American Horror Story Review: "I Am Anne Frank, Part 2" (Episode 2.05)
Since this season of American Horror Story began, the two obvious choices for Bloody Face were Dr. Arden and Dr. Thredson. Therefore, it’s not that big of a surprise that Dr. Thredson, who purported to be so kind and concerned, was revealed as the serial killer in “I Am Anne Frank, Part 2.”
Zachary Quinto plays the part perfectly. His soothing voice has a sinister undercurrent. His mild-mannered demeanor has an air of creepiness. (Plus, if you watched Heroes, you know Quinto excels at playing villains). Dr. Thredson helps Lana escape Briarcliff and brings her to his home where she finds a candy dish made out of a human skull and a lampshade made out of skin—i.e. not items one would find in a Pottery Barn catalogue. Lana ends up in Dr. Thredson’s basement lair next to her frozen dead girlfriend Wendy.
As a shocking reveal, the plot twist was average. (I’m kind of assuming there are more shocks to come. Perhaps there’s another Bloody Face still out there somewhere?). But now the bigger concern is what’s next for poor Lana? Sarah Paulson is an amazing actress. Last week she was brilliant as Lana was subjected to humiliating conversion therapy. The scene worked because it showed just how broken Lana had been by Briarcliff and how, even though she was in a loving, long-term relationship, how much she doubted herself. The scene also worked as a social commentary on how society viewed homosexuality.
But what’s the point of seeing Lana trapped in Dr. Thredson’s liar being tortured? We know from last season that there aren’t really happy endings on American Horror Story. The odds of Lana escaping are slim, and Dr. Thredson plans to keep her there before killing her. “You’re the person to tell my story,” he tells her.
This is all beginning to feel incredibly misogynistic. In this episode, poor, disfigured, legless Shelley tries to climb up the stairs of a playground. Grace is bleeding from a forced hysterectomy. Even if the show is trying to make some grand statement on how women were treated in the ’60s (like a Bizarro Mad Men?), how is this all entertaining, again? What separates American Horror Story from an episode of Criminal Minds really? The show appears to be wallowing in torturing women.
While Dr. Thredson is busy ensnaring Lana, Anne Frank’s husband shows up at Briarcliff. Anne isn’t a Holocaust survivor. She’s a new mom suffering from post-partum psychosis who has convinced herself that she is Anne Frank. Her husband is a real prize. He brings her back to Briarcliff days after taking her home because she tried to suffocate their baby. Really, buddy, you wouldn’t, oh I don’t know, look for a mental health institution that was just a tad less nefarious and a little more clean? He then allows Dr. Arden to perform a lobotomy on his wife without so much as another nurse in the room. Anne’s domestic life is shown like a distorted version of a 1960s TV show. As with most things in this series, it was an effective albeit heavy-handed storytelling device.
Meanwhile Sister Jude has suddenly become the hero of this story. For the first time, I believed Sister Jude treats the patients the way she does because she really believes it will help them. But because Dr. Arden was shot under her watch, her time as the grand matriarch of Briarcliff is over. She dons her bright red dress and her red lipstick, goes to a bar and wakes up the next morning after a one night stand. Although I still find her Boston accent distracting, Lange was fabulous in the scene where she tells Frank she is leaving. I simply wish Sister Jude’s downfall hadn’t been so quick and abrupt. Her character was previously so rigid. Would she let herself fall off all those wagons so easily?
The final shot reveals a photo of Dr. Arden as a Nazi war criminal. Before Sister Jude left, she contacted Sam Goodwin (guest star Mark Margolis), a man her Mother Superior told her could investigate Dr. Arden’s true background. Can Sister Jude reveal the truth about Dr. Arden without becoming a victim herself? Jessica Lange survived the last season of American Horror Story. I’m rooting for her to survive this one as well.