“American Horror Story: Asylum” “I Am Anne Frank – Part 1 & 2” / “The Origins of Monstrosity” Review

The incidents on “American Horror Story: Asylum” have been gradually leading up to the latest and most twisted episode yet, “The Origins of Monstrosity.” Outside of the Anne Frank storyline, the two preceding episodes oversee the continuous elaboration on the characters that occupy the asylum, particularly the background accounts of both Grace and Dr. Thredson, in addition to Lana’s developing plans to break out of Briarcliff.

In the past weeks, audiences were introduced to Franka Potente in the two-part “I Am Anne Frank” story arc; Potente portrays a woman who claims to be the young Jewish girl who was immortalized in the diary she kept during the events of the Holocaust. According to her, she concealed her identity from the public because she believed that Anne Frank was more valuable dead than alive. Much to Sister Jude’s delight, Anne immediately identifies Dr. Arden as a Nazi doctor from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; the nun calls upon the notorious Nazi hunter Sam Goodman (Mark Margolis of “Breaking Bad”) to investigate Dr. Arden’s murky past. However, Anne is eventually exposed as an ordinary, unhappy housewife who likely suffers from postpartum depression, which throws a wrench into Sister Jude’s scheming.

Grace definitely wins the prize for the bloodiest scene of the most recent episodes, as she recalls how she butchered the father who abused her and the stepmother who chose to turn a blind eye. To her surprise, Kit reacts with admiration for her courage rather than disgust; the pair is later caught having sex in the kitchen, and they consequently face sterilization. However, Grace is abducted just before going under the knife, and she wakes up to a pregnant Alma who warns her not to fight the probing alien fingers, because it will only make things worse.

Kit is coerced into confessing on the record that he committed the murders, because according to Dr. Thredson it will “help” him if he hears himself speak the words. But it becomes clear in the final moments of “I Am Anne Frank – Part 2” that trapping Kit at Briarcliff was part of Thredson’s original plan, and that the seemingly stable psychiatrist himself is in fact the serial killer Bloody Face. It just so happens that the only reason he aided Lana’s escape was so he could keep her chained up in his own basement.

Then again when it all comes down to it, “I Am Anne Frank – Part 1” and “Part 2” serve only to set the stage for “The Origins of Monstrosity,” so that the truly horrifying events can finally begin to unfold. In the most recent installment, Dr. Arden, Sister Mary Eunice and Monsignor Howard have formed an alliance in order to successfully take over the asylum in anticipation of Sister Jude’s imminent departure. A naïve Howard is blackmailed into silence regarding the inner workings of the asylum, and Goodman confirms to Sister Jude that Arden is a former Nazi; the last piece of evidence they require is his fingerprint. Sister Jude coaxes Arden into having one last drink with her, and having obtained his fingerprints, she hastens to Goodman only to discover that he has been slaughtered and evidence points to the disgraced nun as the murderer. Mary would appear to be responsible, but she clearly holds the advantage when Arden unwittingly sells his soul to her over unearthed evidence.

One admirable aspect of “AHS” is its honest reflection of American culture, both the 60s and present day. An asylum guard’s assertion that as a female Sister Jude never stood a chance against Arden, and the aversion therapy Thredson administers on Lana in hopes of reversing her lesbianism reinforces the misogynistic and homophobic sentiments of the era. “Monstrosity” also showcases the best acting thus far in the season. Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson carried their scenes with flawless performances, and the dynamic between the actors was stellar.

Lana finally gets to hear the story behind Bloody Face when she discovers that the serial killer has an extreme oedipal complex and he craves only the touch of a mother’s skin; she is quick to grasp the rules of the game and conforms to the maternal role Thredson has thrust upon her. The pair’s current predicament holds potential for some of the sickest and most emotionally twisted plot development on the series. Fans can certainly look forward to what comes next.

Rating: 3 stars/3.5 stars/4.5 stars

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