Starting the new year with horror is always a good idea...
The popular FX horror-drama series, American Horror Story: Asylum returns with an engrossing, mind-altering installment sure to keep viewers guessing and terrifyingly tantalized for the remained of this exquisitely sinister season! The tenth hour of the season and the first of the New Year is a off kilter and slow-paced, yet disturbing episode that puts the horrors of Briarcliff Manor back into exciting perspective. The alliances previously made become altered yet again as various trials force that hands of the patients and overseers at the insane institution. And alongside these altered alliances come higher stakes, dangerous new complexities and some surprisingly dramatic deaths that maybe came a bit too early for some viewers.
Well thank God, Dr. Arden did not let Kit die. However, I do not fully understand his reasons for leaving Kit oblivious to Pepper and a very pregnant Grace’s return. Apparently, Dr. Arden’s ambitious experiments do not hold a candle to the mysterious extraterrestrial forces that have given Pepper a higher level of intelligence and Grace a new life. Plus, I’m willing to bet that the crushing revelation that Dr. Arden’s secret love, Sister Mary Eunice is a demonic pawn in a sick, twisted game of Satan’s Circus, is enough to make him feel less than adequate. Powerless and fallen from any semblance of grace he once held, Dr. Arden has no reason to stay around Briarcliff. He’s loneliness, his desperation to become noticed and his loss of humanity has only given him emptiness in a dark world, and now even Sister Mary Eunice won’t pity him. From killing his own creatures to giving up on Grace, Dr. Arden is left utterly useless, which is why it is easy to understand his final action resulting in a fiery death.
And from that fall comes another, more dramatic one involving Sister Eunice and the demonic spirit within her. She finally goes too far when she moves in on the Monsignor. Timothy, a man of purity and virtue, becomes a desperate fighter in this episode. When the Devil takes your virginity, it’s time to fight! And the time to fight fair is over and the Monsignor definitely gets his hands dirty. From the Angel of Death’s words and the corrupt loss of his virginity, the Monsignor is pushed to do the unthinkable and finally cast out the Devil from innocent Sister Mary Eunice, who did not deserve her fate, but is nonetheless put in the undesirable position to destroy the evil that has been puppeteering her for a good chunk of the season. It was surprisingly sad to see Sister Eunice go. The only soul on the entire show who was likely the true innocent one. I’m even sad to see that mischievous demonic figure in her leave, as it was responsible for a great deal of the terrifyingly entertaining moments of the series this season. R.I.P. Sister Mary Eunice. She will be missed. I dare say that I may even miss the horrible aspects of Dr. Arden who also has a surprisingly emotional death. His desperation for love, being something he’s never felt led him to being cremated with his beloved. A perfectly dramatic sendoff for two of the most sinister yet profound and humanly corrupt antagonists of the series.
Through their dramatic return, Pepper and Grace reveal some new tidbits of information. Pepper, now able to defend herself with the power of speech reveals the truth of how she came to be an inmate at Briarcliff, as well as the oppressive state of the world towards supposed “freaks” like her. However, these aliens do not look at Pepper as inferior; however, they grant her new gifts that make her able to stand up to bullies that attempt to step on those who frequently fall prey to an otherwise close-minded and merciless civilization. These aliens despise Dr. Arden and all of those like him that oppress misfits that are just a bit different than them. Although, Dr. Arden is no more normal than anyone else in the series. It’s interesting that Grace has so quickly carried her and (supposedly) Kit’s baby to term. My big question is, where the heck is Alma? I’m not that happy that Grace is back. I’m a Kit and Alma shipper all the way, and Grace is just muddying that previous relationship and causing Kit to make poor decisions. If it comes to a point where Kit has to choose between Grace and Alma, I hope he chooses Alma with a quickness!
It doesn’t help that Dr. Therdson is the one who reunited Kit and Grace, making Kit and Lana’s previous alliance become nothing more than broken hopeful wishes. Kit always makes the worst decisions in a crisis and his soft heart might just be his biggest downfall. Dr. Therdson’s dubious manipulating and brutality is becoming a bit desperate. He seems to be getting a bit impatient, and therefore messy. Maybe the fact that Lana is carrying his child has him a bit rattled. Plucky Lana is still proving to be a great survivor and strategist in a terrible situation, and for that I admire her and her gritty strength. I look forward to seeing Lana destroy Briarcliff resulting in Dr. Therdson’s fall…
Perhaps the biggest fall of the entire series thus far has to be Jude’s. From running Briarcliff to becoming one of its most unstable patients. The overcharged electroshock therapy that Jude suffers is definitely a monkey wretch thrown into a giant crisis. Perception is everything in this series and now Jude’s is scrambled to hell. Which is especially evident during the very notable strange musical number that probably shouldn’t have worked as well as it did in such a dark setting and circumstance, which I guess is why it works so well given Jude’s new rattled mental state. It’s a truly odd moment that was a fantastically creepy surprise which I love for a number of reasons. One being that it was nice to see everyone in the asylum smiling and having a bit of fun for once instead of screaming in horror, even if it was just a fantasy moment. The Monsignor’s chat with Jude now has her all mixed up and barely tethered to reality at all. How will patient #G2573 get her mind straight in order to get out of this one?
As entertaining as all of that is, it honestly didn’t seem like we went anywhere significant this installment in terms of the plot, aside from the progressions of Sister Mary Eunice and a new mind altercation for Jude. Other than that, it seemed as though we were spinning in a darkly exciting circle for the most part. I guess it is a slow and steady welcome back to the horror of the New Year. And while the episode has a dragging pace, it makes up for it with a surprising dose of enthusiastic yet consistently sinister darkness and even some emotion concerning number of our main characters. What is so striking about this episode is that it has managed to make some of the previous villains and antagonists, human and worthy of just a modicum of sympathy. Villains such as Dr. Arden and even Sister Mary Eunice, whose soul ultimately perishes at the expense of releasing her from the grips of the Devil. The episode stayed focused, steady on its main characters and their storylines, which ultimately pays off in the end. I loved Sister Eunice’s new jukebox. Pepper is back and she‘s sassy, and I love it! It's also hard not to love the best TV scene of the year concerning Jessica Lange and the whole of Briarcliff Manor singing "The Banana Song"!
American Horror Story: Asylum has finally and it is still fantastically insane! And while everyone is attempting to spot that creepy clue concerning the plot for Season 3 of the horror drama, I’m just content to witness the rest of this insane story unfold before moving onto the next one. Above all else, this installment definitely sets its viewers up for the final three episodes of the season, which look to be one hell of a crazy ride! “The Name Game” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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