Over the course of the last few weeks, I watched the second season of American Horror Story after having been assured by its fans that it was better than the first season, which featured Dylan McDermott crying and masturbating in the early episodes and was generally mediocre.
Unfortunately, I found the second season about as mediocre for similar reasons.
The writers did absolutely nothing to make you care about any of the characters, including Kit Walker, arguably the only “good guy” in the show. None of them were likable. You have to like the characters to care about what happens to them, and in horror, very bad things are supposed to happen to them. One gets possessed by the Devil, one gets raped, many get killed horribly, etc, and it wasn’t the least bit affecting. The reporter character was simply venal and without charm; sister Jude lacked pathos despite piddling late-season efforts to achieve it; and Bloody Face, once unmasked, lacked menace.
It was a mishmash of horror themes that lacked a single unifying thread. Alien abductions, demonic possession, Nazi experiments, and serial killers: all thrown against the wall, and none of them stuck. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the Devil thinks about Gray aliens kidnapping people and experimenting on them? You won’t find it here. Despite that the story took place, for the most part, in an asylum, they barely touched on an extremely important theme: perception vs reality. Crazy people and people on drugs often perceive reality as different from what it actually is. That idea could have been used to show insanity. It didn’t. There was very little madness in the madhouse.
The show suffered from some very clumsy storytelling elements that should have been taken out. When the reporter character escapes from Bloody Face, she just happens to get into a car with a crazy, suicidal man? Really? That was the best way the writers could think of to bring her back to the asylum? Didn’t make sense. The subplot with Ian McShane was entertaining, but only because Ian McShane was in it. Certain characters just dropped off the face of the show for long periods without rhyme or reason. Story arcs ended abruptly. We don’t get closure in real life, so we want it in our fiction. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that here.
The ending was banal and without surprise or tension. While it was nice to see Dylan McDermott with his clothes on, his character lacked menace, and it was obvious what would happen to him in the end. The alien kids end up becoming a lawyer and a doctor, respectively. The Nazi self-immolates. Kit gets beamed up. By then, I didn’t care.
The show did have one bright spot: the Angel of Death. She was awesome. I loved every scene with her in it, even though she was underutilized as a character.