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American Horror Story

Last year, American Horror Story was one of my favorite new shows on television.  Premiering on FX, it succeeded in being skin crawling and brilliant, showcasing complex character relationships connected through a supernatural force that bound spirits to a home if they met their untimely end on the property.  Many spirits did not even realize they were deceased, viewing the new inhabitants of the home as intruders.  It was an amazing season and earned 17 Emmy nominations.

Season 2 kicked off on October 17, 2012, departing from the story of the first season and beginning anew with a brand new story and location.  Although some of the actors from season 1 are featured in the new story, they are playing brand new characters with no connection to the previous ones.  [SPOILERS]  We begin with an attractive couple on their honeymoon; they are traveling around the country visiting haunted locations to take pictures and have spontaneous sex.  He is obviously in love with her and she is in love with the scary and unknown.  As the couple begins to get intensely physical in a deserted asylum, the woman hears a noise.  Her new husband, played by Adam Levine, goes with her to investigate only to have his arm ripped from his body by what seems to be some sort of monster.

As we deal with this shock, we are taken back in time to 1964.  We meet Kit Walker (Evan Peters, who played Tate in season 1), a young man working a late night at a gas station.  After a near altercation with some friends over a gun they wish to borrow, he returns home to his wife Alma (Britne Oldford), who he publicly claims to be his maid due to the fact that she is black.  They allow their passion as newlyweds to overcome their need for dinner and retreat to the bedroom.  As Alma returns to the kitchen to salvage their dinner, a bright light outside startles Kit.  Thinking it’s his friends from earlier, he grabs a rifle and goes to confront them only to seemingly be abducted by aliens.

We then return to the asylum that the lovers explore in the future.  A journalist, Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), arrives to interview Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) about the asylum’s bakery and the positive impacts it has had.  We soon discover that Lana is actually there to learn more about the infamous Bloody Face killer.  Bloody Face is soon revealed to be the unassuming Kit, who despite the claims of him skinning victims alive, which include his new wife, insists he is innocent and that horrible monsters committed those crimes.  Sister Jude quickly reveals herself as a no-nonsense person, being somewhat heartless and cruel with her actions, and naturally does not believe a word of Kit’s claims.

Sister Jude does have a force to be reckoned with in the form of Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) who runs the asylum’s lab and has had four patients mysteriously die under his watch, claiming they were cremated immediately after their passing.  Dr. Arden makes it clear that he is not afraid of Sister Jude’s threats and that his business is his own.  He soon takes Kit from his cell to perform experiments and examinations on him.  During a cringe-worthy exam, the doctor discovers a chip in Kit’s neck which oddly sprouts legs and runs off like a strange beetle.  It lends credibility to Kit’s story of aliens, but we get no further explanation.

Lana, who has been exploring the asylum and its grounds, finds one of the nuns feeding some unknown animal on the asylum grounds.  The nun, fearful of her activities being discovered, leads Lana back inside.  As Lana searches for Bloody Face, she is attacked by a monstrous force similar to the one that attacked the couple in the beginning of the episode.  She is knocked out, only to awake strapped to a table with Sister Jude standing over her.  The nun reveals she has blackmailed Lana’s girlfriend into signing commitment papers which will keep Lana in the asylum so she can be “cured” of her homosexuality.  Immediately afterward, we return to the present to see the distraught female looking for an escape from the asylum so her husband can get help, only to encounter a bloody faced monster.

This summary doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what we could see this season.  The nice thing about AHS is that it is playing out as an anthology, so viewers who have missed the first season can jump right into this one without missing a beat since the story is brand new.  Jessica Lange is simply brilliant.  She is frightening, strong-willed, and manages to exude sex appeal, especially in her fantasy of seducing a priest.  When she is on-screen, you can’t help but be captivated by her.  I’m also glad to see Evan Peters back in action; he was spooky and full of emotion as Tate in season 1 and I feel that we will see much more complexity in his new character.  Chloë Sevigny also joins the cast as an asylum patient who is a nymphomaniac; she is a brilliant actor and I hope her role turns out to be a major one.

The writers have done a fantastic job of introducing multiple storylines to us without making it overwhelming and shoving too many details at us all at once.  The characters were all very well established in the premiere, with just enough detail given about their backstory in such a smooth and seamless way that it was impossible not to take it all in.  The premiere also showcased some expert work by the crew; some of the cuts from scene to scene were breathtaking and it was immediately apparent when a time jump from past to present was made without having to resort to slapping the year up on the screen.

I will admit, I was initially a bit skeptical about the appearance of the aliens and how it would play into the story.  The chip in Kit’s neck eased my worries though.  I am very curious to see if there were indeed alien life forms that skinned all those people and implanted the chip, or if it is some more logical explanation in order to set Kit up for something still unknown.  I hope that we revisit this story and get to see more of what happened on that night; as it is right now, we have seen only small bits and pieces.

If you have yet to watch American Horror Story’s season 2 premiere or missed season 1, what are you waiting for?  I beg you to give this show a try and to go out and buy season 1 on DVD.  It is guaranteed to draw you in immediately, dig its hooks into you, and take you on a hell of a ride.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on October 19, 2012, in TV/Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yeah I loved the first season of this. I didn’t read most of your post because of the spoilers (I’m waiting until I get back home to watch it with wifey). This is one of the better shows on TV.

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