American Horror Story Asylum: Review: Season 2 Eps 10-12

AHSS02E12FX, 2-16 January

The body count mounts up in Briarcliff as Dr Arden checks out and Dr Thredson (AKA Bloody Face) gets his comeuppance…

After all the weirdness, proper plot kicks in with a vengeance as American Horror Story Asylum builds to what will no doubt be an insane climax.

In Episode 10, ‘The Name Game’, Sister Jude is now a patient in her own institution, while Lana and Kit have turned the tables on Dr Thredson by keeping him prisoner. There’s a sense of an ending approaching here, as Arden wraps up his business, eliminating the results of his experiments who lurk in the asylum grounds. By the firey climax, Dr Arden heads into the incinerator along with Sister Mary Eunice, together in death as they could never have been in life. It’s a fitting end to a great character and a fine performance by James Cromwell, although on this show death isn’t necessarily forever. The highlight of the episode, though, is undoubtedly the insane song-and-dance routine to The Name Game (even if it is only in Jude’s head). This kind of off-the-wall bravura moment is a signature for American Horror Story, a show that every episode goes places that other more mundane series shy away from.

Next episode ‘Spilt Milk’ continued moving the story on, getting Lana, Kit and Grace out of the asylum. Dr Thredson’s story ends the only way it could, as Lana shoots him. Previewing the structure of the next episode, time jumps forward to 1965 and then 2012, as Lana gives birth to Bloody Face Jr, who then takes up the threads in the present. This anthology feel carries on through ‘Continuum’, which ramps up the story again in discrete segments covering Kit’s unsettled life with his two wives in 1967, Jude’s continued troubles in the asylum through 1968, and Lana’s fame from her true crime memoir about Bloody Face in 1969. It’s as though the show is trying to cram a story arc that would normally unfold over several years into one season, perhaps indicating a weakness in this anthology format when the characters and storylines are this compelling.

A lovely focus pulls brings things up-to-date once more, as we switch from Kit in 1969 to Dylan McDermott’s new Bloody Face in 2012, seeking out his mother for a reconciliation. It sets the scene nicely for the final episode, and there’s little point speculating what might happen as anything goes on this show!

Verdict: Brilliantly offbeat, and unlike anything else on television!

Episode 10 ‘The Name Game’: 9/10

Episode 11 ‘Spilt Milk’: 8/10

Episode 12 ‘Continuum’: 8/10

Brian J. Robb

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