American Horror Story Asylum: Review: Season 2 Ep 5

FX, 14 November 2012

Anne Frank’s reality is revealed, Grace encounters the aliens, Sister Jude goes rogue and Lana Winters is rescued by Dr Thredson… who turns out to be Bloody Face!

Has there ever been a crazier television show than American Horror Story? This season has taken a while to ramp up to the levels of madness that made the series debut run so addictive, but with ‘I’m Anne Frank, Part 2’ it finally got there… and how!

Development follows wacky development, and just when you think things can’t get more extreme, they do. The Anne Frank situation turns out to be the most ‘normal’ of this week’s storylines and is quickly resolved. Turns out her name is Charlotte and a quick (actually quite nasty to watch, mainly due to the sound) lobotomy later and she’s a happy 1960s Stepford wife. All her stories about Dr. Arden being a nasty Nazi were false… or were they? A final photographic image at the end of this episode re-opens that particular can of bratwurst.

That’s the least of this episode’s dramatic developments. Grace is seemingly abducted by the same aliens who killed Kit’s wife, but she still seems to be alive wherever it is these aliens are (on a spaceship? Are they even aliens?). Kit himself is framed by Dr Thredson, who takes Lana home. Looking around, she notes the delightful lampshade made of human skin and realises just a little bit too late that Thredson is an Ed Gein fan. Oh, and he’s serial killer Bloody Face, too, he of the human skin mask. Of course he is, as he’s played by Sylar himself, Zachary Quinto. Meanwhile Sister Jude has gone off the rails, getting into her civvies, getting drunk and then getting out of them again with a complete stranger. Unusual behaviour for a nun, even one as conflicted as she is. Jessica Lang angles for an Emmy once more in a brilliant soliloquy about a pet squirrel. James Cromwell’s Dr Arden, meanwhile, just smiles throughout the whole episode, presumably unaware that the possessed Sister Mary Eunice has set his biological experiment (the hideously disfigured Chloe Sevigny) loose on a bunch of school children, like something out of Tod Browning’s Freaks! Phew…

All this craziness is reflected in the fast-paced directing style of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who throws everything at the screen in terms of technique in an attempt to keep up with the madness of the plot. It’s brilliant because his off-kilter camera work and effects exactly match the weird goings-on in the plot. The result is an amazingly cohesive piece of work, considering how bizarre the plot actually is.

Verdict: Guilt, trashy television pleasures rarely come along as good as this…

Episode 5 ‘I Am Anne Frank, Part 2’: 9/10

Brian J. Robb

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