‘AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM’ RECAP – 2.04 “I AM ANNE FRANK, PT.I”

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There’s a new patient at Briar Cliff, and her name is Anne Frank. You’ve probably heard the name before, maybe from history class or the 1959 movie The Diary of Anne Frank. She was a young Jewish girl who was forced into hiding in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her diary was published in 1947 and chronicled the harrowing events of the time. History says she died in 1945. This woman, claiming to be the real Anne Frank, (played by Franka Potente, of “Run Lola Run” and Matt Damon’s love interest in the first 2 Bourne movies. Wait, Franka is Frank?)  insists on the contrary that she was able to escape the atrocities of Auschwitz, eventually meeting a soldier to whom she married and moved to America. And now, after assaulting a couple of men for making an anti-Semitic remark, wound up at Briar Cliff.

Sister Jude was skeptical, “You weren’t there!” she hissed. But “Anne” had something up her sleeve to prove that she was: a death camp tattoo, #40603. Anne also accused Dr. Arden of being there as well, but not in the camps with her. “Nazi! Nazi swine!”  She tells Sister Jude that Arden’s real name was Hans Gruper.  (I’m pretty sure if he had not become a doctor at an insane asylum, he would’ve become a thief, attempting to rob a high-rise building only to be thwarted by some barefooted cop who just happened to be visiting.) He would visit the girls’ barracks, hand out candy and explain that he was there to save them. “But he couldn’t save everyone, so he left it to chance.” The chosen ones were determined by a flip of a Totenkopf coin. (A nod to the Batman villain Two-Face, who decides his victims’ fate by flipping a coin?)  “And when they came back,” Anne continued, “if they came back, something had changed. He had made them sick.” Certainly sounds like our good (bad) doctor, who likes to bring inmates into his lab and…change them.

Speaking of changing a patient, Dr. Arden continued to experiment on Shelley, who if you remember last week, lost her legs to this Mad Doctor.  This week Shelley looked even worse, having developed some scabies-like skin lesions. “Am I going to die?” she asked as he prepared to inject her in the eye(!) with some mysterious serum. “Not exactly,” he said. “In fact, after this, you’ll probably live forever.” So what exactly is Arden working on? An immortality serum? (I’m reminded of the dialogue from Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead — Victim: “You did all this to be immortal? Why?” Mad doctor: “To live forever!” *facepalm*)

We learn a little bit about Grace this week and how she came to be institutionalized at Briar Cliff. As she tells Kit: she lived on a farm, with her father, stepmother and stepsister. They had horses which she loved to ride, helped her feel free. One night, a hired hand on the farm named Red had conspired with her step-sister Patsy to take control of the property by killing her father and stepmother and blame Grace for the murders. “And no matter how many times I told my story, no one believed me.” “I believe you,” said Kit, who could totally relate. Seems these two have more in common. They’ve both been falsely accused of butchering the ones they love.

Or have they?

Dr. Thredson approaches Kit with a dilemma:  “I don’t think you’re crazy. But I don’t think you’re evil.” The thing is, diagnosing Kit as insane is the only thing that could keep him out of the electric chair. He doesn’t say he believes Kit is innocent though. His theory: “You are a victim of a brutish society that drove you to commit acts so terrible, so antithetical to who you are as a person, that your psyche concocted this alien abduction to absolve you of your guilt.” Thredson devises a whole story that sounds completely like typical headshrinker mumbo-jumbo. Kit felt guilty, shame over his secret marriage to a black woman (remember this is 1964, and it’s still racist white society.) Kit’s torment became psychosis. He found catharsis by stabbing and skinning white women. “Why the skin, Kit? Was it their race? The very things society was punishing you for?” The aliens, the ones Kit claims abducted him, were actually Kit’s friends, stopping by unexpectedly. Terrified that his relationship with Alma was going to be exposed, Kit freaked and beat her to death. “You killed the thing you loved the most,” said Thredson. But as we saw back in the first episode, Kit wasn’t ashamed neither of his marriage nor of what people thought of their union. He wanted to go public.

Last week I made a declaration that the Monsignor was most likely Bloody Face. While I still maintain that belief, I think Thredson could be suspect #2. The way he’s trying to convince Kit that it’s he who is actually the killer, seems to invoke the thinking that he’s doing it so someone else can take the fall. I also think he’s not as nice a guy as he appears.

Another clue that Thredson might be Bloody Face? His offer to help Lana get out of Briar Cliff. (Bear with me, it takes a bit) “If I can convince them that you’re cured, (of lesbianism) they have to release you.” “There is no cure.” She insists. But after picturing herself winning an award for her 6 part expose on the horrors of Briar Cliff, she agrees to treatment.

And so Thredson tries to alter Lana’s sexuality with aversion therapy. (Another doctor trying to “change” a patient? I sense a motif here.) The plan was to train her body to become repulsed by “certain triggers.” Lana is shown photos of attractive, half-naked women while Thredson injects her intravenously with apomorphine, a drug that makes her nauseated. Sure enough, she pukes. (Was she puking because it was working or because she was pumped full of drugs?) He flashed a photo of Lana’s lover Wendy lying in bed. Lana tried to fight it but up came the vomit. “Let’s move on the conversion part of your therapy,” he said. “I think you might enjoy this part.”

Thredson brought in a hunky beefcake patient named Daniel and asked him to disrobe. Thredson then asked Lana to touch herself while “gazing upon his physique.” (Okay, so I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality to admit that the dude had a toned ass, but why is it every time there’s nudity on this show, it’s a guy’s butt? I’ve counted 3 of those to only 1 woman’s. Call me a perv but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and dammit, I wanna see a female ass! End rant) Thredson asked Lana to hold Daniel’s “member” while continuing to masturbate. “And try to relate the pleasure you’re feeling to his tumescence.” Lana tried but ended up puking again. “Just give me a few minutes,” said Lana. “I know I can do this!” But Thredson knew she couldn’t. “In a perfect world, I would love to dive into talk therapy, and get the root of your particular fixation. But my expertise tells me that aversion/conversion therapy won’t work with you.”

Later on, Dr. Thredson visited Lana in the Common Room and apologized for trying to “cure” her. “I am not an aversion therapy proponent, but I thought it made sense in the moment,” he said. “I wish I had spared you.” He gave her the photo of Wendy. “They’ll never let me keep it,” she said. He told her she only needed to hide it until the end of the week. “I’m leaving here Friday and I’m taking you with me….I will not leave you in this place, Lana. That’s a promise.” Why is he so adamant about getting her out of Briar Cliff? This little subplot was very reminiscent of the story Anne Frank told, about a kindly doctor who won the trust of young women by giving them sweets and then betraying them horribly. And there my friends, is clue #2 that Thredson is Bloody Face. (Told ya it would be a bit)

Meanwhile, Kit and Grace have sex in the kitchen (show of hands who’s been there, done that) but are caught and brought to Sister Jude whose resolution to them trying to create a “murder baby” is to have them both sterilized. That would have to wait though, as Sister Jude was informed that a couple of police detectives were visiting with Dr. Arden. Apparently a lady of the evening (re: prostitute) had filed a complaint against Arden, alleging that he had roughed her up, and that he had a secret stash of bondage pics and Nazi memorabilia, namely a swastika pin and a Death’s Head coin that resembled the one that Dr. Hans Gruper flipped to choose his Auschwitz test subjects. Arden naturally disputed the claim and stormed out. The cops informed Sister Jude that they weren’t investigating an assault charge against Arden, but the possibility that Arden could actually be Bloody Face. They couldn’t believe Kit Walker had the skills to surgically skin and decapitate those women. But Arden just might. I’m still of the belief that Dr. Arden is NOT Bloody Face. It just seems too…obvious. How’s Dr. Thredson’s surgical skills? Hmmm….

The old boy is definitely not who he seems though. Sister Jude took her concerns to Monsignor Timothy (my suspect #1), but he would hear nothing of it. In fact, he knew she was drinking again, based on her scene during Movie Night. But once Sister Jude left his office, Monsignor Timothy called Dr. Arden, performing more experiments on poor Shelley. “They’re onto you, Arthur. If you have any housekeeping to do, I suggest you take care of it.”

Okay, this recap is getting a long (damn you, multiple story points!) so let me try to round up the rest quickly. Sister Mary explained to Kit the truth about Grace’s history. She hands him Grace’s file. In solitary, Grace and Kit could communicate through the wall that separated them, and Kit was pissed that she lied to him. So she told her story again, truthfully this time. Her father had sexually abused her. She tried to cope by detaching and disassociating, watching him rape her as if she was “a stranger or a corpse.” She tried to tell her stepmom, but stepmom gave her candy to keep her quiet. (More candy? Another motif? I’m sensing motifs of motifs!) The horses provided escape… until her father sold them all. That was the day she snapped and hacked him and her stepmom to pieces.

Back to Anne Frank. Acting upon the Monsignor’s suggestion, Dr. Arden dragged her into his dungeon. He insisted he was not Dr. Hans Gruper of Auschwitz. “I’m from Scottsdale!” Anne wasn’t buying it. She wanted to know what Arden did in his lab. “You want to know what goes on in here? You’re about to find out!”

Arden turned his back to lock the door, and when he faced her again, she was holding a gun that she had picked from the pocket of one of the detectives. “Now’s the time,” Anne said. “Confess, Hans Gruper, you Nazi piece of shit!” Something went bump inside a closet, momentarily distracting her and allowing Arden to charge her. She shot him in the leg. She opened the closet door and discovered a legless, bloodied and scabbed Shelley. “Kill me,” she begged. This scene called to mind the infamous X-Files episode “Home” when Mulder and Scully discovered Mama Peacock, armless, legless and deformed under the bed, and it sent a small chill up my spine.

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About Author

Dave Zagorski

Dave Zagorski is a filmmaker who has yet to achieve his potential. He has written and directed two movies under his MAD Z Productions banner: “Killing Brooke” and a remake of the euro-horror exploitation movie “The Devil’s Nightmare.” He enjoys long walks on the beach, lesbians and putting his friends through hell on set. He hopes to one day win an Oscar, but until then he’ll make due with his son Oscar.

  • joey

    Good recap. My husband seems to think that bloody face is in fact the : murder baby” the nun was talking about.

    • Dave z

      oooohhh didn’t think of that!