Compared to episode one’s frantic and fast-paced season opener, “Trick or Treat” and “Nor’easter” are both less chaotic and much more focused and intense. Any doubts regarding “Asylum” is assuaged as the suspense and freakiness of the second and third episodes add tons to the mystery and madhouse that is Briarcliff.
Picking up seconds after the last episode, Teresa catches a glimpse of Bloody Face and makes a desperate attempt to save her one-armed husband Leo. It’s just too bad that Teresa fails at dragging her husband to safety, leaving Leo in the hands of the serial killer.
Back in 1964, we are introduced to Dr. Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto), a psychiatrist who is the only truly “normal” member on the show (so far). Thredson is sent to evaluate Kit Walker. He’s appalled by the decrepit conditions of the asylum and disgusted by the kind of medieval practices that the staff still administers, such as electroshock therapy and exorcisms. It’s also revealed quite early on in the episode that the real Bloody Face is still out there, murdering women—his latest victim being Lana’s lesbian lover. This is enough to prove that Kit isn’t Bloody Face, but it seems as though word hasn’t reached anyone that they’ve got the wrong man. The alien allusion in the last episode is confirmed as Kit swears to Thredson that he’s sane, innocent, and that Alma is alive and taken by aliens. Scenes of the interview are intercut with Thredson writing a report on the manipulative and unstable nature of Kit. As of the end of “Nor’easter,” the good doctor is still stuck at the asylum, waiting for the storm to end.
“American Horror Story” is also known for being provocative and sexy, and there are no shortages of bare-bottoms and seduction in these two episodes. Lana and Grace spend some quality bath time together, plotting a way to escape the asylum. Grace wants to bring Kit, but Lana is adamant on leaving the serial killer behind. When eventually presented with an opportunity to escape, Kit wants to come and Lana is forced into going. In hindsight, Lana’s move was made for the greater good, but the result isn’t what she bargained for. Ever the sadist, Sister Jude rewards Lana by letting her pick out the canes that’ll be used to whip Grace and Kit’s bare-buttocks.
The biggest shocker of “Trick or Treat” has got to be the fact that Dr. Arden is even more insane and twisted than first let on. The psychopath hires a call girl that resembles Sister Eunice, who Dr. Arden has a strange affinity for. Instead of having sex with the call girl, Dr. Arden has her dress up in nun robes. The unlucky woman eventually discovers a collection of black and white photos that suggest Dr. Arden is very closely tied with Bloody Face. He also gives away hints while interrogating Kit that he might have been a Nazi doctor.
Sister Jude also receives a new patient: a boy whom the parents claim is possessed by a demon. An exorcist is called in, and while Dr. Thredson objects, he agrees to sit in. There is an immediate dislike between Thredson and Sister Jude, as they represent opposing ends of science and religion. No matter how much the audience wants to side with Thredson, Sister Jude has the last laugh as the boy is indeed possessed by a demon—one that seems to specialize in spilling the dirty secrets of everyone around him. The demon shows flashbacks that reveal Sister Jude was no more than a town floozy, and she only became a nun within the recent months, after committing a heinous crime that should have landed her in jail. In “Nor’easter” we see her being tortured and literally haunted by her past, and Sister Jude turns to the bottle and runs into something more creepy than herself in the asylum hallways—an alien-looking creature that proves Kit isn’t insane.
The boy being exorcised inevitably dies despite Monsignor Howard’s desperate attempt to drown out the demon with holy water, and nobody seems to notice or put two and two together as Sister Eunice gets knocked out the same time the demon “leaves” the boy. She later throws herself at Arden in the most raunchy, un-nun-like way possible, causing Arden to show anger and, wait for it—helplessness at the sight of what he considered most pure to be corrupted by Briarcliff. The best part so far this season is seeing Sister Eunice’s transformation, and it’s clear the devil in her is going to wreak havoc in the asylum. Her possession by the devil seems playful at first, until one of the patients sniffed out the devil in her and Sister Eunice had to take action herself, resulting in the first on-screen kill of the season, and a bloody one at that too.
“Nor’easter” also shows, in detail, the creatures that live outside Briarcliff: savage, undead monsters made of mismatched body parts with a voracious appetite for human flesh. Kit, Grace and Lana make another plot to escape during the storm of episode three, but after encountering several of the creatures in the woods, they have no choice but to run back to the asylum. It becomes pretty clear from then on that even if they do escape, they might end up losing their lives and limbs on the outside.
Shelley the nympho deserves an honorable mention as she spews out a surprisingly eloquent speech at Dr. Arden regarding gender inequality, how much she hates the word “slut,” and for her sacrifice to help the others escape, resulting in her “clipped wings.”
The story of “the lovers” comes to an end in “Nor’easter” as it is revealed that there’s a group pretending to be Bloody Face in the abandoned asylum, but what none of them realize is that the real Bloody Face is alive and amongst them. “Nor’easter” is more of a filler episode, answering some questions from “Trick or Treat” but creating more conflict and setting the scene for the upcoming episodes.