American Horror Story: Asylum Review: “Welcome To Briarcliff” (Season 2, Episode 1)

The staff of Briarwood seems to be perfectly content being purely evil, as evidenced by Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwel) and his delightfully demented experiments. Hoping to find the darkness that resides within humans, his experiments lean more towards “crazy scientist” than they do “enlightened individual.” His involvement with the forest beast is clear, but not much else is. His latest patient before the episode ends happens to be Kit, and I refuse to spoil just what happens in that encounter.

Antagonist duties are taken up by a killer simply known as “Bloody Face,” a man who is known for sewing the skin of his victims onto his face in some sort of mask. Replacing our beloved Rubber Man will be a tricky task, but from what’s been revealed so far, it looks like Bloody Face will be just as memorable.

Just like last season’s premiere, this episode is filled with mysteries that are nowhere near being solved. The story of the Briarwood has just begun, and it looks to be building up to quite an epic culmination. Despite having a pulpy, B-movie feel to it, the solid performances from all involved keep American Horror Story: Asylum firmly rooted in an entertaining position.

Special props must go to Jessica Lange once again for crafting yet another amazing character. Her subtlety in the face of such goofiness is pitch perfect, and it’s impossible to imagine this show being just as successful without her. Evan Peters shines in a role that’s not so mopey, giving him a chance to act rather than show up and look handsome.

James Cromwell looks to be enjoying himself just a bit too much in his role as Dr. Arden, but he sells the character perfectly. This is one lunatic to watch out for, proving that maybe the workers are more insane than their patients. I’m not 100% sold on Adam Levine as Leo, and since he seems relegated to simply dying in the asylum in the present, it’s not clear where his role will take him from here.

Fans will be more than delighted with this premiere, as American Horror Story: Asylum presents an intriguing mystery that is perfectly acted and just as darkly-goofy as the first season. Not much is clear on where this season is planning on taking us, but it is apparent that Ryan Murphy and company haven’t lost their touch just yet.

Be sure to check back next week for our review of the next episode of American Horror Story: Asylum!