For a variety of reasons, this second season of ‘American Horror Story’ hasn’t quite lived up to the first. Mostly, it just feels like it’s been trying too hard to recapture lighting in a bottle. However, this past Wednesday’s episode really pulled out all the stops, and may have even topped some of the insanity from Season 1, if you can believe that. Has the show finally gotten its mojo back?
Clearly enough from the title, ‘I Am Anne Frank, Part 2’ resolves the storyline from the previous episode where a new mental patient (Franka Potente) claimed to be the adult Anne Frank, and insisted that Dr. Arden was a Nazi war criminal from Auschwitz. Sister Jude, who believes the story, visits a Nazi hunter and learns about Operation Paperclip, the program in which the American government recruited former Nazi scientists and gave them new identities. The man promises to investigate Arden.
Back at the asylum, Anne is captured again after shooting Arden in the leg. Sister Mary Eunice cleans up the lab and hides the legless, deformed Shelly before anyone else can see her or the other “creatures.”
A man arrives who claims to be “Anne’s” husband. He says that her real name is Charlotte, and that she started acting delusional after having their first child. Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) makes an on-the-spot diagnosis that this story is consistent with “a classic case of postpartum psychosis.” Sister Jude, now feeling like a fool for ever listening to the rantings of a madwoman, releases Anne/Charlotte into her husband’s care, and attempts to apologize to Arden. He won’t have any of it, and insists that he’ll do everything in his power to get her fired.
A few days later, the husband brings Anne back, complaining that she tried to smother their baby. Dr. Aden helpfully suggests that a simple lobotomy will put everything right.
Kit is released from solitary confinement and let off the hook from the threat of sterilization. However, Grace is still sent under the knife. While anaesthetized, she dreams (or does she?) that she’s being experimented on by aliens, and that she meets Kit’s wife Alma, who is still alive. The next day, when she screams this information in the rec room, everyone assumes that she’s just nuts. (You know, more so than usual.)
Thredson offers to help Kit overcome the mental blockage that has prevented him from remembering his crimes. He records Kit saying that he killed his wife, so that hearing his own voice speak the words will stir up his memories. This seems a little shady, but Kit is too much of a dope to realize it.
In a hilarious bit of morbid black comedy, the monstrous Shelly crawls onto a school playground and scares the shit out of a bunch of little kids. I guess this is where Sister Mary Eunice dumped her.
Thredson makes good on his promise to sneak Lana out of the institution. He brings her back to his house and tells her that she must stay the night before they go to the police the next morning. In a slow and horrifying series of revelations, Lana notices that the lampshade on his table is made out of human skin and his candy dish is half of a skull. Yes, Dr. Thredson has been the real Bloody Face all along!
When she tries to escape, Thredson drops Lana through a trapdoor into his secret workshop. When she wakes up, she finds herself chained to the floor next to the frozen corpse of her girlfriend Wendy. Thredson puts on his disgusting Bloody Face skin mask.
Meanwhile, back at Briarcliff, police barge in to arrest Kit after listening to the tape where he confessed to Alma’s murder. Oh, that devious Dr. Thredson has thought of everything…
Describing the events of this episode really doesn’t do justice to the delirious madness of how they play out. The episode goes full throttle on both the horror and the deliciously dark humor, topped off by a final scene where the lobotomized “Charlotte” returns home and proclaims her newfound domestic contentment. The episode is gory, and scary, and very funny, and pulls together in a way the show has struggled to achieve since the high points of Season 1. Finally, this is the ‘American Horror Story’ I remember.