American Horror Story Asylum, S2E4: I Am Anne Frank, Part 1
Original Airdate: November 7, 2012
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Raise your hand if you woke up last Thursday morning and checked to make sure your legs were still attached. Hey, you never know….
A woman with no ID enters Briarcliff in the middle of the night. She’s on a psychiatric hold and it’s easier for the police to dump her there than deal with her. Sister Jude, who had been awakened and is wearing her robe, wants to understand what set the woman off. Apparently she was in a bar and an anti-Semitic joke set her off. She has blood on her coat, but it isn’t hers. Sister Jude is sympathetic to what happened to “her people” in the War and asks if she lost someone. The woman starts whistling. She looks like she has a secret, but she’s not telling just yet. Sister Jude orders her to be locked up for the night. Her treatment will start in the morning.
Dr. Arden is up late. He’s preparing a syringe full of something sinister. You can just tell that he’s up to no good. Poor Shelley struggles on the exam table. She wants to know if she’s going to die. Dr. Arden laughs. “After this, you’re probably going to live forever,” he replies, injecting her in her temple. Shelley screams.
In the kitchen, inmates prepare the dough. Kit asks Grace for a cigarette and she sees his face. “Arden?” she asks. Indeed, Dr. Arden roughed Kit up during his search for answers. Where did the little mechanical bug go? He took lots of x-rays. But Kit is more interested in Grace’s story. She tells him about waking up in the middle of the night in her family’s farmhouse. There’s a noise. She goes down the hall to see a man murdering her father. She manages to run down the stairs and into a closet. The murderer runs out of the house looking for her, and then Grace turns around to see that her stepmother had been chopped up and placed on the shelf. Grace tells Kit that she lost her father and stepmother that night, and her stepsister the next day. Her stepsister didn’t die, though; her stepsister and her lover conspired to kill the family and blame Grace so that they would inherit the land. The police wouldn’t believe Grace no matter how many times she told the story. She talks about how she misses the farm and misses riding the horses, because riding made her feel like she was flying. “You’ll fly again,” Kit reassures her.
Dr. Thredson asks Lana where she went during the movie. He tells her that he’s not going to tell Sister Jude anything, but he observed her to be gone and then she reappeared with Kit and Grace. We flash back to movie night and see that he’s watching the trio as they leave the day room. Kit tells the two women that even if Shelley made it out, no one can know that they tried again. Returning to the present, Dr. Thredson admits that Lana is not a threat to society and she shouldn’t be locked up. Lana smiles. “You head shrinkers are such hypocrites,” she says. She criticizes the use of the Bible as a diagnostic tool, one that proclaims that her homosexuality is a disease. That’s where Dr. Thredson wants her to know that he can help her. He knows why she’d try to escape and offers an alternative. He doesn’t have much time left at Briarcliff, but he can take her on as a patient and prove that she has been cured, at which time they’d have to release her. He calls her a fish out of water, gasping for breath. She won’t last there much longer. But Lana resists, telling him that she has been “this way” for as long as she can remember.
The new girl is sitting in the day room writing. She talks about how the people in the asylum have been locked away to die, which differs from her experience (presumably during the War) when her people held hope of getting out. In the asylum there is no hope. Lana watches her write and approaches her, telling her that she’ll be thrown into solitary for writing. She might need a friend. The newcomer isn’t afraid, though, and she doesn’t seem interested in making friends. As Lana leaves, Dr. Arden enters. While he observes one of the inmates, the woman rises from the chair. She shouts that he was there, at Auschwitz. He stands there, stunned, and then he calls the orderlies to sedate her. They drag her away, and that’s when she introduces herself. “I’m Anne!” she cries. “Anne Frank!”
Anne meets with Sister Jude. Sister Jude says it will be a relief for millions of schoolchildren that she’s alive. Anne Frank died in the camps before they were liberated. Not so, says Anne. She was too sick to tell her name. When she regained her health she lived on the streets. She met an American soldier from New Jersey who married her and brought her to the US. He died in Korea in 1952, the same year her journal was published. Sister Jude wonders why she never reached out to her father, but Anne replies that her father had started a new family, and her journal had so much power. People saw what happened to her people through the work of a fifteen year old girl. It would only have that power, though, if it remained in the voice of a fifteen year old girl. So she didn’t say anything. Sister Jude believes her story to be obscene, but Anne has a bombshell—the real horror is that Briarcliff is employing a Nazi war criminal.
Dr. Thredson has a dilemma. He tells Kit that if he declares Kit sane, he will be sentenced to the electric chair. If he says he is insane, Kit will face a life locked away at Briarcliff. Thredson doesn’t believe Kit is crazy or evil. He thinks society drove him to create this fabrication about aliens to cover up the heinous acts he committed. Thredson is willing to lie to the courts to save Kit’s life, but Kit will have to spend the rest of his time with Thredson facing the reality of what he did. Kit insists that he told the truth, but Thredson won’t hear of it. Thredson is going to tell him what really happened.
Anne tells Sister Jude that Dr. Arden wasn’t known by that name back then. She has a flashback to the concentration camps. His name was Dr. Hans Gruper, and he was there when they arrived at Auschwitz on the trains. She recalls seeing him stop two twin boys from getting off with the rest of the children, and she thought they were lucky. As it turns out, no one was lucky. He’d come into the women’s barracks and bring them candy. He said that he wanted to help all of them but he couldn’t, so he’d leave it to a coin toss. The women who left with him came back unable to walk, so damaged that they rarely lived long afterwards. They’d been sworn to secrecy so no one ever understood what happened.
Thredson tells Kit that he married Alma in secret, and even though it was his greatest joy, he had to keep it a secret. He posits that it was this secret that pushed him to release the strain by attacking the librarian in January, removing her skin and her head. Was it because those things represent the things that society was punishing Alma about? Her race and identity? The same thing happened to a secretary outside of her house. The night that Alma died, Kit claims that his friends came to his house. He hid Alma, but the stress of having to hide her made him snap. We see him throw Alma into a table and beat her into a bloody pulp. Kit shakes his head, haunted by the portrait of a killer that Thredson is painting. He insists that he didn’t do it.
Sister Jude shakes her head. Dr. Arden is not a Nazi. She says that Anne can’t possibly know that because she wasn’t there at the camp. Anne thrusts her arm out and displays her tattooed ID number. She knows where she has been. But can Sister Jude say for sure that she knows where Arden came from?
Two orderlies dispense meds in the day room. Lana approaches and then stops, hearing a voice in her head. Slowly, the day room fades away and she’s accepting an award for her expose on the horrors at Briarcliff. Though the day room is still all around her, she steps up to the podium, now resplendent in a colorful dress and makeup, and gives a speech. She thanks the other inmates at Briarcliff whose stories broke her heart. She talks about Martha, who was beautiful when she entered the asylum after her husband’s death but now spends her time bashing her head against the wall. Then there’s Rudy, the chronic masturbator, whose habit got worse under the beatings he received. No matter how they tried to break her spirit, Lana pushes on, even though they keep trying to make her forget what she has seen. “She did everything she could to survive, and then she did what she had to to get out.” That said, she marches into Thredson’s office and asks to start his treatment.
Kit punches his ball of dough. Grace teases him about using the dough instead of taking his aggression out on Sister Jude, who ordered them to work double shifts. Kit’s wondering if maybe he is crazy. What if he imagined the whole thing because he doesn’t want to face the truth? What is he? Crazy or sane? Grace doesn’t care. She has made a decision to stay with him. They share a kiss, which leads to a passionate tryst on the countertop. (Where exactly is their supervision??) As they finish, the door opens and a guard walks in to catch them in the act.
Sister Eunice chooses a cane for Sister Jude to use on Grace and Kit. The cane she chose, she says, is fitting for their punishment. Sister Jude smiles and tells her that “she doesn’t know what has gotten into her,” but it’s an improvement. Oh, Jude, if you only knew…. Grace wants them to give out their punishments and be done with it, but Sister Jude is concerned that these two are far too familiar with each other and are trying to create a “murder baby.” Kit defends Grace, saying she was framed. Sister Jude orders them both to be sterilized. Frank the guard enters just as Kit tries to argue that they can’t do that to them. He tells Sister Jude that two detectives are there to see Dr. Arden. Sister Jude leaves, telling Sister Eunice and Frank to take Kit and Grace away while their paperwork is processed for their procedures. Sister Eunice wants to take Kit, and she sends Grace off with Frank. Sister Eunice has the eerie little smile on her face. What is she up to? Once they’re alone, Sister Eunice removes a file from the cabinet and puts it in front of Kit. As she leaves to give him privacy, she tells him that Grace isn’t as innocent as she claims to be. He leans forward and starts reading.
Ever the curious one, Sister Jude bursts into Dr. Arden’s office pretending to need him. The detectives rise to their feet. Dr. Arden looks very uncomfortable sitting at his desk while she introduces herself. They’re there to investigate charges brought upon the doctor by the prostitute that he’d attacked. He insists that there is no case while we flash back to their odd evening together. Arden doesn’t believe they even have a case against him, but they go on to say that the woman saw certain things—pornographic images, Nazi memorabilia—that make them want to look closer. He dismisses them and leaves the room, but hearing about the accusation only heightens Sister Jude’s concerns about him. It turns out that these aren’t vice detectives. They’re homicide detectives, and there are things about the evidence that caught their eye. They ask her about the charges against Kit Walker. Does he really seem like he possesses the surgical skills necessary to remove a woman’s skin, or to cut off her head with precision. Sister Jude’s eyes widen with alarm at the implications.
Lana sits in a darkened room with Dr. Thredson, who shows her image after image of women in provocative poses. Lana finally is so overcome she vomits into a bucket. He rubs her shoulder. He’s giving her a morphine drip, which helps with this therapy to teach the body to be repelled by certain triggers. He shows her a picture of Wendy that he brought from her house. He tells her to say “when,” and she manages to hold on several moments before getting sick. She asks for a few moments before he shows the next picture, but Thredson decides that they can stop this part of the treatment (aversion therapy) and move on to the next phase, conversion therapy. He’s pleased with her progress and suggests that she might enjoy the next phase. He brings in a young man, Daniel, who is willing (“honored”) to participate in her treatment. She says she’s willing to do whatever it takes, which means that Daniel will take off his robe and she will regard his physique. She’s afraid of him touching her, but Thredson says that she wants her to touch herself. She complies, slowly, and he tells her to “focus on his genitals.” She does. Then he asks her to keep touching herself while holding Daniel’s “member.” She manages this, but only for a few moments before she gets sick. Thredson ushers Daniel out of the room and tells Lana that they don’t have time to delve deeper into the causes of her fixation. They need to move on. How many of you Thredson fans just fell out of your chairs?
Sister Jude informs Monsignor O’Hara that detectives were at the asylum to interview Dr. Arden about the prostitute. She has reason to believe that he was a Nazi. The Monsignor listens to her but believes that this is all part of the personal vendetta that she has against Arden. When she insists that it’s the truth, he forces her to admit that the evidence comes from one of the inmates. Perhaps this job is too much for her, he suggests. She’d rather blame Nazi war criminals than look in the mirror to see the truth. She says she’s only trying to protect their shared dream of building Briarcliff into a premiere treatment facility, but he drops a bomb on her. He knows she has been drinking, and she was drinking on the night of the escape. He tells her to pray on it to find answers to this dilemma.
Dr. Arden is working on Shelley when the phone rings. It’s the Monsignor. “They’re onto you, Arthur,” he says as Shelley writhes on the table. “If you have any housekeeping to take care of, I suggest you do it now.” Dr. Arden regards Shelley on the table while the Monsignor takes a long, reflective drag on his cigarette.
Sister Jude tells Mother Superior that she “slipped.” The good Mother seems familiar with Jude’s story and tells her that God will present challenges all along the way. It was He who left the carafe of wine on her desk. Mother Superior suspects that Jude came to see her for other reasons, and she doesn’t seem surprised when Sister Jude tells her all about Dr. Arden’s transgressions and how the Monsignor doesn’t want to ask the difficult questions. Men are like that, Mother Superior sighs. They don’t like to be caught in these situations. She urges Jude to talk to someone who can help, but Jude is reluctant to go behind the Monsignor’s back given that he was the one who helped her to find her mission in life. Mother Superior disagrees, citing the fact that she was a broken woman when she arrived on her doorstep, but she always had a strong moral compass. Sister Jude just needs to get back on track.
Grace hears a door open. An orderly brings Kit to his cell. Sister Eunice is with him. Kit looks pale and sad and he doesn’t look over at Grace. Once he’s locked up, Sister Eunice leaves, casting a long look at Grace. Grace immediately asks if Kit is all right. They haven’t cut his balls off, he tells her. He demands to know why she lied to him. Grace realizes that he knows what she did, and she asks if he wants to hear that she’s sorry, which she isn’t. Then she tells the story of how her father used to come into their room at night and do things to her. She told her stepmother what was happening but she kept Grace quiet by giving her candy. Grace murdered her first, and then her father. Her stepsister saw her murdering her father. She asks if Kit is repulsed by her. He tells her he admires her for what she was able to do.
Dr. Thredson seeks Lana out in the day room. He tells her that he has felt sick for doing what he did to her. He gives her the photo of Wendy and tells her that he’s leaving at the end of the week, and he plans to bring Lana with him.
Sister Jude is in a room with Kit, who wants to confess about his crime. He wants to know if God truly knows everything. Does He know whether or not he killed those women? He can’t remember, but based on what everyone tells him, he must have done it. He begs Sister Jude to forgive him. She says that God forgives everyone who asks for it.
Dr. Arden drags Anne into his exam room. She has brought all kinds of trouble upon him. He taunts her, telling her that Anne Frank is dead. As he locks the door, she pulls a gun on him. She took it from one of the guards. When he comes closer, she shoots him in the leg. He falls to the ground but still taunts her. That’s when she hears the noises coming from the next room. She takes his keys and opens the door to find Shelley on the ground. Her face is covered in blistering welts. “Kill me!” she begs.
Well, my friends, this show has definitely taken off in a different direction now what we’re a third of the way into the season. Where do we even start? The scenes between Lana and Thredson were downright disturbing. Is Kit pretending to go along with Thredson’s suggestions, or is it possible that he really committed those murders? Is this really Anne Frank? And what is Monsignor O’Hara’s connection to Dr. Arden? As always, I want to hear your thoughts. Where is the show going? What more can possibly happen? Leave your comments below!