American Horror Story: I am Anne Frank, Pt. 2

Posted on November 15, 2012

We said it last season and we’ll say it again: No matter what complaints you may have about American Horror Story, you can’t deny that shit goes DOWN. It’s so refreshing to have a show that’s not afraid to advance the plot. Too many shows spend an entire season barely advancing anything, only to have everything happen in the last two episodes. Not so with American Horror Story. This show will happily give you whiplash just to keep you on your toes.

And it’s also – in another refreshing twist – not particularly in love with mysteries for the audience to figure out. Many viewers suspected there was something off about Dr. Thredson – some going so far as to insist he was Bloody Face – and, just like last year’s Rubber Man reveal, the show didn’t even wait until the halfway point before letting them all know they were right. No, if there’s any mystery to be figured out here, it’s what the hell is going to happen next.

Seriously: Sister Jude doffed her habit for a drunken one-night stand. Lana’s been whisked away from the asylum. Thredson is Bloody Face. Kit is arrested. Shelley was last seen hobbling her way across a schoolyard, as screaming children run away from her. Grace was abducted – and it looks like impregnated – by aliens. Sister Mary SATAN is happily traipsing through Briarcliff, and it looks like Arden really was a Nazi. Can you possibly figure out where this is going? We’re at a loss – and we LOVE that about this show.

Rather than talk about what happened or try to hypothesize about what’s going to happen next, we’d rather take the time to marvel at how masterfully directed and acted this episode was. When Sister Jude told the story about her mother and the squirrel, Jessica Lange gave a Master Class on acting to the audience. Could you not see and hear her mother? Could you not feel the ache inside Sister Jude’s heart? She’s fucking brilliant, and we hope they throw every acting award available at her for that one scene alone. We weren’t entirely sure how she was going to transition from the drunken, oversexed southern belle she played last season to the cold, New England nun she’s playing this season, but that’ll teach us to never doubt her skills as an actress.

In addition, props must be paid to Sarah Paulson, who played her terror magnificently. We were shaking right along with her.

As for the direction, we loved the use of music this episode, especially in the scene with Sister Jude at the bar, evoking mid-Century melodramas. And the use of the home movie-like 8mm film to depict “Anne Frank’s” homelife was jarring, but emotionally arresting.

Having said all that, we still think the show is biting off way more than it can chew, with aliens, demonic possession, the Holocaust, the degradation of pre-Women’s lib wives and mothers, aversion therapy, alcoholism, serial killers, torture porn and mutated humans. As much as we loved this episode – a high mark for the season AND the series – we’re not assured that it’s all going to wrap up well.

One final note: Dr. Thredson’s repeated references to B.F. Skinner. Bloody Face, skinner. Oh, you clever bastards.  It was right there the whole time.

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  • Sobaika

    The direction really was masterful in this episode. There was a series of unsettling angles and long single-take shots in Thredson’s home created an alarmingly tense few minutes.

    And seriously – lampshades out of human skin?? Blech.

    • http://twitter.com/Goldielox73 Goldie

      And the skull mint bowl?  No, thanks, my breath is fresh enough.

    • MilaXX

       all I could think was “put the lotion in the basket!’

      • GinAndPopcorn

         I was right there with you, MilaXX. “It rubs the lotion on it’s skin, or else it gets the hose again.”

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/21151157@N00/ rawrgrowlrawr

      And were there NIPPLES on it? I can’t. 

    • UsedtobeEP

      That was a common rumor (well, I guess verified rumor) about what some Nazis did with the skin of their Jewish victims. Horrible.

    • fallen_ikon

      Ed Gein made lamp shades, chair seats, and other things out of human skin. I figured they were basing Bloody Face off of him..there are a couple of horror movie killers who are based on him.

      • JosephLamour

        He’s exactly who I thought of. The furniture Gein made was all ugly though. I think it made it creepier that BF’s house looked like it could be in Mad Men but there was lady skin furniture everywhere. That made it 300% more frightening to me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

    Anyone who refers to Skinner often is a psycho — not just in TV but in life as well.  Dude put his kid in a BOX!

  • http://twitter.com/Goldielox73 Goldie

    I love Zachary Quinto so much that I was hoping his character would turn out to be a good guy after all.  But, the reason I  love him is Sylar so how could I not be excited to see a return to evil for him as an actor? 

    How did Shelley get to the schoolyard?  Sister Mary Satan indicated she’d taken her into the woods with Dr. Arden’s other experiements.  At least he assumed that and she didn’t contradict him.  Did she take Shelley to the school or is Shelley still aware enough that she dragged herself there trying to find help?

    • funkycamper

      It doesn’t make sense to me for Shelley to crawl to the school, then down the stairs, then back up again.  I’m thinking Sister Mary Satan took her to the bottom of the stairs.  Why?  Who knows with this crazy show!

      • JosephLamour

        I think its SMS’s goal to ruin everyones life, then to kill them. This ruins his life, because they’ll take Shelley to the hospital, but she won’t be able to tell them who did that to her, but it’ll be all over the news, and people will get questioned at the hospital, and eventually, he’ll get his. Also, can a lobotomy not take?

        • http://twitter.com/Goldielox73 Goldie

          Something about the look on Anne/Charlotte’s face made me wonder that too.

    • MilaXX

       I think Shelley was dumped in the sewage maybe? She appeared to be crawling from underground.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/21151157@N00/ rawrgrowlrawr

      I think Sister Mary Satan was trolling the world by bringing Shelley to the school. Move the body and scare a bunch of innocent children at the same time? Good deal!

      • notterriblybitter

        This is my theory too. What fun it must be to be Satan. You can mess with everyone and then stand back and watch the show.

      • Carolyn

        I think she dumped her there. Surely she will be able to tell someone where she came from?

  • funkycamper

    I could have watched Lange do a monologue for the entire episode.  Masterful!  Love mid-century modern design and want Thredson’s apartment!  I’ll just replace the lamps and candy bowls.

    I’m thinking “Anne Frank” is going to serve baked baby as the pot roast.  Ewwwww…but this show wouldn’t shy away from something like that.

    Those kids, even that teacher, are going to have nightmares for life!

  • Le_Sigh

    Oh GREAT.  Now I’m going to HAVE to watch this show.    

    Thanks.  Thanks a lot boys.  Here I was, thinking I’d finally kicked my mainlining tv shows habit.  Now I can’t wait!

    Love and Kisses,
    This Bitter Kitten.

  • MilaXX

    I did enjoy this episode.  Last week I was worried that it was going to just be all blood and gore with no plot. That bored me last season and I turned if off. This week we had Sister Jude’s backstory, Lana/Dr. Thredson and Anne Frank. getting to view the characters as people makes the impact of the horror come across better. Otherwise I just see red gelatin smeared on actors & CGI props.

  • http://twitter.com/theclarinetist Donald Hite

    I was defending the show last week but I admit for about half this episode I was thinking “I dont know how much more misery I can withstand without some tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel.” I think I was hoping for some hint that the bad guys would get theirs in the end.

    Then all this crazy stuff happened, and I was right back on board. Ultimately, I still want to see arden get what he deserves and all that, but mostly I was just wanting some new kind of misery, and boy did they give me that. I felt like the asylum stuff was becoming repetitive (the jude/arden power struggle, involuntary medical procedures, the kit/grace dynamic), and this episode was the shake up we needed.

  • Isana Leshchinskaya

    i’ve been marveling at the direction and camerawork since the exorcism episode. absolutely wonderful, wholly cinematic, rich visually, with great pacing (see, parents, that film studies degree was not a complete waste!) on top of that, murphy loves to play with his audience, to make them an active participant in the story, and is not afraid to throw lots of cliches together to create something that feels rather new. that’s talent. love it. it’s crazy, sometimes a mess, but i love it. and so happy to have zachary quinto back at doing what he does best – cracking skulls and scaring the pants off ladies.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/21151157@N00/ rawrgrowlrawr

    For some reason, the last scene with Stepford Anne creeped me the hell out. I’m still so afraid for that baby. 

  • littlemissstrange

    A new Sylar is born.

    One altogether more FUCKING CREEPY.

    Can’t wait for the next episode, Zachary Quinto plays such an exquisite villain…..

  • UsedtobeEP

    I agree completely that this was one of the best episodes of the series. I did not see ZQ as Bloody Face until the last possible second because I was a little distracted, but when he told the guard he never worked at the asylum, I thought, “HM, this won’t end well.” He has played his role amazingly well. He must be planning to keep his new victim alive for a really long time. I think he is serious about getting her to write his bio. Ugh, I really don’t want to see what exactly the nutmeg is for.

    • tereliz

      Nutmeg really does make everything better. I add it to everything, especially eggs.

      • UsedtobeEP

        I love nutmeg. I may not be able to love it the same way after next week, which is the same, just before the holidays.

      • ZnSD

         Nutmeg can be used as a poison. an hallucinogen, and, as an abortifacient. So I’m not sure he’s making eggs in the Saw Lab. Unless they’re Ms. Paulson’s.

        • tereliz

          LOL! 
          Sounds like something you get out of your grocer’s cannibalistic freezer. Ms. Paulson’s Nutmeg Eggs. OF DOOM!

  • Markatha

    I admit it.  I’m a tad concerned that I enjoy this nasty, gross show so much.  Maybe I’m ready for Briarcliff.
     
    This season is another thrilling Amusement Park Horror Ride. 
    I never quite know for sure what’s around the next disgusting corner. 
    And what a cast of ‘interesting’ characters & actors. 
    This season may be more scary to me. 
     All the “doing hideous things to people against their will” stuff really gets under my skin & wigs me out, yikes!
     
    Jessica Lange is fucking fearless & brilliant. I could watch her forever.
    I was surprised by Sister Jude’s Journey this week.
    Shelley’s story is pretty horrifying, OMG. 
    I agree, Sarah Paulson had me shivering right there with her. Lana has had a rough couple weeks to be sure. 
     Dr. Thredson’s apartment was kickass, nice trapdoor!
     I really wasn’t expecting Anne Frank to get a Lobotomy.  That’s one busy Nazi mad scientist doctor.

    You can’t accuse this show of being boring. 
    I’m all in (which probably means I need help) till the gruesome bitter end.

  • http://www.lifeinspice.com/ rose88

    Part of the genius of this show is that I was 99% sure Thredson was Bloody Face last week and yet the reveal was no less unsettling to me even though I saw it coming.

    But I’m not a fan of the whole torture porn genre and I’m not exactly looking forward to whatever is coming next for poor Lana.  I’m hoping they show some restraint and can imply more of the horrors than they actually show.  I almost wish Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto weren’t such amazing actors because they’re making this way too believable!  That “Oh shit!  I’m in the serial killers lair!” moment has been done so many times it’s a horror cliché but goddamn if they didn’t manage to play it totally straight and make it seem almost fresh.

    This episode really got to me and even gave me nightmares.  Part of me wants to stop watching because it’s getting too violent and intense for me, but I just can’t do it, I gotta stick it out to the end. Oh, AHS, I wish I could quit you!

  • dougldallas

    Twins. Maybe from the nazi flashback. Made to be killers. That is why he said he never worked there. I think hes a evil twin or their both evil. I also think his plan is to desensitize her and produce stockholm syndrome… then they start a family of masked killers. Two of whom killed the married couple in present day. She will be forced to desecrate her girlfriend which why he said he had purpose for her. I have night theory for the aliens… but the homage to real life horrors and movie horrors has me convinced that this is where the story is going.

  • dougldallas

    I more theory. Priest has ardens back cause he is the father (never mind the preist get up in 1964) of young dr or dr + twin. He bargained against his families survival. But the nazi dr turned them/him into killers. This would allow him to move in and out of the hospital pretending to be a doctor and does not need a twin scenario. It would also offer some purpose to the preist alerting arden and satisfy the idea that he was not there working, just hanging round dad.

  • http://twitter.com/otterbird otterbird

    Oh, Jessica Lange.  You and your horror monologues (I still remember the dying dog monologue in Cape Fear).  How about next season they bring on Kathy Bates and she and Jessica Lange can have epic horror monologue throw downs? 

    Shout out to EW’s recap of this week’s episode, which was so analytical I thought for a moment I was back in undergrad.   Really good read (they also caught the BF Skinner thing).

    • dharmabum8

      That’s a freakin amazing idea. Ryan Murphy, make it happen.

  • notterriblybitter

    Does anyone know what the demon said to Thredson during the exorcism? He (the demon) was mocking everyone, calling them out on their past transgressions, and he made one quick remark to Thredson, and then the scene moved on. I’ve deleted that episode from my DVR and now I’m really curious about what he said. 

    • http://www.lifeinspice.com/ rose88

      He assumed a woman’s voice and said “Oliver, now that I see what you’ve become I’m glad I gave you up.”  Presumably it was the voice of his mother although it isn’t spelled out.

      • notterriblybitter

        Thanks so much! So we’ve got a Nazi doctor with a Madonna/whore complex and a serial killer doctor with mommy issues. Sister Jude is beginning to look like the epitome of sanity and reason.

  • VermillionSky

    Did lobotomies really work that well?  I thought they didn’t turn patients into fabulous Stepford wives, but made them more docile by mentally handicapping them (e.g., Rosemary Kennedy).

    • http://twitter.com/otterbird otterbird

      I think that was one of the things about the change in video (or from video to film) in the shots of Charlotte at home- you’re not sure if what you’re seeing is real or just her husband’s fantasy.

    • Terrie_S

      Not everyone had severe damage to their intellect. There’s a great story about it at http://www.npr.org/2005/11/16/5014080/my-lobotomy-howard-dullys-journey.

  • LilyPad

    I can’t watch this show any more because it gives me terrible nightmares but it sounds like I am missing out on a lot this season! I still very much enjoy reading your recaps

  • PaulaBerman

    As someone who suffered post-partum depression and had a child who cried through every night for just about the first year of his life… the Anne Frank story scared the ever-loving crap out of me.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GZETLYE67HA4WXILJ72I7UCCJY Jennifer

       My son didn’t sleep past 4 or 4:30 until he was 18 months old. As soon as we heard her backstory, I knew I would have landed in Briarcliff prior to modern medicine, too.

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealSandraOh Sandra Oh

    It’s like watching a massive trainwreck each week.  I just can’t take my eyes off of it.

  • http://twitter.com/cookoorikoo shana lee hampton

    here’s a conversation i had with my husband about AHS:

    shawn: you’re still watching this show?me: yes. its a hot mess and i don’t really understand what happens every week or how on earth they’re going to wrap this up but i honestly have fun every week. its like a horror experiment.shawn: so, its horror free jazz?and for fuck’s sake, jessica lange is awesome.

  • GTrain

    How do you watch while your wife gets lobotomized? Something about that husband ain’t right.
    Sara Paulson really brought it in her last scene. That wasn’t Friday the 13th squealing; it sounded like real terror to me.

  • ZnSD

    See? I knew you could do it. Once you got over the “throw everything at the wall to see what sticks” critique (which is totally valid btw) you love it. Who wouldn’t…although. The lab room beneath the closet? It’s a bit too on the nose. And WAY too “Saw”. Yuck. Now I see the “torture porn” aspect of this. I wasn’t really seeing it before, I thought they were anomalies (yeah, right!) but yuck. Ok, who doesn’t love a lampshade made of skin (hello reference to weird Nazi shit) or a candy dish made from the skull of a lady? They do like to pile it on. In the Ryan Murphy world, more is definitely MORE. But GIRL! Did you SEE his fireplace? To die for.

  • Teresae Donovan

     

    Yes, this season of AHS is definitely full of material with
    no clear direction on some of the more obscure parts. I’m not sure if this will
    culminate in some massive aha moment at the end of the season but the major
    story lines it’s going right now are enough to carry the season. You just never
    know with SOA so I’ve got my DISH Hopper recording the show each week. It’s
    four times more recording space than all the other DVRs out there which means I
    don’t have to rush to watch everything I’ve recorded. Two heart wrenching
    scenes two weeks in a row: the first one with Lana and the aversion/ conversion
    therapy and the scene about the baby squirrel. My DISH co-worker was blown away
    by the Dr. Thredson is Bloody Face reveal. I had a feeling all along. He was
    just too nice and there was something off about him I just couldn’t out my
    finger on.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5UQHEKG5EDX4T6NMARUC565TPQ Amy

    Dear AHS creators:

    You owe me money for the therapy this show is going to cost. Seriously..I was NOT having nightmares during your first season and now I absolutely must finish this season to find out how it all ends!

    That said..Jessica Lange must have been dying to get out of that nun getup and into her seduction clothes! She played the lady of the night bit so well!  She deserves the most trophies…but Lana and Anne Frank deserve one too :)

  • littlemissstrange

    Can’t wait for tonight…. all of you who haven’t seen Heroes, you are in for a treat. Actually all of us are in for a treat. But for those who haven’t seen Zach Quinto play a villain, prepare your loins. He’s the sexiest serial killer there ever was.

  • Donna Kanabay

    Hey, guys, did we miss your write-up on last week’s American Horror Story??