Thursday, January 24, 2013

TV Review: "American Horror Story: Asylum - Madness Ends"

Yeah, What Pepper Said.
Season 2 of Ryan Murphy's and Brad Falchuck's mini-series/anthology hybrid "American Horror Story: Asylum" ended last night with an episode titled Madness Ends. Last week's episode, Continuum, started to tie up the loose ends and seemed rather sedate, given the deliberately disturbing and off-putting story of lunacy, aliens, Nazi experiments, demonic possession and crushing guilt.

Unlike Season 1, which pretty much revolved around 6 or so central characters and a modest supporting cast; "Asylum," while having many more supporting characters with their own subplots, was ultimately about three people: Sister Jude (the incomparable Jessica Lange); Kit Walker (Evan Peters, finally coming into his own) and Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson in a true Tour-de-Force performance that deserves as much recognition as Lange's).  And the writing this season was even better than last. There were so many things going both in and out Briacliff, none of it should have made any sense or fit together at all, but it did and it shows that taking time to develop a story-line all the way through before writing a single episode is the way to go. And the season finale was no exception to the rest of the season, which truly surprised me by wringing more than a tear or two out of jaded old Uncle P's eyes. No matter how awful things had been or how badly they had treated one another, we came to care about these three people and we wanted to know what happened to them.  

Madness Ends starts in the present as an aging and now very famous Lana gives a rather intimate interview on the eve of receiving a Kennedy Center Honor. As Lana tells the truth about everything, flashbacks filled in the details of what happened after Kit found the supposedly dead Jude at Briarcliff. And even if not every question was answered (why did the aliens want Kit and what did his children do to calm Jude's damaged sanity in the woods?), their stories ended quite appropriately, if - in at least one case - a bit predictably. 

I didn't know how they were going to top Season 1 and now have no idea what to expect from the already announced Season 3. I have no doubt that Murphy and Falchuck have finally found a show that may be able to maintain it's momentum by introducing a new story each season, using a rotating ensemble of astoundingly talented actors and a team of insane writers with only their imaginations to limit them. Don't be surprised if other networks copy FX's 'long format mini-series' (have Murphy and Falchuk created "Repertory Television?") approach used on other genres. Of course, the 'Big 4' won't be able to be nearly as edgy or experimental as FX can.

Bizarre; creepy; ironic; blasphemous; outrageous; sexy; gross; shocking; horrific and so very over-the-top, but always so very effective, Asylum set a new bar which I can't wait to see raised in Season 3. American Horror Story is a must see for fans of Horror and terrific acting & writing. **** (Four Out of Four Stars).

More, anon.

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