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YMMV / American Horror Story: Asylum

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Is Lana a courageous survivor or just a reckless reporter who's in way over her head?
    • In-universe, Alma and Grace argue over the nature of the aliens, Alma thinking them horrific and Grace looking to them as enlightened. Alma feels more strongly.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Leo and Teresa. To some, they're decently cute and strong characters who didn’t get enough screen time or success against the Bloodyface copycats, and to others they're overly generic horror victims who drag the focus away from the more interesting main plot.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Name Game song. Oh my God.
  • Creepy Awesome: Shachath is everything you could possibly want out of someone called "The Angel of Death" — both terrifying and awesome, but, in her comfort to the dying, oddly moving as well.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Clearly Murphy has been researching the trope namer, as he never comes up with any real explanation for those blasted aliens.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Devil itself is called up in a failed exorcism and possesses an innocent young nun, driving her to uninhibited and lewd behavior and trapping her in perpetual agony. The Devil proceeds to murder an inmate For the Evulz, as well as a concentration camp survivor who might expose the resident doctor as a Nazi war criminal, and unleashes Spree Killer Leigh Emerson on Sister Jude. When Jude is stripped of her position, the Devil tortures her to the point where her reflexes are severely impaired and later rapes the Monsignor solely to debase him and mock his vows of celibacy.
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    • The friendly-seeming Dr. Oliver Thredson is the true identity of the original Bloody Face. To deal with his own Parental Abandonment, Bloody Face kidnaps women whose skin he thinks feels like his mother's, killing and skinning those whose skin fails his macabre test to make masks or furniture. As Dr. Thredson, he is tasked with evaluating a man accused of the Bloody Face murders, which he takes advantage of by convincing the man to confess. Tricking protagonist Lana Winters into trusting him, Bloody Face lures her from the insane asylum to his house, where he reveals that he has murdered her girlfriend and kept the corpse on ice. Tormenting Lana, Bloody Face tries to get her to become intimate with the corpse and then rapes her when she tries to flee. Willing to kill Lana even after she has become pregnant with his child, Bloody Face smugly states his intent to get away with his crimes using the insanity defense.
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  • Delusion Conclusion: The concluding flashback, in which Sister Jude remarks that Lana likes "to dream big" and that the two of them won't meet again, resulted in confusion among some viewers; a few even took this to mean that that Lana's stay at Briarcliff and all the fantastical things that happened there took place in her deranged imagination or in a work of fiction she wrote about years after the fact. However, subsequent seasons joss this theory.
  • Ending Fatigue: Most of the plot is resolved in "Spilt Milk", with most of the principal cast leaving Briarcliff. Two more episodes follow.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Pepper and Leigh Emerson. The former was popular enough to be brought back, making her the first character to appear in more than one season.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Bananun (Lana/Sister Mary Eunice) is far more popular than the canon pairings of Lana/Wendy or Lana/Marion, and the most popular ship from the season. This despite how little they interact, and that Sister Mary Eunice is a nun that is possessed by the Devil for most of the show. The most common reasons are the very minor Les Yay between them fallowing the possession, Paulson and Rabe having great chemistry, and the brief interactions that they had before Sister Mary Eunice is possessed. It is quite popular on Archive of Our Own and Tumblr, and only grew in popularity in the years fallowing the end of the season.
  • Foe Yay: Sister Mary Eunice has this with everyone, particularly Sister Jude.
  • Franchise Original Sin: "The Name Game", which worked so well partly because it was such a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, paved the way for the less unexpected (and less plot relevant) musical numbers in Coven and Freak Show, which were, for the most part, objects of criticism in those seasons.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Borders on Actor Allusion, Dr. Arden asks Kit "Who do you work for?", a line that comes from a person that he should be already be familiar with altogether.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Most fans have taken to calling the ship of Lana/Sister Mary Eunice, "Bananun". A combination of Lana's nickname from Sister Jude, "Lana Banana", and the fact that Sister Mary Eunice is a nun.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Shockingly, Dr. Arden during his suicide.
    • Sister Jude, especially after her massive Break the Haughty routine and the dirty details of her past come to light.
  • Les Yay: A small amount between Sister Mary Eunice and Lana. Interestingly, most of it is on Sister Mary Eunice's end, despite Lana being canonically lesbian.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The season ends with a flashback to Lana and Sister Jude speaking (rather civilly) as the former is about to leave the asylum (this is before she came back and ended up incarcerated for her trouble). The same song as above is playing, and after all the dreadful happenings the viewers have seen, it feels strangely peaceful.
  • Narm: Sister Mary Eunice is walking narm, what with her constant blubbering.
    • Dr. Arden puts lipstick on a statue of the virgin Mary, yells "whore" at it for a few minutes, then pushes it over.
    • Thredson: "Baby needs some colostrum." Doubles as Squick.
    • Dr. Arden's real name is Hans Gruber. It's kind of hard to establish tension when one of your characters' name sounds like a character from Die Hard.
    • The scene where Dr. Arden attempted to rape a prostitute would have been much more horrifying without the straight-faced delivery of the line "Show me your mossy bank."
    • The "evil smile" of the Virgin Mary Statue at the end of the opening credits is both this and Special Effects Failure.
  • Nausea Fuel: It might as well be called Nausea Fuel: The Show.
  • One True Threesome: Horribly subverted with Kit, Alma and Grace.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The nun featured in the poster for Asylum is Stephanie Corneliussen, who would later be know for her role as Joanna Wellick in Mr. Robot
  • Spoiled by the Format: The second season was announced to be running for 13 episodes even before the first had aired; however, this effectively spoiled that a good amount of plot were yet to come, despite several story arcs being tied up by Episode 11/"Spilt Milk".
  • Squick:
    • Doctor Arden cuts into Kit's neck. An alien chip crawls out.
    • Sister Eunice stabs a patient to death with a pair of scissors.
    • Doctor Arden cuts off Shelley's legs. We thankfully don't see this operation (our wonderful imaginations get to paint that picture for us), but we do see the aftermath and it... Well, it's not pretty to say the least. Are we starting to see a pattern here concerning Doctor Arden?
    • Lana's conversion therapy session during "I Am Anne Frank (Part 1)".
    • Dr. Thredson's furniture.
    • Dr. Thredson and the medical cadaver.
    • Thredson: "Baby needs some colostrum." Doubles as Narm.
    • Dr. Arden's famous line "Whores get nothing!"
    • The flashback where Sister Eunice stabs Sam Goodman with a mirror shard.
    • A patient cutting his wrists open on a slicer, then picking the stitches out.
    • The fantasy sequence where Sister Jude slices her wrists open with a straight razor.
    • Lana's attempt at an abortion via coat hanger.
    • Thredson and Wendy's corpse. Most, if not all, professional reviewers and recappers found themselves extremely nauseated by the scene.
    • For some, Johnny breastfeeding from a prostitute.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Better received critically than Murder House and generally regarded as the best season by the fandom.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Early on, Dr. Arden uses a drug to stop Kit's heart, as part of his Batman Gambit to draw the aliens in. Later on, after Alma is committed to Briarcliff, there's a quick cut to her dead body. The explanation is that her heart stopped working with no explanation, and Kit is present for this explanation. Considering Alma's death took place in the vicinity of Dr. Arden's lab and the scene occurs soon after Kit visits Alma in Briarcliff, it seems safe to assume he snagged some of Dr. Arden's fake-death drugs from the lab that he was already familiar with and used them to get Alma out of Briarcliff. But no, she just dies, and Kit goes on to marry another, anonymous character in the future.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Is widely considered the best season of the show to the point where it's held as the gold standard for the others to live up to.
  • Unexpected Character: It's safe to say that no one was expecting Anne fucking Frank to show up alive and well in Briarcliff.
  • Values Dissonance: Lana smoking while visibly in a late-term pregnancy. Though considering her feelings towards the baby and his father, she may not have cared anyway.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The makeup people on this show took Naomi Grossman, and managed to turn her into Pepper.
  • The Woobie: Oh God, where to start...
    • Lana. Committed for her sexuality by her own girlfriend (who in turn was blackmailed into doing so). And that is just the beginning of her trouble.
    • Shelley. Being turned into a horrific monster after a failed attempted rape.
    • Kit. Being in an interracial relationship only for his wife to get kidnapped by aliens while he himself is framed as Bloody Face. And that's just from the first two episodes.
    • Sister Mary Eunice when she's not possessed.
    • Monsignor Howard after being crucified and raped within the space of two episodes, and then being forced to Mercy Kill Mary Eunice.
    • Teresa is pretty pitiable for her sense of terror while being chased through the asylum in the present day, seeing her husband get mutilated and, ending up on Johnny's skinning table.

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