American Horror Story
“I Am Anne Frank, Part 1”
November 7, 2012
Anne Frank? ANNE FRANK. SERIOUSLY. ANNE DIARY-WRITING-MOTHER FRANK.
This show. Oof.
New Patient Alert! Ed Mars awakens Sister Jude to let her know that they just received a new resident at Braircliff. However, they have no idea who she is, as she has no ID, no wallet, no keys. Sister Jude heads into the woman’s cell, and tells her that she understands that New Patient was sent here after some sort of disturbance following an anti-Semitic remark? New Patient explains that she attacked a man at a bar with a broken beer bottle after he used the expression “don’t let them Jew you down,” which, I don’t know, seems like an extreme reaction. Sister Jude makes some sympathetic noises about what the Jews had recently endured, and asks the woman if she lost someone in the war. All she gets in response is a whistled tune, who knows. LOCK HER UP.
Last we left her, Chloë Sevigny attempted to escape but at the last moment was caught by Dr. Hoggett who after trying (and failing) to rape her, cut off her legs. (AND THAT’S WHY YOU ALWAYS LEAVE A NOTE.) But the happy funtimes are just beginning for Chloë Sevigny, as now Dr. Hoggett seems to be injecting her face with something that is covering her with hideous boils and which he promises will make her live forever. Well, super. That’s just great. Who wouldn’t want to live forever in a filthy mental institution, legless and covered in giant face cysts?
Down in the bakery, Grace is busy kneading some dough when Kit shows up after a visit with Dr. Hoggett. Dr. Hoggett apparently slapped him around a little and then x-rayed him looking for the weird spaceman tracer thingy that has somehow reinserted itself into Kit. Maybe. Kit wonders if Grace still believes him about the spaceman business, and she’s like, Uh, oui? Moi zuppose? He then asks Grace to tell him her story, promising that he won’t judge her.
I still remember zee zound, Grace begins. Zomething woke me in zee middle of zee night, and I went to my pareentz’ room where I found heem axing mon père. And zo I ran and heed een zee pantry, oui? Where I found mon stepmère chopped in peezes, oui? And zen my stepsœur, she zaid I did eet, zo that she and her boyfriend could zteal ze farm from moi. But no one believes moi! Kit assures her that he does, and then she whines that she mizzes le farm, and les horses, zat riding zem waz like flyeeng. And then Kit promises her that she’ll fly again. (Gag.)
Dr. Sylar visits with Lana Winters, Failed Escapee! and lets her know that he knows she tried to flee, but it’s cool, he gets it! He’s not going to tell Sister Jude — in fact, he knows she doesn’t belong in here, and he’s going to help her get out. She just has to let him try to cure her. Lana Winters, Skeptic! is all, Yeah good luck with that, buddy [Pointed political statement about how the DSMMD (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder back in 1964 but does not anymore so everyone needs to get over themselves already goes here]. Dr. Sylar points out that she’s really out of choices and time as he’ll be leaving Braircliff soon, so she needs to think hard about what she wants to do here.
In the common room, New Patient writes a letter to someone named Kitty, explaining that she feels trapped at Briarcliff, and that it is like “Amsterdam all over again,” which if we didn’t already know the title of the episode might be a HMMM moment, but we can not unknow that which we know, so. ANYWAY, Lana Winters, Nosy Pants! informs New Patient that she needs to hide her pen, because writing = electrotherapy. New Patient ignores Lana Winters, Let’s Be Friends! attempts to start up a relationship, and Lana Winters, FINE, BE THAT WAY! stalks off. And that’s when Dr. Hoggett enters the common room, and New Patient freeeeaks out. “AUCSHWITZ! NAZIS! MURDER! HE IS A NAZI MURDER FROM AUSCHWITZ! AND SHE IS ANNE FRANK!” BECAUSE, SURE! WHY NOT? ASIDE FROM BEING WHOLLY OFFENSIVE AND WRONG ON A THOUSAND DIFFERENT LEVELS? WHY NOT.
Oh, Ryan Murphy.
SIIIGH. So, I guess we’re going to do this? I guess this is a place Ryan Murphy is willing to go? WELL, FINE THEN. LET’S GO THERE.
Sister Jude talks to New Patient in her office and is all “Anne Frank? Really? This is what you’re going with?” BECAUSE ANNE FRANK? REALLY? THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE GOING WITH? “Anne Frank” explains that she didn’t actually die in the camp in 1945, and that with the mass graves and the bodies and her illness when the Brits liberated her camp she wasn’t able to tell anyone who she was. For some reason. So she lived on the streets for a while before meeting an American GI whom she married and with whom she moved to Rutherford, New Jersey. But then he died in the Korean War the same year that her diary was published … and she thought about contacting her father, but he’d started a new life and the diary had become an important voice for what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust and so she thought it better that Anne Frank remain a martyred 15-year-old girl rather than a 30-something New Jersey housewife with a penchant for cutting people with beer bottles when angered.
“Anne Frank” goes on to insist that Dr. Hoggett is actually named Hans Gruper and that he was a doctor at Auschwitz where he did terrible things to twin boys and the ladies in her dorm, but no one would talk about what, exactly, he had done to them, just something suggestively monstrous. And Sister Jude and I are both, “Whatever, ‘Anne Frank'” until “Anne Frank” shows Sister Jude her concentration camp tattoo which proves … nothing, actually. Just that she had spent time in a camp during the war — not that she is “Anne Frank” or that Dr. Hoggett was actually at Auschwitz, but Sister Jude seems convinced, so.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sylar meets with Kit, and is like, Bro, I don’t want to send you to the electric chair, but I think you probably killed these ladies in a crazy snit. So what I need you to do is admit that all this alien nonsense is something you’re making up to deal with the fact that you’re a loony murderer, and you can stay here in the safety of Briarcliff. Deal? Kit is all, But I’ve already told you what happened! And Dr. Sylar is like, Yeah, now let me tell you what happened. Cool?
Dr. Sylar then lays out the story for Kit: he married Secret African-American Wife in secret, but the pressure and shame was too much to bear, so he attacked some random woman and cut off her head and skin her, because that just makes sense. Then he did it again to some other lady. And then after work on the alien day in question, Kit’s friends came by the house and were banging on the door and this sent him into a homicidal rage that made him kill his Secret African-American wife because that also just makes sense. Too much sense, really, if you think about it.
Back in the common room, Lana Winters, Pill Popper! fantasizes about receiving an award for her big exposé on Briarcliff that she is going to write as soon as she gets out of here. As soon as she takes these sedatives. As soon as she does some therapy with Dr. Sylar.
Kit pouts furiously in the bakery, where Grace finds him and is all, What eez wrong wiz vous? He whines that he might have actually killed all those ladies, he’s not sure now, and Grace is all, Zat eez fine, I will zteel make zee zex wiz vous. And so they do, right there on the dough-kneading table (gross, get that out of my flour) and they get caught because of course they get caught, they’re in an institution with guards and nuns and orderlies running around all over the place.
So they’re herded into Sister Jude’s office where she asks if they’re TRYING to make a Murder Baby (Which, HA! What did happen to Murder Baby? OMG IN THE FUTURE DO THE SPACE ALIENS TIME TRAVEL MURDER BABY INTO THE PAST SO AS TO BECOME BLOODY FACE? #newtheory)? Well, she’s going to put an end to that, and have them both sterilized even though this explicitly goes against Catholic principles, but SURE, RYAN MURPHY, WHY NOT, RIGHT? WHO CARES, RIGHT? But before she can get the clippers, Ed Mars comes in and tells her that the police are here, questioning Dr. Hoggett, and Sister Jude hurries off because, AWESOME NEWS. She’s not going to miss that. As Ed Mars returns Grace to her cell, Sister Lucy Fur plops Grace’s file down in front of Kit, and is like, Here’s some light reading. Enjoy! LOL!
Sister Jude barges into Dr. Hoggett’s office and is all O HAI, WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE? The detectives speaking to Dr. Hoggett explain that he’s been accused of roughing up a prostitute, and Sister Jude is all O RLY? TELL ME MORE. And so they do: the prostitute not only was pushed around by Dr. Hoggett, but she saw some things, porn and Nazi memorabilia (which is going to be the name of my debut punk album: “Porn and Nazi Memorabilia”). Dr. Hoggett announces this is “hogwash” (which he would know about), and he storms out. Sister Jude demands to know why the detectives aren’t arresting him, and they explain that they are with homicide, not vice. The men then they wonder out loud if Sister Jude thinks Kit would have the surgical skillz to remove someone’s skin, much less remove their head. HMM, says Sister Jude. Come to think of it …
UNCOMFORTABLE SCENE ALERT. So, Dr. Sylar forces Lana Winters, Let’s Change Horses Midstream! to look at girlie pictures, including one picture of Secret Lesbian Girlfriend, while she is pumped full of some sort of vomit-inducing drug as part of lesbian aversion therapy. After a while of that, Dr. Sylar brings in a young robed man and makes Lana Winters, Maybe We Should Wait Until the Puke Drugs Aren’t in Her System Anymore! look at his naked body. While touching herself. And touching him. This only makes her cry, because Ryan Murphy can not resist a good crying while masturbating scene which really says a lot more about Ryan Murphy than I am comfortable knowing. Anyway, Lana Winters, This Isn’t Working! pukes again, and Dr. Sylar comes to the realization that maybe this isn’t working. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE?
Monsignor Timothy shows up and Sister Jude is all, ZOMG DR. HOGGETT IS A NAZI AND THE POLICE ARE QUESTIONING HIM ABOUT BEING A NAZI AND ANNE FRANK IS ALIVE ZOMGZOMGZOMG. But Monsignor Timothy tells her to lay off the hooch and quit talking crazy, before sending her away to “reflect.” As soon as she’s gone, he calls Dr. Hoggget’s secret Nazi lab, and is all THE JIG IS UP, CLEAN HOUSE, STAT.
Sister Jude takes her concerns to her Mother Superior, confessing that she fell off the wagon, but is more concerned that Monsignor Timothy is declining to serve justice. Mother Superior counsels that the priests are terrified of being confronted with tough questions, and tend to try to protect themselves at all costs. Blah blah blah thinly veiled metaphor for the current priest sex abuse scandal within the Catholic church and American nuns attempting to speak out on it blah blah use your moral compass blah.
Kit is returned to his cell, which somehow is next to Grace’s, WHICH MAKES NO SENSE SINCE THERE IS A MALE WING AND A FEMALE WING BUT WHATEVER, and Kit’s like, So, you wanna tell me about the part where you murdered your family? LE SIGH, says Grace. Mon père zexually abuzed me, oui? And I told mon stepmère, but zee only bribed me wiz candy to be quiet, zo I cut zem to peeces wiz un ax when I found out he haz sold mon horses. Are vous repulsed by moi? she asks. Nope! Kit tells her. In fact, I’m impressed by you! (Wait, what?)
Back in the common room, Lana Winters, Shell of Her Former Self! curls into a ball, which is where Dr. Sylar finds her and is all, Hey, sorry I made you touch that guy’s peen and make you throw up! Whoops! Here’s Secret Lesbian Girlfriend’s picture, all cool? Lana Winters, Glimmers of Hope! worries that they will take the picture away from her, but Dr. Sylar assures her that she only has to hide it for a week, and then they are both getting outta here. Cool! I’m sure this will go exactly according to plan!
In Sister Jude’s office, Kit comes in to confess to the crimes he can’t remember committing, and cries and begs for God’s forgiveness, and Sister Jude finally has a soft for him (in part because she knows he didn’t cut off those ladies’ heads, duh).
Finally, Dr. Hoggett drags “Anne Frank” into his secret lab where he’s all “SHUT UP ABOUT ME BEING A NAZI, ANNE FRANK. IT’S UNCOOL, ANNE FRANK.” And as he throws her around the lab and makes vague threats to do her bodily harm, HA HA, she pulls a gun on him, which she swiped from one of the detectives as she passed him in the lobby. As he charges towards her, she puts a bullet into his leg, which is when she hears banging coming from a nearby locked door. “Anne Frank” demands the keys to the locked room, which he gives her, and that’s where she finds poor Chloë Sevigny, covered in pus balls and begging “Anne Frank” to kill her. YIKES!
Anne Frank. Look, I shouldn’t have to explain why this is offensive. I shouldn’t have to write that it is inappropriate to use and manipulate a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust in a ridiculous horror melodrama to … do what? Be shocking? Keep up their reputation of being a “provocative” and “daring” series that will go “there?” Anne Frank was a living, breathing human being. She was real, and she suffered, and she died in one of the worst moments in human history. And she should not be used to tell a cheap story.
And listen, I think in the end this character won’t actually be the real Anne Frank. Based on the events in this episode and everyone’s shifting identity — Lana’s attempts to become straight; Grace moving from one story to the next about her past; Kit beginning to accept that he might, in fact, be a murderer; Dr. Hoggett’s and Sister Jude’s (and Monsignor Timothy’s?) secret pasts threatening to be revealed — the writers are toying with this notion of not ever really knowing who you really are. While this woman claiming to be Anne Frank bears a concentration camp tattoo and knows who Dr. Hoggett is, it does not mean that she necessarily is who she says she is. And I think in the next episode or so, the writers will start to cast a little doubt on her identity — that, like Grace (and Kit, maybe) she created an entire narrative about who she was as a way to deal with the unimaginable horrors that she endured. If they were to suggest that she’s not Anne Frank after all, it would keep with the other themes of the fluidity of identity that the series is playing with, while allowing the writers to excuse themselves from the notion that they were violating an iconic figure’s memory. See? It wasn’t Anne Frank after all! Quit being so sensitive!
However, I don’t think it gets the writers off the hook. I still think it is incredibly offensive and wrong to use Anne Frank’s memory this way. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pearls to grasp and a fainting couch on which to repose.
American Horror Story airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.