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OCT
17
2 YEARS

'American Horror Story: Asylum's' Bloody Face, Aliens, Inmates: The Facts, Burning Questions About Briarcliff

The season premiere of the FX anthology featured aliens, mad scientists, crazy nuns and Adam Levine's missing arm -- but what does it all mean?

American Horror Story Asylum EP 2 Cromwell - P 2012
Michael Becker/FX
"American Horror Story's" James Cromwell

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season two premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum.]

FX unleashed the crazy Wednesday with the second season premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum, a completely new story, setting and characters in the anthology series from Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

Exploring organized religion and social mores of the 1960s, the series stars Jessica Lange as Sister Jude, the head of Briarcliff, an institution for the criminally insane that also is home to Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) whose science is as groundbreaking as it is deadly.

The premiere, fittingly titled "Welcome to Briarcliff," opened the doors to the twisted property that makes the Harmons' haunted abode in AHS season one seem like an walk in the park. Featuring aliens, mad scientists, mysterious beasts and a crop of patients that may include a serial killer known as Bloody Face. Here's a look at the facts and burning questions from AHS: Asylum's season premiere.

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Fact: Briarcliff was built in 1908 and was a former tuberculosis ward purchased by the Catholic Church in 1962, just two years before the events that unfold in the episode. Ick factor: 46,000 people died there, and their bodies were disposed of through an underground Death Shute. As it stands in present day, it's almost completely abandoned. Legend has it that once you were committed, you never got out.
Burning question: Why did the church buy the ward and turn into an institution for the criminally insane? Do the same rules apply as season one's Murder House: die there, be trapped inside for eternity?

Fact: Don't mess with things that go bump in the night. When the "Lovers" (Adam Levine and Jenna Dewan-Tatum) explore a noise in the distance, Levine's Leo loses an arm to something living in a cell.
Burning question: What on earth was that violent creature living in the mysterious room?!

Fact: Kit's (Evan Peters) a newlywed and the Walkers are an interracial couple keeping their marriage on the down low as they navigate society's changing attitudes toward race.
Burning question: Do aliens really exist? After a romp in the sack, mysterious long-fingered aliens have their way with Kit -- throwing him against the ceiling, and apparently (hopefully?) borrowing his wife, Alma.

Fact: Sister Jude believes mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin.  
Burning question: Her beliefs are square against Dr. Arthur Arden's science approach, with Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) right in the middle and setting a stage what could be the major theme being explored in Asylum: can religion or science cure mental illness? What is mental illness? What's sane behavior? Sister Jude apparently doesn't think interracial marriage or homosexual relationships qualify.

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Fact: Grace (Lizzie Brochere) knows her way around Briarcliff and sees Kit's innocence right off the bat after he's brought to the institution as the suspected serial killer known as Bloody Face, who decapitates women and wears a mask made of human flesh.
Burning question: Like Kit, she claims not to have chopped up her family and professes her innocence and sanity. Is she really as normal and kind as she appears? Is Grace the benchmark for sanity by which the other inmates are measured?

Fact: Four patients (so far) have disappeared under Dr. Arden's watch and Sister Jude is immediately suspicious considering none of them has families who would care of their whereabouts. Arden claims they've died and been cremated (and naturally all documented in the medical records he's allegedly keeping).
Burning question: He's clearly lying as the bodies have been chopped up and fed to something he's keeping in or near (or both) Briarcliff.

Fact: Lana (Sarah Paulson) is a little too eager to get to the bottom of the Bloody Face/Briarcliff story and after she's privy to the mysterious creature living in the forest near the asylum and attacked by another bloody beast within the institution. Sister Jude blackmails Lana's girlfriend Wendy (Clea Duvall) to have her committed to treat her homosexuality after she gets a little too close to the nun's territory.
Burning question: Will Wendy come around and regret caving in to Sister Jude's threats of exposing her homosexuality and ruining the school teacher's career?

Fact: Sister Jude likes to cook and is apparently quite turned on by the good monsignor and wears red lingerie under her robes. She's putty in his hands after he backs his hiring of Dr. Arden. He tells her to stay clear of Arden's work as while he may not be a man of God in the religious sense, men of science who created the cure for TB are still seen in the same esteem.
Burning question: What will the monsignor do when Sister Jude goes too far with Arden? How much is he privy to of Arden's mad science?

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Fact: Sister Mary Eunice is kind -- and a bit of a simpleton -- and doing Arden's dirty work, including feeding what ever lives in the forest.
Burning question: Will Sister Jude take advantage of her pawn and who will Mary Eunice ultimately be loyal to at the end of the day?

Fact: Thinking that he's Bloody Face, Arden begins to study Kit, removing a strange metal-looking chip-type thing from his neck that almost immediately grows legs like a cockroach and crawls away. Gross.
Burning question: Where do we even begin with this one. What was that? Who put it there? How connected is Arden to the aliens? We're really talking about aliens here? What's Arden doing with the bottled human brains? Is he attempting to find a cure for serial killers by examining their brains? 

Fact: Sister Jude discovers a strange empty room that Arden is disinfecting. The walls, however, have what appear to be long nail scratches that at first glance appear to match the size of the aliens that first visited Kit in the opening minutes of the hour.
Burning question: What creature is Arden keeping there? How many creatures are there? Does it only eat serial killers? Is what ever is living inside the asylum the same as what's in the forest? Does Mary Eunice just get to take it out for walks?

Fact: Briarcliff's most famous resident was a serial killer named Bloody Face who apparently hasn't aged in the time between the 1960s when whomever it is first surfaced and the present day, when it has a nightmare-inducing run-in with Dewan-Tatum's character as she attempts to flee the now locked up and abandoned Briarcliff after watching Leo's attack.
Burning question: Who -- what? -- is Bloody Face and why hasn't it aged 50 years later? What happened to the institution in the 40-plus years since Sister Jude held court? Is that the same Bloody Face? Makes you miss Rubber Man, doesn't it? 

What did you think of AHS: Asylum? How do you think it compares to the first season? What are your theories about what's going on? Hit the comments with your thoughts. AHS: Asylum airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. Check out a promo for next week's episode, below.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit