'American Horror Story: Asylum' Recap: Instincts Are Everything - Rolling Stone
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‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Recap: Instincts Are Everything

The identities of Anne Frank and Bloody Face are revealed

James CromwellJames Cromwell

James Cromwell as Dr. Arthur Arden in 'American Horror Story'

So it wasn’t Anne Frank after all. OR WAS IT? No, I don’t believe it was. AND YET. Before we learn the “true” identity of Anne, however, Sister Jude pays a visit to Mr. Goodman, a kindly Jewish gentleman who I believe is a trained assassin. He explains Operation Paper Clip, a great plan that involved bringing Nazi scientists to America to mutilate our nation’s Chloe Sevignys in a windowless room. Or to build rockets or something, I don’t know.

“Instincts are everything. We ignore them at our peril,” Goodman tells Jude, explaining that the Nazi expatriates are recognizable by the blood type tattoo on their chests. Cue Mary Eunice‘s satanic sex drive! Back at the ranch, Anne Frank has a gun to (probably Nazi war criminal) Dr. Arden‘s head, but is quickly disarmed by the security guard. Anne tells Sister Jude about the horrible monster (a/k/a Shelly) she saw in Dr. Arden’s office. Jude has his office searched but finds no horrible, sore-covered evidence to throw in Arden’s face. We learn later that Sister Mary Eunice took the liberty of dragging Shelly to the woods, like the good evil sidekick she is. Then Anne Frank’s husband shows up.

Okay, so it turns out Anne Frank’s real name is Charlotte Brown (née Cohen). She didn’t so much escape a concentration camp as she, um, gave herself a concentration camp tattoo at home. She’s crazy-obsessed with the Holocaust, guys! Personally I found the grainy flashbacks to Charlotte’s growing obsession and slowly deteriorating home life creepy, but that dumb theremin ruined it for me every time. “It was like she wanted to relive it,” Charlotte’s horrified white-bread husband breathes. Sister Jude is more than happy to check Charlotte out into her husband’s care, but Dr. Buttinski – I mean, Dr. Thredson – thinks Charlotte should be held and treated for postpartum psychosis. Did Thredson literally invent that diagnosis? This has to be its earliest known usage.

Meanwhile, both Grace and Kit are to be sterilized as punishment for having sex for, like, two seconds on the dough counter. Mary Eunice tells Kit he’s gotten a reprieve, but Grace is not so lucky. She has a mediocre freak-out in her cell, then wakes to find a shining light, a motorized thrum and a MOTHERFUCKING ALIEN running up to her, waving its praying mantis arms. Dr. Thredson convinces Kit to record himself confessing to the murders he’s been accused of, so of course Kit gets arrested for confessing to the murders.

Meanwhile, in a goddamn spaceship somewhere, a pregnant Alma visits Grace in an all-white room. Grace’s stomach is slashed and she screams. (Ten bucks says she is going to get pregnant in some kind of immaculate conception/alien baby situation.) Murder, sterilization… maybe the aliens really are just a bizarre manifestation of impending trauma? LOL, j/k. Ryan Murphy had better come through with some actual aliens or I will stumpify him so fast…

After Charlotte is released, Dr. Arden tells Sister Jude he will ruin her. God, he’s cocky for a doctor caring for a forest of cannibal mutants. And how come no one else seems to have seen these mutants on the grounds yet? Knowing that Monsignor Timothy will side with Arden no matter his accusation, Sister Jude decides to pack her bags, slip into some nice red lingerie and go get laid. (On a related note, if I ever have to audition for anything, I’m going to give Sister Jude’s baby squirrel monologue.) “Men are never going to accept a woman taking charge, especially a woman as strong as you are,” the guard tells her. Jude wakes the next morning beside a stranger before sneaking out silently to her new life.

While she’s gone, Arden performs a brutal ice pick lobotomy on Charlotte, turning her into a grinning, well-manned Stepford wife who is totes going to smother her baby in its sleep. At least we get to see a photo of Arden in S.S. regalia in Charlotte’s possession (ostensibly how she recognized him at Briarcliff) before she totally loses it, but did anyone really doubt whether he was a Nazi to begin with? Across town, a very much alive Shelly finally crawls out onto a playground, terrifying a group of children but hopefully alerting the authorities to the cavalcade of horrors going on behind the doors of Briarcliff. Oh, wait… unless Dr. Arden made her sign a document…

Oh, and Dr. Thredson is Bloody Face. Surprise! I guess I wasn’t suspicious enough about the only semi-stable, reasonably decent human being in the series. Did you guys see this one coming? Thredson manages to whisk Lana out of Briarcliff just as he promised, taking her to his home with plans to go to the police in the morning. Unfortunately, it turns out that Thredson has a lampshade made out of human skin, and the candy dish… well, it’s a goddamn human skull. Lana attempts to escape, but instead blunders into Thredson’s workshop, which is littered with flesh and terrifying metal edges. Thredson drops her down a chute, and Lana awakens to find herself chained to the ground next to Wendy’s frozen body. “I was hoping she’d be more pliable when you came too,” Thredson intones before slipping on his Bloody Face mask. Then Thredson, um, forces Lana to make out with her dead partner’s corpse, from which Thredson has removed the teeth. Luckily we don’t have to see it.

Here is where I had the problem with this week’s installment. Charlotte’s lobotomy, Shelly’s stumps, Grace’s bleeding womb, Wendy’s toothless jaw, Lana’s chained leg: the episode carried more than a whiff of torture porn, and there wasn’t one act of violence visited on a man to break it up the monotony. Kit came the closest, but even he and his serial-killer wiener were spared at the last second. We didn’t even get a caned butt! At least some of the ladies are going to persevere (I hope!), but still. Having female flesh be the sole recipient of the show’s many, many horrors is so terribly ordinary. I have higher expectations for Mr. Ryan Murphy than that. Mainly because of the aliens.

Last Episode: Your Story Is Indecent

In This Article: American Horror Story


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