The first season of American Horror Story was one of my favorite shows of last year and was a godsend for many fans of the genre. While many of the horrors on the show were supernatural, the show really excelled at exploring psychological and social darkness as well. This was something it shared with another popular horror series, The Walking Dead. After the success of last year, there was much anticipation for the second season, subtitled Asylum. Did the first episode live up to the hype?
Find out after the jump!
The premiere of Asylum opens in present day with a couple (played by Jenna Dewan and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) visiting the abandoned insane asylum, Briarcliff, as a stop on their “honeymoon of horrors.” Unfortunately for them, it appears the hauntings at Briarcliff are all too real, and they are attacked by who appears to be the killer Bloody Face. The remainder of the episode is set in 1964, when Kit Walker is admitted to Briarcliff after being accused of being Bloody Face. His story about an extraterrestrial encounter is, of course, not believed by authorities. Meanwhile, reporter Lana is caught trying to confirm her suspicions about the asylum, and Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) has her committed. We learn that one of the doctors on staff is performing sadistic experiments while conducting his search for the darkness that lies within us all.
Wow, what a premiere! After a year of waiting, Murphy and Falchuk really delivered on the promise of last year. All the elements that made the first season memorable are in place here: a dark sexual element, imagery pulled from American culture and twisted into something hellish, social commentary, and Jessica Lange being Jessica Lange. She was a fan favorite in the first season and remains to be one of the true highlights of the show. She has a lot of talent and it’s nice to see her in a role where she can fully utilize it.
Other highlights include a bizarre alien abduction scene (I’m foaming at the mouth to see how that comes into play later), a quip directed at rising gas prices (in the 1964 sequence a character says to Kit as he works at the gas station: “30 cents a gallon? You think that it’s okay to gouge people?”), and an opening scene that packs everything that’s great about the show into five minutes.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable premiere. There was a lot set up here, and I’m excited to see where it goes. As an aside, I forgot how cool the theme song was.