AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM Episode Recap: “I Am Anne Frank: Part 1″

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Last week’s episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum featured a nor’easter just as the East Coast was being slammed by Hurricane Sandy.  Things were a lot quieter on the show this week which means there was time for some ::gasp:: character development!  Along with some shocking revelations about current characters, we were introduced to a new character by way of Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) playing the title role in the first installment of this two-parter.

American Horror Story: Asylum stars Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe, along with newcomers Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Chloe Sevigny, Lizzie Brochere and Clea Duvall. Hit the jump for the recap of tonight’s episode, “I Am Anne Frank: Part 1.”

sarah-paulson-american-horror-story-asylum[You have entered spoiler territory.  Turn back now or commit yourself to the insanity.]

In tonight’s recap, we were spared the contemporary timeline in order to focus on Briarcliff in 1964.  We were also treated to a few flashbacks, including a black-and-white trip to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz (how fun!).  This tied in to Briafcliff’s newest resident, one who claimed to be Anne Frank. While her history may be in question, so is Dr. Arden’s as he’s accused of being a Nazi doctor by Frank and suspected of being the Bloody Face killer by police.  Meanwhile, Lana is undergoing aversion therapy by an incredibly helpful Dr. Thredson while the Mother Superior consults a confused Sister Jude.  Elsewhere, Kit seeks help from Dr. Thredson and Sister Jude, but ultimately finds acceptance in Grace, who has been hiding a few secrets of her own.

And there we have the theme of tonight’s episode: secrecy.  How fitting that Anne Frank, whether it’s really her or not, makes an appearance, a young Jewish teenager who hid in secret to avoid imprisonment at the Nazi concentration camps.  Other revealed secrets include Dr. Arden’s past life as Nazi doctor Hans Gruber (not 100% on this name, but I like to pretend he’s the predecessor of Alan Rickman’s Die Hard villain), the real reason that Grace has been admitted to Briarcliff, what Monsignor Timothy Howard is up to and just how those cannibals in the woods came to be.  Let’s take them one at a time.

First up, let me just say that I’m glad this is a two-part episode.  The past three episodes have had a relentless pace that seemed to want to just throw the kitchen sink into the plot. While some might find this episode boring, I very much appreciated the slow-down in pace for some good old fashioned character development.  The thinnest of these, however, is the newly introduced Anne Frank.  We’re introduced to her at the very beginning as she’s been involuntarily committed for stabbing some anti-Semitic bar patrons with a broken bottle.  She then narrates her diary entry (dear God…) and refuses a friendly word of advice from Lana.  At least she hilariously points out the repetitive song, “Dominique” that keeps playing (and is slowly driving me insane).  She sticks to her Auschwitz story throughout the episode, loudly condemning Dr. Arden as a “Nazi swine,” eventually getting Sister Jude to come around and believe her story (which was confirmed by Monsignor Howard in a bit of a twist!) and finally confronting Dr. Arden in his own operating room with a gun she lifted from the investigating detectives.  While I was surprised when she shot Arden in the leg, I was more surprised to find a legless and pustule-ridden Shelley crawling on the ground in Arden’s alcove!  What will become of our poor nymphomaniac?

frances-conroy-american-horror-story-asylumThe bloodiest of stories goes to Grace this week.  At first, she spins a woe-is-me yarn of being framed for the murder of her father and step-mother, but then she confesses to going all Lizzie Borden on them because her father abused her and her step-mother turned a blind eye.  While you would think Kit would be repulsed by the confession, he admits to admiring her (what?)…perhaps it has something to do with their impromptu bang session on the bakery table.

The creepiest storyline has to belong to Dr. Thredson, who seems like a decent guy most of the time, and Lana, who is now doing anything and everything she can to get out of Briarcliff.  After hallucinating that she made it out of the facility and earned a journalism award for her bravery and ground-breaking reporting, Lana seeks out the good doctor.  Dr. Thredson knows she tried to escape but wants to help her, so Lana agrees to undergo aversion therapy.  The scenes of her vomiting into a bucket at the sight of scantily-clad women (one, her own girlfriend, Wendy, may she rest) were bad enough, but the conversion therapy was way worse.  In an effort to “straighten” Lana out, Dr. Thredson brings in a young male patient and has Lana “regard his physique” while touching herself and eventually touching him.  I don’t know if this was an accurate medical practice back in the 60s, but Thredson’s creep level was nearing Arden’s in this scene.  Regardless, it looks like Thredson may try to help Lana escape the facility when he leaves at the end of the week.

Kit might have gone through the most ups and downs this week as he searches for acceptance in all the wrong places.  He’s once again poked and prodded by Arden in an effort to find the alien tracer, mentally used and abused by Dr. Thredson in an attempt to keep him out of the electric chair but also be cured of his delusions of alien abductions, emotionally wracked by his ongoing tryst with Grace and placed on the path of spiritual salvation by asking Sister Jude for forgiveness.  But he sure beat the hell out of that dough and got a bit rough with Grace, so are we so sure he didn’t pummel Alma to a bloody pulp?

zachary-quinto-american-horror-story-asylumMore questions left to be answered include: What is Sister Mary Eunice/The Devil up to?  What ties does Monsignor Timothy Howard have to Dr. Arden/Hans Gruber?  Will the cops storm in to arrest Dr. Arden and find Shelley or will he manage to slither out of the snare once more?  Did Kit and Grace make a “murder baby?”  Just who the hell is Bloody Face anyway?! Be sure to tune in next week for our recap of “I Am Anne Frank: Part 2″ when I know at least one of those questions will be answered!

Rating: 8 out of 10 diary entries. 

Quotes:

  • Grace: “I missed the freedom of riding my horses.  It felt like flying.”  Kit: “You’ll fly again.”
  • Sister Jude to Sister Mary Eunice: “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Sister, but it’s a marked improvement.”
  • Sister Jude to Kit and Grace: “What were you doing, trying to make a murder baby?”
  • Dr. Arden to the detectives: “This is utter hogwash!”
  • Dr. Thredson to Lana: “I want you to regard his physique.  Try to focus on his genitals.  Now take your other hand and place it on his member.  Good.  Now, I want you to try and associate the pleasure you’re feeling to his tumescence.”  Lana: VOMIT!
  • Grace: “Did they…” Kit: “Cut my balls off? Not yet!”
  • Sister Jude: “God knows all.”

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  • Mary

    This episode was the worst one yet. I couldn’t stop yawning! I seriously hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come because I didn’t sign up for this new AHS

    • Carrie Arnett

      ARE YOU SERIOUS??! No way! If you didn’t like it, I’m gonna say you don’t like ANY of these types of shows… I love this shit! And for me, it was AWESOME!!

  • Ben

    This show is so bad. I thought the first season was shlock but this is just outright ridiculous. If you want to know what people mean when they say a director/showrunner/writer/etc is “wanking” just look at this show, Glee, and Nip/Tuck. Murphy uses his gay identity to explain away the most inconsistent, 2dimensional characters in modern TV history, and shameless, selfish, shallow exploitation of social taboos. Really disgusting. As a huge fan of horror stories, especially ones that skewer religious hypocrites & self-aggrandizing psychotherapists, this show should be a no brainer for me. Unfortunately, this is the worst possible incarnation of what is essentially a cool premise. Ultimately, The Voice is better than this show and that is just unbelievably sad.

  • Pingback: American Horror Story: Asylum Recap: Anne Frank Checks Into Briarcliff – E! Online - CupOLinks

  • dogg

    It was the CHARACTERS of the first season that made it good–not ass shots and fetish BS. They think sneaking R rated content onto basic cable is a big draw, but it just feels gratuitous.

  • Maureen

    I don’t know how you can say Ann Frank has the thinnist character development, not when Shelley has been left to languish in Arden’s “lab” and is neither mentioned by anyone else, nor has anything going on but being tortured/experimented on. She seems to be such a wasted character. Little to no development of backstory, then bam she’s a freak who will soon be gone.

  • nico

    Really enjoying this sick series. Last night’s episode was fun. I especially like how nothing is as it seems. It’s not predictable. Can’t wait till next week!

    • ISeemToBeAVerb

      As well, nico. And as you said nothing is as it seems. Watching it last night it occurred to me Zachary Quinto’s psychiatrist character CAN’T be all Mr Nice Guy as he seems.

      Great twisted show!

  • Patrick

    My favorite aspect of last night’s episode was the question of sanity. It was the first time I questioned whether or not what the characters said or did was real or not. My coworker at DISH said he never thought he would feel so badly for Shelley when the show premiered. I’m recording the whole season on my DISH Hopper so I don’t miss any of the little subplots Ryan Murphy throws in. With 2000 hours of recording time available I don’t have to worry about having space for all my favorite shows. I loved Franke Potente as Anne Frank even if her story as being Anne Frank isn’t really believable.

    • Shauni

      Your constant marketing of DISH and your Hopper makes me want to go out of my way to avoid DISH and Hopper. Please stay on topic. Thanks.

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