Ten Things We Learned From American Horror Story Asylum, Episode 4 – “I Am Anne Frank, Part One”

Kit: You’re confusing me. You’re saying that if I’m crazy  I wouldn’t believe Dr. Thredson, but if I’m sane,  my crazy stories would be true?
[pause] 
Grace: I have no idea what you just said.

Well, that got ugly. Last night (unless you count Demon Sister Mary Eunice’s all-too-brief appearance as she happily picked out a cane with what looked like spikes on it for beating Kit and Grace), all the horror –and there were heaping helpings– had all-too-human causes. Nothing supernatural happened, but almost every character was in their own personal hell, caused by a fellow human being/s. There was also a strong theme of identity, sense of self, and which self you present to the world. Some characters present a wildly exaggerated version of the truth, some are willing to try to erase their identity in a ‘the ends justify the means‘ type of motive, some are more honest than we’ve ever seen them, and some show they not only have a dark side, but that dark side is enough to make them a monster. We see patient’s flashbacks that could be truth, or a lie. We see Dr. Thredson rather coldly explain to Kit why and how he killed his wife, and it’s shown in flashback format (for the record, I don’t buy it. As I recall, they were talking about telling everyone they were married, he wanted to share their love to the world, she wanted to wait).  Lana had a little fantasy (that I notice didn’t include Wendy–if so, I missed it) about finally being recognized as a serious reporter that was the final push for her to ask Dr. Thredson how soon she could begin treatment. Things didn’t go as Lana planned. Secrets, stories, and lies. We got introduced to this really quickly by Kit and Grace’s conversation in the kitchen at the beginning of the first act:

Grace: …it doesn’t matter what I believe.
Kit: It does. Especially in this place. Your story is who you are.
Grace. I wish I could forget my story.
Kit: No, you have to say it out loud all the time just to keep it straight in your head. Tell me. Tell me your story, I won’t judge you.

Which leads us to…

1. We learn that Grace’s father and step-mother were murdered with an axe (in a disturbing, gruesome scene that I loved) but that Grace’s stepsister, Patsy,  accused her of the murders and that ‘no matter how many times I told my story, no-one would believe me.’. We later find out (Sister Mary Eunice is more than happy to plop Grace’s file in front of Kit to show him ‘she’s not as innocent as she claims to be’ when they have a minute alone in Sister Jude’s office) this is a pack of lies (though I doubt anyone started to dislike Grace as a character when we heard the truth –especially coming from Grace as told to Kit ) and that Grace’s father sexually abused her-and she was ‘so young’ when it started. When she finally got up the courage to tell her step-mother, she didn’t believe her (or more likely, didn’t want to believe her) and gave her candy to keep her quiet. Finally Grace had all she could take, snapped, and killed both of them with an axe. While wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.  What seemingly pushed her over the edge, she says, was that her father had sold all her horses… and she never lied about how much she loved to ride. Grace’s sister walked in and caught her red-handed (rather literally in this case) hacking up her father, and so Grace was arrested and sent to Briarcliff. We don’t find out whether it was true that (as in Grace’s first version of the truth) her father and her step-sister Patsy (I assume she was a stepsister, and not his biological daughter) were secretly lovers who wanted the farmhouse for themselves. We also learn that Grace loved riding horses and misses the feeling of pure freedom and flight that it gave her more than anything else.

2. We discover that the high-end out call escort back in the episode Treats and Tricks was so terrified by her Halloween date with Dr. Nazi that she actually went to the police. I realize she was a more professional ‘lady of the evening’, who didn’t drink, but can you imagine actually going to the cops and saying that she was turning a trick, found some horrifying photos while rifling through his things, and (we don’t see this during the original scene, but I bought it) found some Nazi memorabilia. Looked like a medal of achievement he’d wear proudly), got so scared she ended up biting him and kneeing him in his groin to incapacitate him long enough to just get the fuck out of there? I’m surprised that (in 1964) they didn’t blow her off, threaten to arrest her if she made false accusations again, call her a whore and boot her out. My theory is she was friendly with someone in the department, which is why they took her seriously and even investigated. One of the cops also asks Sister Jude if Kit looks like someone who could skin a woman with “surgical precision”.

…they found her two days later. Her skin had been removed. So had her head.    -Dr. Thredson

 

3. Sister Jude is onto Dr. Arden. I especially liked the way she heard he was being questioned by detectives and then pretended to ‘accidentally’ walk in on their meeting.  Hmm, when I say Dr. Arden, should I perhaps say…

4.  Herr Doktor Hans Gruper, of the Nazi SS. Anne Frank (whose story is feasible, and if I know this show, I bet we’ll never find out anything more regarding whether or not it was true– if she’s lying, I don’t think she knows it). I believed the whole story, especially when Anne Frank/Kassie described him flipping a coin back in Auschwitz because he couldn’t save every girl, seeing the flashback, then seeing that same coin as described was one of the two Nazi souvenirs that poor prostitute found in the stash Dr. Arden had hidden in his bedroom. Not to mention, his interest in identical twins…

5.  We found Dr. Thredson’s fixation on ‘helping’ Kit is not as benevolent as we first thought. Remember when he seemed like the ONE person employed by Briarcliff, or in any position of authority there, who was sane? He objected to the exorcism as ‘outdated’, as well as the ECT done on Lana to ‘cure’ her homosexuality. We now have the seed planted in our minds that Dr. Thredson could be using his knowledge just to fuck with Kit, and maybe brainwash him into thinking he really did kill his wife. He fed him a story. Very firmly. If he can get the authorities to believe Kit did it but isn’t sane enough to stand trial, he’ll be “allowed to live out the rest of his days” at Briarcliff (oh goodie–I guess it’s still an improvement on the electric chair, though). By the end of the episode, he’s a weeping mess; telling Sister Jude that he doesn’t know any more, he must have done it, he doesn’t remember, but nothing else makes sense. Dr. Thredson seems to have accomplished his mission. Speaking of Dr. Thredson…

Could this be Bloody Face?

6. Dr.. Thredson also seemed like he cared a little about Lana and even hinted he might have had to go through aversion therapy himself at some point. He seems fixated, especially during this episode, about ‘helping’ Lana and Kit, even if he has to bend (Hell, even break) some rules to do it. We ask ourselves, what’s the common thread (no pun intended) between Lana and Kit? Bloody Face. I don’t know about Kit, but for Lana, we can’t see a happy ending, even if her only ‘crime’ was sneaking around Briarcliff so she could write an exposé and stop having to write about domestic issues and bake-offs due to being female. Dr. Thredson getting her out of Briarcliff, one way or another? “I’m leaving here on Friday and I’m taking you with me. I don’t know how yet, but… I will not leave you in this place, Lana. That’s a promise.” It’s too good to be true… especially on American Horror Story. Speaking of things not ending well…

Kit Walker. Does he seem like the kinda guy with the surgical precision to remove a woman’s skin …and her head?
-Detective questioning Sister Jude

 

7. While watching Lana’s revolting ‘aversion therapy’, I actually wondered who I felt more sorry for– Lana or Shelley. The sexy photo of Wendy that Dr. T suddenly revealed in the slides seemed an especially low blow …and he just took it from their house after he went to allegedly check in on Wendy and give her the note. Uh… there’s something way the fuck wrong with this picture. His description/flashback to her of the incident during movie night sounded kind of shady. He just broke in–Lana didn’t give him a key–saw some blood on the floor, then thought hey, while he was there he should grab that erotic photo of Wendy, then went to the cops, who told him the case was closed? I call bullshit on that. During the cold open, Shelly could still form coherent sentences, but at the end of the episode, she was barely recognizable; covered in boils, legs gone, one of her eyes larger than the other, only able to beg “Anne” to kill her. A mid-episode scene w/Dr. A on the phone showed her strapped to the table, unable to do anything but gasp and wheeze for air. My theory is he’s been giving her injections of diseases (like TB and syphilis) and if she lives through all of them, Shelley will “probably live forever,” per Dr. Nazi. For some reason, during this episode especially, I kept thinking of this certain HORRIBLE urban legend (fortunately, I only heard it as an adult, though it still  messed me up) when it came to Shelley’s fate.  When I think of Shelley now, I daydream about a scenario on the season finale where someone (hopefully all the female cast members he treated like dogs who have survived the season) cuts off Dr. Arden’s hands and feet and tosses him to the Raspers …and who is that crawling out of the fog and trees towards him? Now that we see her more closely could that be …Shelley, horribly mutated and deformed at the evil shithead’s hands, who happens to be very hungry?  Why, yes, that is her, and since she’s so messed up, it’s going to take her hours to chew his face off!  Now THAT would be a great pay-off. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Anne: I know who you are!
Dr. Arden: You don’t even know who you  are!

 

8. Monsignor Timothy turned out to be a rotten prick. He’s in on Dr. Arden/Gruber’s evil Nazi past, but maybe he’s being blackmailed. Still, he was so shitty to Sister Jude when she finally went out on a limb to discuss it with him. He knows her weaknesses, and how to hurt her. “This isn’t about me. I am trying to protect you, this institution, our dream!”  Sister Jude entreats him. “Maybe this job is too much for you,” he sneers cruelly to her. “This job means everything to me,” she tells him,” we believe her, and he knows it. Then he has the nerve to bring up Movie Night, and gets downright shitty, telling her she was, “a drunken fool, almost slobbering.” Tough Sister Jude wiped away tears. Hey, you don’t say that to a woman, Father Jerkoff, even if she is a Nun; she wants to keep her dignity. After telling her to “pray on it” (grrrr) he immediately returned to his office, got on the phone w/Dr. Nazi, tersely telling him, “They’re onto you, Arthur. If you have any housekeeping to take care of, I suggest you do it now.” Monsignor Timothy replaces the phone headset back on the receiver, and takes a long drag off his cigarette. So they’re on first name terms?

“You killed the thing you loved most” – Dr. Thredson, to a weeping Kit

9. Sister Jude does have a heart. Oh, she’s scary as hell, ordered Grace and Kit to be ‘sterilized’ when she accuses them of ‘trying to make a murder baby! ‘and insanely strict, but I think she did feel some motherly concern for “Anne Frank” after seeing the concentration camp numbers tattooed on her inner arm. She has a talk with the Mother Superior, who is surprisingly cool and supportive of her. Later, when Kit says he wants to confess to her (not about banging Grace in the kitchen, as she first assumes) “about his crimes”. He asks her even if did something bad but couldn’t remember doing it, “he knows, right?” Sister Jude flashes back to the hit-and-run (which she still can’t forget, so far I think she was hammered, but not in a total blackout) and softly answers him, “God sees all.”  She also is visibly moved when he tells her,  stammering, “I need to be forgiven,” and she responds with surprisingly genuine compassion. “God forgives all.” She even puts her hand on his shoulder to comfort him, but the scene abruptly cuts away to the physical confrontation between Dr. Nazi and “Anne”. Was I the only one yelling, “Shoot him! JUST SHOOT HIM!” at the screen? I think not. I cheered when she called him a ‘Nazi piece of shit!’ and shot him in the knee. I hope it hurt like hell.

But there are eyes everywhere. The eyes of madness and disease. These people here are resigned to die here. We were never resigned. We always held on to a shred of hope. —“Anne Frank” in a letter to “Kitty”

 

10. Finally, no-one seems especially concerned about the complete and total disappearance of Shelley, Pepper the Pinhead, or “The Mexican.” In fact, it only came up in a flashback when Dr. Thredson was telling Lana that he saw her, Kit, and Grace leave and then return together, all three soaking wet from the rain and shaking with fear.

Stray Thoughts:

  • I had a bad feeling when Dr. Thredson brought up Skinner’s ‘behavior modification’ rather than ECT treatments to treat homosexuality, since we know that’s horrible bullshit too and definitely know in 2012 that being gay is not a choice, not something that can be cured, and certainly that aversion therapy continues to this day and the data shows that if anything, it does more harm than good. On the bright side, gay marriage has now become legal in my state as of election night, so society has finally made progress, at least in more liberal areas of the US. Looking forward to going to lots of weddings! I know it won’t undo all the damage done in the past, but it’s a good start.
  • From the previews, it looks like someone’s getting a lobotomy (icepick-style, through the corner of the eye, AAAAGH) on “I Am Anne Frank, Part Two.”  There was a shot (see featured image) of Kit being dragged down a hall by guards, but I think it’s a fake out and that the eye they showed looked (sadly) like Grace’s. Could Sister Mary Eunice be behind this, while Sister Jude is pre-occupied with investigating Dr. Nazi.

  • Is it just me, or is it somehow much more revolting when sexual terms are described with their clinical names? The four-letter words might be filthy, but they sound much less creepy. Bleh.  It seemed like Dr. Thredson was trying to use euphemisms, but no wonder his comment, “We’re all rooting for you,” finally made her grab the bucket and really puke harder than even the chemicals had.
  • Wondering how they got the flashback version of Dr. Gruper/Arden to look exactly like he would decades ago?  The actor was James Cromwell’s son! You can read more about it here in this Huffington Post article.
  • Which reminds me–I’ve heard and seen that “Miller 64” commercial (the one that consists of the manly men singing what sounds like an Irish sea shanty) 300 too many times, to the point where I’M  going to need a bucket like Lana’s if I have to sit through it again. They play it on Sons of Anarchy every commercial break, too. UGH! Where’s the bucket?
  • Dr. Thredson is looking very good for either Bloody Face, or being involved. I hear Lana’s “re-union” with Wendy will be the stuff of nightmares.
Anne Frank Chestnut Tree. Edited for brightnes...

Anne Frank Chestnut Tree.. Derived from Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

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