Have we turned a corner in this somewhat terrible but mostly boring season of American Horror Story? Perhaps we have! I mean, right off the bat guys, you know who just showed up at Briarcliff? It’s Anne Frank! Yeah, that Anne Frank! I know, we all thought she was dead too! (I mean, maybe she is. There are zombies and aliens and THE DEVIL and immortal serial killers so maybe the ghost of Anne Frank is hanging out like the Black Delilah was last season.)
Anne Frank gets locked up at a Boston mental institution in the ’60s because she stabbed some guys in the neck with a broken bottle for saying someone was trying to "jew" down the price of…I dunno, beer? "That’s how it always starts!" She hisses at Sister Jude. The funny thing about this is that Anne Frank is apparently in hiding, after escaping Auschwitz and getting married to an American soldier who brought her to his home country and then conveniently died. Anne hasn’t told her dad or anyone she’s alive because a) Her dad has a new family (so obviously he doesn’t want to know that his daughter survived the Holocaust), and b) Her book will only work its Holocaust Part II-preventing magic if people think of her as a symbol. (Like Batman? Just like Batman.) Her diary sells because it is about a martyred teen girl, not a bitter 30-something who stabs dudes in the neck. Also, she hates royalties.
And though we have a LOT of ground to cover today, we really need to pause here. Anne Frank has managed to spend twenty years hiding out in America? Sure, she’s good at it. We know that "hiding" is definitely in her unique set of skills. But how inconspicuous can she be when she has this little social quirk of going all Inglourious Basterds on any drunk dude who makes an ethnic slur? How is she not a serial killer at this point? A well-known serial killer, too, because Fraulein here doesn’t seem to have a problem telling Sister Jude who she really is. That’s right: she tries to get OUT of an asylum by insisting that she’s Anne Frank.
But Sister Jude, surprisingly, kind of believes her. After all, Anne Frank does have a tattooed wrist, and even better, she freaks out when she sees Dr. Arden, claiming that she knows him from the Holocaust. Apparently he was like the Auschwitz answer to Joseph Mengele (except the Auschwitz answer to Joseph Mengele was Joseph Mengele, so I guess Arden was only in the resident training program there?).
Anyhow, the idea of Anne Frank showing up at your mental institution is a lot easier to swallow if she fingers the guy you hate the most as a secret Nazi killer, let’s be honest.
The evidence is just mounting up for Arden. Like what is he planning on doing with Chloe Sevigny, whose legs he cut off in the last episode? He is probably going to make her into one his immortal zombie creatures, because the undead were not allowed to testify in court until the late ’60s, with the landmark case of Texas State vs. BRAAAAAINS.
Also, the cops are looking into that prostitute that he tried to rape, who saw all his Nazi stuff. Well, she’s dead or something, but the cops know about what happened that night, somehow. Things are looking pretty bad for Academy Award NOMINEE (not winner, my bad) James Cromwell. Where is THE DEVIL/Sister Mary Eunice when you need a body buried these days?
Speaking of THE DEVIL living inside Blondie, he doesn’t do a lot this episode. Makes you wonder what its/her game plan is. If you were the devil, would you want to spend your days in a depressing mental ward, having to pretend to be a nun and only occasionally killing Hispanic women with scissors? Seems like a waste of time. Besides, the real creep of the week is dark-horse candidate Dr. Thresdon. He has decided to help journalist Lana Winters escape from Briarcliff, since he knows she’s not crazy, just gay. Also, she reminds him of himself? "You headshrinkers are such hypocrites," Lana spits at Thredson when he offers to get her released. "According to your bible, the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, I’m sick."
Okay, fair, but maybe now is not the time to take out your rainbow pin and make a stand for gay rights, lady. TAKE THE FREE PASS!
Of course, Dr. Thresdon realizes that Lana is right. Being gay IS a mental illness, and he’ll only let her out if he can "cure" her. Lana eventually relents when she hallucinates herself winning a Pulitzer for the book she’s gonna write that exposes Briarcliff as a pretty average mental institution by that era’s standards. Obviously becoming super-saner by the second, Lana takes Thredson up on his offer to "cure" her, Clockwork Orange-style, by making her look at pictures of naked women while hooked up to an I.V. of throw-up medicine, Apomorphine. This type of "aversion" therapy is a disturbingly real thing that psychiatrists used to do, although treatments rarely involved slipping photos of their patient’s dead girlfriends into the slide reel, I don’t think. But what can Dr. Thredson say? He’s a romantic at heart. He stole the picture from Lana’s house (normal), because he thought she might want a memento of her brutally murdered girlfriend (normal) that will make her vomit every time she looks at it (very normal, nothing to see here).
Then comes the fun part! Without removing the I.V., Thredson makes Lana masturbate to and with an especially attractive, asexual-looking mental patient named Daniel. Hi Daniel! Where have you been all season? Thresdon keeps cheering Lana on as she sobbingly tries to make herself orgasm while touching Daniel’s "tumescence." (Fun fact: Danielle Steele was hired by Ryan Murphy to write all the euphemisms this season, which is why we keep hearing ostensibly threatening characters toss around terms like "mossy bank" and "rosebud tits.")
It’s a great scene though…maybe the best of the season. Somehow Thredson’s "compassion" is twenty times more horrifying than Sister Jude’s pious beatings or Arden’s over-the-top scary surgeon routine. It reminds me of when Zachary Quinto was on Heroes. His brain-eating, superpower-consuming character Sylar was so disturbing because he looked and acted like such a nice young man. If they re-re-make Psycho, Quinto should totally be Norman Bates.
The good head doctor is on some sort of charity tour, because he also promises Kit that he’ll lie to the judge and give an official diagnosis that he is too insane to stand trial for the Bloody Face murders. That way, Kit can stay at Briarcliff and not get the electric chair. But that’s only if Kit admits that he is really Bloody Face, even though Thredson now suspects that Kit is not the serial killer.
So, to recap: If Kit can make Thredson believe he murdered three women, Thredson promises to tell the world that he didn’t murder those three women that both he and Kit know he didn’t murder. What? Yes. Anne Frank.
Later in the kitchen, Kit and his BFF Grace sum up American Horror Story’s interpretation of mental health in one of the most amazing dialogue sequences in history:
Kit: What if I did make up all this stuff about alien abductions? What if I did murder those women?
Grace: Why are you bringing this up now?
Kit: Dr. Thredson is starting to say some things that make sense.
Grace: Well, if you were crazy, they wouldn’t make sense to you. Self-doubt is a sure sign of sanity. [Ed. note: Nope.]
Kit: Wait, you are confusing me. So you’re saying that if I were crazy, I wouldn’t believe Dr. Thredson, but if I’m sane, then my crazy stories would be true?
Grace: I have no idea what you just said.
Then they literally just start having sex on the kitchen counter, because thinking hurts their tiny, sane-or-whatever brains. It’s pretty hot, because Kit starts choking her, but then wait… Is that the same counter where the county’s best molasses bread comes from?! Gross!
Oh, I forgot to mention, Grace tells Kit that she’s locked up in Briarcliff because her stepsister got her boyfriend to murder her stepmom and dad and frame her for it. So, that is a backstory.
Luckily, they are caught and Sister Jude sentences them both to forced sterilization. Which I’m pretty sure you couldn’t even defend back in the uptight ’60s as this is consensual man-on-woman intercourse, but apparently the nun can’t let a "murder baby" into the world. (Sister Jude has seen Dexter, and she knows has this shit works.)
Sister Jude is in a particularly bad mood because the police won’t arrest Dr. Arden for murder and possible Nazism, and when she calls her crush, Monsignor Tim Howard, to rat him out, the priest makes an appearance for the first time in a while to yell at her and makes her very 🙁 for being a snoop. But then it turns out Howard is in league with Arden, because he calls the doctor and warns him that "they are onto him." The non-plot thickens!
Feeling vulnerable, Jude is actually openly sympathetic later on when Kit comes to her, confused from his overly-complicated Inception-style therapy session, and tries to confess to sins he doesn’t know if he committed or not. That makes Jude remember that time she ran mowed the shit out of a child with her car (how can we forget?), and she lets him keep his balls.
It turns out Grace did kill her dad and stepmom, but only because he was molesting her. She is sorry she lied to Kit, but he’s like, "It’s okay." Also, she’s still going to lose her uterus so they can still have sex without any fear of murder babies.
Anne Frank confronts Arden is his lab. "I know who you are!" She screams. “You don’t even know who you are!" Arden sneers. "Anne Frank? She died. Or didn’t you bother to read the book?" (Another fun fact: They had zingers in the ’60s, but they called them "zingles" and they cost a nickel at the corner store.) With no good retort, Anne Frank just shoots Arden in the leg with the gun she stole from the cops sent to question him earlier in the episode. But before she kills him, she hears scary scratching noises from behind one of his doors and demands that he give her the key to open it. Unusually bad self-preservation instinct, Anne Frank! When she does get the monster door open, a legless, face-melty Chloe Sevigny drags herself out.
"Kill meeeee," she rasps.
"Hi, I’m Anne Frank," says Anne Frank. Dr. Arden moans in pain, remembering all those Golden Globes he won for Six Feet Under.
And now it’s TO BE CONTINUED.
Follow Drew Grant on Twitter.