American Horror Story: Asylum, S2:E5, “I am Anne Frank, Pt. 2”

“Instincts are everything. We ignore them at our peril.”

Well shit.

Sister Jude has left Briarcliff to meet with Mr. Goodman, a concentration camp survivor who agrees investigate Dr. Arden’s history as an SS doctor. He points out that because of Operation Paperclip it’s possible Arden’s identity is false, and that while she might identify Arden from an SS blood type tattoo on his arm she shouldn’t corner Arden in order to find out.

While she is away havoc reigns in Briarcliff; Sister Mary Eunice is rifling through Jude’s desk when Anne brings Arden in at gunpoint. The ordeal is subdued by head guard Frank, and Mary Eunice scurries away. Anne has been restrained and sedated by the time Jude returns, but as she confesses what she saw of Shelley, Jude grudgingly admits that a search of Arden’s lab has come up empty.

A man arrives, explaining that Anne is really Charlotte Brown, and his wife. This is contrary with her story of being a widow as told in “I am Anne Frank, part 1.” His story is told in gritty home-movie footage that includes Charlotte tattooing herself with the concentration camp brand. “It was almost like she wanted to relive it,” he says, which implies she did live it in the first place. Instead, he laments, she is too focused on dead Jewish babies to take care of her own. His story is backed by warbling alien music blended with audio of Nazi rallies.

Thredson suggests Charlotte suffers from postpartum psychosis but Jude releases her to her husband. Charlotte struggles, insisting she needs to reveal Arden until she sees a picture of her baby. Thredson is upset that Charlotte is being discharged, but switches tactics to argue about Kit’s sterilization instead.

Grace and Kit are imagining themselves together as they talk at walls. Grace refuses Kit’s apology, saying “There’s no one to blame except Sr. Jude. I think she’s the devil.” On cue, Sister Mary Eunice arrives, announcing Kit is no longer to be sterilized. Grace, though, hasn’t been pardoned; as she faces the night in solitary before going under the knife, a mysterious light appears, and the door to her room begins shaking. In the extreme closeup of Grace’s eyes, there is a spindly humanoid shape with an oversized oblong head.

Surrounded by the now-familiar refrain of The Common Room Song (Dominique), Thredson tells Lana to meet him by the front staircase at 6, and not to be late. He moves on to therapy with Kit, setting up a recorder and telling him, “You need to give yourself permission to remember… I need to feel you’re sincere.” Kit confesses like he is told. Meanwhile in a wash of blinding white light, a pregnant-looking Alma comforts Grace, who undergoes a traumatic surgical ordeal at the hands of grey, suspiciously alien figures.

Jude cancels her investigation. A roaring fire is burning in her office fireplace as Arden returns. “Your ineptitude is staggering.” He tells her to prostrate herself and beg his forgiveness, then threatens to have the Monseigneur dismiss her. The head of his cane is a wolf. “You’re through here, Sister, and you know it.” He returns to his office and undresses to treat his wounds, but Mary Eunice appears. She kneels before him to treat his wounds and offers the sort of apology he just demanded of Jude. He thanks her for protecting him, and she replies, “Even though I don’t understand your work I feel I’ve been an important part of it.”

In a schoolyard, mysterious noises lead a little girl to investigate. In a shot reminiscent of The Exorcist, she peers down a flight of stairs, finding Shelley at the bottom and proclaiming her a monster.

Anne/Charlotte has been readmitted and Arden gloats. The husband recollects in more home-video flashback that she has tried to smother their baby. He wants her cared for by Thredson, and though Jude is visibly annoyed she sends Frank to summon him. Lana is waiting under the stairs, and she and Thredson are in the middle of their escape when Frank calls out. Lana hides in Thredson’s car as Thredson tells Frank, “I don’t work here anymore, Frank. As a matter of fact, I never did. And you can tell her I said that.”

Arden meets Charlotte’s husband, and the man is relieved Arden won’t be pressing charges. He is inclined to be magnanimous, as he has just vanquished his biggest adversary. “I see no reason for punitive action, not when there’s a more humane remedy at hand.” He goes on to explain, “In my hands the transorbital lobotomy has become as routine as filling a cavity.”

Sister Jude confides her background to Frank, telling of a lonely girl who kept a squirrel in a shoebox until it died because she forgot to feed it. She prays but God doesn’t answer, and as she makes herself a whiskey her mother scoffs, “God always answers our prayers, Judy. It’s just rarely the answer we’re looking for.” Frank is saddened by her leaving, but admits, “Men are never gonna accept a woman in charge, especially not a woman as strong as you are.” Sister Jude changes to street clothes and heels, tossing her ‘bride of Christ’ ring on the dresser. As she applies ‘Ravage Me Red’ lipstick in a bar she is approached by a man who asks what her poison is. The sweeping romantic theme of Jude’s descent back into sin swells in time with Arden’s surgery.

Lana is at Thredson’s tidy modern home. He interrupts her attempted phonecall saying, “I can’t afford the public to know where you are,” and moments later muses, “You’re the person to tell my story.” Lana questions his phrasing but doesn’t press, because it is quickly becoming apparent the lampshade to her left has nipples. When Thredson offers her mints from a cranium bowl she excuses herself to the bathroom and he removes his glasses in a very Clark Kent moment. When Lana finds his ‘hobby’ he drops her down a trap door.

Back at Briarcliff Kit finds Grace bleeding in the common room. He’s pulled away by police, arrested on evidence of Thredson’s testimony and his taped confession. It becomes clear that Thredson’s appointment with the police had nothing to do with Lana, and was instead the delivery of Kit’s recording. Kit is hauled from Briarcliff, which has become a sanctuary in comparison to capital punishment. Grace screams that she saw Alma and Kit’s story is true, but no one listens.

Lana is chained in Thredson’s private abattoir. Wendy is dead. Thredson’s intention is to use Wendy’s frozen corpse for continued aversion/conversion therapy as he dons the Bloodyface mask that now includes Wendy’s teeth. It seems peculiar that he is still interested in psychology now that she’s sequestered in his bloodletting room.

Jude does the walk of shame from an austere room, the scene almost comically set to a jaunty tune. Meanwhile Charlotte cuddles her baby in a stereotypical 60s television family scene full of cliches–pot roast, martinis, and a businessman with his dutiful little wife. The television cuts to home movie footage once more as Charlotte announces, “I’ve never been happier.” She has become a compliant, changed woman like the ones from her recollection of Auschwitz, which suggests both she and Arden were in fact there. Focus shifts to one of the few photos remaining on a wall formerly covered in concentration camp research, and behind Adolf Hitler is a strapping man who might be a young Dr. Arden.

This is a rough episode all around for the women of Briarcliff (excepting Mary Eunice, who is mostly the devil now, leaving abominations to torment schoolchildren). Jude has lost the job that ‘means everything to her’ and has returned to her life of powerlessness, seducing men for a sweaty moment of their admiration. Lana’s treatment for homosexuality continues in a more horrifying way than before, and she might end up a lampshade. Grace has suffered some horrible procedure, either at the hands of aliens or at the hands of a human who’s a true monster. Anne/Charlotte has been denied her non-housewife agenda for the comfort and security of her husband. And Shelley is a mutated horror still.

The men, meanwhile, have moments of triumph. Arden is now the de facto head of Briarcliff, free to do as he pleases with The-Devil-In-Sister-Mary-Eunice as his ‘strong right hand.’ Thredson has secured another victim and framed someone quite neatly for his crimes. Even Kit, though he’s been arrested again, gets a small moment of vindication when Grace shouts that his story is true. Even though he is incarcerated, he can take comfort in the fact that he didn’t kill his wife. If we perceive the devil in its stereotypically male persona, Mary Eunice has triumphed as well, by removing the misguided but well-meaning Jude from power and freeing herself and Arden to cause havoc.

Then there’s the aliens. Aliens. Aliens.

There’s also the identification of Bloodyface, though Thredson suspiciously lacks Bloodyface’s only identifiable characteristic–the eerie blue eyes. It’s not a surprising revelation; Thredson has been portrayed as too scientific, too honest, too level, too emotionless. His sociopathy is easily overlooked when compared to the more outspoken flaws of those around him, but having him as Bloodyface seems entirely too tidy for a show that glories in red herrings.

The filming of this episode was interesting as well. There were a lot of jump cuts and bizarre camera angles, dizzying turns and moody filters. While Jude’s flashback to her bar-singing days was straightforward and Anne’s recollection of Auschwitz was black and white, the grainy 8mm feel of Mr. Brown’s recollections stands out even more than the Teresa/Leo supersaturation scenes. Even that, though, pales in comparison to the retro feel of Charlotte’s final scene, which felt like it was ripped straight from a 60s television show. There was also a lot of attention drawn to seemingly insignificant things like the fireplace in Sister Jude’s office and Arden’s silver wolfhead cane.

;

More:

American Horror Story: Asylum S2:E4, “I am Anne Frank Pt. 1”

American Horror Story: Asylum S2:E3, “Nor’Easter”

American Horror Story: Asylum S2:E2, “Tricks and Treats”

American Horror Story: Asylum S2:E1, “Welcome to Briarcliff”

13 thoughts on “American Horror Story: Asylum, S2:E5, “I am Anne Frank, Pt. 2”

  1. Fister Roboto says:

    Excellent recap! I’m so torn between the aliens being real and a symbolic representation of the trauma the characters are enduring. Clearly Kit didn’t kill Alma, so I’m just at an overall loss. Eff me.

    Love your blog, and as someone with two tattoos as well, especially a rather ostentatious one, I hate that randos will touch them in line at Kroger while they ask if it hurt, will it be cool when I’m 80, etc.

    Like

    • fissionerror says:

      Vomit. When strangers come up and start touching my tattoos and hair I can barely refrain from punching them. Then they act like I’M the asshole when I give them the “fuck off” face.

      I’m still feeling jaded from AHS season 1, the last couple episodes of which just were so horribly horribly bad after so much good lead-in. I need to watch them again but I’m not willing to pay money for it lol.

      Like

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