredson rattles Kit with a new theory: Kit is Bloody Face, because mentally, he couldn’t handle living with the secret of being married to a black woman, so he snapped. Kit murdered Alma, and Kit invented the story with the aliens, because he couldn’t accept the truth.

In a last-ditch effort to leave Briarcliff, Lana agrees to aversion therapy with Dr. Thredson. Lana can’t withstand the session, but Dr. Thredson promises to rescue Lana from Briarcliff before he leaves, and he gives Lana a picture of Wendy for safe-keeping. 

Meanwhile, a woman (Franka Potente) claiming to be Anne Frank is sent to Briarcliff after a scuffle at a bar. Naturally, Sister Jude has trouble buying into her story. But Frank insists she had to hide herself from the public eye, allowing Anne Frank to become martyr. Frank was reduced to living a life in the shadows, but her self imposed exile was necessary to help shed light on the atrocities during The Holocaust.

The validity of Frank’s story raises a lot of questions, and things take an odd turn, when Frank recognizes Dr. Arden in the common room. Frank claims Arden is working under a false identity, and according to Frank, Arden’s real name is Dr. Hans Gruper, a Nazi war criminal, who tortured women during cruel experiments. Arden dismisses Frank’s claims, but Frank is certain she remembers Gruper. Meanwhile, Arden continues his experiments on a deformed Shelley, and Arden tries to force Kit into a confession for possibly infiltrating Briarcliff as a spy with physical abuse.

Detective Connors (Joel McKinnon Miller)  and Detective Byers (Matthew John Armstrong) arrive at Briarcliff to question Arden about the prostitute, who escaped from his home. The Detectives are also interested in Kit, but Jude sees a golden opportunity to finally get rid of Arden. Jude pleads her case to Monsignor Howard, but The Monsignor refuses to believe Anne Frank’s story. To make matters worse, Monsignor Howard doubts Jude’s stability after he learns the truth about Jude’s drunken calamity during movie night. Unbeknownst to Jude, Monsignor Howard calls Dr. Arden, urging him to get rid of any dirty laundry.

Eventually, Arden confronts Frank about the accusations. Arden locks Frank inside his lab, but Frank turns the tables on Arden, when she reveals a gun. Frank becomes suspicious, when she hears noises coming from Arden’s locked closet. Arden tries to attack, but Frank shoots him. A wounded Arden reluctantly gives Frank the keys to the closet, where Frank discovers a mutilated Shelley…..

Review: Is it possible? Did Kit imagine the aliens and the invasion, because he just couldn’t handle and accept hiding an interracial relationship, and living in secrecy? American Horror Story is known for pulling switcheroos throughout the years, so there’s a chance Dr. Thredson is telling the truth, and now we’re back to the possibility of Kit being Bloody Face.

After a few failed attempts, Lana leaving or escaping Briarcliff is probably a lost cause at this point, but it looks like Lana finally found a trustworthy ally. It’s clear Dr. Thredson is willing to risk it all to free Lana, but what’s going to happen, if someone else catches Lana during another botched escape attempt?

Lana’s future is uncertain, but one thing’s for sure, Kit and Grace have an unbreakable bond with unquestionable trust and loyalty. Kit could’ve ended his relationship with Grace after he learned the truth about the murders, and Kit tries to push Grace away during the early stages here, but we’re looking at two people, who realize they need each other. Grace was there for Kit, when the walls of Briarcliff were starting to close in on him, and when he needed a friend. And Grace found a soul mate after everything she went through with her family.

Sister Jude is faced with a troubling dilemma. She despises Dr. Arden, but will she go against Monsignor Howard? Jude basically idolizes and worships The Monsignor, but she’ll have to choose between doing the right the ring or defying Monsignor Howard. After all, Jude believed she had a partner in Monsignor Howard, but he’s secretly protecting Dr. Arden.

“Anne Frank” is a strange case. Lana tried to give her some friendly advice about the dangers of writing, but she received the cold shoulder. You know Dr. Arden is hiding something, but at the same time, you can understand why anyone else is having a hard time buying into Frank’s claims and her story.

I Am Anne Frank Pt. 1 features some unnerving and gruesome moments and images, including Lana’s aversion therapy sessions, and Grace’s stepmother’s bloody and mangled corpse stuffed into the pantry, and the dreary and dark black-and-white flashback during Frank’s story about Hans Gruper really works. AHS Asylum packs another episode with thought-provoking storylines, intriguing questions, and another good cliffhanger. Arden is wounded. He can’t run or hide, and she’s probably not the most credible source, but someone else knows the truth about Shelley now.
Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

American Horror Story Asylum- Episode 3- Nor'easter

**This review contains spoilers**

The Story: In 2012, Bloody Face closes in on Teresa, but Leo throws his body into Bloody Face to save her. Teresa uses the opportunity to repeatedly stab Bloody Face. Teresa and Leo take another shot an escape, but two more men dressed as Bloody Face show up, revealing all three men were working together. One of the Bloody Faces shoots Teresa and Leo, but a fourth man, working alone and dressed as Bloody Face also, arrives.

In 1964, a fierce storm is approaching Briarcliff, and Sister Jude receives an unpleasant surprise in the mail. Dated June 28, 1949, Jude is shocked to see a newspaper featuring a story about the little girl she hit with her car, while driving drunk. Meanwhile, a possessed Mary Eunice intimidates and forces one of the patients to pray with her in her room. The patient (or “The Mexican”) knows Mary Eunice is possessed by the demon, and after they finish praying together, Mary Eunice uses a pair of scissors to murder her. After the murder, Mary Eunice dumps The Mexican’s body in the woods to feed to the creatures (or The Raspers). Under Sister Jude’s orders, Mary Eunice announces a special movie night during the storm, featuring a showing of The Sign Of The Cross.

Lana is desperate to contact Wendy, so she reaches out to and confides in Dr. Thredson. Lana urges Thredson to give Wendy a note, and Thredson quietly agrees.

Dr. Arden continues his experiments on Kit, and Dr. Arden suspects something fishy. Arden accuses Kit of being a spy. Kit denies the accusations, but Arden uses his surgical instruments to search Kit’s neck.

Mary Eunice tries to seduce Dr. Arden, but a disgusted Dr. Arden slaps her, and he rejects her advances. Continuing the string of odd behavior and her uncharacteristic habits, Mary Eunice offers Sister Jude communion wine after suspecting suspicious activity. Sister Jude rejects the offer, and she notices Mary Eunice wearing red lipstick. Jude wants answers, and Mary Eunice claims the red lipstick (or “Ravish Me Red”) was a gift from Dr. Arden. Jude confronts Arden about the lipstick and the newspaper, but Arden points the finger at Jude for slipping, and the possibility of Shelley getting inside Mary Eunice’s head. Jude returns to her office, and she receives a phone call from the girl she hit with her car many years ago. After the phone call, a distraught Jude starts drinking the communion wine.

During the storm, a drunken Sister Jude stumbles into the common room to start movie night after an awkward introduction. During the movie, Dr. Thredson informs Lana Wendy was nowhere to be found, when he visited her home. To make matters worse, Thredson found a bloodstain on the carpet, and other findings around the house suggests Wendy is Bloody Face’s latest victim.

Seizing the opportunity for another escape, Kit and Grace quietly leave the common room with Shelley. Fearing the worst for Wendy, Lana joins Kit, Grace, and Shelley. Grace is against giving Lana another chance to ruin their plans, but Kit allows Lana to join the group. Carl is patrolling the hallways, but Shelley distracts him long enough for Kit, Grace, and Lana to make it to the tunnel. Shelley eventually breaks away from Carl, but Dr. Arden blocks her path.

Outside, Grace, Kit, and Lana bask in the glory of a successful escape. Lana is desperate to find Wendy, and she knows how to get to the main road. But Grace doesn’t trust Lana, so Grace insists Lana will be on her own, when the trio reaches the main road. But the group has bigger problems to worry about, when they run into The Raspers. With a limited number of options in front of them, the group runs back to Briarcliff for safety.

Dr. Arden locks Shelley in his laboratory, he tries to rape her, and Shelley laughs at the size of Arden’s penis during the struggle. An enraged Dr. Arden knocks Shelley unconscious, and Shelley awakes to two amputated legs……

Review: Well, one thing’s for sure, Sister Mary Eunice is not a pure and innocent shining beacon of light anymore. You can add murder to her list of ill deeds, and it’s clear she’s trying to stir the pot between Sister Jude and Dr. Arden. Who’s side is she on? Or, is Mary Eunice carefully moving the pieces of the puzzle into place for something else? Maybe she wants Jude and Arden to take each other out, leaving room for her to control Briarcliff with no real restrictions? Lily Rabe really deserves credit for pulling off a complete one-eighty for a more devious and sadistic Mary Eunice, with a snide sense of humor.

Is Sister Jude starting to crack? Seeing a broken and vulnerable Sister Jude is more than enough to raise a lot of questions, and Jessica Lange nailed Sister Jude’s fragile state of mind before The Sign Of The Cross.

We didn’t need more proof to show Dr. Arden has one too many loose screws, but you can tell the guy is really loosing it, when he uses the tube of lipstick to deface The Virgin Mary statue. Also, after his paranoid suspicions about the possibility of Kit being a spy, it’s clear Arden is hiding more secrets.

Kit, Grace, and Lana’s bad luck streak for escape attempts continues. Think about something for a second. After everything they’ve been through at Briarcliff, Kit, Lana, and Grace would rather return to Briarcliff for SAFETY, because they didn’t want to take a chance with The Raspers. The Raspers are a serious threat, and you finally get a chance to see a more up close view of the grotesque and hideous creatures here.

Grace doesn’t trust Lana, and with the way things are going, Dr. Thredson is the only person she can trust 100% at Briarcliff. But Wendy’s mysterious disappearance could put a damper on Lana possibly leaving or escaping Briarcliff. Remember, the last time we saw Wendy, she was cornered by Bloody Face in her own home, and any chance of Kit being Bloody Face is pretty much gone now.

Shelley is stuck in an impossible situation. Arden amputated both of her legs, and on top of that, Shelley is taking the blame for being the ring leader for another failed escape attempt. Shelley is stuck in a place, where no one can hear her screams, so she’ll basically need a miracle, if she plans to escape, because Dr. Arden is too smart to make any careless mistakes, right?

Sister Jude unknowingly following the alien in the hallways works as a tense sequence, and the alien’s presence at Briarcliff sparks more questions. What are they waiting for? Do they have a plan for Kit? Are they targeting someone else?

And the Bloody Face conundrum takes another bizarre turn here. First, we’re lead to believe it’s just the one guy in 2012, but two more Bloody Faces pop up, and one guy is working alone? The guessing game for “Who is the real Bloody Face?” is not so easy now, and Teresa and Leo are stuck in the middle.

Nor’easter is a loaded episode, packed with a number of thought-provoking storylines, featuring two top notch performances from Lily Rabe and Jessica Lange. You have to wonder how far evil Sister Mary Eunice will go to get what she wants, and what’s the ultimate goal for her master plan? Sister’s Jude’s stability is another big question mark. Will she pull everything together, or is it only a matter of time before she cracks? Nor’easter has a few unnerving moments, including Dr. Arden’s attempted rape, but you also have a few eye-catching and memorable AHS images in this episode. Dr. Arden breaking The Virgin Mary statue stands out, and Kit, Lana, and Grace losing themselves in the moment, while dancing in the storm, because they believed they were finally free.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

American Horror Story Asylum- Episode 2- Tricks & Treats

**This review contains spoilers**

The Story- Teresa struggles to drag an incapacitated and bleeding Leo to safety inside Briarcliff in 2012, but Bloody Face snatches Leo away from her, so Teresa barricades herself inside the same room, where Bloody Face cut off Leo’s arm for protection. Leo pleads for mercy, but Bloody Face continuously stabs him, while a helpless Teresa watches from inside the room.

In 1964, it’s the night before Halloween, and a distraught Wendy regrets her decision to sign the papers admitting Lana to Briarcliff. Wendy vows to free Lana from Briarcliff, but Bloody Face attacks Wendy at her home.

Meanwhile, Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto), the court appointed psychiatrist, arrives at Briarcliff to evaluate Kit. Kit sticks to his story about aliens, so Dr. Thredson diagnoses Kit with acute clinical insanity. During his visit, Dr. Thredson is disgusted with the cruelty and harsh treatments at Briarcliff. He expresses his concerns to Sister Jude, but Jude warns Thredson about overstepping his boundaries.

After showing signs of a demonic possession, Jed (Devon Graye) is admitted to Briarcliff by his parents. Dr. Thredson intervenes during Sister Jude’s meeting with Jed’s parents, and Sister Jude is not too happy about Dr. Thredson sticking his nose, where it doesn’t belong, but the parents are eager to hear Thredson’s opinion. Dr. Thredson pleads his case, but Monsignor Howard brings Father Malachi (John Aylward) for an exorcism. Dr. Thredson is faced with a dilemma, when Monsignor Howard requests his presence for exorcism, because the church requires a licensed physician for exorcisms, but Thredson agrees. During the exorcism, a possessed Jed forces Dr. Thredson and Sister Jude to relive painful memories from their pasts, and as Jed dies from cardiac arrest, the demon jumps into Sister Mary Eunice. 

Lana quickly befriends Grace, but she refuses to adjust to life at Briarcliff. Fearing the possibility of Lana telling the truth about Briarcliff, Sister Jude works with Dr. Arden to administer electroshock therapy to Lana to erase her memories. Lana makes little notes to preserve her memories, and Lana wants to hatch a plan to escape Briarcliff with Grace. Lana plans to use the secret tunnel for an escape, but Grace is caught in a sticky situation, because Kit is determined to escape before Dr. Thredson files his report. Kit wants to find Alma in the outside world, but Lana refuses to help him, because she believes Kit is Bloody Face. 

After the exorcism, a power failure releases the inmates from their rooms. Lana and Grace are quick to take advantage of a rare opportunity to escape, and Kit joins them. Lana is still adamant about leaving Kit behind, so Grace teams up with Kit to find their own escape route, abandoning Lana. Lana, standing still in a state of shock, screams for help, and the guards and the orderlies capture Grace and Kit. Sister Jude wants to reward Lana for her honesty, so she allows Lana to choose the cane for Grace and Kit’s canings. Sister Jude is eager to punish Grace and Kit, but at the last second, Kit takes the blame for planning the escape, and he agrees to take Grace’s canings (forty canings altogether)……

Review: Is Dr. Thredson the one? Lana is trapped behind Briarcliff’s walls, and nobody is buying Kit’s story about aliens, so Dr. Thredson is an ideal choice to be the one, who finally puts an end to Dr. Arden’s experiments and Sister Jude’s reign of terror, right? He’s smart, he’s willing to fight for what he believes in, and he’s not afraid to stand up to Sister Jude.

In the second episode, we get to see more of Dr. Arden’s dark side as a nasty misogynist. Sure, he’s polite and respectful towards Sister Mary Eunice, and he rewards her with a candy apple for keeping his secrets and feeding the creatures in the woods, but Arden shows a different side to Shelley, when she begs for a chance to see and feel some sunlight. Shelley offers sex to Dr. Arden in an exchange for some time outside, but Dr. Arden vehemently refuses, and he condemns Shelley for her promiscuous behavior.

And we get to see how far Dr. Arden is willing to go to fulfill his twisted perversions and sick fantasies, when an unsuspecting prostitute narrowly escapes Dr. Arden’s attempt to rape her at his home. After Dr. Arden demands a more polite and proper way of carrying herself,  the woman is forced to wear a nun’s habit. Yeah, one could only imagine, who Dr. Arden is thinking about, when the woman is dressed as a nun. Anyway, the woman finds a series of pictures, featuring women, who clearly suffered brutal forms of torture at the hands of Dr. Arden. From start to finish, the date with the prostitute is a tense and unsettling storyline, because you know there’s a chance Dr. Arden could snap at any moment, and this poor and innocent woman is stuck in a madman’s house.

The exorcism fiasco revealed more secrets in Sister Jude’s past, and she clearly reached a breaking point, when she attacked a possessed Jed. Jude’s troubled past includes a job as a lounge singer, a life as a promiscuous woman, an alcoholic, and she fled the scene after hitting a little girl on her bicycle, while driving drunk. The past is the past, but you have to wonder if she’s strong enough to truly move on, or is reliving a dark past enough to break Jude’s spirit?

Lana is quickly running out of options for freedom and escaping Briarcliff, and you have to believe she burned one of the last bridges she had with Grace. Wendy was attacked by Bloody Face, and you get the feeling there’s a chance Kit is more forgiving, but an angry Grace rejected Lana’s plea for forgiveness. Lana shouting for help, as Grace and Kit made an attempt as an escape was a strange and shocking moment. Lana hesitated, but after a brief pause, she completely squandered a golden opportunity to escape. Yes, you could say she had the best intentions for wanting to stop an accused murder, but you can’t rule out the possibility of Lana not being able to handle another betrayal. Remember, she’s still recovering from a broken heart after Wendy signed the papers, so it’s understandable if something just snapped inside of Lana, when Grace chose Kit over her.

Tricks And Treats is a strong follow up to the season premiere. Jed’s exorcism is a real nail-biter, and it’s hard to forget about the uneasy moments during Lana’s electroshock therapy and Dr. Arden’s dinner date. The second episode in AHS’s second season is loaded with a good amount of thought-provoking scenarios and questions, they did a good job of playing up the “it’s now or never” sense of urgency for escaping Briarcliff, and watching Dr. Arden and Sister Jude working together is borderline mind-blowing. Of course, Jude is just being nice to and using Dr. Arden, because she wants something, but they’re still sworn enemies, who can’t stand each other. They reveal more info about the pasts of different characters, and more questions are answered, when Jude comes face to face with the demon. Also, Shelly’s story about her past, the double standards for promiscuous women, and her philandering and abusive husband provides some good food for thought.

But one of the bigger carryover storylines for the next episode has to be a possessed Sister Mary Eunice. The crucifix shaking on the wall after Mary Eunice throws the bed sheets to the side was the first sign, and you could tell she was a different person during Dr. Arden’s visit. She wasn’t intimated, uptight, nervous, or scared. No, Mary Eunice was more calm, confident, and relaxed. Mary Eunice is a sweet and sincere person, and she’s always willing to help, but the demon has control of her now.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, January 16, 2017

American Horror Story Asylum- Episode 1- Welcome To Briarcliff

**This review contains spoilers**

The Story: In 2012 Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and Leo (Adam Levine) are ready for the next stop on their haunted honeymoon tour. Teresa and Leo are newlyweds and horror enthusiasts, and visiting famous haunted places in America, and having sex in each site along the way is an active hobby they share together. Together, an anxious Teresa and Leo enter the Briarcliff Manor Sanatorium, an abandoned insane asylum built in 1908, and the asylum was originally used as a hospital that housed many tuberculosis patients. Thousands and thousands of tuberculosis patients died at Briarcliff, and for years Briarcliff housed many sordid personalities. Bloody Face, a sadistic killer of women, who wore a mask made of human flesh, stands out amongst the crowd as Briarcliff’s most infamous patient.

Naturally, the legend of Bloody Face and Briarcliff’s dark past excites Teresa and Leo, so they decide to have sex inside Briarcliff, but a strange noise worries Teresa. After a brief investigation, Teresa dares Leo to stick his arm inside the food hatch on a door to a seemingly empty room for a second time. With the promise of a reward, Leo accepts Teresa’s challenge, but an unknown figure reaches through the hatch to cut Leo’s arm off.

A horrified Teresa runs through the halls of Briarcliff, as Leo bleeds profusely, but Teresa runs into an unpleasant surprise, when she reaches the front doors. The doors are locked in chains, and Leo is clinging to slim hopes of survival, as Teresa searches for another exit. But Teresa runs into another roadblock, when she comes face to face with Bloody Face….

In 1964 Kit Walker (Evan Peters) works an unrewarding job at a gas station. Kit is ready to open up and tell the world about his wife, Alma (Britne Oldford), but Alma insists they keep their relationship a secret. Kit is white and Alma is black, so Alma fears the ramifications and the backlash for telling the truth about an interracial marriage, and Kit experiences early signs of a fallout for telling the truth, when a friend named Billy (Joe Egender) uses racial taunts to get under his skin.

One night, Kit and Alma’s quiet night at home is disrupted, when Kit notices bright lights shinning through the windows. Kit suspects an attack from Billy and his friends, so Kit runs outside with a shotgun, leaving Alma in the house alone. Kit looks for Billy and his friends, but after more flashing bright lights and Alma’s screams, Kit runs back into the house to protect his wife. Kit tries to find Alma, but a series of loud blaring sounds and strange occurrences derail Kit’s plans for a rescue. Alma disappears, and Kit is stuck in a grim situation, when strange creatures probe his body during an unsettling experiment.

After the explainable and bizarre fiasco at his house, Kit is charged with Alma’s murder and the murder of other skinned women, because the authorities believe Kit is Bloody Face, so Kit is admitted to Briacliff to determine his mental stability for a trial. Kit denies the other murders. and he insists aliens are responsible for Alma’s disappearance, but no one believes him.

At Briarcliff, Kit is  faced with the challenge of surviving and enduring the madness at the asylum under Sister Jude Martin’s (Jessica Lange), the head nun and administrator at Briarcliff, watchful eye. Sister Jude shows no sympathy for Kit’s plight after she uses a racist insult against Alma, so Kit spits in her face, but Jude issues a stern warning about the dangers of defiance and rule breaking at Briarcliff.

Jude rules Briarcliff with an iron fist, and a jittery and insecure Sister Mary Eunice McKee (Lily Rabe) assists her in a never ending mission to reform the patients at Briarcliff, and Sister Eunice accepts her role as an understudy. Sister Jude’s strong and intimidating presence throughout the halls of Briarcliff is unquestionable, but Jude shows humility towards and gives credit to Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joesph Fiennes), the director of Briarcliff and Jude’s superior, for Briarcliff’s success. Jude idolizes The Monsignor, and she believes in his methods and teachings, including the three P’s (productivity, prayer, and purification). Unbeknownst to The Monsignor or anyone else, Jude harbors romantic feelings for her boss.

Monsignor Howard trusts Jude as his “right hand,” and The Monsignor envisions a bright future with Jude at his side. The Monsignor’s future plans include Rome, a rise through the ranks to become Pope, and a spot for Sister Jude as Reverend Mother at his side.

For Jude, the idea of an unstoppable union with Monsignor Howard is promising, but Jude expresses her concerns with one of The Monsignor’s decisions. Jude doesn’t trust Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), the director of Briarcliff’s medical unit, and his unusual methods. After a series of mysterious disappearances and patient deaths under Dr. Arden’s watch, Sister Jude suspects foul play and a sinister cover up, so she demands unlimited access to his work and his experiments. But Dr. Arden has a “gentlemen’s agreement” with The Monsignor: Dr. Arden is allowed privacy with no questions asked, and no one, including Sister Jude, will interfere with his work or his experiments. After a brief talk about Dr. Arden with Monsignor Howard, Jude reluctantly drops the issue for the time being. Jude is determined to expose Dr. Arden, but she doesn’t know about the alliance between Sister Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden. Dr. Arden entrusts Sister Mary Eunice with the task of feeding meat to unknown figures in the woods surrounding Briarcliff, and Mary Eunice uses a secret tunnel to sneak in and out of the asylum to deliver the meat.

Meanwhile, a persistent journalist named Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is granted a one on one interview with Sister Jude and a tour of Briarcliff’s bakery. Lana works for a local newspaper, and she’s supposed to write a story about the bakery, but Lana wants the inside scoop on Bloody Face and Kit Walker. Lana is sick and tired of writing dead end stories, but an exclusive piece on Bloody Face will open countless doors for her. Lana has plans to dig deeper after she witnesses Sister Jude shaving Shelly’s (Chloe Sevigny), another patient at Briarcliff, diagnosed as a nymphomaniac by a psychiatrist, head as a form of punishment. But Jude is quick to question the sincerity of Lana’s visit after more non-bakery related questions, and Jude scolds Lana for her motives.

Lana hits a brick wall during her mission to expose Briarcliff after Sister Jude condemns Lana for sleuthing, but Lana refuses to give up after she receives some words of encouragement from her girlfriend, Wendy Peyser (Clea DuVall). Together, Wendy and Lana live in the same house, and Wendy works as an elementary school teacher. Wendy and Lana are madly in love, but Wendy urges Lana to take certain precautions, so they can maintain the secrecy of their relationship, because Wendy is afraid of losing her job, if the public discovers the truth.

One night, Lana accidentally runs into a startled Sister Mary Eunice after a late night feeding session. Under Sister Mary Eunice’s guidance, Lana re-enters Briarcliff using the secret tunnel. Sister Mary Eunice pushes Lana to leave, but Lana threatens to expose her secret, so Sister Mary Eunice gives Lana five minutes to investigate and look around. After a nasty incident separates Sister Mary Eunice and Lana, Lana wanders the halls of Briarcliff in search of Kit Walker. Lana narrowly escapes a close call with Sister Jude, but Lana’s luck runs out, when an unknown attacker’s grotesque arm slams her head against one of the cell doors, knocking Lana unconscious.

A confused and frightened Lana awakes inside one of the rooms at Briarcliff, strapped to the bed with no way out. Lana immediately demands her release, but Sister Jude reveals a release form signed by Wendy to admit Lana to Briarcliff. Sister Jude threatened Wendy with a scandal, promising to tell the truth about Lana and Wendy’s relationship, so a hesitant Wendy signed the form to keep her job and maintain her reputation.

Lana warns Jude about the possibility of others coming to rescue her, but Wendy made the decision to turn her back on Lana, and Lana’s parents don’t speak to her, so Sister Jude dismisses Lana’s warning. Lana screams for help, but Sister Jude closes and locks the door to her room after making a stern promise to cure Lana’s homosexuality.

Kit tries to hold it together, but after some time in a straitjacket and one brutal canning from Sister Jude, Kit struggles to hold on to hope. Kit finds an unlikely ally, when another inmate named Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brochere) decides to help him. Grace is accused of murdering her family, but she doesn’t believe she’s crazy, and she believes Kit is innocent. Grace urges Kit to play by the rules, she pushes Kit to eat, and she tries to offer some relief with a cigarette. Grace’s kindness gives Kit some temporary solace, but things change, when Dr. Arden shows interest in Kit. Dr. Arden uses a sedative to subdue Kit, and during his experiment, Dr. Arden cuts a piece of the alien’s technology out of Kit’s neck.  

During her quest to uncover the truth behind Dr. Arden’s work, Sister Jude persuades Mary Eunice to steal Dr. Arden’s set of keys. Sister Mary Eunice succeeds, but when she enters the door to a seemingly abandoned room (the same room containing the unknown assailant, who attacked Lana), she finds Dr. Arden cleaning with a powerful disinfectant. Sister Jude spots scratch marks on the walls, so she doesn’t buy into Dr. Arden’s story about an old and deserted room with no inhabitants. Sister Jude returns the set of keys to a confident Dr. Arden, but Jude reassures Dr. Arden she won’t quit until the truth comes out……

Review: Aliens, abductions, a sadistic serial killer, a callous, strict nun, an obsessive and delusional doctor, Lana’s wrongful imprisonment, and the madness at Briacliff? That’s a lot to digest after the first episode in American Horror Story’s second season, but Asylum’s season premiere packs a powerful punch. 

In the past and the present, Briarcliff really works as the nightmarish main setting for Asylum. In the present, Briarcliff is this trashy and dank hellhole with a dark past. But in the 60’s, Briarcliff is basically a dreary and hopeless prison, filled with sordid characters, and the zaniness in the common room completes Briarcliff’s twisted puzzle.

Sister Jude might have soft spots for Sister Mary Eunice and Monsignor Howard, but Jessica Lange plays the role of a cold, hard, and strict authoritarian to perfection. The canings, shaving Shelly’s head, and her strict set of rules? Sister Jude sends a clear message for having the last word (well, for the most part) for all things Briarcliff, and you’ll have to face harsh and cruel punishments, if you break any of her rules. She has the support of Monsignor Howard, Frank McCann (Fredric Lehne), the head of sucrity at Briarcliff, is an enforcer for Sister Jude, so who's going to stop her?

Lily Rabe’s vulnerability and innocence as Mary Eunice is believable. It’s kind of hard to not feel sympathy for Mary Eunice, when she’s a blubbering and pitiful mess, and she’s basically begging Sister Jude for a caning after the mess with Lana’s secret late night tour. Sure, if you’re looking at it from Jude’s point of view, you could say she made an unforgivable mistake, but she’s always trying, and Mary Eunice has the best intentions.

With Kit Walker, you get the feeling he’s a good, hard working guy, who loves his wife, and Evan Peters really delivers a solid performance here. Kit is clearly losing his mind inside the walls of Briacliff. He’s heartbroken over losing Alma, and Peters really did a job of showing believable emotions.

Lana Winters is a fierce and gutsy reporter, who’s out to prove she’s worth more. Sara Paulson portrays a strong and brave character, and Paulson’s nervousness, when she’s face to face with Jude, or when she catches the orderly with Shelly really works, because she knows she’s putting herself in harm’s way, but she has the fortitude to push forward. Lizzie Brochere is enigmatic as Grace, and so far, you get the impression she’s on a short list of level-headed people at Briarcliff.

James Cromwell’s Dr. Arden is an intellectual madman with a menacing dark side, and Jude is the perfect adversary for him, because it’s always interesting to see how far things will go when two strong and unflinching characters face off against each other. You want to believe in Joseph Fiennes’ Monsignor Howard as a noble and trustworthy man, but it’s also hard to ignore the pompousness oozing from his personality.

During Lana’s tour(s) of Briarcliff, we’re introduced to Shelly, Spivey and Pepper. Spivey is a despicable human being, and Lana wants to have sympathy for Shelly and Pepper, but Mary Eunice is quick to dismiss Lana’s feelings for Pepper (she drowned her sister’s baby and cut his ears off). Individually, Spivey, Pepper, Shelley, and Grace are different characters, but collectively they represent the bizarre conundrum at Briacliff, with a mix of seemingly innocent inmates, people who deserve to be there, people, who need to be there, the question marks, and the misunderstood inmates.

The debut episode of AHS Asylum is packed with intriguing storylines and thought-provoking scenarios. Who’s going to come out on top in the Dr. Arden/Sister Jude rivalry? Arden and Jude are two headstrong people with big egos, so you can pretty much forget about one willingly backing down or conceding to the other. And what’s going to happen, if Jude finds out about the secret alliance between Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden? Dr. Arden is keeping secrets, and Jude is just waiting for the opportunity to take him down.

Sister Jude idolizes Monsignor Howard, but she’s fighting off her urges to give in to her feelings for him. The red lingerie, the possibility of joining Monsignor Howard in Rome, fantasizing about him at dinner. There’s a side of Sister Jude that wants more than a working relationship with Monsignor Howard, and the possibility of crossing that tricky line might be too tempting to resist.

Wendy was faced a tough decision: jeopardizing her career and her future, or locking the love of her life away at Briarcliff to protect her job. Now, an innocent Lana is trapped at Briarcliff’s with no help, and Jude knows about Lana’s mission to expose Briarcliff, so she’ll have a tough hill to climb. After the run-in with the aliens, Kit is stuck in a downward spiral, and you can clearly see he’s starting to crack. Yeah, he might’ve found an ally and someone he can talk to, and open up to in Grace, but he’s trusting someone, who allegedly “chopped up her family.”

Is Kit Bloody Face? He didn’t hallucinate or imagine the aliens. That’s obvious, but the problem with Kit as Bloody Face is, Bloody Face attacks and terrorizes Leo and Teresa in 2012, so you’re talking about an old man as a vicious serial killer.

And speaking of Bloody Face, you have to wonder what’s going to happen to Leo and Teresa in 2012. Leo lost an arm, and Teresa was running around like a chicken with its head cut off before she crossed paths with Bloody Face. On one hand, I want Leo and Teresa to survive, but you have to remember they only have themselves to blame for their life-or-death dilemma, because no one forced them into an abandoned Briarcliff.

Leo and Teresa are walking clich├ęs from horror films. You know the one person, or the group of people, who are looking for an authentic terrifying experience, with real haunted houses, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, or they want to uncover the truth behind an urban legend? They all want something REAL, but what happens, when they find what they’re looking for? They completely panic, they’re petrified, they’re begging and pleading to leave, they’re desperately running from whatever they were looking for, and you can be sure they’ll need a fresh pair of underwear.

Rating: 8/10