Review

Review

TV Recap: 'American Horror Story: Asylum' Episode 201 - 'Welcome to Briarcliff'

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American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 201
“Welcome to Briarcliff”
Written By: Tim Minear
Directed By: Bradley Buecker
Original Airdate: 17 October 2012

In This Episode...

Much like season one, AHS: Asylum starts at 80mph and doesn’t let up. Set in 1964, Briarcliff Asylum started as a tuberculosis hospital. In 1962 the Catholic church bought the place and turned it into a sanitarium. Sister Jude runs the day-to-day of the asylum. She is a stern nun whose faith is unwavering and believes all her wards must adhere to a strict moral code. Above her is Monsignor Howard, a more progressive priest that is the object of Sister Jude’s unwanted fantasies. Jude’s second-in-command is Sister Eunice, a submissive nun who is easily frightened, given to tears, and believes that she should be severely punished for even the slightest transgression. 

Also on staff at Briarcliff is Dr. Arden, who is in charge of the medical wing. He is as fervent in his belief in science as Sister Jude is in her faith in God. Similarly, he will go to extremes for his beliefs. Dr. Arden’s favorite treatment, unsurprisingly, is lobotomies, which he believes can drive the devil out of a person. Somewhere along the way, he created some kind of human-beast that dwells, unseen, in the woods surrounding the asylum. Sister Eunice sneaks out at night to leave buckets of offal for them.

We are introduced to Kit Walker, a young man who runs a gas station. He and his wife, Alma, must keep their marriage a secret because she is black and he is white and where they live, that is still illegal. One night after work, he comes home to a home-cooked meal and a warm bed. Blazing white light floods the house in what seems like a military action. Instead, it is an alien abduction - or what Kit believes to be an alien abduction, complete with probing and the whole nine. When we next see Kit, he is doing a perp walk on his way into Briarcliff, under arrest for being Bloody Face, a local serial killer who has decapitated at least three women - including Alma - and wearing their skin as a mask. Kit, naturally, insists he is innocent. When another inmate in the common room calls him Bloody Face, a fight ensues and Kit is sent to solitary. He is “rescued” from solitary by Dr. Arden, who believes he “doesn’t belong there.” He talks a hard game about lobotomies, but instead Dr. Arden cuts open Kit’s neck to explore a lump that is “too hard to be a tumor.” He pulls out what looks like a computer chip. After a few moments it sprouts legs and scurries like a bug.

Another important character is Lana, a journalist who is sick of doing household tips articles. She uses Briarcliff’s on-site bakery as a ruse to get inside and interview Sister Jude about it, but instead she really just wants a look at Bloody Face who was being transferred that day. She gets the sense there is a bigger, darker story there, and with the blessing of her lesbian partner Wendy, Lana returns to Briarcliff. She finds Sister Eunice out feeding whatever it is that lives in the woods and strong arms her into letting her have a few minutes in the asylum. While inside, she gets too close to one of the cells and is attacked. She wakes, strapped down line a patient. Sister Jude had gone to pay Wendy a little visit and blackmails her into having Lana committed. Despite having no legal backing to do so, Jude promises she can find a sympathetic judge who wouldn’t mind outing the two to the community, which would end Wendy’s teaching career and likely drive them out of the state.

Dig It or Bury It?

If you liked season one, you will love season two. It is more of the same insanity but personally I think the asylum setting is scarier than the house (and I like James Cromwell and Joseph Fiennes far better than I liked Dylan McDermott.) It is pure insanity - no pun intended - and over-the-top in an almost cartoonish fashion.

So far, my main complaint is about the segments shot in the present day. Meant as wrap-arounds of a sort, it follows a young couple on their “haunted honeymoon:” the are visiting the 12 most haunted locations in America and having sex in each one. Classy. Anyway, they are screwing on an exam table that probably saw lots of horrible things done to sick people, when they hear a noise. Naturally, they investigate. The groom, Leo, uses his cell phone to illuminate and record a narrow passage while his wife, Teresa, blows him. He screams - something had torn off his arm. Teresa runs, trying to find a way out to get help, and she runs smack into Bloody Face. Now, I’m sure there is a point to all this at some point, but as of right now, these two are obnoxious and seem to have only one purpose: freak audiences out with their weird sex life.

Meet the Inmates

We meet two tonight. First is Shelly, a nymphomaniac who is a caricature of herself. She cannot go one minute without touching herself or touching someone else, and every single word out of her mouth is a single entendre. We also meet Grace, a quiet girl on kitchen duty who befriends Kit. Naturally, because she seems so nice and sweet, she has got to be royally fucked up.

Prophecies?

That didn’t take long: an exorcist comes to Briarcliff.

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