AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM Episode Recap: “Continuum”

     January 17, 2013

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We’re getting down to the wire and running out of living characters on FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum.  Tonight we bid fond farewells to three more souls: one was a surprise, two of them died a second time and one of them was simply brushed aside with nary an explanation.  This episode was also a bit more toned down than we’re used to (well, for this show anyway) so I’m expecting them to lay it all on the table in next week’s season finale.

American Horror Story: Asylum stars Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe, along with newcomers Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Chloe Sevigny, Lizzie Brochere and Clea Duvall.  Hit the jump for the recap and review of tonight’s episode, “Continuum.”

evan-peters-american-horror-story-asylum[You have entered spoiler territory.  Turn back now or commit yourself to the insanity.]

Tonight’s episode might have been the most linear of the season.  With only three major plot points to focus on, “Continuum” was very nearly broken into three explicit sections delineated by time (four if you count Johnny’s modern-day sojourn to the friendly neighborhood book store at the end).  So let’s take them in the order they came, shall we?

It’s 1967 and Kit, Grace and Alma are all getting along just swell in their quiet suburban home…except for the racist cops and rednecks down the street, the ongoing tension between Kit’s live-in lovers and Grace’s Close Encounters-style obsession with the alien abduction/Alma’s repression of the whole thing.  But every non-nuclear family has their issues right? Best to just bury the hatchet and be done with it.  (I had to.)  So with Grace cleaved in two and Alma mysteriously passing away in the state-run Briarcliff, Kit is left alone to raise his two kids…but not until tying up a couple loose ends.

Evan Peters made a great run in season one and continues to be a solid moral anchor (ehhh mostly) in season two.  It’s Kit who ties the three smaller segments of “Continuum” together across time as the middle section takes us back to Briarcliff in 1968.  Without Monsignor/Cardinal Timothy Howard around, Jude/Betty Drake begins to lose her bearings in the ever-changing asylum.  This was a nice sequence to show Jude’s rapidly dwindling sanity as two-and-a-half years have passed her by as quickly as we might remark two-and-a-half days.  Pepper has unceremoniously* passed away (poor Pepper) and the Monsignor reneged on his promise to rescue Jude.  This realization all dawns on the former head of the asylum in a meeting with Dr. Crump (really?) after Jude’s repeated fights with her new roommates.  I’m always happy to see Frances Conroy return, either in her role as the Angel of Death or as one of Jude’s hallucinations.  Not the strongest bit for her here though, it felt forced, as did the weak thruline of racism that started with Kit and Alma’s talk of the Civil Rights march and ended with the television announcement of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The times, they are a’changin’!

american-horror-story-sarah-paulsonChronologically, after Kit happens upon Jude in the asylum and has a nonsensical conversation with her, he takes issue with Lana’s behavior and lack of follow-up on her promise to expose the evils of Briarcliff.  Paulson once again does a fantastic job with the wide-ranging emotions of Lana Winters.  She’s now embellishing her stories to boost sales, ordering her assistant around with ridiculous demands and even looking to glorify another serial killer for her next book.  Kit, ever the connective tissue in this story, drives away in that sweet rusted-out truck of his to reveal Johnny getting high as a kite in the present day. It seems that things might not end so well for Lana after all, if Johnny has anything to say about it.

Rating: 6/10 whacks, which is a bargain if you’re Lizzie Borden’s family.  This was one of your typical ducks-in-a-row-before-you-shoot-them-down penultimate episodes.

So next week, in the season two conclusion, “Madness Ends,” I’m guessing we’ll see Jude escape from Briarcliff one way or the other (I’ll take odds on the Flying Nun angle).  We also presumably get to see a showdown between contemporary Bloody Face/Johnny and his mother, Lana Winters (or is it…?).  How exactly this all ends up, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a tie back to season one.

Looking ahead at season three, however, if the comments are any indication, you guys seem convinced that we’re going to be conjuring up some witchcraft later this year.  I didn’t see anything glaring in this episode that convinced me one way or the other.  (I’ll go out on a limb here and say that maybe we are headed to Washington, D.C. – there’s certainly plenty of ill will to be found there, plus “Continuum” had a certain “Vietnam” vibe to it.  Witches, Black Panthers, hippies and Vietnam veterans in our nation’s capital? We’ll see.)  If you spotted something or heard something that makes you think season three will be all about witches (or something else entirely), let us know in the comments below!  Come back next week when we review the last episode of season two, do a retrospective on the season and a look ahead to season three!

jessica-lange-american-horror-story-asylumQuotes & Miscellanea:

  • I liked a lot of the camera inversions throughout the episode that really started to mess with the viewer’s perception of space and time and reality.
  • Julia: “Daddy?” Kit, covered in blood: “Daddy’ll be there in a minute.”
  • I hope Richard Dreyfuss somehow stumbles across Grace’s alien drawings and loses his mind.
  • Grace: “I’m not doing it for me, but for the children.  They need to know where they came from.”
  • Kit: “I’ll do anything I have to to protect them.”
  • Kit: “Let’s have a family meeting.”
  • Grace, moments before taking an ax to the spine: “The future is coming, Kit, no matter what.”
  • Jude/Betty: “I’m the Queen of Candy Land.”
  • Jude: “The cruelest thing of all, Timothy, is false hope.”
  • Lana: “Didn’t I ask you to pack almonds? And this TAB is warm!”
  • Lana: “I just sold the film rights.  What do you think of Tuesday Weld as me?”
  • Kit: “You were gonna be a reporter, not a celebrity.”  Lana: “Things change, people change.”
  • Jude: “Move! Time for my story.”
  • Jude watching The Flying Nun: “Sister Bertrille, she’s got the devil in her.  She stole my hat.  That’s how she managed to fly out of here.  What they don’t know? I can fly without it. I’ma fly my ass right out of here!”
  • Johnny: “You’re gonna give me that book, because it’s my fate.”
  • *I now try to use “unceremoniously” only when describing this particular show!

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