A weekly investigation of “American Horror Story: Asylum,” as well as, when applicable, an investigation of the “American Horror Story: Asylum” bakery. Spoilers lie ahead.
Announcement: this week’s episode of "American Horror Story: Asylum" is being incorporated into the history curricula in every high school throughout this great nation.
Really, how else are students supposed to learn that Anne Frank is not only still alive but also a Korean War widow who married a guy from Jersey, as well as a gutsy mental patient who gets into bar fights with anti-Semites and, also for the record, Lola from “Run Lola Run”?
We all thought Frank tragically died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It turns out, per the “American Horror Story: Asylum” episode “I Am Anne Frank, Pt. 1,” she survived and eventually got out of Germany while picking pockets and, presumably, doing this:
Of course, that’s the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk version of Holocaust and post-Holocaust events. Which, perhaps, we should not choose to believe. In fact, a lot of things that happened in this week’s “AHS” episode may or may not have been worth believing.
That said, let’s pursue our quest for Briarcliff Manor truth the way we always do: by attempting to answer 10 key questions about this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Asylum” and ultimately concluding that the only things we know for sure are that Jessica Lange is the bomb sha-zomb and Evan Peters is the sweetest accused mass murderer we know.
1. So really: Could Franka Potente-Anne Frank be actual Anne Frank?
The answer to this should be a simple no. As noted above, the heroic hider from the Nazis and writer of a very famous diary died in a concentration camp in 1945. This was noted by Sister Jude; it’s also documented in the historical record according to the Anne Frank Museum.
But the woman who identifies herself as Frank has no documentation that contradicts her narrative. She also has an elaborate back story that, weird as it is, sounds semi-plausible, especially when corroborated by a disturbingly authentic-looking tattoo that seemingly marks her as a Holocaust survivor. Look, if you were Anne Frank and you had decided to stay undercover for nearly two decades, wouldn’t you reveal your true self the minute you ran into Jessica Lange? Personally, that’s what I would do.
My current theory about our Anne is that she was in a concentration camp and genuinely does remember Arden — or, as she calls him, Hans Gruber, a name that aligns him with a certain German terrorist that we all know and yippee-kai-yay love. But she is probably not “the” Anne Frank; perhaps she decided to assume her name to make herself feel more special or because she genuinely is a bit mentally off.
At the very least, I think what’s she’s remembering about Arden’s days as a young Nazi getting a head start on his fulfilling career as a torturer of women — in black-and-white, “Schindler’s List”-ish fashion, of course — is probably on the money.
2. Let’s talk about Arden. Why exactly is he X-raying the heck out of people?
To be clear, we only know for an absolute fact that he was X-raying Kit. But those blisters on poor, increasingly grotesque Shelley’s face — not to mention the blisters on the bodies of the ex-patients/pseudo-zombies currently residing in the delightful wooded grounds of Briarcliff — seem like a natural byproduct of excessive exposure to radiation.
At this point, I’d like to note that the inventor of the X-ray and the first winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, was Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who happened to be a German. Even more relevantly, I’d also like to point you to this information about the X-ray experiments conducted at Auschwitz, where Nazi doctors attempted to use the technology to sterilize prisoners and thereby guarantee the complete extermination of an entire people.
My, how convenient it would be to get rid of all the “deviant” members of society by bringing them to a mental hospital and, slowly, making them disappear.
3. But wouldn’t Arden also be exposed to a lot of excess radiation as a result of all this experimentation?
Yes, he would. Which may be why Shelley (Chloe Sevigny) so callously laughed at his supposedly deformed private parts last week.
Also, if Arden really is Bloody Face — and, as I’ll explain shortly, I’m sure he may be to a degree — his gamma ray aura could explain why he can show up in 2012 seemingly just as spry as he was in 1964.
Remember how in “Watchmen” — the graphic novel, not the God-forsaken movie, although both work in this context — Dr. Manhattan existed outside of space and time because of that nuclear experiment gone wrong? Maybe Arden is the “AHS” eqivalent of a huge, naked blue guy who may or may not resemble Billy Crudup. Again, just throwing crazy ideas out there because that’s what you do in the presence of deranged James Cromwell.
4. So we definitely think Arden was Hans Gruber?
Between the X-ray stuff, and the Holocaust footage, and the Nazi memorabilia and — oh yeah, this is important — the fact that Monsignor Howard warned him that the detectives who interviewed him were “on to him,” yes, I’d say the guy has a decidedly Nuremberg trials-ish vibe about him.
5. So why does Monsignor Timothy Howard — a good, handsome, wine-drinking Catholic authority figure — want to protect a bad guy like Arden?
Well, the monsignor has connections to Rome, and as we all recall, Italy and Germany were on the same side during World War II.
6. We know that Grace initially lied to Kit about killing her family. She definitely is guilty. Why did she do that?
In the mind of Grace (Lizzie Brochere), she’s only semi-guilty because she had cause for her action: Her dad’s abuse made her do it. But rather than explain all that to Kit, it was initially easier to go with the more crowd-pleasing, rationalized version of what happened, rather than the NC-17-rated director’s cut in which she was solely responsible for the hacking up of bodies. Look, you don’t get to make a murder-baby with Evan Peters if you tell him you’re a killer, right off the bat. Come on. We all learned this from “He’s Just Not That Into You,” did we not? (By the way, that murder-baby line from Sister Jude: De-lish.)
From a narrative perspective, Grace’s pendulum swing from lie to truth made her one of several possibly unreliable narrators featured in this week’s episode, making the audience unsure how to process the outrageous fibs vs. the understandable untruths vs. the real story. I think Grace’s second story is true. But I also think she may still be hiding something.
7. Speaking of Kit, I thought he wasn’t guilty. But now he wonders if maybe he is guilty and he’s simply in denial. So like, which is it?
I say he’s not guilty and he’s just starting to crack due to repeat listening to the song “Dominique,” not to mention Dr. Thredson’s manipulative line of questioning.
8. Yeah, about that: It seemed last week that Zachary “Nice Court-Appointed Psychologist” Quinto was convinced that Kit might be innocent. He sort of conveyed that to Kit this week but also strongly implied that he isn’t entirely convinced of the Actor Formerly Known as Tate’s innocence. Thredson also, weirdly, didn’t mention that another Bloody Face murder may have been committed, a fact that would obviously exonerate Kit. So, in conclusion: what?!?!
Oh, Quinto, you’ve been playing a very convincing game the past couple of weeks. I was sure that you were the good psych-cop to Sister Jude’s bad God-squad. But now I am beginning to believe otherwise.
It seems to me that Thredson wants to keep Kit exactly where he is, at Briarcliff. The way his conversation with Kit played out made it seem like he was engaging in a full-on brainwashing. And I also doubt his desire to genuinely help Lana.
9. But . . . but . . . he so kindly forced her to vomit while looking at pictures of pretty women, thereby attempting to cure her of her lesbianism. How could this not be viewed as an act of supreme care and generosity?
Well, for about 87,000 reasons. But let’s consider the following, very specific one since it may be the most significant.
Scroll down to the name Dr. Eisele.
What does it say this guy did? “He also injected many patients with apomorphine to observe them vomiting. He performed many unnecessary operations and amputations and then murdered his patients.”
What did Dr. Thredson give to Lana? Yep. Apomorphine.
10. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you saying . . .?
Yes. I am saying that, as was suggested during last week’s episode, Bloody Face isn’t just one dude, especially not a young one with the eyes of a gentle fawn. Being that busy lady murderer is a three-man job. You need one to provide financial support and infrastructure (Monsignor Timothy), one to engage in the surgical and skin-sewing aspects of the work (Arden) and one to do the actual killing (Dr. Thredson).
Together, they’re all conspiring against Sister Jude, the poor woman who thinks she’s in charge but is being crassly steamrolled over by a trio of males in various positions of religious, scientific and legal authority. And Lana? Well, she could wind up being the next victim if she accepts Threadson’s offer to help her “escape.”
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should note that journalists were given copies of the second part of this two-part episode. I haven’t watched yet, because I thought it would be unfair to do so until after I wrote my analysis of “I Am Anne Frank, Pt. 1.” So I could be completely right about all this, or wildly off base. I have no idea right now. (Part of me also wonders if Grace might be in on this Nazi X-ray/killing plot, too. She is very good with an ax.)
What do you think? Could the man partly responsible for so much “American Horrror Story: Asylum” death actually be . . . Sylar? Please, post a comment to sound off about Bloody Face-related murders as well as your concerns about people who purposely try to make murder-babies.