“Patients committed here suffer not only diseases of the mind, but also of the body.” – Dr. Arthur Arden.
Welcome to 1964, where Jessica Lange is no longer Constance Langdon, but Sister Jude, a badass nun with a Boston accent running the Briarcliff Manor insane asylum. Also returning is Evan Peters, no longer an angst-ridden teen ghost but an alien abductee named Kit Walker, who is detained for the murder of his wife and called “Bloody Face.”
(It’s a huge role reversal for Peters, who was probably tired of constantly lubing up to fit into the “Rubber Man” costume).
It’s not often writers change the course of an entire show, with more than half the cast turning over in one season. But the creativity displayed by "American Horror Story" co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk is not often showcased either.
Their biggest challenge for Season 2 is making Briarcliff Manor as scary as the Murder House. With its compelling history and mystic persona, the house was as much a character as any individual in the first season.
After learning that more than 46,000 people died in the facility, I’d say Briarcliff Manor has a good chance of living up to the hype.
“Legend has it, that once you were committed at Briarcliff, you never got out.” – Teresa
Leo (played by Adam Levine) is a new character introduced alongside his new bride, Teresa. The pair visits the asylum in modern times as part of a Honeymoon Tour.
Any honeymoon where you have your arm cut off "Saw"-style is probably a bad idea. This is exactly what happens to Leo after Teresa hears noises and the pair go exploring through the house.
But what exactly severs Leo’s arm? Could it be the ghost of “Bloody Face” or a Thaddeus-like science experiment gone wrong? This is an unanswered question for now.
One thing we do know is that James Cromwell is taking on the Charles Montgomery mad scientist role this season. Playing Dr. Arthur Arden, Cromwell has experience policing felons as the warden in "The Green Mile" and in "The Longest Yard" remake.
Cromwell should fit into the cast nicely. This is the same actor who delivered great lines such as, “That’s a week in the hotbox!” and “How many years you spend pissing on a toilet seat before someone told you to put it up?”
Dr. Arden runs Briarcliff’s medical unit. He also has a fetish for making Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) feed human remains to some sort of animal in the woods.
The doctor and Sister Jude don’t like one another and differ in opinions about how their patients should be treated. Dr. Arden refers to science to solve problems whereas Sister Jude sees behavioral matters as a spiritual issue.
“Mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin,” says Sister Jude.
“This is not a meat locker,” she later adds while lecturing Kit Walker. “Here you will repent for your crimes to the only judge that matters, the almighty God. All monsters are human. You’re a monster.”
Kit seems anything but human as Dr. Arden removes an alien-implanted chip from his neck. The chip promptly grows spider legs and runs away.
“There was a time when a fanatic like Sister Jude could have had me thrown in prison for my ideas,” Arden says. “Tortured, maybe even castrated. ... These are not the Middle Ages.
After listening to the bickering of Sister Jude and Dr. Arden, Kit could benefit from a shrink (paging Ben Harmon). Instead he has to settle for the graphic details of how he skinned his victims.
The episode ends with a flash forward to Leo clinging to his life while Teresa looks for an escape route from Briarcliff Manor. Her pace comes to an abrupt halt as she is confronted by “Bloody Face” and his mask made of human flesh.