American Horror Story: Asylum continued this week with its second episode, Tricks and Treats. Like the premiere, the show begins in 2012 with Bloody Face finishing up his work on Leo with some pretty vicious stabs to the chest, and continuing to chase Teresa around the abandoned halls of Briarcliff. The show rewinds to 1964 where a still at large Bloody Face murders Lana’s lover before she can do anything to get Lana released from Briarcliff.
Meanwhile Lana is punished for keeping notes about her abuse at the hands of Briarcliff’s orderlies. When she says that she will remember everything, even after the notes are taken away, Sister Jude and Dr. Arden subject her to electric shock therapy.
Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) is brought in to give a psych evaluation of Kit Walker, who was accused in the premiere of killing his wife and being the murderer known as Bloody Face. He insists that he is innocent and maintains that his wife is in the hands of extraterrestrials. Thredson labels him as clinically insane and expresses his concern to Sister Jude about the conditions of the place.When a seemingly possessed boy is brought to Briarcliff and Sister Jude brings priests in to perform an exorcism, tension between her and Dr. Thredson only escalate. The demon is used, marvelously I might add, to reveal some of Sister Jude’s backstory.
There was a lot packed into the second episode: a failed exorcism, multiple murders at the hands of Bloody Face, a peek into Dr. Arden’s depraved lifestyle (“show me your mossy bank”), an escape attempt by two of the leads, and the continued abuse of Adam Levine’s body. It was hard to imagine so much was packed into a 45 minute show, but the writers pulled it off. Where this was at points tiresome in the first season, it is far more refined here. There seems to be a clear direction here. At times the show seems to say that we’ve come far as a society. We don’t exorcise people, perform electric shock therapy on homosexuals, and mentally ill people are no longer diagnosed as “insane.” However, the writers suggest through Bloody Face’s reemergence in 2012 that the more primitive side is still present, just hiding in the shadows.
This episode did a good job of sucking me in as a viewer. When the credits rolled at the end, I couldn’t believe an hour had passed. Next week’s episode is Nor’easter.
There’s a storm coming.