”I was never in Auschwitz! I’m from Scottsdale!”
If you watched American Horror Story last season, you may remember two utterly ridiculous cameos culled from real life: the appearance of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Smart, and the death of Sal Mineo. Neither one mattered much to the central storyline, and were the eccentricities that this show loves tossing at viewers. In tonight’s “I am Anne Frank, Pt. 1,” we’re introduced to someone who is either well-read and insane, or the actual Anne Frank. All the blood vessels in my fingertips just burst from writing that sentence. Good thing I have these extra hands sewn on from my last stay at Briarcliff.
Okay, so Anne Frank’s presence does affect the storyline. She comes in without identification, giving her name to a disbelieving Jude (who has her hair down and is looking pretty good). She’s taking notes in the public area when Dr. Arden walks into the room, and the accusations start flying. “Nazi swine!” She recognizes him from the concentration camps in Auschwitz, where his name was Hans Gruper. (I assume Detective John McClane is hot on his heels.) She claims he would present himself as a sweet guy, but would constantly take girls from their bunks to “help” them, and if they made it back, they were shells of their former selves, sworn to secrecy about their ordeals.
Of course, Jude doesn’t buy any of it, even when Anne shows her the numbers tattooed on her arm. (I won’t bother wondering why she didn’t get rid of them as soon as she was able.) Anne’s explanation of why she had to stay hidden was sound enough: people needed to believe in the martyrdom for her story to have the most impact. Of course, by now telling anyone listening that she’s Anne Frank, it spits in the face of her earlier intentions.
Remember the Nazi ring that hooker found in Arden’s non-hidden box of Polaroid porn? The cops also know about it now, since the girl reported him after she escaped. Jude bursts into Arden’s office as he’s being questioned by homicide detectives, hoping to hear something juicy. Arden denies everything, of course, and Jude antagonizes him out of spite. Then she hears about the Nazi paraphernalia, and she thinks old Anne might not be so full of shit after all. After Arden leaves in a huff, Jude questions the police, who share a little disbelief that Kit is guilty of the decapitation murders, due to a lack of skin-removing surgical skill. Now, a doctor would be able to do that without much of a problem…
In the final scene, Arden pulls Anne into his lab. Denial turns to rage and he threatens to show her just what goes on in his lab, but she pulls a gun, stolen from the detectives. There is loud banging against one of the doors, and Anne shoots Arden in the leg for him to give her the key, after calling him a “Nazi piece of shit” of course. She unlocks and opens the door to reveal Shelley’s scarred, pus-bubbled body, clawing for help. Gross. (I bet there’s an orderly in Briarcliff that would still take a B.J. from her.) As Arden was injecting Shelley earlier, he told her she would probably live forever. We’re all assuming she’s turning into one of the things in the woods, right? And by “live forever,” he probably only means an age-related death. I’m pretty sure you can cut one of their heads off and death would be certain. I still don’t understand the mutants’ purpose though. Do they fight crime and love pizza?
Kit had a run in with Arden as well, as he was poked, prodded, and pestered about the tracker chip thing found in his neck. If Arden was the one who killed those women, you have to love his audacity in blaming Kit to his face. Kit tells all this to Grace, asking if she still believes him. Grace then tells her expository story about waking up one night to find her dad and step-mom axe-chopped at the hands of a man who was illicitly dating the step-sister who accused Grace of the murders. So if they can believe each other, all is well.
Except it isn’t. Kit has a session with Dr. Thredson, who talks candidly about the skinned, headless victims and why Kit might have wanted to kill them. He paints a weird mental picture of Kit’s psyche being overtaken by the pressure of keeping his interracial marriage a secret, ending in him going berserk and beating the shit out of his wife Alma. Kit leaves the session genuinely thinking he might actually be a murderer. He has another conversation with Grace, only this one ends in them having 30-second sex on top of the “dough-pounding fuck table” in the kitchen, soon caught by that ever-present guard. Taken to Jude for reprimands, the two are distraught when Jude decides that separation and sterilization would be a better punishment than cane-whoopings.
Sister Mary Eunice, with all her decided improvement and Satanic possession, complicates things by giving Kit a copy of Grace’s file, where he learns she actually did murder her dad and stepmother. Mary Eunice then puts him in a cell next to Grace’s, and Grace confesses when confronted, saying for years, her father abused her with her stepmom’s knowledge. There was a certain lack of intensity between these two characters having to talk through a wall, but it was cured in the best way possible by some gruesome axe murders. Later, Kit breaks down to Jude, asking for absolution for the crimes he now believes he may have committed. Jude believes him a little too quickly, and I totally thought he was going to knock her out or something, but it was just a sub-tender moment between the two. Bah.
Jude tries telling Monsignor Howard about Arden’s Nazi past, though her admittance of the information coming from Anne Frank, the mental patient, does nothing to convince him, and actually angers him. She then speaks with her Mother Superior, who tells her “men be hatin’,” and says going behind the Monsignor’s back is the only way to accomplish anything. Monsignor Howard, meanwhile, alerts Arden that people are onto him, and that he should make his lab inconspicuously clean. I mean, you’d had to have never seen a TV show before to not see this coming, but still. He’s in on it! We just don’t know how far yet. And now, without further ado…
That American Horror Story Scene You’ve All Been Waiting For
It’s nothing but conjecture, but I’d guess that the majority of this show's rabid fans like the acting and story, but are hooked in for the plentiful “Whoa Shit” moments that no other show on TV could ever hope of containing. This week, it’s Aversion/Conversion Therapy. (I hope it doesn’t bear meaning on my life that of all the shows on TV, I’m writing about two FX shows that featured extremely wonky masturbation scenes on consecutive nights. Hold on, I have to wash some of my palms’ hair off of my keyboard.)
Dr. Thredson only has a week or so left before he has to leave Briarcliff, and he’s determined to cure Lana before he goes. He knows she isn’t crazy, but still has to get rid of those pesky lesbian tendencies so she can prove herself to the administration. Lana fantasizes about the celebratory response to her exposé on the asylum’s wretched wrongdoings, which inspires her to approach Thredson with an “I’ll do anything” mentality.
Aversion therapy: She’s given intravenous doses of apomorphine after looking at pictures of attractive and scantily-clad ladies. The medicine makes her vomit, and she’s supposed to then associate naked women with feeling sick. (Side note: apomorphine is used now to treat erectile dysfunction. They should probably just use the lady pictures.) Thredson slipped a picture of Wendy into the mix, which makes Lana reflect. Conversion therapy: Thredson brings in a guy who also wants to help Lana. Only this guy is wearing a robe and nothing else. Lana looks far more distressed now than when her head was in a bucket. She’s wary of him touching her, but no, Thredson wants her to touch herself after the guy disrobes. What. The. Fuck. “Try to focus on his genitals,” is the doctorate-earning advice Thredson give. She’s soon coerced into fondling and stroking the guy of, until she gets entirely disgusted and throws up in the bucket again. The guy puts his robe back on and leaves. I laughed entirely too hard when Thredson tells Lana that his “expertise is telling him the therapy just isn’t working.” Don’t you mean your “sex-part-tease,” doctor? (Thinking of that pun was today’s most well-spent ten seconds.)
Thredson finds Lana in the public room later and apologizes, giving her the picture of Wendy to keep. In case you’re wondering, no he didn’t apologize by giving up his medical license and turning himself into authorities. He calms her worries by saying she only has to hide it until the end of the week, because though he doesn’t know how, he’s going to take her with him when he leaves Briarcliff. Which probably means he’s going to die before he gets to leave.
Despite the monumental discomfort in that therapy scene, this was kind of a humdrum episode, though it would be the most exciting episode of almost any other series. That’s the weird, and ultimately destructive, thing about AHS: there aren’t any characters for me to put any emotional value in, so I’m forced to connect with the scenes themselves. And though it’s is a show that runs on lunatic gasoline, it can still coast on the fumes of predictable horror storytelling, so if the fantastical spontaneity slows, it gives me more time to take a look around and notice what’s actually wrong. There is enough of that elsewhere on TV. Maybe I’ll go bitch about that to myself in a padded room. Until next week!
The Inane Asylum
My prediction: The monsignor has tasked Arden with altering human beings to make them heavier over-actors than Joseph Fiennes. And THAT is when Dylan McDermott comes into the story.
Never forget, the next time you are rude to someone, it’s almost like telling Anne Frank, “Don’t let them Jew you down,” before she stabs you with a broken beer bottle. Stop the bullying. The More You Know.
I don’t understand the point of Arden’s Nazi coin flip. Was he just choosing between girls? Would he give them ice cream if it was heads, and night terrors if it was tails?
When Anne was telling her story about living in Britain and meeting and marrying a New Jersey boy, I wondered how long it took her to learn English, and then I remembered that her diary was written in English, otherwise I couldn’t have read it. (Joke.)
I know I’m missing something here. Thredson tells Kit if he’s sane, they’ll kill him for the murders, but if he‘s insane, then they’ll keep him at Briarcliff. But Thredson doesn’t think he’s evil, and wants him to face the truth. And so, if Kit actually did kill people, and Thredson makes him realize this and accept it, he would have essentially cured Kit, making him sane, which means he’d be put to death. Is that how it works? Does it matter, since Kit probably isn’t guilty?
“Where is she now? Hiding in the attic?” The monsignor can be found this Saturday and Sunday at the Laff Asylum in Chicago.
“Are you purposely trying to make a murder baby?” I laugh, but there are people in this world who would probably utter that line with perfect sincerity.
Want to know how to cure chronic masturbation, Briarcliff? Don’t give said masturbator the loosest pair of shorts imaginable. Of all the weird imagery in the show, that would have been the worst one to try and explain to a child, or an extremely chaste grandmother.
Penis word of the day: Tumescence. Used in a sentence: Dr. Thredson totally referred to that guy’s junk as tumescence.
I’m going to watch Apt Pupil for the next six days, on the off-chance the Anne Frank conclusion pays homage to it in some way, hopefully in the robotic Nazi way. And if someone wanted to dig up Brad Renfro’s corpse and stick that in a scene, I’m fine with it.
After talking with friends, I’ve decided to make it my life’s mission to get James Cromwell, and now Zachery Quinto, to record an audiobook of the most nefariously vile things I can find at UrbanDictionary.com.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.