Skip to content

American Horror Story: Asylum

January 26, 2013

imagesThe second season of American Horror Story came to an end this week and, while it was more successful at holding my interest than the first season, it still suffered from some notable problems.  AHS is a show I really wanted to like when it first showed up as horror based tv shows are rare creatures.  Unfortunately, season one, after a strong opening, lost me fairly quickly as it seemed to turn into an attempt to see how many cliches could be loaded into one season.  However, it did work well enough for my wife that she followed it to the end.  One of the things that did keep my watching the show was Jessica Lange’s amazing performance so, when it was announced that she would return for season two I was tempted to give the series a second chance.  What sealed the deal for me was when it was announced that the second season would be a completely new story line.  I love anthology shows and the idea of one that devoted a whole season to each story was a novel concept that I wanted to support.

I am going to avoid major spoilers in this review but, I need to bring some up in order to discuss the season.  I will make an effort to cover things in the broadest terms possible so as to give away as little as possible.  You have been warned.  Asylum starts off strong with a modern prelude at the now abandoned Briarcliff correctional facility before the series proper, which takes place in 1964, begins.  This really pulled me into the show but, it quickly began to follow the first season model of packing a ton of stuff into the story line.  This would not be a problem for me depending upon how exactly the story ended.  Ultimately, the story breaks into three major story arcs.  The first, and clearly main, story is about the notorius serial killer named Bloody Face.  The prelude introduces us to him and the story goes back to the past to learn about the killer’s history.  The second story line deals with an alien abduction that leads to an individual named Kit Walker being charged with murdering his wife.  The final arc is about Briarcliff’s doctor Arthur Arden, his “interesting” research, and his obsession with one of the nuns who undergoes a transformation early on in the story.  These stories are told as we watch Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Monseignor Howard administer Briarcliff with their own unique vision of therapy for the mentally ill.  This vision makes Briarcliff a hell hole.  The facilities reputation attracts a reporter named Lana Winters who shows up with the intent of shutting down the facility by writing an expose on it.  She finds an ally in a well educated, for that time period, psychiatrist named Oliver Thredson.  Like I said, there is a lot packed into a small space here.

This huge cast of characters and triple story arc is the series biggest weakness and why I would give a guarded recommendation for this season.  If you like your storylines tied up in a nice big bow at the end you probably are not going to enjoy AHS: Asylum.  However, If you are more into character development than storyline the series will certainly be worth a look for you.  Ultimately, I feel that there is one story too many as they never really tie into each other and each get their own seperate resolution as the series winds down, one surprisingly early.  For me, the alien story arc was of the least interesting and, I feel it didn’t really add anything to the series.  This also had the unfortunate effect of taking away from the other two story arcs.  The Bloody Face arc is clearly the main story and while it has a decent ending, I think that it would have been much a more effective one if it had been given more time to develop.  Additionally, Dr. Arden’s story introduced an interesting potential showdown between science and the supernatural that was never really examined, again, due to lack of time taken away by the abduction arc.  Since the alien story had stronger ties to the main Bloody Face arc it would probably make more sense to remove Arden’s storyline instead but, I honestly felt that Arden’s arc was exploring new territory whereas the alien stuff was not bringing anything new ot the table.  Overall, I was pleased that I watched American Horror Story: Asylum but, I doubt I will ever revisist it.


From → Reviews

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: