Those of you who considered last week's American Horror Story: Asylum premiere to be a bit scattered — myself included — may have enjoyed this week's more focused follow-up. The aliens take a backseat, and for the most part, we stay within the confines of Briarcliff's grounds. "Tricks and Treats," with its prostitutes, nymphos, and possessed teens, does get remarkably raunchy for a show that's not on premium cable. And thanks to a few uneasy scenes, I found myself huddled on top of my couch with my feet curled in (so Bloody Face couldn't grab them).
Dr. Arden's not the only one who shows his true colors this week, and we get a lot of background on Shelley and Sister Jude. An escape is attempted — and subsequently foiled — and Zachary Quinto makes his triumphant first appearance of the season as the levelheaded Dr. Oliver Thredson. Let's talk all the shocking details when you read more.
- Does anyone care about The Lovers? I thought last week's episode had set a precedent of starting and ending every episode with an update on Leo, Teresa, and their new friend Bloody Face, but instead we just get a few seconds in the beginning. It's just enough time to witness Bloody mercilessly executing Leo. So much for the theory that he's just a sad, misunderstood figure.
- Oh, hello, Zachary Quinto! I'm so relieved to see a character showing some semblance of humanity at Briarcliff. I can't escape the nagging feeling that nothing is as it seems; for all we know, Dr. Thredson could be the most evil of them all. But for now, he's kindly and it's comforting to have someone keeping a watchful eye on Sister Jude and Dr. Arden. This week we definitely see what can happen when those two put their minds together.
- Speaking of their accomplishments, let the persecution of Lana begin. I have to say the electroshock therapy scene is probably the most scarring part of this episode to me, and that's saying a lot. Lana does get a reprieve by turning in Kit and Grace when they try to escape. I assume she makes this move out of jealousy when Grace chooses Kit over her, but she could also just be mad that someone stole her plan.
- It seems everyone is a sexual deviant. Or was a sexual deviant, now brutally repressed. Shelley's the only one not hiding her urges, and her monologue reveals that she's not actually insane, she just got caught in bed with a couple of sailors. I'm not crazy about her speech; it feels forced that she would divulge all that she does to Dr. Arden. It's clear that a number of the patients shouldn't be locked up at all, but the writers are really beating us over the head saying, "See! They used to be able to lock up anyone for anything back in those days!" As my teachers used to say: "Show, don't tell."
- On the other hand, they do show us quite a bit this week. We have our first exorcism! Though Dr. Thredson is skeptical, I was right there with Sister Jude when she determines an exorcism is in order for the teenager who's eating his parents' livestock. Bring in the monsignor, I say! I fancy myself to be pretty progressive, but watching that poor kid writhe and thrust himself at Sister Jude is incredibly awkward, especially when he discloses her past as a lush who ran over an innocent girl crossing the street in the middle of the night.
- After the devil leaves the kid, you can see him shoot straight into Sister Mary Eunice's body. Too bad Dr. Arden doesn't realize that when he creeps on her. We already know he's fetishizing her, but is he also killing prostitutes? I'm a little unclear on whether he acquires those pictures or if he takes them himself. Is he Bloody Face or just another sicko? Color me confused.
Other inquiries: Did Wendy deserve to die at the hand of Bloody Face? Does Sister Jude watch James Dean movies? Are you digging Evan Peters's Bahstan accent as much as I am?