[This article contains SPOILERS about seasons 1 and 2 of the FX show “American Horror Story.”]
People who watch “American Horror Story” know the show loves to turn the tables, but when season 1 was coming to a close, fans weren’t prepared for show creator Ryan Murphy to announce that the next season would be a different story, setting, and plot. Instead of the Harmon family’s haunted Murder House in modern-day California, season 2, Asylum, would feature a 1964 Boston institution for the criminally insane run by nuns. And bringing the whole “turning the tables” thing to its extreme, returning cast members would play characters in many ways opposite to their Murder House roles.
Definitely the case for Evan Peters, who played killer/ghost Tate Langdon in Murder House. (Click here to read yesterday’s story in this seven part series on Evan Peters, about his season 1 character Tate.) Asylum began with Peters’ character Kit Walker accused of, and incarcerated for, being a killer, Bloody Face, who skins his victims. At one point, Briarcliff staff, with the help of Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto), almost convince Kit that he actually committed the crimes. Which, of course, he didn’t.
He’s treated badly, especially by Briarcliff’s matron, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), not only because he’s thought to be a brutal killer, but also because he married a black woman, Alma (Britne Oldford), who authorities believe to be dead at Kit’s hands. As Kit knows, she’s been abducted by aliens, and she’s expecting. Eventually, he’s exonerated.
During his asylum stay, Kit also impregnates Grace (Lizzie Brochere), and the aliens take her too but return both women to him in one of the season’s final episodes. The five live together happily until Alma, who wants to forget her alien experience, freaks out because Grace insists the aliens made their children gifted and will return. Alma kills Grace, leaving Kit to raise the children.
By this time, Sister Jude has been committed in her own institution and, under the influence of the intense shock therapy and psychotic drugs, has lost her mind. Kit forgives her, gets her out, and takes her home to be Grandma to his kids until her death shortly thereafter.
In a Baltimore Sun interview, Peters talks about Murphy telling him that “Kit was going to be completely different than Tate. For some reason, I thought it was going to be sunshine and rainbows. I don’t know what I was thinking. [Laughs.] Kit goes through a lot of torture but it’s what you sign up for as an actor.” As Peters describes to Tom O’Neil of Gold Derby in a Google Hangouts interview, “Kit [is] a very compassionate guy and has a lot of empathy and very much the opposite of Tate last season, so it was very cool to play that.”
While Murphy talked about the evil Tate getting his comeuppance at the end of Murder House (as discussed in yesterday’s article on Peters), in an Xfinity blog interview, Murphy talks about good guy Kit getting his redemption, saying, “Kit got a very strange, happy ending. That character was very influenced by Richard Dreyfus in the last scene in ‘Close Encounters’ where he gets off and he will probably live forever. I always imagined that as a happy ending.”
Peters called Murphy a visionary (in a Huffington Post article), saying, “He gets visions and ideas and impulses and sort of goes on them. He tells you what he’s seeing and you sort of have to relay that.”
Many have speculated on why Kit was chosen by the aliens. Caroline, in her blog, brings up an excellent point, which is that the aliens could give offspring “incredible talents” but probably “could not manufacture emotional intelligence.” And Kit, forward-thinking enough to enter an interracial marriage at a time it wasn’t accepted and empathetic enough to care for Jude, the woman who’d caned his bare bottom, proves his moral superiority, something the aliens identified before the season even started. Grace explains to Alma in episode 2.12 that Kit was chosen for his open-mindedness.
Alicia Lutes brings up (in a Hollywood.com article) the interesting theory that the entire alien subplot is a “foil” for the season’s overt religious themes – how this subplot, on the fringes of the season and never fully explored – threw people off but was, in fact, as “brilliant” as audiences have come to expect from Murphy and his team. How believers in aliens are often as zealous as the devoutly religious about something that is intangible and how Kit became the “moral compass and guiding light” and “savior” of the season.
More evidence that Lutes may be on the right track? How about the fact that Kit allows himself to be killed by Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) for the chance to see Alma again – willing to sacrifice his very life – only to be resurrected? Death and resurrection. Sure sounds like a savior. And with the implication of Kit as Christ, Murphy succeeds in casting Peters as the exact opposite of his season 1 character, who fathered the Anti-Christ.
What does Murphy have in store for Peters for the show’s third season, Coven? That’s going to have to remain a mystery a bit longer.
Click below to read other articles in this 8 part series:
- Part 1 – Who is Evan Peters?
- Part 2 – Life before “American Horror Story”
- Part 3 – Tate Langdon, the devil you want to know
- Part 5 – You mean he doesn’t really love Violet?
- Part 6 – Onscreen with his sweetheart
- Part 7 – Coven, X-Men and ‘Safelight’
- Part 8 – ‘Lazarus Effect’ opens Friday