For a program that so willingly tosses aside things like good taste and moderation, ‘I am Anne Frank: Part 2’ stands as a sterling example of just how much fun American Horror Story: Asylum can be when it follows through on a storyline and even adds a dash of craft to the mix.
That’s not to say that this episode wasn’t full of the same kind of madness we’ve come to expect out of American Horror Story, or that those who are still hate-watching won’t be filled with plenty of reasons to state they’ve once more given up on the series. But there was a sense of completion to this story arc – which being only the fifth episode, places the remainder of Asylum firmly in the “I’ve no idea where they’re going with this” category. And, if nothing else, that helps keeps a show like Asylum from getting stale or repetitive.
So, once again, American Horror Story illustrates just how the series’ hell-for-leather approach to storytelling is not only the thing that keeps it afloat, but also that which necessitates it to be an anthology. It’s a thin reason to keep watching, but having such propulsive plotting appears to work to the advantage of Asylum.
At any rate, ‘I am Anne Frank: Part 2’ continues with the search for answers that comprised the majority of last week’s episode, but manages to keep many of the secrets tucked away, or hidden from all but those placed directly in harm’s way. Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) meets with Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad) in an effort to confirm her suspicions that Dr. Arden is actually a sadistic Nazi scientist who has somehow come to an alliance with Briarcliff’s Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes). Of course, Jude’s suspicions are based largely on the convincing story recounted by Anne Frank (Franka Potente). Unfortunately, much to Sister Jude’s dismay, Anne turns out to be an ordinary housewife named Charlotte who has suffered a mental break on account of her colicky infant and the rigors of being a young mother.
This is yet another broad brushstroke Mr. Murphy and his writers like use when making any sort of social commentary, but despite the unambiguous reference to the relatively few options afforded to women – especially housewives – in the ’60s, there’s some interesting things done with the episode’s composition that really manage to stand out. It’s not all related to the scenes between Charlotte and her husband (which are unique and kind of creepy), either. There is also a great shot of the alien reflected in Grace’s (Lizzie Brocheré) eye, and the striking image of Dr. Arden’s shadow being cast against the back wall of Charlotte’s cell.
But ‘I am Anne Frank: Part 2’ largely stands out because of its blistering pace and willingness to put its characters into even more precarious and disturbing situations. Dr. Arden gleefully lobotomizes Charlotte, while aliens abduct (and possibly impregnate) Grace. Meanwhile, poor Kit (Evan Peters) unwittingly confesses to the Bloody Face murders at the behest of the real killer, Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto), whose rescue of Lana (Sarah Paulson) leads to an even more threatening imprisonment in his Martin Vanger-esque kill room.
In its own unique (and completely divisive) way, Asylum has been on a roll as of late. It’s hard to tell if the show can maintain that pace, but it will certainly be interesting to watch it try.
Highlights from the episode:
- “Dr. Buttinski.”
- It’s time for trap doors to experience a proper pop culture resurgence. You just don’t see them enough these days.
- Perhaps he was just basking in his apparent victories over Sister Jude and Charlotte, but Dr. Arden’s sudden collaboration with Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) seemed a tad convenient, considering how their last encounter ended.
- In addition to the shot composition, the episode also featured some clever editing during the conversation between Kit and Grace across their adjoining cells.
American Horror Story: Asylum continues next Wednesday with ‘The Origins of Monstrosity’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: