After months of hype, American Horror Story has premiered its second season, subtitled Asylum. Since AHS is an anthology, they’ve completely reset the scene – and what a disturbing scene it is. So without further ado, “Welcome to Briarcliff.”

The Players:

  • Director: Bradley Buecker
  • Writer: Tim Minear
  • Cast: Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, Jessica Lange

Episode Title: “Welcome to Briarcliff”

Familiar faces from last year get new identities (and atrocities) to complement the show’s new asylum setting. The episode splits time between modern day and 1964, though it heavily favors the latter. The flashbacks gives the audience a glimpse at the behind-closed-doors mayhem.

The Good:

  • The Opening Credits: Forget the show, the easily scared shouldn’t even watch the opening credits. They may have been the most frightening thing about the episode. And no, that’s not us calling the episode weak.
  • Severed Limbs and Oral Sex: It’s common knowledge that Adam Levine nabbed a role this season. What wasn’t known, was how it was going to go. Was he going to be dreadful? Wonderful? Stuck at a payphone trying to call home? Nobody really knew – until last night. He plays one half of a honeymooning couple opposite Jenna Dewan Tatum (aka Mrs. Channing) and mostly acts how you’d image Adam Levine to act. But something about these actors totally works, even if their performances pale in comparison to the ’64 segments’. At a pivotal moment, Levine’s arm gets ripped off while simultaneously recording a haunting and enjoying a blowjob from his wife. Doesn’t that sum up what you imagined his acting debut to be like?
  • Sister Jude: It’s going to be said so many times, by so many recappers, but Jessica Lange shines as Sister Jude, the naughty nun behind Briarcliff Manor Sanitarium. We’ve never been afraid of nuns, but now kind of are. Point, Lange.
  • Bloody Face: The real villain of this season (Maybe?) is a serial killer named Bloody Face. We don’t know who the mysterious killer is, but we do know Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is wrongly accused of being him. Something that happened after aliens killed his wife. Go on, re-read that last sentence. It’s not a typo.
  • ALIENS: THERE ARE ALIENS ON THE SHOW. REAL ALIENS. Come on, how cool is that? One of the great things about American Horror Story is its willingness to go out on every limb. We can count on Ryan & Co. to explore the craziness of extraterrestrials forcing geeks across the country to break out their “The Truth is Out There” T-shirts.

The So-So:

  • Underdeveloped Patients: This isn’t a real criticism since it’s unavoidable, but AHS introduces a smorgasbord of insanely (no pun intended) interesting supporting characters. Unfortunately, they just doesn’t have time in episode one to delve into every back story. This is more of a so-so at the confines of the hour-long format.

The Bad:

  • Don’t Fall Back on Cliches Team Murphy: The asylum thing has been done. The show desperately needs to stick to the things that will set it apart. Things that haven’t already been explored in a thousand B movies.

Overall:

American Horror Story: Asylum is off to a scary good start and it’s clear the best is yet to come. Episode one gave viewers a small taste of the craziness going on at Briarcliff. We look forward to a season of all the characters and events coming together.

Rating: 9/10

American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

What did you think of this week’s episode?