”God always answers our prayers, Judy. It’s just rarely the answers we’re looking for.””
It’s displeasing tonight’s episode is called “I Am Anne Frank: Part 2.” I certainly hope it shows up as a single episode on the DVDs, because this was honestly one of the most joyously exploitative hours of television I’ve ever sat through. I can’t even take an objective step back to consider it from any angle that isn’t drowning in dumbstruck glee. I’ll try to tone it down a notch, folks.
Speaking of glee, one of Glee’s frequently-used directors, Alfonso Gomez Rejon, directed tonight’s fun fest, and his work, along with the cinematographer and editor, are a huge part of what made it so effective. Every scene seemed to feature a story element with a visual or aural flourish to accompany it. Actually, I think that’ll be this week’s theme.
Extreme Close-Up on Jude/Revolving Camera Around Sam’s Room
The opening shot drives straight into Jude’s face as she arrives to meet with Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis), to tell him about Arden’s supposed Nazi past. He explains Operation Paperclip, the OSS’ post-war Nazi Scientist employment program. The camera circles the room, capturing mostly reflections of Sam speaking, focusing on the plentiful set dressing the room has to offer. For her proof, Sam says Arden will have a tattoo of his blood time, but it would normally be covered by a shirt. I assume she won’t invite him to a hot tub anytime soon. This may be her only hope, should she care to continue hoping, to stay under Monsignor Howard.
Old Sitcom Look/Rise to Arden Atop The Stairs
Though Jude believes her now, Anne Frank turns out to be just another bonkers housewife who tried to kill her baby. Frank the guard stops the Dr. Arden hostage situation, and Anne is attached to a bed the only way AHS knows how: with straps. Her husband visits, proving Charlotte Brown is her real name, admitting their colic-ridden son’s incessant crying is what sent her into her Auschwitz-researching binge,
When the Brown’s home life gets a flashback, the filmstock reverts to the color-saturated video look from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The cheery appearance is antithetical to the dark acts witnessed, such as Charlotte self-applying her prison camp tattoo, or the husband discovering her obsessive shrine to German war atrocities. Deflated by this realization, Jude allows her back into the husband’s care, though Dr. Thredson is against it, since she obviously needs institutionalizing. Her absence is short-lived before she tries smothering her baby, and she’s sent back post-haste, in the most gorgeous shot of the episode.
The camera slowly drifts through, sparse piano notes replacing her vicious fight against restraints, panning up the twisting staircase and stopping at the white-suited demi-god Dr. Arden, revenge flaming in his eyes. Many of the more subdued asylum patients have lobotomy scars, so it’s no surprise Arden’s best solution for her is a lobotomy, which we get to watch as it’s performed in tune to the orchestral score, slightly recalling Nip/Tuck. Later, she seems happy and docile at home, but for a momentary switch back to the old filmstock as we hear the blippy sound of a tube TV being turned off. It’s a wonderfully dark moment, leaving viewers with the uneasy feeling that the crying baby’s days are probably numbered. Eesh.
Even worse, as the husband takes her war-centered collection to the trash, we see a picture tacked to a bulletin board that clearly shows Arden/Grouper standing behind Mein Fuhrer himself. Assuming this photo also gets tossed, it has to come down to that tattoo he has. Or maybe they’re leaving the Nazi angle behind for a while, which would make the opening scene pointless.
Continuous Shot Through Thredson’s House Leading Up to Big Reveal
This is the moment that twists everything into the fantastically bizarre. Thredson’s promise to free Lana from Briarcliff is made good as he sneaks her out, right around when the camera starts showing Thredson from low angles, giving him a sense of power. Frank tells him Jude wanted to talk about the re-admission of Anne/Charlotte, and Thredson cryptically says, “I don’t work here anymore. In fact, I never did. You can tell her I said that,” before he drives the hidden Lana away.
Thredson dodges all of Lana’s mentions of going home or calling someone, using the consequences from her disappearance to prove their hiding necessary. He assures her of a meeting with a detective in the morning to plead their case. He further proves his refusal of outside contact by disconnecting a phone call Lana tries to make.
The camera then pulls back, leading them into the living room, where it swivels around so that the characters are split by the middle of the screen. As Lana drinks a glass of wine he poured for her, Thredson expresses the importance of Lana being the one to tell his story, which she misunderstands, thinking he’s talking about Briarcliff. Tsk tsk.