Ten Things We Learned from American Horror Story: Asylum Episode S2/Ep01- “Welcome to Briarcliff” (SPOILERS!)

 “There is no God. At least no God that would create the things I saw.” —Kit, to Sister Jude

WOW, we learned quite a bit on the Season 2 Premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum (aired 10/17/12) last night! Some of it was pretty goddamned disturbing. Warning: this article CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE. Consider yourself spoiler-alerted!

1.  Perhaps I spoke prematurely when I insisted Adam Levine would play a larger role. I’m not sure how long he can make it with an arm ripped off inches below the shoulder, even with that tourniquet, before bleeding out. It doesn’t look like his arguably slutty (actual lines from the episode: “You can totally  put it in my ass right now”, and “No, I want to know what’s in there! Do it again and I’ll blow you.”), wild new wife is going to be able to get medical help quite  as planned (classy).

2.  Kit Walker, played by Evan Peters, has been sent to Briarcliff due to the accusation of being the notorious serial killer Bloody Face, whose MO is skinning his victims alive, from the feet up, and wearing their flesh as a mask.

“A ferret…delightful creature. I used to keep one as a pet. Until it bit me, then I broke its neck.” -Dr. Arden

3.  They weren’t kidding about the aliens. Unless Kit really is  Bloody Face (and completely psychotic), he and his wife are attacked in their home, and Kit is abducted and poked with sharp objects (in places that will make you wince). A fellow patient tells him, after admission, his African-American wife was skinned alive. “I guess you didn’t like her color,” he sneers at Kit,  right before they get in a fist-fight.

4.  They also weren’t kidding about the nuns being kinky. Sister Jude bends poor Kit over her desk roughly and whacks his bare ass with a cane or large ruler, hard enough to leave visible welts. Furthermore, Sister Jude isn’t the only “troubled” nun in residence. Later on, Sister Mary Eunice, weeping, goes to open a HUGE cabinet of canes and spanking devices and pulls out a wooden cane easily the size of a pool cue, bends over Sister Jude’s desk (the same spot Kit got bent over earlier), pulls up her robes  to reveal nothing underneath and begs Sister Jude to punish her (to her credit, sister Jude refuses to smack her more than once (“I don’t have time for this”), and instead tells her, “If you ever hear you call yourself stupid again,  I’ll cane you bloody.”

“Something’s been living  in here.” –Sister Jude

5. Sister Jude seems to be the most uptight, frigid, prude on the show (yes, even for a nun in 1964). Yet during a montage of her cooking dinner for her and the monsignor, she wears a lacy red slip under her and lets her hair down before donning her penguin suit again. She also clearly knows she needs to stay away from alcohol. When the monsignor clasps her hand to make a point when they dine together, she’s visibly moved and imagines removing her nun’s habit to let her hair tumble out and removing her robe sensuously to reveal the sexy red slip, then sitting on his lap and leaning in close to him before she catches herself and snaps back to reality. Troubled past, indeed.

6. Two of the most impressive pieces of Pino Donaggio’s ’s score featured in Brian De Palma’s Carrie  (1976) are used in key scenes of this episode. When Sister Eunice goes out to the woods with the buckets of meat, becoming more and more frightened, the score is the same as the suspenseful  build-up to the prom ‘crowning’ scene when Sue Stern sees the ropes leading to the bucket of blood hanging in the rafters, puts it together too late, tries to warn Miss Collins, but gets thrown out and the gym doors slam closed right before the bucket of blood drops. The music while Kit is brought out of the police vehicle in shackles and led inside the hospital, followed by Lana the reporter, is the same heart-wrenching refrain played after Carrie’s mother stabs her in the back after the prom while they’re saying the Hail Mary together and Carrie tumbles down the stairs, gasping and wounded.

7.  Poor Kit was  thisclose  to getting a lobotomy (without anesthetic) until Dr. Arden discovers what seems to be a black metal alien tracking device implanted in his neck and removes it with a scalpel. Freakier yet, it sprouts six very thin insectoid legs and scuttles out of frame. Looks like this discovery gave him a temporary reprieve.

“She drowned her sister’s baby and then sliced her ears off.”  -Sister Eunice to Lana after Lana calls Pepper (the pinhead she encounters outside the asylum, who has just sweetly handed Lana a rose) “harmless”.

 

8. Either Bloody Face is still alive (doubtful) or the kinky honeymooners are trapped in some kind of time loop from Hell after they snuck into the Asylum to get it on.

9. The secret underground tunnel (the “death chute”),  wasn’t just used to shuttle out bodies during the tuberculosis epidemic. Sister Eunice sneaks around through there to visit the woods (containing, I assume, the raspers) and toss out buckets of offal and raw meat to feed them.

10. Sister Jude may be scary as hell, resort to cruel blackmail, and rule with an iron fist (or a wooden cane) , but she’s on to Dr. Arden, coming as close to calling him on his shit as a nun can, asking him pointedly why of the four patients he claimed have disappeared under his supervision, have ‘died ‘and been cremated (including a fifth the night before), none had family, no one to grieve or ask questions. “I think you’re lying. I’ve dealt with far bigger monsters than you. Let me give you clear warning. I’ll always win against the patriarchal males.” You go, Sistah!

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2 thoughts on “Ten Things We Learned from American Horror Story: Asylum Episode S2/Ep01- “Welcome to Briarcliff” (SPOILERS!)

  1. Another reference to music and film: The choral pieces used during the scenes where Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) lapses into a trance and we see her in red lingerie come from Richard Einhorn’s ‘Voices of Light (1994)’ which was inspired by Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)’. Comparing Sister Jude in this way to the classic figure of Joan of Arc (fanatically religious, heard the voice of god, waged war, killed loads of people, burned at the stake for heresy) is of course very deliberate and awesome.

    The libretto of ‘Voices of Light’ is based on excerpts from the ancient writings of Medieval female mystics. You know, a bit a scripture, a bit of prayer and a lot of ancient mystic freestyle. Investigation reveals something particularly brilliant: The bit used during the fantasy where Sister Jude mounts the priest is called ‘Pater Noster’ (Our Father) in reference to both the Joseph Fines and the prayer. The lyrics describe being in a state of deep, personal union with god. A union so deep and so personal it’s almost sexual. Well, not almost, it is sexual. The latin verse we hear goes:
    ‘Filia mea dulcis michi; filia mea, delectum meum, templum meum; filia delectum meum, ama me: quia tu es multum amata a me, multum plus quam tu ames me.’
    ‘Et postquam ego colcavi me in te; modo colca te tu in me.’
    ‘Ista est mea creatura.’

    Which means:
    ‘My daughter, sweet to me, my daughter, my beloved, my temple; my daughter, my beloved, love me, since you have been much loved by me, much more than you love me.’

    ‘And after I have laid myself in you, now lay yourself in me.’

    ‘This is my creature.’

    Yeap. Check it out.

    Super dooper amazing show.

    • Wow, good catch! That was way over my head, so thanks. Yeah, it’s amazing.Looking forward to this week’s “Tricks and Treats” (or maybe it’s Treats and Tricks, you get the idea) Part 1 this week, then Part 2 on Halloween! I ordered the S1 blu-ray, but could only afford a used one (thought it’s in good condition). I kind of wish now I’d sprung for the extra ten bucks or so and gotten free two-day shipping from Amazon…

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