Call me a prude, but my monocle must have fallen off my face and into a steaming pile of synthetic intestines six or seven times last night. I haven’t the constitution to handle skin-removing aliens, misogynist serial killers, woodland flesh beasts and Anne Frank on the same show! Oh yes, Anne Frank is on American Horror Story: Asylum now, or at least a deeply disturbed woman who claims to be Anne Frank, has a concentration camp tattoo and is actually played by Franka Potente this time. Oh Holy Mary, Mother of Ryan Murphy! I thought this episode had a series of jaw-dropping moments that made me rear back in horror, so I thought I’d try to break down the recap around those particular visuals:
1. Anne Frank Journaling: A mysterious woman arrived at Briarcliff on an involuntary psych hold after getting in a bar brawl over an anti-Semitic remark. “I stabbed them. They lived,” she gloats to a dubious Sister Jude. Next time we see her, the woman is writing in her journal in the Briarcliff common room. Because she’s Anne Frank. Her journal is even named Kitty. Oh lord, Anne Frank was a real person. It just isn’t done! Am I being too delicate about this? I don’t totally hate the idea of an adult Anne Frank living in Sixties America, drinking and beating up anti-Semites (that seems like a graphic novel I would enjoy), though you’d think after living a secret life in America for almost 20 years she would know not to get into public fistfights. It’s a good thing she got committed, though. One look at Dr. Arden and Anne fingers him as a Nazi war criminal. Yeah, that feels about right.
2. Dr. Arden’s Operation: Speaking of dear Arthur, he’s been busy committing horrible medical crimes against his current patients. After a tight shot of Shelly‘s painfully scarred, hot-dog-looking amputation nubs writhing in agony, Arden administers a shot to her already blistered skull. It’s the worst. “Am I going to die?” Shelly whispers. “Not exactly. After this, you’ll probably live forever, ” Arden replies. So . . . no? Later we see Arden frantically trying to locate the sentient widget he removed from Kit’s neck. “Did it crawl back inside you?” he demands in a panic. “Through which orifice?” Oh jeez. Watch those holes, Kit!
3. The Holocaust Flashback: Oh god, guys. I’m struggling to stay upright typing this. It there anything more gauche than a Ryan Murphy Holocaust flashback? It’s just the gauchest Holocaust flashback imaginable. After attacking Arden, Anne Frank sits down with Sister Jude, who attempts to dissuade Anne from her extremely inappropriate delusion. “Your story is indecent,” Jude intones. I’ll say! Instead, Anne explains how she survived Bergen-Belsen (Oh god), decided not to alert her father that his daughter survived because “he had a new family ” (What? Good Christ) and lived an anonymous life in America so as to not ruin the legacy of the 15-year-old martyr whose diary teaches school children why they should care about the Shoah. Oh, also Anne totally saw Dr. Arden at Auschwitz, where he performer horrific experiments on those imprisoned inside. (We know it’s Auschwitz because it’s in black-and-white, like everything was in those days.) (Oh boy.) Given the extent of her knowledge, is it worse or better if Anne’s just a mental patient? If this was any other show, I’d say we would inevitably find out she’s delusional, but I don’t know. I just don’t know. Eventually, Sister Jude starts to come around to Anne’s way of thinking. Arden certainly seems evil enough to have been a Nazi war criminal, and then two police detectives show up to reveal that Arden both owns Nazi memorabilia and is a suspect in the Bloody Face killings. “Kit Walker . . . does he seem like the kind of guy who has the surgical skill to remove her skin? And her head?” they posit to Sister Jude. So Sister Mary Sex Worker came through after all! If anything happens with this plotline, I’m considering her the show’s true hero. (In addition to Anne Frank, of course.)
4. Grace‘s Disemboweled Stepmother: Grace has been given short shrift in the plot department, so it’s nice to see her watch her parents get butchered in a green-colored flashback scene. Well, not nice. Watching Grace discover the gory, rope-like pile that used to be her stepmom was not nice at all. After explaining to Kit how she was framed by her sister and her lover Red, Grace and Kit make passionate, dry, four-second love on a table used to make bread dough. That people eat! As punishment (and because the devil lives inside her body), Sister Mary Eunice leaves Grace’s case file for Kit to peruse. Turns out Grace did straight-up axe murder her father and stepmother, but only because they were horrible child-molesting monsters. Kit chooses to believe her, though of course he’s doing a lot of that these days . . .
5. Kit‘s False Memories: Based on their sessions, Dr. Thredson has come to the conclusion that instead of being a serial killer, Kit is actually the victim . . . the victim of a brutish society that, uh, made him kill a bunch of ladies and then make up a story about aliens. Dr. Thredson offers to lie and testify that Kit is actually cray in order to help him avoid the death penalty, but only if Kit will let Thredson convince him that he did commit those murders, ostensibly because having a secret black wife made him homicidal. Lord. As a result, we have to bare witness to a grotesque false flashback in which Kit brutally punches Alma in the face until she dies. Are we going to find out that Dr. Thredson isn’t even a court-appointed therapist now? I wouldn’t be surprised after seeing . . .
6. Dr. Thredson‘s Experiment: This scene struck me as the most horrifying of all. Anne Frank is at least the badass my middle-school self would hope she would be, and we’ve certainly seen what looks like the inside of a stepmom before. But this? Ugh. After seeing a vivid hallucination of her bright, Pulitizer-winning future, Lana decides to undergo treatment to cure her of the “sickness” of homosexuality, which will then allow Dr. Thredson to lobby for her release. Despite the fact that Dr. Thredson 1., knows Briarcliff is a pit of abuse and 2., has already agreed to lie to a court about Kit, he has Lana actually go through Aversion/Conversion therapy to address her lesbianism. First, Thredson administers a nausea-inducing drug while showing Lana sexy photos of women, including a boudoir photo of Wendy he took from Lana’s home. What is wrong with this guy? As far as we know, Wendy is dead, and Thredson is the only who realized it! (Oh, is he Bloody Face?) After the slideshow, Thredson encourages Lana to grope fellow inmate/excellent butt-haver Daniel while masturbating. Needless to say, this does not automatically turn Lana straight, and she vomits once again. Part of me did want her to fake it ’til she makes it, though. How awful could his wiener be? Just push through it, girl! The next day Thredson apologizes for making Lana touch a boner and returns Wendy’s photo as a peace offering. Now Lana and Thredson are best friends again, and he vows to get her out by the end of the week. With the way things are going, I take that to mean Thredson will be ending up in . . .
7. Dr. Arden‘s Examining Room: Guys, at the end of the episode Dr. Arden slaps Anne Frank across the face and into a filing cabinet. Unacceptable! After Monsignor Timothy called and told him to ditch his Nazi paraphernalia, Arden seems intent on taking Anne Frank out of the picture to avoid any possible accusations made against him. Good thing Anne Frank has a gun! Guys, I liked that Anne Frank stole a police officer’s gun and shot Arden in the leg. I liked it too much. I’m part of the problem! “Go to hell,” Arden gasps. “I’ve already been there,” Anne Frank spits back. Yeah, I think I have to go to confession to seek forgiveness for how much I liked this scene. As Arden howls in pain, Anne Frank unlocks the door to the creature room, revealing . . . a hideous, sore-covered Shelly crawling across the floor. “Kill me,” Shelly pleads. So is Shelly the being that lives in the room in modern times? Did Arden’s potion actually make her live forever? Is there any way Ryan Murphy won’t pull a switcheroo and have Anne Frank revealed to be just a regular ol’ mentally ill woman? Go big or go home, Murphy. Go big . . . or go home.
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