It’s a completely different ball game for FX’s “American Horror Story” in season two.
And it has to be. The show, no pun intended, crept up on people last season and slowly built a truly engaging horror story over the course of twelve episodes. A second season, even completely divorced from the first, has different expectations.
Season two, called “American Horror Story: Asylum,” premiered Wednesday night on FX.
It was too much, and yet, not enough.
Related: Recapping the first season of “American Horror Story”
The show starts in the present day with a pair of sex-capading newlyweds who break into Briarcliff, the asylum of the show’s title. Bad things happen, and then we’re taken back to 1964 to see the asylum in action.
No spoilers in this column, but the second season debut seems…well, complicated. Everything that was hinted at in the first season comes right at you in the first episode of “Asylum.”
The first season had some surprisingly erotic moments, so the second season starts with cheap sex. Last year had some shocking violence? Let’s rip Adam Levine’s arm off before the opening credits. Jessica Lange was delightfully creepy in a limited role last year? Let’s put her in a nun’s habit and make her a weirdo for the whole season.
“Rubber Suit Man” was a great idea for a villain. “Bloody Face” seems like a straight-to-cable concept, like something that would play on a double-bill with “Hatchet.”
Whereas the first season was a very pleasant surprise in its creepiness and mystery, the second season just punches you in the face with it.
Here’s your Joe-Bob Briggs-style score card for the first hour of the show. Random attacks, sex, arm-ripping, murder, alien abductions, twisted nuns, crazy doctors, secret monsters, lesbian reporters, racism, sexism, torture, lobotomies, poo-flinging, and for no understandable reason, a tiny robotic spider that looks like it came right out of the Tom Selleck-Gene Simmons movie “Runaway.”
This show is really counting on all the good vibes built up by the first season to give it enough time to unfold in its second, but it’s working too hard to grab us. It is, to use a phrase, overbooked. There’s so much going on, we don’t have time to get invested in any of the mystery.
There’s a pretty fantastic cast on the show, including several actors from the first season playing different characters in the second. It’s chaos, though. we don’t really get enough of any of the characters to care about them, and some of the featured actors on the show are barely in the first episode.
In season one, there were mysteries introduced slowly. Who’s in the Rubber Suit? Why is the maid sometimes old? And for God’s sake, what terrifying creature is rolling that ball back out of the darkness in the basement?
After the first episode of season two, there’s no subtle mysteries that we’re waiting on to unfold. We’re too shell-shocked from surviving the show to think ahead.
Rating: Three out of a possible ten robot spiders.
— Reid Kerr wonders when it became okay to lick your fingers before sex on television, not that it’s not a good idea. Follow Reid on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook and yell at him.