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