Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: American Horror Story: Asylum "I Am Anne Frank Part 2"

Non Spoiler Review:
Jude consults a Nazi hunter with her suspicions about Arden, but new revelations turn up about Anne's story. Thredson makes attempts to help Lana and Kit, while Grace has a surprise visitor. 

Jessica Lange gets another great scene as Jude's bad decisions catch up with her. The story gets advanced quite significantly with some twists and turns (though one that I could see coming from a couple of episodes back). I'm anxious for next week just to see the fall out from all this, as it was quite a shake up for the status quo.

The conclusion to Anne Frank was suitably frenetic, disturbing and messy, like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It's left several characters in quite the state—what happens next is completely up in the air.

Spoilers Now!
On Mother Claudia's recommendation, Jude visits Nazi hunter Sam Goodman. Goodman is a concentration camp survivor himself. She explains what she knows about Arden, and Goodman believes her story, filling her in about Operation Paperclip—how Truman's agents recruited the best Nazi scientists and created false biographies for them. The SS have a tattoo of their blood type on their upper arm, so Arden should have one, but he warns her not to do anything until he's completed his research.

At Briarcliff, Anne brings Arden at gunpoint to Jude's office but finds Eunice there. Arden sends Eunice to find her, but Frank, the guard, comes in and pulls a gun on Anne. She wakes up in her room from being sedated, but Jude is looking over her. Arden was rushed to the hospital. She asks if Jude saw the thing with no legs, but Jude already searched and found nothing in his laboratory.

Eunice interrupts, announcing a man in her office who wants to see his wife. He claims Anne's name is really Charlotte, and they have a son. Jude admits Anne was very convincing. She put the tattoo on her arm herself after having her baby and became infatuated with Auschwitz. Dr. Thredson has been listening in and suggests it's post-partem psychosis. Sending her home might be dangerous, though Jude disagrees.

Anne is brought to her husband, but refuses to accept her name is Charlotte. He shows her their family photo and she slowly seems to remember them. They leave the asylum, with Thredson maintaining she shouldn't be discharged, then turning the matter to Kit's sterilization. Jude ignores him.

Eunice comes for Kit, but reveals Jude has changed her mind given his signs of true redemption. As for Grace, she tells her the sterilization is proceeding in the morning for her. Grace freaks out and finally gets to sleep, but is woken up in the night by a bright light outside her door. It's time for her alien abduction.

The next day in the common room, Thredson tells Lana they're leaving the next day after dinner and to wait for him by the staircase. Carrying an ominous little suitcase, he then goes to meet with Kit, who pleads for him to help Grace. But she's not his patient. As part of his therapy, he wants Kit to confess describe on tape what he thinks happened with the murders, and then he'll play it back for him in his own words to hear. He needs to feel Kit's sincere. Kit begins confessing about killing his wife.

In a white alien operating room Grace is being told not to fight it as it will only make it worse—by none other than Alma. An alien proceeds to cut into her.

Jude leaves a message for Goodman that her information is all a mistake. Arden overhears that and asks what information she's talking about. He's aware she got an opportunity to look around his lab. Jude says it wasn't all that interesting. Arden plans on pressing charges against Jude—he got shot on her watch and she sent the woman home with a slap on the wrist. Jude attempts to be diplomatic and wants to start anew with him. Arden suggests she grovel. Barring that he has no option but to call Father Timothy and demand her dismissal.

Arden returns to his office and undresses to look at his leg. Eunice appears to tend to him. He's a bit disconcerted but allows it. She also wants to apologize for her behaviour the night of the storm. He's fine with not talking about it again. He also thanks her for what she did to protect him—she hid Shelley in the woods. Eunice suggests that she is a suitable replacement for Jude as his strong right hand.

At an elementary school playground, a young girl hears breathing and finds Shelley at the bottom of some stairs. Everyone freaks out and runs away as she crawls out, her face continuing to change.

Jude is alerted to Anne's return to the asylum. Her husband was afraid to leave her alone and she's just gotten worse, trying to hurt the baby. He wants to consult Dr. Thredson so she agrees, and sends Frank to get him. 

Thredson has rendezvoused with Lana, instructing her to just do as he says and walk (he has her carrying boxes) with him passed the guards. Frank catches up with him as they get into his car, saying he needs to see Anne Frank, but he doesn't notice Lana in the passenger seat. Thredson tells him he doesn't work there any more, and as a matter of fact, never did. He drives off.

Meanwhile, Arden goes to taunt Anne in her cell. When he leaves, he runs into her husband, who recognizes him as the man she shot, and he apologizes profusely. Arden says it's all fine, but suggests he has the solution to his problems, and one that would get Anne home right away.

Jude prays for guidance but is interrupted by Frank. He tells her Lana is nowhere to be found. With yet another setback, Jude recounts a story from her lonely childhood when she kept a baby squirrel for company. It died because she'd forgotten to feed him, so she prayed and prayed. Her mother found it and threw him in the garbage. Jude cried that God didn't answer her prayers. Her drunk mother laughed and said He always answers their prayers, but it's rarely the answer they're looking for. Jude realizes it's over for her. Frank tells her not to blame herself. She never had a chance, given they wouldn't accept a woman as strong as her.

Anne is taken to Arden's lab where he begins the lobotomy. Jude cleans out her room and gets dressed in civilian clothes and goes to a bar. She's approached by a man who offers her a drink.

Kit finds Grace in the common room bleeding between her legs. He calls for help, but two detectives march in announcing he's under arrest for the murder of the three women. They have Thredson's recommendation and his taped confession. Grace pleads for them to stop, shouting everything Kit said about the aliens was true, and she's alive. She saw her.

Thredson tells Lana to make herself at home in his apartment. She wants to go to her house, but he warns her she's safer there given they'll find her missing at the asylum. He has an appointment with the police in the morning, and with her evidence they can shut down Briarcliff. He offers her some wine and goes to get it ready.

Lana looks around the living room, seeing the phone and deciding to call her friend. Thredson cuts it off, warning her no calls. He can't afford to let anyone know she's there until tomorrow. He tells her she'll win a Pulitzer for telling his story. They toast to taking down Briarcliff, but she notices a rather fleshy looking lampshade that unnerves her. He offers her a mint and the dish is the top of a skull. She asks to use the restroom.

Out of sight she tries to find a door out, but they're all locked except for a room full of body parts and instruments. It's his hobby room, he explains. He mainly makes lamps—out of skin. He pulls a latch and she falls into a trap door.

Lana wakes up on the floor chained by her ankle. Wendy's body is next to her. Thredson had her on ice to keep her fresh, as he wanted her around longer so he could continue his therapy with Lana. He instructs her to kiss the corpse and adds that she shouldn't worry about Wendy biting her, given he sewed her teeth into his Bloody Face mask, which he puts on.

Jude wakes up in bed with her one night stand and sneaks out. Anne's husband comes home to his wife and son. Anne has been suitably domesticated, and has most of her holocaust items in the trash. She's never been happier, she says coolly. A few clippings remain on the wall, including a photo of Hitler with Arden standing behind him.

The Verdict:
I had hoped for more of a mystery regarding Bloody Face given Thredson seemed such a logical choice. But at the same time Zachary Quinto gets to play a serial killer now, so that's good too. While it appeared relatively obvious that Thredson was framing Kit and leading Lana to her (eventual?) doom, the early hints were very successful in ramping up the tension as we watched the disasters for Kit and Lana unfold.

Is Lana a goner now, or is she somehow going to get out of that mess? I got the impression that Thredson wants to keep her around long enough to write a story about him. And why, after all the attempts to wreak havoc at Briarcliff, did Thredson want Anne to remain there rather than go with her husband?

It seems odd to spend the time bringing in the Nazi hunter character for just one scene. Arden's SS past can't be finished yet, especially with Shelley wandering around (thanks to Satan Eunice dumping her off at a school). But we were left with a potential tell tale clue—a tattoo on Arden's arm remains to implicate him.

Was Anne really Charlotte? If so, why was Arden so adamant about eliminating her? Anne Frank's bizarre soap opera/science fictiony flashbacks were a nice touch and contributed to the idea of her delusions. I was half expecting her husband to be part of Arden's conspiracy to distract from his guilt, but it appears now Charlotte was genuinely crazy, even if that makes for some extraordinary coincidences (Arden's incriminating photo). It was a sad end for the character, too, but certainly fit into the disturbing horror aspects of this season.

More alien experiments, this time on Grace. Was she sterilized, or has something else been done to her? If Alma is alive, whose body did the police find?

Anne Frank was a satisfying conclusion to this two parter. It's left Jude, Lana, Kit, Shelley and Oliver all seemingly out of Briarcliff. Something needs to happen to start to bring it all back together. This week felt more surreal than any previous episode. Even Lana asks is this real, followed by Thredson's remark he was never really there, which prompts some questions about what is actually happening. I might be reading too much into it but it reinforces one of my worries that this season turns out to be some crazy person's dream. 

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