American Horror Story: Asylum, Season 2, Episode 4: I Am Anne Frank, Pt.1. Review

Yep, that's right, American Horror Story is playing the Anne Frank Card. This is one crazyass show and we think it is the TV show that has finally gone beyond "jumping the shark."

It didn’t take long for this season of American Horror Story to jump the shark. Well, maybe we should coin a new phrase here, seeing that the writers of American Horror Story have a penchant for “jumping the shark” weekly. Maybe we can say the series played the Anne Frank-is-still-alive card?  Whatever you want to say to express that tonight’s episode of American Horror Story was balls-to-the-wall crazy, go ahead and say it. “I Am Anne Frank, Pt.1” (yes, that is the actual title of the episode) decides to ditch telling a single story altogether and throws more exposition at you than any other television show could ever attempt to. The constant stream of backstory and flashback combined with the gratuitous addition of a Holocaust-inspired subplot and an unnecessary, unflinching depiction of sexual aversion therapy makes this episode a head-slapper. The bizarre additions to the story are almost comically over the top, but with this show, can you really expect anything else?

The episode begins with a noticeable absence of the present day storyline and dives right into the Briar Cliff, 60’s set action. A new patient has forced her way into the asylum. The woman found herself in police custody after attacking a man who made an anti-Semitic remark. After this, the new patient is writing about the difference between the asylum and concentration camps, when Arden walks into the room and she immediately charges at him. She begins screaming to all the other patients that Arden is a Nazi and gets herself put in Sister Jude’s office. She reveals to Sister Jude that she is actually Anne Frank. She claims that she faked her death at Auschwitz and traveled to the States. She goes on to say that she fell in love with a Marine who died in Korea at the same time that her diary was published and she never spike up about it, rather allowing herself to become a martyr. She continues to say that Arden was a Nazi Officer at Auschwitz who was seemingly nice, but always made women sick or disappear. It sounds like the Arden we know as well and adds to the suspicions that Sister Jude already had about the mad doctor.

Sister Jude decides to turn to the Monsignor with this information, but he does not want to hear it. He tells Sister Jude to drop her grudge and suspicions about Arden and to get the asylum under control. Soon after it is uncovered that the Monsignor and the Doctor are, predictably, in cahoots. Getting Jude off his case doesn’t clear the problems for Arden though. Eventually, Detectives arrive to question Arden about a missing woman, the whore from a few weeks ago, who filed a police report against the doctor accusing him of multiple crimes, including evidence of his Nazi involvement. The detectives have no hard evidence, so Arden is not arrested and he takes this opportunity to take “Anne” back into his laboratory. He traps “Anne” behind the door, but before he can harm her, she pulls a gun that she swindled from one of the detectives. She threatens to fire upon the doctor, but is distracted by the arrival of the immobile Sophie, disfigured and oozing, begging for death.

As nutty and all-encompassing as that story sounds, there was plenty more narrative being spun this week. Lana becomes a special interest of Dr. Threadson, who believes that Lana doesn’t belong behind the walls of the asylum. He offers to take Lana with him away from the asylum if she agrees to partake in his treatment. After daydreaming of accepting awards for her tell-all expose of the asylum, she consents to the treatment. The ensuing scenes of Dr. Threadson’s sexual aversion therapy on Lana, which involves a Clockwork Orange-esque operant conditioning technique and an overtly sexual and awkward attempt at forcing Lana to have sexual feelings for a fellow male patient, escalates to outlandish heights, such as Dr. Threadson saying, “focus on the genitals” while Lana touches herself. The therapy proves to be too much for Lana and she becomes overwhelmed. Cheerfully, Threadson encourages her and tells her how he will be rescuing her on Friday, which most certainly makes the viewers feel as if he will not.

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In other news, Kip and Grace’s relationship blossoms this week, as the two begin with discussing each other’s relative innocence. Grace claims she was falsely accused of her parents’ murders and also states that she accepts Kit whoever he is, innocent man or brutal serial killer. Kit warmly receives the compassion from Grace, but is having his doubts about himself. In his own sessions with Dr. Threadson, Threadson also deems Kit not insane, but claims he is only to try and help him and keep him from death. The only way that Threadson will continue to help Kit is if he accepts his crimes, which Threadson then begins recounting to Kit. Threadson’s reasoning and logic make sense to Kit and he begins to doubt his innocence and sanity.  After making love to Grace and being discovered by Mary Eunice, the demonic sister shows Kit Grace’s file, where it is revealed that Grace actually did murder her parents. When confronted with this by Kit, she doesn’t deny her crimes nor makes apologizes for them. The episode ends with Kit turning to Sister Jude for forgiveness for his sins and advice on how to become closer to god.

American Horror Story relentlessly tries to shove so much narrative down the viewer’s throat and this isn’t regular narrative we’re talking about, this is insane and overtly campy narrative and sometimes the viewer can choke on the nonsensicality of it all. This episode, which adds Nazi Doctors to its long expanding list of horrific villains, is one of those episodes. Still entertaining, the series can be hard to analyze on a critical basis and say that it all works, but just like one of Kit Walker’s victim, we’re hooked.