Although I understand why the episode was a two-parter, I find it was disingenuous to still call it Anne Frank, because while we do get a wrap up of that storyline, the more important item to note is that we learn who Bloody Face is. (This is a SPOILER ALERT, coming at you in about four paragraphs).
I’d also like to take a moment to address Ryan Murphy directly:
Dear Mr. Murphy,
Although I know that Friday is typically where shows go to die, could you possibly consider moving your show to that night? Just so that I don’t look like death at work on Thursday mornings, due to lack of sleep, due to AHS scaring the &$%@^! out of me every Wednesday night.
I’m disappointed to learn that our Anne Frank is post-partum Charlotte, married with a child that she has abandoned with her obsessions to be someone else. Although dispersed throughout the episode, I will nutshell it. Frank the security guard holds a gun to her and she winds up in a strait jacket. Her husband arrives, revealing who she really is, and Sister Jude hands her over, despondent that she doesn’t have a legitimacy to the Alden-as-Nazi claims. She comes back, because she tries to smother her baby. Dr. Alden threatens her a bit, then decides, with the husband’s consent, to give her a lobotomy, to the grandiose strains of 1960’s melodrama movies. She emerges Stepford-wife happy, regardless that her obsession really did reveal (for the viewer’s benefit) that Dr. Alden stood right behind Hitler, literally and figuratively (in a picture).
While I was bummed that it turned out this alternate universe didn’t hold weight in our 1964 American world, I did enjoy the flashback sequences of Faux Anne’s life done in sepia super 8 footage, reminding me of the same tint in my childhood pictures. That and Dr. Thredson as hero were my favorite parts.
Dr. Thredson decides that he is just going to walk out of the asylum with Lana, and she is worried that it’s too dangerous or, worse, this is a part of her damaged brain’s imagination. I only now notice a certain twitchiness that can be attributed to reverberations of her electroshock treatment. I also feel a sense of foreboding intermittently.
Somehow, this plan has to fail. And yet, it doesn’t. Dr. Thredson wraps up his work at Briarcliff, by asking Kit to imagine what he thinks happened to his wife, recording it, and playing it back as part of his therapy of acceptance for his crimes as Bloody Face. He drops his two cent diagnosis on Faux Anne’s husband, and manages to slip right out the front doors to his car, Lana walking right next to him. Lana sits safely in his car but not before he is stopped by Frank, asking him to come back at Sister Jude’s behest. And my heart melts as he stands, so stoic, Clark-Kent disguised but straining to hide Superman as he responds, “I don’t work here anymore, Frank. As a matter of fact, I never did. You can tell her I said that.” And I’m goo-goo eyed as they both drive away, free.
Until they get to his house, and now I’m a nervous wreck again, because it’s too quiet. He keeps reassuring Lana to lay low, no calls, to relax, have some wine, everything will be better in the morning. I dread when he leaves her and goes to the kitchen, convinced he will stagger back in with a knife in his neck. It’s just too quiet, until he says this:
“You’re the one to tell my story.”
F dash dash dash.
It honestly never crossed my mind that virtuous Dr. Thredson would be Bloody Face, it really didn’t. I spent the rest of the episode scrambling my own brain trying to see the signs, but I don’t, or I won’t. I loved him only moments ago, and by ep’s end I can’t see him without the skin mask on, revolted that I even cared for him slightly, no matter that he’s a character on screen. I feel sucker punched.
I really want to see how this plays out. Zachary Quinto has been so fantastic thus far, and while my primary concern is that this will go into campiness (the preview clip of next week’s ep where he talks about nutmeg skirts that line), I want to continue faith in this show, and in his character development.
And, above all, I want to know why.
He’s methodical, of course. Convincing Kit to play out on recording what he thinks happened plants the serial killer’s proverbial scalpel into his scapegoat’s hands. Kit also leaves Briarcliff, but in handcuffs, screaming, now knowing he really is innocent when poor, dazed Grace tries to scream in her lost voice that Alma is alive, and she knows this because she met her, because the aliens took her too, and then tossed her back into the Asylum, bloodied and unable to help.
Poor Lana. The truth creeps up on her like everyone else watching, only she sees in full view the lampshade of human skin, the mint bowl a bleached skull piece. She’s smart, and when she excuses herself to the rest room I know how badly I don’t want to see her die. The dread slithers over me as she finds his carving room, where he finds her, confesses to making furniture, and his materials are skin, and then dispatching her with the flick of a lever to his underground lair, where a lifeless Wendy lies, sans teeth, as they are now part of his Bloody Facemask. Lana screams the way my heart does, for her.
This development alone moves this Show past gimmick to a place a honor for me in greatest of horror stories. I had my issues with the first Season, loving and hating things equally, and the same holds true this time, but it feels different. I feel attached more to the things happening here, a desperate connection to these people’s fates moreso than I did before. I have really grown to love Lana, and I hate that this is happening to her. And now, more than ever, I want her to escape this new asylum.
I’ve also grown to like Sister Jude, or, at least, feel for her, as Alden threatens her ruin due to Faux Anne Frank shooting him. He asks her to grovel as apology to keep her job before he tattles on her to the Monsignor. This was the only time I paused the ep, debating on how I felt about her and what she would do, wondering if she would fall to her knees in forgiveness, the panic of her piety at question. Or would she draw out her Brooklyn accent in a sarcastic deserved retort, nipping again at some hidden alcohol to dull her nerves as they did during the Nor’easter? I want her to get the better of him, I realize. I want Alden to fall, and big, and if not big, then with little jabs in any form. In the hierarchy of evil, Alden is closer to Hell than Sister Jude, and not just because she is a nun.
She says nothing, he leaves and incrementally transforms from Sister Jude to “Judy”. She’s told Lana is missing. She tells Frank it doesn’t matter, she’s “finished”. She recounts a story that culminates in her drunken mother telling her little-girl self that “God always answers our prayers, Judy. It’s just rarely the answer we’re looking for.” She then loses her habit, emerges smartly dressed and heads to a bar, touching her lips up with Ravishing Red, leaving said bar with a stranger, and waking in his bed the next morning. The mighty nun has fallen, hard, from grace, back to the cold ground from whence she tried desperately to pick herself up from for 15 years.
Dr. Alden does get an apology, but from Sister Mary Eunice playing her innocence again, helping to nurse his gunshot leg. She is sorry for her behavior the night of the storm, and he accepts it as barometric pressures, and thanks her for cleaning up after him while he was gone, before he could be discovered. It explains why Shelly wasn’t there any longer, stresses Faux Anne’s insanity. You would think she would have dragged her to the forest to join the others, but our ole Shelly winds up at a school, found by the students crawling up the stairs of the basement, a monster in daylight.
My dreams last night were filled with blurs of monster faces and limbs, disfigurements. It was an unsettling night. I realized the genius of the episode was of reeling us in with Dr. Thredson’s normalcy, hiding that his real face is the one revealed only when he pulls his mask over what we’ve been seeing, all along. And I’ll bet there are more masks to undercover, before season’s end.