American Horror Story: Asylum "I Am Anne Frank (Part 1)" Review: Making a Murderbaby (PHOTO RECAP)

By Price Peterson

Nov 09, 2012

American Horror Story S02E04: "I Am Anne Frank (Part 1)"

At this point, should we ever really be shocked by anything that American Horror Story chooses to show us? Obviously going over the top has been part of this show's DNA since its very conception, but what truly sets the series apart from the horror films to which it constantly pays tribute is its willingness to dabble in truly tasteless, tactless, and straight-up weird creative decisions. Season 1 featured a pig-headed slasher, a gimp-suited ghost rapist, the fatal hit-and-run of a girl with Down Syndrome who was wearing a "pretty girl" mask, and a scene where Connie Britton casually consumed a raw brain of indeterminate origin. Yet for me its most outrageous element was the inclusion of the Black Dahlia—and not that fact that it made America's most famous murder victim a character, but that it had the audacity to suggest her murder was related to the fictional Murder House in which the main characters resided. I mean, do what you will with fictional characters, but it's a whole other thing when you muddy the waters of an actual case. This is not a complaint, mind you; I admire audacity in most forms. It's just that American Horror Story clearly knows that there are diminishing returns when it comes to gore, rape, and jump scares, so to keep us on our toes it tramples freely into seemingly sacred territories. For example, ANNE FRANK. Yes, THAT Anne Frank.

This week's episode, "I Am Anne Frank (Part 1)," echoed Season 1's inclusion of an actual murder victim, but upped the ante big time. Seriously: ANNE FRANK. According to AHS:A, the world's most famous Holocaust victim was possibly not only alive and well in 1964, she was also possibly getting herself thrown into Briarcliff Asylum so that she could possibly point a finger at Dr. Arden whom she possibly met at AUSCHWITZ. Yes, that's in all-caps because AMERICAN HORROR STORY U CRAZY MURDERBABY.

This episode began shortly after Sister Jude's drunken, alien-encountering meltdown during last week's "Nor'easter." Roused from her presumably very elegant beauty sleep by the night watchman, she was told there'd been a self-committed patient of undetermined European descent. Guess who it was?

LOLA! No, just kidding, it was just a character played by the same actress, I know how acting works don't worry. But yeah, anyway, Franka Potente! She is great. I am going to go watch Run Lola Run RIGHT NOW BRB.

In other news, Shelley's ordeals continued. Now she was all broken out and her stumps looked sweaty. On the plus side, Dr. Arden hinted that whatever he was injecting into her temple might make her immortal? It's unclear to what extent that statement was a metaphor, but either way I took that as being a silver lining to an otherwise annoying situation.

Speaking of annoyed, Kit came into the bakery in order to bum out Grace. Apparently Dr. Arden had been a busy bee lately and had tortured HIM too.

But instead of injecting reverse-acutane invincibility serum into Kit's skull, Dr. Arden was poking around in his nether regions looking for that one robot bug. Typical late nite activities. After Kit explained all this to Grace, she did that thing where you tell a friend your problems and they try to one-up you with problems of their own? In this case she tried to cheer Kit up by talking about the time an axe murderer killed her family.

There was a scary moment during her flashback where she hid from the axe murderer in a closet only to find a pile of mom!

So yeah, that was not a good night for her. Hopefully Kit would now appreciate his situation better.

Here is a character who now totally confuses me:

I guess I had assumed that Dr. Thredson was skeptical of the practice of locking up gay people, but in retrospect he was only skeptical of shocking their brains. Fair enough. But also last week it was clear that he believed Bloody Face was on the loose still, yet this week he decided that Kit was still locked up for a good reason? Anyway, here he was offering to help Lana get out of the asylum, but in order to do so she had to undergo actual anti-gay therapy. Or something. At first I thought this was a wink-wink situation, but then it wasn't? Was this a good guy or a bad guy now? I'm confused! (As always.)

Later on in the common room, the mysterious European brunette was writing in a makeshift diary (which caused Lana to swoop in and be a hater about it) when she suddenly went ape-poopoo at the sight of Dr. Arden.

The orderlies dragged her away, and that's when she dropped the bombshell: SHE WAS ANNE FRANK! And she remembered Dr. Arden from Auschwitz because she was Anne Frank and she'd personally been in Auschwitz! Anne Frank!

Or claiming to be Anne Frank, anyway. But I chose to immediately believe her, and I wasn't alone. Even Sister Jude seemed eager to believe Anne Frank, especially after some particularly plausible flashbacks were shown:

[NOTE TO CASTING DIRECTOR: A+++]

As Anne Frank told Sister Jude, Dr. Arden operated by a different name back then, but he'd randomly select girls (or better yet, twins!) for "treatment" but they'd always return broken and abused.

At first Sister Jude halfheartedly disputed Anne Frank's story, but like I said, the combination of Anne Frank's detailed account plus Sister Jude's passionate hatred for Dr. Arden made the whole story much more convincing.

The tattoo helped also.

Anyway:

See what I'm saying? So now Dr. Thredson believed Kit wasn't an insane killer, he was merely a murderer who had gotten fed up with all the racial injustice in America. I didn't get it either. So many leaps of logic and weird reasoning.

I gotta say, hadn't Dr. Thredson witnessed enough questionable things at this asylum to safely doubt Kit's guilt? I don't know. I officially hate him now. Is he Bloody Face? I hope so.

The conversation really rattled Kit, and it was clear he'd suddenly come to suspect his own sanity. Fortunately he was able to let off steam by pounding some dough.

Whoops! Briarcliff's hottest couple were caught in the act!

You know you're in trouble when a NUN THAT IS POSSESSED BY A DEMON gets to pick out the cane for your caning. In this case Sister Eunice surprised no one by picking out the cane wrapped in BARBED WIRE. Because that is the type of cane that nuns like to keep on hand. Nun fact.

Sister Jude was not happy about their bakery fornication and she expressed her disapproval with the best line of the episode/season/world: "Are you purposely trying to make a murderbaby?" Haha TOLD. But I will admit my stomach turned a bit when she proposed that both of them be surgically sterilized. Yikes! That didn't seem fair. But anyway, before the presumably unpleasant caning got under way, Sister Jude was summoned to Dr. Arden's office where two detectives were grilling him about the hooker he'd roughed up.

This was great because I liked the notion that a lady of the night went to the police and they took her seriously, but also I liked how much Sister Jude enjoyed seeing Dr. Arden get SO busted. It particularly raised her eyebrow when the detectives reported that the hooker had found BDSM pornography AND Nazi memorabilia on Dr. Arden's dresser. I didn't recall seeing Nazi stuff during that episode, but then again my brain was once eaten by Connie Britton. But yeah, suddenly Anne Frank's story was MUCH more plausible to Sister Jude.

It seemed like the whole middle part of this episode was just backstory and montages and whatnot. So here we got Lana fantasizing about her life after the asylum, bragging about all the wonderful inmates she lived with (including a man just jerking off a ton) and all the ordeals she put up with in order to get the scoops. By this reasoning she realized she should just agree with whatever Dr. Thredson wanted to do to her in order to be released.

The scene that followed was the most outrageous combination of campiness AND heartbreaking realism this show has featured yet. Campiness because LOL OBVS, but also this gayness-aversion therapy seemed like a very real thing that used to be forced on people. I am so grateful to be living in 2012 and sitting in such a position of privilege that I can just look at scene like this and laugh, you know?

So yeah, after pumping Lana with a puke-inducing serum while making her look at pictures of sexy ladies, Dr. Thredson followed that up by bringing in a naked dude and forcing Lana to jill-off while fondling the dude's bathing suit area.

What a scene! So weird and unpleasant and sad and hilarious! Also #butts

Elsewhere, Sister Jude approached the rarely seen monsignor and attempted to tell him that she had reason to believe Dr. Arden was a former WAR CRIMINAL.

Unfortunately, her story was not helped by the admission that her #1 source was a woman claiming to be Anne Frank, nor the fact that Sister Jude had gotten wasted in front of everyone recently. But most of all her story was not helped by the fact that the monsignor was clearly a SHADY VILLAIN. He proved as much after drunk-shaming Sister Jude right out of the room, then picking up the phone to tell Dr. Arden that everyone's onto him and he should be more careful or whatever. I knew it, you handsome devil but mostly devil!

Sister Jude sought advice from her mother superior, and the mother superior was pretty rad! She too expressed frustration with the church's patriarchy and generally gave Sister Jude the kind of pep talk that might send her down a path of becoming more of a heroine? Fingers-crossed!

Another thing that demon Sister Eunice did to cause trouble for everyone was she showed Kit Grace's official records, and they offered quite a different take on her alleged crimes. Then when Kit confronted her with this new info she immediately 'fessed up.

Yeah, it was pretty much what we all suspected: Grace definitely killed her family with an axe.

I mean, this was obvious to me mostly because they couldn't ALL be wrongly accused right? But aside from being a major boner-killer for Kit, this revelation also seemed to push him over the edge into believing that maybe he too was guilty of what he'd been accused of. Then, in a truly great scene, he sobbed and pled with Sister Jude that maybe he'd been mistaken.

But the thing was—and maybe I'm reading too much into it—it seemed as though Sister Jude was already at a place where she'd come to doubt a lot of things going on around the asylum, and perhaps his earnest plea for answers convinced her more than ever that he probably wasn't guilty? How juicy & conflicting!

I'm definitely hoping that Sister Jude somehow becomes the heroine of this story and perhaps her conversion has already begun. Either way, she still seemed downright empathetic to Kit's pleas and it was nice seeing this fleeting moment of humanity between them.

What a lot of people may not know about Anne Frank is that she can and will pickpocket the gun directly out of a detective's holster if she needs to!

So after getting manhandled and thrown into Dr. Arden's lab for a bit of monsignor-directed "cleanup", Anne Frank did what so many of us had been fantasizing about ever since reading her diary: She pulled out a gun and shot a Nazi!

Interestingly enough, Dr. Arden never admitted to being who she claimed he was ("I'm from Scottsdale!"), so this episode still wanted us to question whether Anne Frank really was Anne Frank or not, but still: I loved this part.

But uh-oh, watch out Anne Frank!

OMG Shelley you look terrible girl! Honestly, we've all been here though, right? All rolling around hissing on the floor in our unmentionables with our stumps flyin'. I'm this way before I get my coffee in the morning!! Arrrghh! Love coffee. No just kidding. Shelley's a mutant now. I'm just going to go out on a limb (or stump) and say that Dr. Arden is not the best doctor. I just don't think he's doing very good work. Whoever will be writing up his annual job evaluation should definitely include mutant Shelley under "Needs Improvement."

You know what, this episode was fun but not excellent. The main reason was it was a "Part 1" so it was a lot of setup and character work—which is great when you're marathoning it, but felt very unsatisfying on its own. So, yeah. It was fine.

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK ANNE FRANK!!


QUESTIONS:

... Dr. Thredson kind of sucks right?

... Is Sister Jude headed for redemption?

... Is Grace less cute now that we know she's a maniac?

... WHERE IS PEPPER??

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  • marcusj1973 Apr 29, 2014

    "ANNE FRANK. According to AHS:A, the world's most famous Holocaust victim was possibly not only alive and well in 1964, she was also possibly getting herself thrown into Briarcliff Asylum so that she could possibly point a finger at Dr. Arden whom she possibly met at AUSCHWITZ. Yes, that's in all-caps because AMERICAN HORROR STORY U CRAZY MURDERBABY."

    When AHS integrated Black Dahlia into their story, I instantly felt mad respect. Absolutely fantastic. Now, they're going to one up the churchbell sized balls of last season to integrated Ann Frank?!? AHS, I think I love you a little.

    "What a scene! So weird and unpleasant and sad and hilarious!"

    Speaking of respect, Sarah Paulson...you've got mine. Conceptually, that scene was over the top and hilarious. Paulson's acting made it unpleasant and sad. Truly hard to watch, which in a show full of similar scenes which are easy to watch because they're so ridiculous, that's a high compliment.

  • HollyRoberts Nov 14, 2012

    Personally I didn't find the conversion therapy funny or camp at all, possibly because I couldn't help imagining myself in her place. I did think it was a brilliant scene though, and I thought that in regards to this (not the Bloody Face/Kit issue, because he dies seem to change his mind on that very strangely) Dr Thredstone's attitude makes sense. He's a psychologist in an era that calls homosexuality a mental illness; Lana shouldn't be in an insane asylum or subjected to electro-shock; on the other hand, he believes that she is ill and that it's his duty to make her well. He only later realizes what she knew all along: that (at least in her case) there is no cure.



    What really is brilliant about the scene, however, is the sickening horror I felt watching it. Most of the show is focused on supernatural or extremely cliched horror themes. This doesn't detract from the show itself; the writing is clever enough to do something interesting and unique with those themes, but set against this background is the conversion therapy - which is still happening in some conversion camps in America today. This horror story is horrifyingly real for anyone who has been told that they need to be cured of who they are. For me it was the scene of the show so far (baring in mind that I have not seen the first series).

  • LarissaPeixot Nov 13, 2012

    Did not see the hilariousness of the aversion/conversion therapy. Sad, disturbing, unpleasant, painful, all of it. Nothing funny about it.

  • emmairis Nov 10, 2012

    the younger version of dr.Arden is played by James Cromwell's son himself... amazing resemblance explained

  • BrookeDsBaby Nov 10, 2012

    Since this show kind of teases the next season before-hand. Does anyone else think that a concentration camp might be where next season is set or would that be too depressing and/or too real of a place to make crazy, ridiculous things happen.

  • smorbie Nov 12, 2012

    I would hate to see it go there. That's not just tasteless; it's sacrosanct

  • BrookeDsBaby Nov 10, 2012

    I've got to say, I'm loving this season way more than last. Last season I felt like AHS operated in waves of "really good" and "mostly set-up" but I've been really enjoying every episode of this season. Obviously this season is completely different from last which is why not everyone is going to like it but that's what I love about it. I feel confident that next season will be something entirely different that we haven't seen before.

  • TrueTvWatcher Nov 10, 2012

    I liked the episode and the gritty character development scenes. I like the drama and intrigue and while not horrific in a spooky sense, the atrocities committed against fellow human beings was horrific!

  • 2muchbadTV Nov 10, 2012

    I agree with the comment below that this is not so much American Horror Story as it is American Depressing Story. At this point, I'm rooting for the Aliens and the demon to figure out by season's end that they basically have nothing to do because the Asylum doesn't need their help, leaving a note saying "Sorry, going somewhere else, this place is MESSED UP, even for us."

  • CarolinaPiazz Nov 12, 2012

    I agree... most of the horror of the story this season is the sick human behavior, mostly between the staff of the asylum. The aliens and the demon kinda feel okay next to them.

  • CameronCole Nov 10, 2012

    This show is all over the place and introduces new concepts ridiculously fast. I cannot tell if this show is great work all around or an episode of Jackass that has gone off the deep end. I guess either way I am getting entertained.

  • mad-pac Nov 09, 2012

    Hey, where can I get the "Dominique" CD or mp3? I want to play it continuously on my iPod.

  • KateSullivan Nov 10, 2012

    Sadly, I believe this is from the soundtrack of the Singing Nun. I now hang my head in shame that I think that might actually be true.

  • smorbie Nov 12, 2012

    It is true. Does anybody know what the song is about?

  • smorbie Nov 12, 2012

    I answered my own question. It's about Saint Dominique. Here are the English lyrics:

    In English:



    Dominique -inique -inique went about simply,

    a poor singing traveller.

    On every road, in every place,

    he talks only of the Good Lord,

    he talks only of the Good Lord.



    Knowing it's about a saint, I now hate that I hate the song so much.

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