Category Archives: American Horror Story

thoughts on american horror story: welcome to briarcliff

We’ve heard for months now that American Horror Story and American Horror Story: Asylum are two related, yet separate entities, and whether or not this concept is a good one is definitely debatable. For my two cents, I think it’s a brilliant idea.

We’ve seen that Ryan Murphy’s best seasons are typically his first, (take a second to compare Nip/Tuck and Glee during their first seasons to the season that followed and tell me I’m incorrect) and this means every new season is just like the first time. Specifically to AHS, this concept also allows for the return of great actors — Evan Peters and Jessica Lange as my personal favorites — in new roles. Sure, Tate was great and Constance was remarkable, but it’ll be just as fun to see them develop new characters under the twisted direction of Mr. Murphy. But most important of all, setting the second season (and all that follow) in a new place means that you don’t have to remember all the various twists and turns of the first season, which could be great for new and returning viewers alike.

After reading a bit about what we can expect from this season, I knew that for the next few months, I’d spend my Wednesday nights scared to make the quick (yet dark) journey from the living room to my bed. Fortunately, this first episode of the second season didn’t disappoint.

WHO WE MET

  • The Newlyweds: Teresa (played by Jenna Dewan, Step Up/the very lucky wife of Channing Tatum) and Leo (played by Adam Levine, Maroon 5 and The Voice)
  • The (alleged) Killer/Bloody Face: Kit Walker (played by Evan Peters)
  • The Wife: Alma Walker (played by Britne Oldford, Skins)
  • The Journalist: Lana Winters (played by Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story)
  • The Dumb Nun: Sister Mary Eunice (played by Lily Rabe, American Horror Story)
  • The Nympho: Shelley (played by Chloë Sevigny, Big Love)
  • The Head Nun: Sister Jude (played by Jessica Lange)
  • The Wise Patient: Grace (played by Lizzie Brocheré)
  • The Crazy Doctor: Dr. Arthur Arden (played by James Cromwell, Six Feet Under)
  • The Girlfriend: Wendy (played by Clea DuVall, The Faculty)
  • The Reverend: Monsignor Timothy Howard (played by Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare in Love)

WHAT WE KNOW

Briarcliff Manor was built in 1908 and is located on the East Coast. Over 46,000 people have died there and it’s considered one of the twelve most haunted places in the country. It was used as a sanatorium in 1962 and has an underground tunnel. Overall, it’s the perfect backdrop for this year’s horror story.

Sister Jude, under the supervision of Timothy Howard, runs Briarcliff. Sister Eunice is her right-hand nun, but is also helping her adversary, Dr. Arden, do something evil (?) to the patients. While Jude is on the far end of religiousness, it seems that Arden is deep into the mad part of science. Suffice it to say, they don’t get along.

Leo and Teresa are the first victims of Briarcliff that we meet in present day. To be fair, they knew the place was haunted, so that was a knowledgeable (albeit idiotic) choice they made. Bonus points: Leo was receiving oral sex when he had his arm ripped off by Bloody Face (assuming that was who committed the arm-removal), so it wasn’t a fully horrible experience, one would imagine.

Kit and Alma Walker were married in a time when their interracial love was completely frowned upon. So much so that they had to keep it a secret from their friends and family. They were postcoital when Kit heard a sound outside. Upon inspection, he finds a UFO-looking light in the trees and runs back into the house to find his wife. Everything, including his body, levitated to the ceiling, and we see an alien. During this time, Alma was skinned and killed. Kit is named as Bloody Face and accused for this murder, along with a few others. He swears he’s innocent.

Lana Winters wants to write a story on Briarcliff. She goes above and beyond the call of journalism to sneak back into the asylum and steal a few seconds with Bloody Face. Unfortunately for her, she is caught and checked into Briarcliff against her will. She is betrayed by her girlfriend, Wendy the teacher, who signs off on all of this. In Wendy’s defense, she was forced to choose between her career and the love of her life. Hard decision.

Overall, not everyone who’s checked in Briarcliff should actually be there. People are dying, guards are sleeping with patients, morals exist in a weird grey area and something lives in the forest. It’s all very sordid and scary.

What I Can’t Wait to Find Out

  • Was the baby doll we saw at the beginning of the episode significant?
  • Is the bakery relevant or was it just used to explain how Lana got her foot in the door?
  • Does Sister Jude really not know about the underground tunnel?
  • Does the French song that is played on repeat in the common room have some hold on the patients?
  • What is in the forest?
  • Where did the little chip that Arden pulled out of Walker’s neck go?
  • Does Sister Jude always wear red lingerie under her habit?
  • Why does Dr. Arden think the devil is in Walker’s brain?
  • Is Sister Eunice really as stupid as she seems?
  • Most importantly: WHO IS BLOODY FACE?! (I may be biased by my love for Evan Peters, but I’m 75% sure it isn’t Walker)

Quotes

“What are we going to tell our kids about the honeymoon?” – Teresa
“We tell them the truth. We visited the twelve most haunted places in America and screwed our brains out in every single one.” – Leo
“Or that mommy is a horror freak and daddy lives to make mommy happy.” – Teresa

“Mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin.” – Sister Jude

“He believes the tonic for a diseased mind lies in the three Ps: productivity, prayer and purification.” – Sister Jude

“All monsters are human.” – Sister Jude

“Did you murder your wife?” – Grace
“No, and I’m not crazy.” – Walker
“That’s unfortunate. If they decide you’re sane, you’re going someplace way worse than this.” – Grace
“What could be worse than this?” – Walker
“You think it’s bad not having a chair, just think of the one they’ll strap you into.” – Grace

“Let me give you fair warning, I’ll always win against the patriarchal male.” – Sister Jude
“Bully for you.” – Dr. Arden

Nicole is a TV junkie and TVDM helps her feed a lifelong addiction. She can be found here, providing biased commentary (sprinkled with a few Pop Up Video-esque insights) on her favorite shows, every week.

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thoughts on american horror story: afterbirth

After Birth, I decided to avoid any AHS-based discussions so that I could enter Afterbirth completely theory-less. However, I was expecting a murder/suicide starring Ben and Constance, and considering the show’s affinity for all things gross and disturbing, I also prepared myself for some literal afterbirth. Well, I got part of that right.

I didn’t see last night’s season finale as “game-changing”. Instead, the whole episode felt like closure. In a morose way, the Harmon’s got a “happily ever after” and we won’t have to spend the next few months wondering what happens to them. All things considered, game-ender would be a more appropriate description. The perfect way to close out one horror story and make room for a bigger and better one next season.

  • I don’t know, maybe it’s haunted or something.” Although Ben casually wondered why the house was so cheap, his gut instinct was that buying the house in L.A. would be the perfect fix for their dysfunctional family, while Vivien’s gut was telling her to grab Violet and head down to Florida. Watching the flashbacks to how horrible everything turned out for the family over the last few months, and knowing it was almost avoided, was like a cruel joke.
  • Moira and Vivien become best friends (literally) forever. Vivien figured out her new reality pretty quickly, but is still lurking around Ben. Moira wants her to let go of Ben and tells her to consider “the end game” (potential clue for next season??). The ladies have similar, good-natured personalities, so it’s not surprising that they continued to click post-mortem.
  • Ben planned to commit suicide. His wife, daughter and the twin that was his all died, so he organized everything and headed to his former office to shoot his brains out. Vivien stopped him and he made peace with his family. All signs pointed to Ben leaving, but there were at least 40 minutes left in the episode so I figured the house would keep him there somehow. I didn’t expect what came next…
  • Hayden (and two of the home invaders from Home Invasion) killed Ben. The scene played out fast and the end result was Ben hanging from the chandelier. Did Hayden have a reason for staging a faux-suicide instead of just murdering Ben outright?
  • Marcy adopts Halley and sells the house again. Stacy (Lisa Vidal, The Event), Miguel (Anthony Ruivivar, Third Watch) and Gabe Ramos (Brennan Majia, iCarly) move in. Stacy and Miguel have happily married kitchen sex, while Constance and Ben watch. Violet flirts(?) with Gabe, while Tate watches. This could have been another happy family in a horror-filled home.
  • No one knows Violet is dead. Outside of Constance, who else would benefit from this? Another potential clue for next season??
  • Constance and Ben pull a Beetlejuice. Watching Stacy fight off Ben in the Rubber Man suit and Miguel initially see old Moira signified that this family was a lot stronger than the Harmons. The icing on the insane cake that sent them running into the night, with Patience and Prudence’s ‘Tonight You Belong to Me’ as the soundtrack? Vivien ripping Ben open, followed by Ben shooting her square in the forehead. Bye-bye Ramos family.

  • Tate fears he’ll never be forgiven. He was willing to kill Gabe for Violet, which was twistedly romantic. He finally admits to every horrible thing he’s done the past few years, as if that will offer him solace. Unfortunately, his story ends (at least for this season) with two things he wants far, far out of his reach: Violet and forgiveness.
  • Vivien gets at least one of her twins. Nora and Moira were the only two that knew the baby survived for a moment before dying. Vivien took over the motherly duties and made Moira the godmother. Complete with a Christmas celebration, this was such a cozy ending.
  • “You’ll come to understand Violet, that the word ancient will lose all its meaning when your entire existence is one long today.
  • Don’t tell mom, the babysitter’s dead. Three years later, we find Constance raising Michael as her son. She notes that he is a remarkable boy that needs a mommy who was “forged in the fires of adversity.” She comes home to find that her golden boy, giggling as the babysitter he killed laid bleeding at his feet. Tate was nurtured into a monster, but it seems his son was just born one.

Of course Constance is the lone survivor from this horror story. I don’t see where else the show can go with the Harmon family, but I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of them.

Update: Looks like we’ll be starting (relatively) fresh for the second season. Check out ‘Next Season of American Horror Story Will Be in a Whole New Haunted House‘.

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thoughts on american horror story: birth

It’s hard to believe this was the last episode before the season ends. It feels like we just met the Harmons and now we’re about to say goodbye…for now, forever…who knows? Birth may have answered a few questions about the lady Harmons, but even then, we still don’t know the fate of the family. American horror story’s don’t have happy endings and if this one does, they really should have went with a different and lighter show title.

  • Little Tate meets little Thaddeus. Constance was passed out and Tate makes his way to the basement. Before Thaddeus (Infantata) can grab him, Nora saves Tate and now we know why he felt so indebted to her, that he was willing to rape, steal and kill to get her a baby. We don’t know how much they interacted throughout the years, but for that moment, she was the mother he wanted. Did anyone else notice that Nora’s clothes were lighter in 1984, but by the time we bounced back to the present, she was wearing darker clothes?
  • Daddy (still) doesn’t know. For some reason, the scene between Ben and Violet, when he tries to make her go visit Vivien, really struck me. We knew she wouldn’t be able to leave, but I was hoping there would be a twist here and she wouldn’t disappear once the car left the property.
  • Chad got his man back and they are planning to raise the twins, together. Except, Patrick doesn’t really want any of that. All he wants is to be with the man he was going to be with before Tate killed him. Chad over hears all of this and crosses himself off the list of people/ghosts that want those babies.
  • “I’m dead, don’t you get it? Of course he doesn’t Violet, your father isn’t going to get it until the very end it seems.
  • One red crib and one white crib. I highly doubt this was by accident. Even if Chad and Patrick simply “broke up” before finishing the painting.
  • Chad called Violet “Elvira”. Wednesday would have been much more appropriate. But speaking of snippy Chad…
  • Constance and Chad should have had a scene together weeks ago! A lovely battle of the bitches, with Chad mocking Constance’s failure as a mother and her mocking his entire lifestyle.
  • Billie Dean is the real deal. Although the spell she gave Violet didn’t work, she can definitely speak to the dead, as evidenced by the telepathic moment. But why does she hate Tate? Sure, there are a few reasons to dislike him, but what’s her reason? And I didn’t see it before, but I’m wondering now if she’s Constance’s fourth child. This theory isn’t based on anything substantial, except they looked so alike in this episode and her Tate hatred.
  • “Dr. Harmon, it’s time.” The twin gingers vandalizing Ben’s car helped set the mood, but Charles and the ghost nurses delivering the baby really added to the creep factor of this scene. The first baby is born “stillborn” and passed to Nora (I don’t think they mentioned if it was a boy or girl) and the second baby boy is immediately scooped up by Constance.
  • “From blood and pain come perfection.” I was waiting for psychotic Hayden to make her entrance and she did, but I don’t think she’s going to get that baby from Constance. That woman has survived the death of pretty much everyone around her, surely she won’t be killed by Ben’s former mistress.
  • “Or did he change when he raped your mother?” Violet finally believes that Tate is a monster and calls him “the darkness”. She sends him away. I’m not sure if this means she can no longer see him or if he’s sent to some other realm briefly. Stupid AHS ghost rules.
  • The house wins again. Vivien and Violet are dead, together. No cliffhanger. No going into the season finale wondering what will happen to Vivien. She died during childbirth and unlike the other ghosts in the house, she’s stuck there with someone she actually loves. I doubt Tate will like that, but then again, I doubt she’ll be happy to hear he was the one who raped her.
  • Ben is alive and alone…for now. I’m pretty sure Ben will be dead next week too and I think he’s going to take someone down with him. I can see him committing suicide too, but I don’t want it to be at the house, Violet and Vivien have been through enough at this point.

Check out Ryan Murphy’s interview for this episode.

Next Week: Afterbirth (season finale)

 

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