American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Two

Well, Adam Levine is dead.    At least one can assume that’s the case after being stabbed in the torso numerous times by an ice pick weilding Leather Face look-alike.

This second episode begins as last week’s series premier ended.   The Vanessa Hudgins looking wife was running through the asylum screaming for help after hubby, Adam Levine reaches into a dumb-waiter or laundry chute with phone in hand to get a peak at what’s on the other side.  He screams in pain then pulls back a bloody stub.   Someone or something has severed it.  As wifey runs to get help, she runs into the Leather Face character and a chase ensues.  It is, I swear, a scene straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Wifey reaches Adam and his reconfigured lefty then tries to get him up and running.   This isn’t working.  LF (Leatherface) catches up with her…she abandons all efforts to get hubby on his feet and escapes to a cell and slams the thick metal door shut in the leather one’s face.   Through the opening in the door  that is the tray slot, she can see and hear everything.  LF kneels over Adam and a fraction of a second after Adam Lelimb weakly asks  LF to help him, he stabs him through the heart, chest, face neck….and what’s left of his arm.  He then starts pounding on the cell door.

The scene immediately segues into the lesbian teacher’s living room.  It’s 1964. She is there with two friends.  The knocking on the cell door in present door audibly morphs into the sound of someone pounding on her front door.   She’s encouraged not to answer it;  there’s a murderer loose and he’s killing women.  Nah, says one buttoned up looking extra from Mad Men.  He was arrested in last week’s episode and is now put away; shackled securely the safe confines of Briarcliff.    The knocking, it turns out, is just a group of kids a day early for Halloween.

Nevertheless, the stage is set.

Miss Teacher is crying to two friends, lamenting the fact that she allowed Sister Jude to essentially blackmail into signing a release allowing her reporter/lover to stay in the institution to heal–after being attacked when tried to ‘break in” to the asylum to get closer to the murderer known as Bloody Face.     Miss Teacher insists that she’ll be fine.   A toke on some spleef and a hot  rinse off  in a shower designed by Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins is all she’ll need.

She finishes her shower and throws open the white plastic curtain to the beat of a Dusty Springfield song.  The hall is dark, the windows are open.   Her robed figure turns to enter a room through those God awful 60′s beads and there he is: Leatherface.    Miss Teach screams, trying to explain that she’s a teacher and that her kids won’t understand.   That was a complete waste of last breath.   Like a mass murderer clad in someone else’s facial skin can be reasoned with.

The scene fades to black and the intro begins.   It is safe to assume, Miss Teach has gone to LPGA heaven.

CALLING LINDA BLAIR

A man and woman, obviously from rural Massachusetts are at Briarcliff  complaining to Sister Jude about “their boy”, a chronic masturbator who ‘ain’t been hisself” lately.  Pa done gone to the barn to find Junior nekked and gnawing on the heart of his best Guernsey cow, sayin’  all kinds crazy, dadburn things.    Ma and Pa are flummoxed and he ends up committed to Briarcliff.

It is in episode two that we also get to mee  Zach Quinto’s character.  This go round, he  plays a court appointed psychiatrist who is at the institution I guess, because the court appointed him to be there. Perhaps to assess the sanity (or the lack thereof ) of Tate/Kit/Bloody Face.

As Dr. Oliver Thredson, Quinto’s hair is short and wolfed back slightly.  He brooding; never seems to smile and all that’s punctuated by the fact that he’s sporting these Kennedy Administration approved black horn rimmed glasses.  He confronts Sister Jude  about conditions at Briarcliff;  the horrific nature of the cells and of course, the beatings and other forms of torture such as  frequent electric-shock therapy treatments; administered just for grins it would seem.

She automatically hates the visiting shrink who deigns to mock her management skills.  She reminds him that he’s a guest and should mind his own business.   A few scenes later, he then walks in the conference Sister Jude is having with the hick parents.   Dr. Threadson seems to think it’s all a part of adolescence run amuck.   Sister Jude knows that the only things that can save this Guernsey-Bater  boy are is A) a good caning and B) a little exorcism.

While Sister Jude plans an exorcism, Lana Winters (the reporter)  and Grace, the French girl with the bad  shag haircut (like Carol Brady on Aqua Net steroids) plot an escape from the asylum  Grace wants to take Tate (Kit, the alleged Bloody Face).  Lana says no, he can’t go claiming he’ll just kill again.  For some reason, I really don’t think Lana thinks Tate/Kit is a killer.  But she doesn’t like him.  Perhaps because he’s a member of the Penis People and she loves the ladies.  Perhaps, she’s developing a thing for Grace.  They were naked together in a punishment tub and when she hopped bare butted out to enjoy the view….. well,  let’s just say Lana enjoyed the view, too.   The reporter is also aware that her lover, Miss Teach signed the paper essentially committing her to Briarcliff.  Lana  feels abandoned on a number of levels.   Therefore, Lana by all accounts, is now  free to date, even if that means fellow inamates with bad hair cuts.

BUT IT’S TIME TO EXORCISE

Back at Briarcliff, we learn that a Father Merrin equivalent is contacted and the rite begins.  To be honest, an exorcism seemed to be a but much too soon.  It;s only episode two, but I guess the writers needed a vehicle in which to inform us all about Sister Jude’s tawdry back story.  More on that in a bit.

Anyway, the farm boy starts is strapped down and starts shouting things in Latin, Greek, French (I think) and maybe a little ancient Aramaic.  Something in on those of those languages sounds like he was repeating the name “Anderson Cooper” over and over again.   As Dr.   (Quinto) checks his blood pressure, Farm Boy resumes his English skills and gets in his head.  He says something about being glad he gave Oliver up.  Huh???  Mom?  Dad?   Old boyfriend??    Just like Friedkin’s The Exorcist, Dr. Threadson is reminded NOT to listen to anything Satan says.   That’s when the fun begins.  The Father Merrin character (who looked like Ned Beatty’s much uglier brother) gets slapped around and goes flying across the room.

The exorcism doesn’t work.   Odds are that if given the chance out of his restraints, a second prize Guernsey will be eating for dinner while pratlling off the names of CNN staffers in a foreign tongue.

Satan 1     Priests 0

As Farm Boy is recovering in a cell after his botched exorcism, Sister Jude walks by.  His eyes are bleeding and he’s screaming–in pain, but coherently.   Sister Jude shows some uncharacerstic mercy by entering the cell to render aid.  As she attempts to wipe blood from his eyes, he verbally takes her to town and in doing so, gives us a brief overview Sister Jude’s sordid past.

Jude or Judy as she was once called, used to be something of a B-Girl.  She used to wear red gowns , lipstick and cheap CZ jewelry while singing badly at nasty, dirty gin joints for US servicemen home from the fighting the dreaded German Hun.  She drank and smoked and cavorted with strange men (56 of them in the act of the ultimate oral fixation or so says Mr. Devil)  and we learn after one particular night of whoring and drinking, she was driving home and while listening to a bad version of the Paleface tune”Buttons sand Bows” (this had to have taken place in the mid-40′s)  she hits a little girl in a blue coat who for some reason, was out in the middle of the road in the middle of the night.

Satan’s Field Frump then assumes the face/body/soul of the little blue coated girl.   She reminds Judy that  she didn’t even stop to render aid.  Wow, a hit and run.   Plus, we learn that Sister Jude IS IN FACT, wearing red underwear.  So that WASN’T part of the pre-priest feast fantasy  she had last week.

Interesting.

It would seem that Sister Jude assumed a new, monastic life as a means of running away from her old one.

This outing at the hands of Old Scratch enrages Sister Jude.  She starts pounding on the patient.  This ruckus draws the staff to the cell, including Sister Mary Eunice (Mrs. Montgomery last season).  Farm Boy goes into cardiac arrest and dies….Sister Mary Eunice standing in the doorway, faints at the exact same moment.  Any fan of the horror genre would immediately think this was ‘classic soul transference’.

AND HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Tonight’s episode was better than last week’s.   It redeemed itself for me in some ways.    I liked delving into Sister Jude’s background.   I’m also digging the fact that we’re learning more about Dr. Mengele Arden, the twisted sadistic physician having a field day in an unregulated asylum with guinea pigs ripe for the proverbial picking.

In on particularly interesting scene, Dr. Arden and Sister Mary Eunice, who we know is something of a groupie not to mention, the doc’s principle  dirty work do-er (she feeds ‘te creatures’ in the woods buckets of bloody viscera).  She tells Arden that creatures were particularly aggressive during their feeding the evening before.  They all but shredded the buckets.  Arden then rewards her with ‘a treat’.  It’s a candy apple.   Mary Eunice declines, saying that Sister Jude is part dentist and that sweets are evil.  But Arden insists and he brings the apple to her mouth rather seductively…well, as seductive as actor, James Cromwell can be) and she takes a bite.

Okay…who didn’t get the sense that this was a scene taken right out of Genesis?    Arden (the serpent) tempting Eve (Mary Eunice) with an apple (knowledge).  You could practically hear Arden hiss whenever he uttered a word with an “S” in it.

You can also insert your own “an apple a day” and doctor joke here.

Moving on—Arden has learned through the asylum grapevine that Mary Eunice fainted when the exorcised patient dies.  He goes to see her in institution’s infirmary.  She’s asleep.  He pulls down her nightgown to preserve her modesty and she awakens.  But….but…something is amiss.  She isn’t the same, sweet, innocent we once knew.  It’s nothing she says, it’s just her countenance.  For starters, she in a nightgown….not her nunly habit.   Her hair is down.  Her expression is different, as are her mannerisms.   There’s a sarcastic tone to everything she says to the doctor.  They exchange pleasantries and he leaves.   She watches him walk out the door.  The look on her face is wickedly sinister.    As she rearranges the covers, a crucifix high above on the wall, starts moving.

As for soul possesion:  mission accomplished.

ARDEN HARDENS

Arden also has a diner date with a prostitute, a petite blond number who resembles his nun-friend.   She gets all sassy with him and he tells her that her behavior is unbecoming…as is her tawdry clothing and make-up.   She smarts off to him once again and he grabs a large carving knife that he’d been using to slice up some very rare prime rib and rams it into the table.   He’s stern; he’s serious.  He’s also armed.  She complies.  He tells her to go into the next room to clean her face and change into a nun’s outfit.

What we have here is a prime example of sexual transference.  He can’t have Sister Mary Eunice, so he goes for the next best thing;  a proxy.  Oldest trick in the psychiatric book.

As she changes clothes in another room,  she notices a box on the dresser.  She opens it and notices newspaper clippings…about murders mostly, then underneath that are  some old school Polaroids.  At first it looks like he has a thing for Betty Page–you know, fairly innocent Kitten With A Whip stuff, then additional pics indicate the bondage gets even more  severe.  Hog-tying, hood over heads–things like that.   I think I even saw a few crime scene photos; a bloody face or stump or something.  He hears her rifling through stuff and opens the door.

Dr. Arden is displeased.    The hooker knows he’s displeased and she’s scared because of this.  This is one scary cat.  She’s willing to say keep the money, just let me out of here.    Nah, that simply isn’t going to happen.   He slams the door and tells her to lie down on the bed and slowly show him “her mossy bank”.   As he prepares to enter her seminary, she kicks him squarely in the figs and escapes as he writhes on the floor.

Fear not, she’ll be creature food by Halloween.

IN SUMMATION

Perhaps I’m watching this season with a far less critical eye because I’m not getting the same psychological nuances I got last season.  One would think there would be more since this takes place in a mental institution.     I think I was reading way too much into certain scenes last year.   Because of that, I was rather disappointed how season one ended.   So, in order to keep my last synopsis from turning into an angry rant that Martians and psychotic physicians killed women, nuns, simple-minded farm boys  and Jessica Lange’s career , I’ll view this season with the sole purpose of being entertained.

BUT…

Whatever happened to the Vanessa Hudgins lookin’ wife who barricaded herself from Leatherface in one of the asylum’s cells?   Seeing your one armed husband ice-picked to death after being chased by the same maniac has to be at the very lest, a bit unsettling.   How did she get out?   This is one loose end I need tied up.

Lastly, I will close on this:  mixing religion (Catholicism specifically) and science is juicy and in many ways, brilliant in terms of thematic conflict; mainly because religion and science are arch enemies.   I also like the biblical references…or at least the ones I think I’m picking up on.  There’s the Adam and Eve thing, the possibility that Dr. Arden is playing God by making forest dwelling creature zombies (extreme Creationism).   There’s temptation,  redemption, crime, punishment.  Good, evil.   Tons of statements on morality.

Lana “Lesbian” Winters,  is a thorn in Jude’s side.  She lied to the Head Nun about the nature of the story/assignment  she wasn.  She  arranged an interview with Jude under the guise of wanting to know more about the molasses bread the Briarcliff kitchen staff makes and sells.   She also defied Jude’s authority by sneaking in to Briarcliff to get her story on Bloody Face.  She’s also a big ol’ Lesbian, which I’m sure is a big no-no in Jude’s world, probably because back in her gin-swilling, blow job-a-palooza days, she probably banged a few feline gongs a time or two.   Jude  hopes that Lana she can be “cured” during her confinement at the institution.   From being a lesbian sure, but because Jude also considers her a liar, a sinner and a bad writer, albeit an ambitious one who wants a crack at real news as opposed to women’s topics which for a female reporter circa 1964, would have been what she would have been relegated to covering.  Jude references her lack of talent tonight, admitting that she’d read a few articles and found them ‘compelling’, such as the one that covered wayward geese and others that included soup recipes and spot removal.

Dr. Arden referred to Lana tonight as ‘that Sapphic reporter”.

I laughed.

So far, I’ve seen examples of at least seven  of the Ten Commandments broken and it’s just episode two.    How do you like them apples?

Not one damn bit…especially if I were Sister Mary Eunice.

See ya next week.

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2 comments on “American Horror Story/Asylum: Episode Two

  1. Edward Gomez says:

    Lesbian teacher was playing “Wishin’ and Hopin’” by Dusty Springfield, who was a lesbian in real life! also, Adam Levine’s “wifey” is the real-life wife of Channing Tatum. And did you notice how fast the wrongly accused kid’s butt healed from the last caning??? I’m with you Laurie, just be entertained because the plot holes are big enough to swallow Cleveland. If you can get past them, it’s a great, fun ride.

  2. Lindsey says:

    I just want to say that I’ve been coming to your blog since last year specifically for your AHS reviews….and I NEVER follow blogs! I love hearing another person’s perspective, especially because no one I know will watch the show! I love reading your take on things. Sometimes it’s in line with mine and sometimes you open my eyes to something I totally didn’t see. Also, I adore your wit and humor!! You never fail to make me laugh and I love your references. PLEASE do not give up on this show, if only just to entertain us readers! I’m checking in every Thursday!

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