Sorry to all of my non-existent readers, that this is coming a week after the premier of American Horror Story: Asylum. It’s been a busy week. I’d like to begin this particular post pointing out that until last Wednesday I’d NEVER watched American Horror Story (which in part means I have no trouble seeing recycled actors in new roles for the same series). This may be surprising, because those that know me would be quick to point out that I get a rise out of horror. I was in fact thrilled to begin American Horror Story when it first aired, that is until I learned about its content. To sum it up, all the kink was a turn off. When I learned the show was continuing with a completely new plotline, and from what I’d read, while avoiding spoilers, MUCH less sex I was ready to give the first episode a shot(It’s not the sex that bothers me btw, it’s when its abundance is there for shock and no value, that it feels like a waste of time) . After the first ep, I can say I’m looking forward to the next.
So lets actually get to S2e1, “Welcome to Briarcliff”. I’ll begin by mentioning that I watched it twice, spending the second viewing with my husband, and took the opportunity to point out (since he complains about my addiction to watching things that scare me) that it could be worse. He could have a wife that makes him go into potentially haunted places to have sex. That’s definitely not for me, people who have sex within the horror genre are usually the first to die. Also I spent the whole first scene wondering more if the married couple was up to date on all shots, especially tetanus, than I did about the not so subltly mentioned “Bloody Face”. Furthermore, (while I am not a man) sexual favors would never be enough to get me to do what Adam Levine’s character did…seriously, who reaches an arm, through a slot, into a pitch black room, that unknown noises are coming from? I felt no pity for him at all when the arm came off. Fast forward to the wife panicking as she attempts to find a way out, (when the door they came in is now mysteriously and ominously chained) I cringed and felt awful for her. I wish that kind of suspense and terror on no one; unless I’m watching it on a TV screen, then it’s fun…sort of…moving on!
So let’s flash back now, no not Adam Levine bleeding out on a disgusting floor, to the ’60’s when aliens were scary (we’ll get to this) mixed couples were taboo, and gays had no rights. In the same way I feel about excessive sex, if it has no point, overt political posturing gets old FAST! While I understand the writers needed a reason to get some one into that asylum, whom we were certain has no mental defects (I’ll follow up on this when I get to Kit Walker’s storyline), the pro-gay rights dialogue became more than a plot device, and it was a bit annoying. Do I feel bad for Sara Paulson’s character Lana Winters, held against her will by a nun that we don’t like, definitely, but if the platform for gay rights stays longer than necessary, and takes up screen time, with which I could be scared, then I may just fast forward through all of her scenes.
Now then, let’s get to the sympathetic character, that everyone loves the most, Kit Walker. So Kit stands as beacon of goodness for his era. He’s a responsible employee, and takes care of his wife, who happens to be a shade darker than most in the community would prefer, especially, as they mentioned, driving elsewhere to get hitched was required. So after establishing how awesome Kit is, it was no surprise that he’s at the center of something terrifying, that he seems helpless to fight. Why is this no surprise? Think back to Adam Levine bleeding out, if you don’t sympathise with some one in a horror show, it’s tough to stay engaged. We want Kit to win, we want him to survive. And what do we want him to survive, you ask? There are 3 main things we want Kit to survive, I’ll list them in order of least scary to scariest. First there’s the “Church”. (I put that in quotation marks because the way the church is portrayed in this show it’s about as favorable as it is accurate…do with that what will) We see him meet Sister Jude, a tough acerbic Catholic nun (the same one holding Lana against her will) that no one would want to deal with. She represents what several people think of, when they think of the Catholic church. She’s authoritative, cold, and thinks she has more power than she actually has, in contrast to Sister Mary Eunice, who represents what many see as the church’s followers, in short she’s a sheep, following whichever authority has the most control. Sister Mary Eunice is taking orders from both Sister Jude, and Dr. Arthur Arden, whom I consider to be the 2nd most terrifying presence we want Kit to survive. Dr. Arden likes to push the envelope when it comes to science, he cares not for old fashioned notions regarding morality or the sanctity of life. In fact most viewers get a bit in Sister Jude’s corner when she accuses him of killing patients he experiments on. He represents science, and again I find the representation unflattering and somewhat skewed. That being said, last we saw Kit, he was about to be worked on by Dr. Arden (who has been having Sister Mary Eunice feed organs to some unknown creatures in the woods). Finally the scariest thing we want Kit to survive is himself. Kit is apparently the afforementioned “Bloody Face”. He was caught walking around with his murdered wife’s skin on his face. Now any reasonable judge would commit him, which is what happened. But there are some things to consider. First there’s the fact that everything previously established set Kit up as a non-violent man who loves wife. Second and more importatntly we saw Kit abducted by aliens. When it comes to Kit, “I want to believe”, however things may not be what they seem. Take for example Grace (played by Lizzie Brochere) a character that is in the asylum, who also maintains she is not crazy (also I was a bit annoyed by the name, for months I’ve wanted to write a short story where the female lead’s name is Grace, but I digress). Now while I might think it pleasant that Kit has apparently found a friend, she may not actually be there. We’ve yet to see Grace interact with anyone else who acknowledges her (yes she jumped on that guy hitting Kit, but he didn’t seem much to notice). People not acknowledging people who may be imaginary/dead is something I’ve learned to watch out for, ever since M. Night Shyamalan terrified and befuddled me 13 years ago. Also, the food she brought Kit in solitary made him sick. For all we know, the less than considerate orderlies left an old plate of rotten food sitting in a corner. If Grace isn’t real then maybe the aliens weren’t either. I might consider that Grace is a manifestation Kit came up with to cope with everything, but either way, I don’t think she’s really there, which would mean Kit is crazier than he thinks.
So to sum up we want the characters in peril to survive the church, science, and man himself (think of Teresa, the scared wife from the present meeting “Bloody Face” at the end of the ep). What can one conclude from all of this? That the writers dislike authority in all forms, and we’d do well to thrust it off? Perhaps, if they don’t push it, and stick to the scary I’ll keep watching. The scary would consist of stuff that makes me jump, and the notion (as mentioned by the two least likable characters Sister Jude and Dr. Arden) that man is a monster and posesses all capacity for evil within himself.
Also, am I crazy or did anyone else feel slightly nauseated by the fast/jumpy editing?
Oh and almost forgot to mention the fact that Sister Jude is in love with the monsignor. It doesn’t seem relevant, unless it’s to point out that she’s not perfect. Though if she was perfect, would she be any more likable or sympathetic, I doubt it. If anything comes of her lust for the monsignor I’ll bring it up, but for now, vivid day dreams of her’s aside, it’s the least exciting part of the show.