American Horror Story: Asylum review – 2×01: ‘Welcome to Briarcliff’

Courtesy of FX

Well rip off my arm and slap my tushy, American Horror Story is back with a brand new (standalone) season, subtitled Asylum. As we meet the familiar faces in new roles, it’s clear that creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk and writer Tim Minear are still throwing everything they have at the screen in the hopes something sticks.

Let’s bitch it out (stream of consciousness style!)…What follows are my notes as I watched the premiere, ‘Welcome to Briarcliff’:

  • Oh hey it’s Mrs. Channing Tatum (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and that lead singer of Maroon 5, which is either an atrocity to music or a semi-decent pop band. Aww, they’re newlyweds – how adorably barfy
  • “We should totally do it in the death chute” Oh, they’re nasty newlyweds!
  • So are these two just horndogs? Like all they do is have sex.
  • Pay attention to the  Briarcliff stats, kids – there’ll be a test later. How many people died? What was the main cause of illness?
  • Did she just say put it in her a*s? WTF. They’re super nasty
  • Oh awesome – Leo just got his arm ripped off. Bye Adam Levine!
  • New credits. Same disturbing as sh*t music. Gah…nightmares


  • Introducing gas jockey Kit (Evan Peters). I quite liked him on S1. It’s fun to see him in a non-psycho role.
  • Is that Giovanni Ribisi? Like a dbag version of Giovanni Ribisi? Oh no, just a racist version of Giovanni Ribisi.
  • The credits inform me that the episode is written by Tim Minear…I’m way more excited now. See also: AngelThe Inside (well…maybe not The Inside)
  • Oh shizz, Kit’s wife is black. That’s going to get him in trouble.
  • Second sex scene in under ten minutes. So they’re not going to have dinner then? She probably spent a long time cooking that, you know
  • Forseriously, an alien abduction? This whole scene with the lights and the sounds is really well shot – disorienting, staccato. If the show deserves special mention – it’s for the sound effects.
  • Nice little line delivery by Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) about Pepper’s not-so-innocence
  • Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), reporter, meets Sister Jude. Gosh, I don’t think these two are going to like each other.
  • Sister Jude to Lana: “Mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin.” Sometimes I feel that way about ADHD diagnoses. Does that make me the same as this b*tchy nun?
  • Sister Jude to Kit: “Did her dark meat slide off the bone any easier than any of the other victims?” Rude!

Courtesy of FX

  • Walk through the common rooms = usual cacophony of weirdos and freaks hanging out. Good job Ryan Murphy. Going a bit heavy on the stereotypes, dontchathink?
  • Grace, the crazy French lady (Lizzie Brocheré) to Kit: “There’s a rule for everything here.” Well, in fairness it is an asylum full of crazy folks. Oh – Pavlovian whistle blows – apparently bad sheot is about to go down
  • Sister Jude is displaced that the boys were fighting, so she tortures them with some french lullaby? That song would definitely drive anyone crazy
  • Aww…Grace, is a family chopper-upper. That’s nice
  • James Cromwell is classing / creeping up the joint as Dr. Arden. Hmm, not liking that four patients under his supervision have disappeared. Cue evil violins
  • Sister Jude to Dr. Arden: “I’ll always win against the patriarchal male.” Interesting battle of wills – these two suit each other
  • Suddenly it’s a red lingerie and wine cooking montage. Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray. Wow, Sister Jude is totally lying to herself about her values
  • Ha ha – no sexytimes for you, Sister Prude. Wait, is the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes) uninterested or unable?
  • Sister Mary Eunice feeds the freaks in the forest.  Thank goodness for buckets of dismembered bodies. Oh hey Lana, just lurking and smoking are we? Yeah, that’ll end badly for you


  • B*tch, Leo is DEAD. Just let him go so that Adam Levine can get back to his day job!

Courtesy of FX


  • Nice transition between present and past. Lana to Sister Mary Eunice: “You let me look around and I won’t tell Sister Nightmare about your nighttime foray…or your secret tunnel.” Sounds like a decent trade-off. *shakes head*
  • Ummm…Lana, why are you hanging out in the scary Hannibal Lecter ward? Clearly this won’t end well.
  • Dr. Arden has brains in jars! BRAINS IN JARS, PEOPLE! Strangely, though, the weirdest part of this alien probe/inappropriate science scene is that Arden calls Kit a blonde. I would say Evan Peters is actually more of a brunette.
  • Uh, eyeballs and needles don’t mix. Wait – Kit has something in his neck? What the eff is that? No seriously, though…is that some kind of electronic bug? SO GROSS
  • Mary Eunice is hilariously naïve and emotional. And yet Sister Jude won’t let her call herself stupid. What’s with the protective mother act?
  • Well, Lana, you’re strapped to a gurney and your girlfriend, Wendy (Clea DuVall) is being blackmailed by Sister Jude. We all pretty much knew that this would happen to you. And yet I still feel the need to say it: YOU’RE AN IDIOT
  • Some thing has been living in the asylum? Clearly considering those scratches on the wall. Side Note: I am freaking loving the interplay between Cromwell and Lange.


  • Back to the present one last time. Run, Mrs. Channing Tatum, run! Oh hey, there’s Bloody Face (wearing someone’s skin as promised). Get her Bloody Face! Kill that Tatum!

Annnnnd scene.

So folks, what did you think of the premiere? Is Sister Jude’s red lingerie doing it for you, or would you rather watch Adam Levine get his arm ripped off again? Are you at all interested in Dr. Arden experiments and the creeps in the woods? And who is really Bloody Face? Sound off below

American Horror Story: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

One thought on “American Horror Story: Asylum review – 2×01: ‘Welcome to Briarcliff’

  1. Loved it. Off to a much better start than the first season/series. The only distraction (as with much of Murphy’s work) is the gratuitous sex crap. Aliens, monsters, underground surgery, psych ward, religion – they’ve got enough stuff packed into this episode to last all season – looking forward to it.