Briarcliff Manor, an asylum for the criminally insane in the state of Massachusetts, run by the Catholic church. This asylum employs horrifying methods to keep their patients under control, from electroshock therapy to awful medical experimentation. When a horrible serial killer that goes by the name Bloody Face is brought into the institute, a young reporter goes there to try and get the best story she could ever write about him.
She digs too deep, she finds the dark secrets of the asylum, and soon her story becomes something much bigger than she ever could have dreamed of.
This season starts out in a rather deceiving way, as we’re first introduced to a newly-wed couple who are wandering through the abandoned Briarcliff, saying that they’re going to all of America’s best horror spots for their honeymoon. They soon meet a terrible end, but then it jumps backwards to 1964, where the real story of the season actually takes place, back when the asylum was operational.
We then focus on a man named Kit Walker, who just wanted to have a happy life with his wife, but their happy life is destroyed when bright lights appear in the sky. He’s taken somewhere and when he comes to, he’s being charged with the murder of several different women, including his wife; everyone thinks he’s the infamous killer known as Bloody Face. But he says differently, as he claims he was abducted by aliens, as was his wife.
The proprietor of Briarcliff, Sister Jude, rules the place with an iron fist and a thick cane, punishing any patients who step out of line or talk back to her. Her methods are to break their already broken minds and their spirits to make them behave. And soon, when reporter Lana Winters comes snooping around to get her story, she’s captured and institutionalized as well, with the excuse that since she’s gay she is mentally ill and must be treated for it.
After a patient who is demon possessed is brought in, they attempt to exorcise him, but the demon flees and enters a member of the Briarcliff staff instead and it begins making life even more of a hellhole than it was before. Conspiracies, suspicion, and paranoia run high all throughout Briarcliff, and at this point nobody knows who they can trust.
This season is basically like getting hit by a train from the very first episode. So much happens all at once: aliens, serial killers, demons, a Nazi conspiracy, plus it occasionally jumps between 1964 and the present to tell two different stories. Just like in the last season, it would do things to make me hate all the characters only to turn around and make me love them in the next episode.
I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next, but I could also feel a sense of paranoia creeping in while watching. Whenever something horrible happened and one of the inmates in the asylum tried to tell anyone else, it was just brushed aside because “they’re crazy, they’re in a mental asylum after all”, which is personally one of my biggest fears: not being taken seriously when you’re in danger.
This season was far darker and more horrifying than the previous season, due to the nature and setting of the story. It was rather sickening at times and a bit hard to stomach, but I’m glad I finished it. I fell in love with all the characters, even the ones I initially started out hating. It was sad and horrible but also touching in some places.
Despite so much that was going on, it told a complete story and tied up most of the loose ends. Well, the ones they wanted to tie up, anyway. There were a few left hanging, but it’s obvious they didn’t want those to go too far. This is, again, a great piece of horror.
I am so looking forward to the next season. I’ll be back next week with my thoughts on season 3 entitled Coven.