American Horror Story season premiere recap: Horror Freaks In Bedlam

'Welcome to Briarcliff,' where nutbags and nunsense, monsters and mad men abound. Also: Aliens. Seriously!  
Ep. 01 | Aired Oct 17, 2012

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.

Michael Yarish/FX

Dr. Arden adorns Kit's head with a trio of bulbous jewel-colored electrodes. He pries open the unlucky lad's peepers with specula -- and we remember Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orangeand how Malcolm McDowell's Alex DeLarge was converted from sociopath to obedient citizen via high tech cultural reconditioning/aversion therapy, i.e. "The Lodivico Technique." (Instead of gamma ray bombardment to create a new strain of improved life form, horror-show bombardment -- plus nauseating drugs.)

As Arden messes with him, Kit has alien abduction PST, flashing on (or escaping into?) a memory (or a fantasy?) of an E.T. probing him up the butt with one of its insectoid pincers. Ooooouuuch. Arden notices something bulging under the skin on the side of Kit's neck. He cuts, and he extracts... a black microchip, which then sprouts six little legs and skittles away like a bug. Where to? What does it all mean? Wither Kit's fate, as well as the future direction of Asylum's subtextual commentary on media influence in the digital age? To be continued...

But we're not done. As Arden executes one kind of operation, Lana is launching another. She's determined to get her three minutes with Kit and get to the bottom of the many murky mysteries she beheld during her fraught time with Sister Jude earlier that day. She just needs to find a way back into Briarcliff..

And she finds it. While lurking around The Asylum in the dead of the night, she crosses paths with frazzled Sister Mary, fresh from running a cryptic creepy errand for Dr. Arden: feeding strange beasts who haunts the woods with... Chopped Willy? Slabs of flesh sliced from Arden's other unfortunate patients? What are these beasts? Have Dr. Moreau's hybrids migrated to the mainland? Sister Mary is most perturbed to be seen by Scoops McWinters, but then forgets all about the threat of exposure when they hear a sickening hungry howl. Sister Mary hustles Lana to the only safe place she knows -- inside the asylum, specifically a subterranean tunnel (The Death Chute?), one that Sister Mary is determined to keep hidden from Sister Jude, along with the secret services she performs for the mad doctor. (Sister Mary playing Arden and Jude against each other? Glomming onto both, so she can survive their inevitable clash? Pursuing her own agenda? No, this sister ain't "stupid" at all.)

Recognizing the opportunity for leverage, Lana offers to keep her mouth shut... as long Sister Mary takes her to see Kit. Sister Mary has no choice. She takes the reporter to the dormitory, but she runs off after suffering the indignity of getting Miggs-splattered by Spunky Spivey, that jerk with the Don Draper haircut. Alone, Lana finds Shelley servicing one of the orderlies, and manages to shoo him away by squeezing him the way she squeezed Sister Mary, by promising not to expose him. She ducks for cover in one of the cells when Sister Jude strolls through on her rounds, then pushes deeper into Briarcliff, and finds a certain locked door with certain food hatch in the center. She bends down to open the portal and peek inside -- and a hand shoots out, grabs her by the hair, and knocks her out.

And in this way, the reporter who wanted the ultimate insider's look at Briarcliff gets her wish, but not the Life-in-Bedlam way she was hoping for. Sister Jude -- hellbent on keeping Briarcliff's secrets secret (even though she herself doesn't know all of them, including the existence and nature of The Thing Behind The Door) -- decides to add Lana to the Briarcliff rolls. She even coerces Wendy to remand Lana into her care by ripping a page out of The Children's Hour and threatening to expose the schoolteacher's sexuality. Nasty. We left Lana strapped to a bed, locked in a cell, sweating the prospect of cruel treatments designed to straighten her out. "We both know what that so-called 'monster in the closet' really is, don't you, Miss Winters?" teases Sister Jude. "We’re going to slay that monster together, you and I."

Wicked Witch 1, Sleeping Beauty 0.

Legend has it once you were committed, you never got out.

And Lana screams.

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Time Warp again: The Present.

Teresa has cinched Leo's bloody stump with a belt, but he's still bleeding out, and now losing consciousness. She runs down the hall to get help...

And runs right into a frightful figure sporting a mask of human flesh.

Say, "BLOODY FACE!"

Zoinks!

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Glad to be trapped in The Asylum with you, my fellow Horror Freaks. The message board is now yours.

@EWDocJensen

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