American Horror Story : Asylum

The second season of American Horror Story is titled as Asylum with a different premise and setting but with several of the actors who were in Murder House. Asylum is set mainly in 1964 with many events happening in the present. A young couple celebrates their honeymoon by visiting a now-abandoned Briarcliff Manor, a former insane asylum in rural Massachusetts. As they explorer the asylum’s ruins they are attacked by a man wearing the mask made famous in the 60s as that of a serial killer named Bloody Face. Switch to 1964 and accused serial killer Kit Walker (Evan Peters) being assigned to Briarcliff for killing his coloured wife Alma, although she was actually abducted by aliens. Kit is suspected to be the serial killer, named by the papers as BloodyFace, who killed 2 other women and skinned them. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) maintain the institution that was founded by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) to treat and house the mentally and criminally insane, while scientist Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) treat the patients within the facility.

 Lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), who sneaks in to the asylum at night in hopes of getting an exclusive story of Bloody Face after she was initially given a lukewarm welcome by the disapproving Sister Jude, is caught by her and is committed  for her homosexuality. Sister Jude blackmails Lana’s lover Wendy (Clea DuVall) by threatening to reveal their relationship to her school board, and signs off on committing Lana to the institute. Things are revealed – Sister Jude was once a philandering nightclub singer who unintentionally killed a young girl in a drunk-driving hit and run accident in 1949. This led her to become a nun and she was later selected to work at Briarcliff. Sister Mary Eunice is a shy and innocent nun who fears Sister Jude. Dr. Arden is actually a former Nazi scientist whose experiments have produced “Raspers”, mutated former patients, who lurk in the woods surrounding the institution, and who are fed the flesh of dead patients. He and Sister Jude often clash with their differing views of how the facility should be run. Dr. Arden however seems to have a fondness for Sister Mary Eunice, as he finds her purity, naievity & innocence refreshing and even comes to depend on it.

In comes psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto), who is the real Bloody Face and who gets himself assigned to the treatment & assessment of Kit in order for  him to lay the blame of the murders solely on the unsuspecting young man. Kit forms a relationship with alleged murder Grace Bertrand (Lizzie Brocheré), who initially tells Kit that her sister’s boyfriend kill her parents and framed her in order for the two of them to get the successful farm for themselves. Later she tells the truth – she killed her father for the years of sexual abuse he committed on her and her mother for just standing by and not doing anything. Later, Mary Eunice becomes possessed by the Devil during an exorcism of another patient and becomes a cruel and willful woman. She anonymously taunts & torments Sister Jude about the drunk-driving accident. Sister Jude is terrorized by the memory and goes to see the family of the dead girl. While there, she learns the girl survived the accident with only a few broken bones. Sister Jude figures that God had a plan for her all along, and decides that it is her job to destroy all the remaining evil at Briarcliff. Meanwhile Thredson sets his sights on Lana, making her go through a degrading “treatment” for homosexuality and kills her lover Wendy and then tells Lana he’s going to help her escape outta Briarcliff. He dupes Kit into making a confession and then takes Lana to his home and reveals himself to be the killer.

He keeps her prisoner and tries to turn her into his mother figure. He rapes her, and is later going to kill her for his “indiscretion”. A struggle ensues and she escapes, only to end up back at Briarcliff. She later learns she is pregnant with Thredson’s baby. She and Walker get caught having sex before his arrest and they are separated with the intent to be sterilized. However, she is abducted by aliens and is later returned, very pregnant and ready to give birth. Walker has allowed himself to be caught and brought back to Briarcliff to help Grace. He negotiates with Monsignor and arranges for Grace, himself and their baby to be released. The three arrive at his old home to find his wife Alma, alive and with her own baby. While all this is going on, the possessed Sister Mary Eunice is able to get Sister Jude deposed and committed. Mary Eunice takes over Briarcliff, with Dr. Arden’s help. She nurses the weakened Monsignor Howard back to health and he tries to perform a failed exorcism on her. She rapes him but later tires of all that is going on and Howard kills her by throwing her off the third floor balcony. Dr. Arden, after becoming loyal to Mary Eunice, cremates her while immolating himself. Lana Winters successfully captures a confession from Dr. Thredson, but decides to corner him in his house to say she has turned the tape over to the police. He states, because he is insane, no jury will convict him and she shoots him in the head.

In the present, she has become a famous television investigative reporter and gets Briarcliff closed down for its inhumane treatments. Winters reveals that Monsignor Howard committed suicide. She also reports that Kit Walker took in Sister Jude, after Alma was committed to Briarcliff for killing Grace Bertrand for talking about possibility of the aliens coming back. Alma later dies in Briarcliff. Jude’s dementia worsens and she is taken into the woods by the children, where it is assumed they help her mental state. Her mind gets healed for a while but she later grows frail and dies. Kit Walker is later abducted by the same aliens after he contracts pancreatic cancer. Winters’ grown son Johnny (Dylan McDermott) has vowed vengeance against her, the mother who never loved him, especially when she claims he had died at birth. He shows up at her home and threatens to kill her, finishing his father’s work and making him proud. She ultimately convinces him that he is not like his murderous father, and in this moment of his near-regret, she is able to take the gun off him and shoot him in the head.

Amazing series and it’s astonishing how much they crammed into just 13 epiodes, it felt longer but it is so engrossing to watch and even better than the first season. This is probably one of my favourite individual seasons of any show ever! Just amazing they way they manage to make a season with supernatural horror elements (the demon), human brutality, psychological horror, religious fundamentalism, plight of homosexuals in the 60s, good ole fashion torture, even more basic serial killers and even get the science fiction elements in there with alien abduction & resurrection of died humans! I am stunned by how good and how much I got into this show. Just fantastic!

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