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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