Image credit: Michael Yarish/FX
This love has taken its toll on me... AND THIS MADHOUSE HAS TAKEN MY ARM! Leo (Adam Levine) gets marooned inside The Asylum less than five minutes into the season premiere of American Horror Story. It was a Rocky Horror Clockwork Orange Leatheryfacey Freaksfest, with a dash of X-Files thrown in.
The history of The Asylum is the history of human beings putting their faith in things unseen to frame the visible, to bring order and meaning to a chaotic and cruel world, some more reasonable than others, and then fighting with each other, often unreasonably, over which unseen thing is "crazy" and which one is "real." Microbes and sin. God and gravity. Even little green men.
October, 1964. John F. Kennedy is dead, The Beatles have invaded, Vietnam is about to go next level. LBJ has just signed The Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination and abolishing segregation... but it takes more to rehabilitate the corrupt character of a culture. If only the process of refining change was as easy-peasy as the example presented by the year's biggest film, released on Oct. 21, 1964: My Fair Lady. Now wouldn't that be loverly?
Kit Walker is a young man making a scrappy living pumping gas in Nowheresville, Massachusetts. Population: Racist. We meet him as he’s taking guff from a cranky customer complaining about the station’s prices -- 30 cents a gallon -- and asking for a coloring book for his kid, the one shooting a toy gun at Kit, who is playing back, acting like a monster. The motorist tosses a 10 spot at Kit’s feet and drives away. "A—hole." Still, Kit can’t be brought low. It’s a closing time at Woodall Gasoline, and he’s righteously in love. He cranks up The Drifters. He cuts loose joyously: There goes my baby/Moving on down the line/Wonder where, wonder where, wondering where/She is bound...
Soon, Kit Walker will be wondering the same thing.
He’s putting away the cash box when he hears a DING! DING! A new customer? No. No’s one there. Then the lights go out. Now Kit’s scared. He makes a beeline for the cabinet where he keeps the gun when BOO! It’s only his “friend” Billy and two other pals. They tell him they want to borrow the gun to pull prank on some guy's sister. Kit -- quite responsible, so much more mature than his former chums -- says absolutely not. Billy feels disappointed, perhaps judged. And then he gets vaguely sinister. He asks about Kit’s income. He inquires about “the maid” that Kit is somehow able to afford. He grabs a candy bar, strips the wrapper, and takes a loud crunchy bite while staring at Kit with psycho eyes. “Mmmm,” he murmurs salaciously. “Chocolate.”
Kit gulps. Billy knows.
Kit goes home and finds the aforementioned “maid” setting the table. But Alma Walker is not a maid at all. She is Kit’s wife. She is also black, and he is white, and the newlyweds have not told a single soul about their union, not even their families, because this is 1964, and interracial marriage is still three years away from becoming legal in all 50 states.
Kit puts on his wedding ring – the one he leaves in a dish by the door whenever he leaves the house. It’s a ritual he hates. “Let’s do it, babe,” he says. “Let’s tell everyone.”
“The world will change one day,” Alma says.
“The world is wrong,” Kit replies.
“We need to keep it a secret.”
“That makes me feel like I can’t protect my own family.”
They kiss. The argument is tabled, and so is dinner. After they make love, Alma returns to the kitchen, and Kit smokes in bed, listening to “A Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy.
They say that all good things must end/Someday…
The radio crackles weirdly. Kit bangs on it. Crackle gone.
Then a strobe of lights – car headlights? – strafes the bedroom window. Unwanted visitors. Kit thinks: Billy. He swears and dresses and arms himself with a shotgun and orders Alma to stay in the kitchen. He goes into the yard. He calls out to the shadows, tells Billy to stop playing games --
Hot white light blazes from the sky, accompanied by a crackle of electricity. He hears Alma scream. Kit runs inside. Alma is gone. Furniture and tables are overturned. A sustained sonic blast rocks Kit’s head. He drops the rifle, covers his ears, hits the floor screaming. The windows explode, glass flies... and then the sound stops. Kit catches his breath... and then gets sucked to the ceiling as if drawn by a tractor beam, and then rudely dropped. Hard. He rolls onto his back –
And now’s he’s naked and laying in a limitless otherworldly expanse of white space. He tries to sit up – and a long spindly alien finger flicks him back down.
Yes, we said aliens.
And Kit Walker screams some more.
And to think he hasn’t even met Sister Jude yet.
NEXT: Into The Hellhole