American Horror Story: “Welcome to Briarcliff”

Grade: A+

Airdate: 10/17/12

In a previous post I said that I was kind of excited for the new season of American Horror Story. After seeing the episode, I have changed my mind. I am super excited for the rest of the season and this episode, which gets an A+.

There were only a couple of things that could have been improved on. One was the opening, but maybe I’m just not getting it. Leo, played by look-at-how-hot-I-am Adam Levine, and his ridiculously hot wife Teresa, played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum, break into an abandoned mansion. iphones are used to tell us that this is the present and Teresa looks up the place and tells us that it is the Briarcliff Manor. Briarcliff was an insane asylum for the criminal insane in the 1960s operated by the Catholic church. It most famous patient was called Bloody Face. They have an excessive amount of sex and then what I first that was a ghost tears Leo’s arm off. It felt like a traditional horror movie. That might have been intentional, but it was still a good opening.

The title sequence is far gorier this season.

The episode picks back up with our introduction to Evan Peters‘ character for this season Kit Walker in 1964. He gets home from work and we realize that he is secretly married to a black girl named Alma, played by Britne Oldford. After they have sex because this show is on a cable channel and they can, Kit hears something outside. He thinks it is three guys who were threatening him earlier, but it isn’t. Something that sounds like an aircraft is shining lights down on the house, magnetizing everything to the ceiling, and then sets off an explosion or something. My first reaction was, “What is this? An alien abduction?” Then I realized it is, because Alma and Kit Walker are supposed to be Betty and Barney Hill, a biracial couple in the 1960s that had the first publicized alien abduction.

We jump forward a little and join Sarah Paulson‘s season two character journalist Lana Winters, who is going to Briarcliff Manor to interview the director Sister Jude, Jessica Lange‘s character,  about the asylum’s bakery. Inviting journalists into insane asylums never goes well, so I knew this was not going to end with a story about a bakery. During the interview, cute and innocent nun Sister Mary Eunice, Lily Rabe‘s season two character, comes in and tells Sister Jude that the madman aka Bloody Face is about to arrive. Of course, that sparks Lana’s interest and pisses off Sister Jude.

Bloody Face turns out to be Kit. I was expecting that. He apparently he killed three women, including his wife Alma, and wore their faces as masks. He denies it and doesn’t appear to be insane. Sister Jude thinks mental illness is a sin and likes to abuse the patients–and Sister Mary– using whips and rulers in the most painful way possible.

Lana’s visit made her want to interview Kit and  investigate Braircliff because she thinks something shady is going on there. She’s discussing this while at home with Wendy, played by Clea DuVall. After closing the blinds to make sure none of the neighbors see, it is made clear that they are gay. Gay journalist! Lana, you are instantly my favorite character.

The episode was sort of like a pilot so a lot of stuff happened. Multiple Braircliff patients have mysterious died in the care of Dr. Arden, played by James Cromwell. He is actually cutting up the bodies and making Sister Mary leave them for some kind of cannibal in the woods. Lana runs into her while she is doing this and half-threats her to let her inside to talk to Kit. Kit was taken out of solitary confinement and is being “treated” by Dr. Arden. Lana is in the area alone and gets attacked by something. She wakes up dressed as a patient and strapped to a bed with Sister Jude standing over her.

Lana says she has no reason to keep her there. Sister Jude proves her wrong. We jump to a scene with Sister Jude at Lana and Wendy’s house talking to Wendy. Sister Jude tells her that Lana fell after she broke into the asylum but refuse to let Wendy see her because she isn’t family. Sister Jude blackmails her into signing commitment papers for Lana saying that she will press charges–I’m assuming worse than trespassing — and reveal their secret to the community, which she points out would be especially bad for Wendy, who is third grade teacher. Wendy breaks down, cries and signs the papers. Back in the asylum, Sister Jude tells Lana she is going to cure her.

Back in the present, Leo is bleeding out and Teresa realizes they are tramped in the manor and then runs into some kind of mutilated, demon, murderer thing.

I thought I wasn’t going to like the same actors playing different characters, but it adds a really interesting aspect to the story. We are made to totally believe that Kit is not a killer, but it’s school-shooter, mass-murderer Tate. In terms of personality, they aren’t that different. They both seem like nice, cute guys, who care a lot about the person they love–Alma and Violet–and are torn up about that person’s death. I’m getting that vibe that Kit is the exception because everyone else seems similar to their last season characters.

Sister Jude is conservative, heartless and murderous, but I have the feeling she isn’t the most dangerous person. That was how I felt about Constance. Sister Mary is adorable, cries a lot and makes bad choices, just like Nora. We didn’t know that much about Billie Dean last season, but her and Lana seem to have the same level of ambition. We haven’t met Zachary Quinto‘s new character yet and I am excited to see how he is going to be compared to Chad from last season.

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