Does most of what happens in “Tricks and Treats” stem from what happened in the premiere of the season? No. Does it seem to jive with the logic of what we’ve seen so far? No. Is there anything that American Horror Story: Asylum won’t do to get a rise out of the viewer? No.
Like always, your enjoyment of this show really depends on how much you put into it. If you’re not ready to get out there, if you can’t simply watch a television show without critiquing its flaws, then you probably won’t find “Tricks and Treats”, or any other American Horror Story episode, appealing because it’s so crazy and nonsensical that your mind will explode in a geyser thanks to all the “what-the-hell-was-that?” thoughts.
American Horror Story has never been particularly candid with its approach to storytelling; it generally throws everything out into the open, hoping that the ravenous fans will devour anything even resembling a story. It’s no surprise, then, that “Tricks and Treats” is so forthcoming with its themes; it practically writes it on the wall with blood. Dr. Arden doesn’t like whores, and he says so; not only that, but an extended scene where he purchases some physical fulfillment personifies this idea, even forcing the poor girl to dress up like a nun.
And there’s nothing like having a lesbian ogling another naked woman’s behind to drive home the point that, yes, she is a lesbian after all! As though I was having trouble identifying it before, here’s another reference to it.
I think that much of the time, American Horror Story: Asylum can be summed up using positive/negative, so let’s give this a try.
Positive: We get lots of nudity, including Evan Peters’ butt again, as well as Lizzie Brocheré’s derriere.
Negative: It’s not necessary in the least, and it feels like AHS simply wanted to get some publicity from it.
Positive: “Tricks and Treats” explores talking points about women’s treatment in the ’60s.
Negative: There’s nothing like an entirely blatant script to make these ideas obvious. The episode comes back to this again, and again, and again, until there’s not really anything more to milk out of it. If you missed the first connotations of this theme, you won’t miss them the next four times until the episode ends. And who knows? Maybe AHS will continue to explore this one idea over and over again.
Positive: It seems like we will get to see more of the present with that whole Adam Levine/Bloodyface incident.
Negative: It’s in this episode for maybe 30 seconds, and for no reason.
Positive: This episode flies by thanks to a particularly engrossing storyline about a kid possessed by the Devil. It’s explosive, action-packed, and it steals all of the best parts from every other possession film. Even the kid is convincing, and the changing of voices works great.
Negative: This all comes out of nowhere, seems to have nothing to do with alien invasion and creatures in the woods and Bloodyface, and appears to be another mystery that probably won’t get solved now that the demon has moved from the kid to Sister Mary Eunice. If the show wasn’t complex enough already, it sure is now.
Everything that “Tricks and Treats” does well is set off by what it does poorly. Still, I had a lot more fun with this episode than I did with the season premiere, and if the show can maintain the level of excitement that the exorcism scene contained, I might not be so brutally honest with myself about how inane most of the story is. But that means that AHS: Asylum has to hit the same highs, which is unlikely seeing as every positive is often followed by a negative.