“American Horror Story: Asylum” Recap: The Diary of Anne Frankenstein

First off, let me give full credit where it is due for that headline – I first heard the genius title mashup “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” in gay horror director Joshua Grannell’s (aka Peaches Christ) wonderfully demented horror comedy All About Evil. (It also later appeared in the anthology flick Chillerama.) But I’m delighted that American Horror Story gave me the perfect opportunity to use it. Martyred Jewish teenagers and mad scientists – they go together like chocolate and peanut butter! (“You’ve got your martyred Jewish teen in my mad scientist!” “No, you’ve got your mad scientist in my martyred Jewish teen!”)

Anyway, for once we don’t start an episode with Jenna Dewan Tatum squawking to raise the dead and Adam Levine using his remaining arm to text his agent for a way the hell out of what was supposed to be a 5-minute cameo, and THANK GOD FOR THAT. Instead, we start the episode with Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) mounting an impromptu runway show for the fall collection at Brides of Christ Casuals:

WORRRK! (You too, Frank. Is that from the Don’t Tell Mom, the Babysitter’s Dead collection?)

Jude is sashaying through the halls in the middle of the night because they’ve received a new nuthouseguest: a Jane Doe who started a bloody barfight after someone used an anti-Semitic slur. While she didn’t kill anyone, they think she may be crazy – probably because she looks like Lili Taylor:

…which, history shows, is rarely a good sign.

Turns out the stab-happy gal is NOT played by Lili Taylor, but rather by Run Lola Run hoofer Franka Potente. I like her. Jude asks the lady if she lost someone in the war, and she just starts whistling something that I can’t identify.

Elsewhere, poor, amputated Shelley (Chloe Sevigny) is still alive, and by the looks of it she has been given all sorts of horrible diseases and/or toxins by the slender, nefarious Dr. Arden (James Cromwell). She’s covered in open sores and other nastiness and when she asks, “Am I gonna die?” he titters, “After I give you this, you just might live forever” and goes to stab a needle in her eye:

Yikes! I gotta say that so far, with the blowjobs and head-shaving and amputation and torture, this has to be about the 16th most demeaning role that Sevigny has ever played. (And memo to her people: I smell one heck of a Proactiv campaign in her future once all this is finished!)


In the sanitarium bakery (because, well, of course), Kit (Evan Peters) and Grace (Lizzie Brochere) take a break from making their award-winning crazy bread to catch up. She notices a fresh cut on his lip, and he tells her that Dr. Arden smacked him around while trying to find out where his six-legged chip went. Arden’s convinced that Kit somehow put it back in himself (so it must have gone missing from Arden’s jar?) and looked everywhere for signs of a fresh incision – finding none, he demanded, “WHICH ORIFICE?!?!”, which seems a bit presumptuous for a second date.

Grace tells him that she still believes him about the aliens (she doesn’t.) and he says that they have to hold on tight to their stories, because they define them. Grace decides to tell him her story…

Apparently she woke up on the farm because of a noise. She crept into her parents’ room (leaving her sister in bed), to find a man killing her father with an axe, like this:

She then ran downstairs to hide, and found her stepmother in the pantry. Most of her, anyway:

And to make things even worse? They were totally out of graham crackers!!

According to Grace, her sister and the axe-man were having an affair and engineered the entire murder to frame Grace so that they could get the farm, or something. More than anything, she misses her horses. Paging Dr. Freud! Oh – never mind, here he is:

Dr. Oliver Threadson (Zachary Quinto) is having a nice little sit-down with Lana (Sarah Paulson). He noticed that she, Kit and Grace reappeared during the disastrous movie night (we also see that they think Shelley made it out) and he assures her that he agrees that she doesn’t belong here, and he’s going to try to get her out using the power of his professional opinion. She says that according to his books she has an illness, but she’s not sick – she’s just who she is.

He says that he thinks he can cure her. She counters, “There is no cure.”

He says that if she wants his help, they have to start right away. Yeah – this is not gonna end well.

In the common room, The Singing Nun is playing and the extras from the Girl, Interrupted Academy for Background Crazy-Acting are demonstrating their assorted tics. Jewish Barfight Girl is writing a letter (“Dear Kitty…”), and Lana warns her to hide her pen, because they’ll take it away from her after beating her with it. But New Girl is distracted when she spots Dr. Arden across the room – before you can say “J’accuse!” in German, she’s all pointing her finger in his face and calling him a “Nazi Schwein!”, which of course is German for “Nancy Swan”. (She’s right – he does have a very graceful neck.)

She tells him that she knows him from Auschwitz, and he laughs, telling her that not only does she not know who HE is, but she doesn’t even know who she herself is. As the orderlies drag her away, she spits, “I know who I am – I’m Anne Frank!”

Yes, you heard that right. Anne. Motherf*cking. Frank. Are you KIDDING ME?! Okay, fine – Anne Frank is a patient at Briarcliff. Someone tap Helen Keller on the shoulder and give her the news – she’s over in the corner letting Joan of Arc cheat at checkers. Half of me thinks that it would be absolutely amazing if it turned out that she weren’t just a delusional mental patient who is making this up, and the other half finds it massively inappropriate that they’d even suggest that it’s a possibility. (BTW, the two halves have been forbidden by the Australian government to ever meet again.) As ever, AHS brings the crazy, rubs it on the wall, sets it on fire, and puts it in the pantry with your cupcakes (and dismembered stepmother).

Jude tells Anne – rather hilariously – that millions of schoolchildren will be happy to learn that she isn’t, in fact, dead. Anne explains in detail why everyone thinks she’s dead and why she’s okay with it: once her diary was released, it was more important for her to remain a martyr. Okay, not a bad point. But Anne has more pressing concerns to discuss with Jude: namely, “You have a Nazi war criminal working here!”

St. Elsewhere, Kit is confused:

He makes that face a lot, I’m noticing. Dr. Oliver says that while he believes that Kit did commit the Bloody Face murders (cough!BULLSH*T!cough!), he feels that Kit is a victim of society and not necessarily guilty of his crimes. He did what he did, but it wasn’t his fault. Okay, is he officially the worst shrink ever?

Back in Jude’s office, Anne tells the story of how she arrived at Auschwitz and met Herr Grouper – aka Dr. Arden. I don’t know how they found an actor who looks so much like frigging James Cromwell to play him in these flashbacks, but it’s uncanny. It is literally without can. Anyway, Grouper was nice to the children but it was all a front – he would pick a girl (or twin boys) at random, take them away, and return them broken and diseased. He did something to them, but she could never figure out what. Hmm…

Kit, meanwhile, is still confused:

Dr. Bloody Face Threadson walks him through his various “kills”, using some comfy armchair psychology to guess as to why Kit did the things he didn’t do to his victims. He closes with a possible scenario for Alma’s murder that involves Kit killing her just after he went to the trouble of driving to Provincetown to marry her, because his friends wouldn’t stop eating chocolate bars in front of them, or something. It’s stupid, and it involves a lot of Kit punching Alma in the face, which we don’t really need to see.

Back up in Jude’s office, Anne Frank shows her her Auschwitz tattoo:

Jude continues to listen to her with the same expression that she’s had for about 20 minutes now. I call this her “active listening” face:

I seriously think they took one outtake of Jessica Lange waiting for the director to yell “Action!” and looped it for the last 4 scenes, Zapruder-style. Back… and to the left, Jude.

Back in the uncommon room, Lana is lined up to take her meds when out of nowhere she has a vivid hallucination in which she receives some large framed certificate (so it must be important!) at some kind of press conference being held over by the trunk where they keep the dirty beanbags and broken dolls. It’s an award for her expose of Briarcliff, which of course she hasn’t written yet. But it’s lovely to be reminded of what she looks like with her hair washed, isn’t it?

Lana thanks the little people – Martha, the head-banger! Rudy, the chronic masturbator! And of course the Scarecrow – she’ll miss him most of all! – and then tells the imaginary audience that “she did what she had to do to get out.” She downs a pill, then finds Dr. Oliver and asks: “How soon can you begin your therapy?”

Speaking of therapy, Kit and Grace find themselves enjoying a little physical therapy when they are left alone in the bakery. I’m with you, guys – a lightly-floured work surface really gets my juices flowing! They bang on the table (I hope they had Comet in 1964?) and then Frank walks in on them. Whoopsies!

Oh – speak of the devil!

She may be in this episode for about 2.5 seconds, but I’ll be damned (period.) if Lily Rabe doesn’t make the most of every moment. She selects a nice, hefty cane with which Sister Jude can beat the two sticky-bun sexytimers, and lets Jude take the stage. Jude begins by complimenting Whoopsies on her improvement as of late (Is it a renewed clarity of vision or a demonic possession? Only her hairdresser knows for sure!), and then she lays into Kit and Grace: “Are you purposely trying to make a murder baby?” HA! Still got it, Jude. She recommends forced sterilization for them both – wait, WHAT?! Is that really a thing? – but is interrupted by the news that two detectives are there to question Dr. Arden. She splits up the lovers, and Whoopsies – who volunteered to keep an eye on Kit – drops Grace’s file in his lap the minute the room has cleared. Ouch.

In Dr. Arden’s office, a handsome Mad Men extra and his friend – who may very well have played a cop last season as well, no? – are quizzing Dr. Arden about the prostitute that he manhandled, terrorized, and would not allow to dance (or, as I like to call it, “The Full Footloose“). Jude finds this rather hilarious (Dr. Arden clucks, “No need to retire to your fainting couch, sister.”) until they mention that the lady of the night in question also claims to have found Nazi memorabilia in his home, which elicits this response:

Now that’s Jude’s “REALLY active listening” face. They also mention that they are homicide detectives, ending the discussion with the open-ended question as to whether she really thinks a gas station attendant could have pulled off the complex surgical procedures done to the victims. Hey – didn’t Dr. Threadson claim just last week that the police weren’t interested in Wendy’s disappearance because they were confident that they had their guy behind bars? I thought so. Nope – three corpses, everything’s fine. </colonelmustardvoice>

Speaking of our favorite lying head-shrinker, he’s got Lana hooked up to an IV and is forcing her to look at hilarious old cheesecake shots of pinup girls. The very thought of black-and-white pornography makes Lana make this face:

No, seriously, though – it’s totally effed. Threadson explains to her that the drug he’s giving her to make her nauseous at the sight of nude women is all about setting “triggers” and drops a few reputable universitites as sources – notably including Brigham Young University, which is of course the finishing school of the Mormon Church. But never mind that – it’s Name That Dead Lesbian Lover time!!

Yes, Threadson forces Lana to look at a photo of her presumed dead girlfriend, and then doses her with a drug that makes her vomit. Stay classy, Olly.

More like stay ASSY… because then Oliver says it’s time to move on to the CONversion part of their little tea party. Meaning, he brings in a dude to try to turn Lana on. OhsweetbabyJesusno.

Yes. Daniel (whom I don’t believe we’ve ever seen until now) is pretty in a very Nazarethian way, and he seems to like Lana enough both to offer his nude body to her for therapeutic reasons and to look away when Threadson makes her masturbate while gazing at Daniel’s “tumescence”:

And they say chivalry is dead! And Wendy. They also say Wendy is dead.

Anyway, Threadson encourages Lana with an “We’re all rooting for you!” (really, Ol? That’s the best you can come up with?) and with one hand knocking on the door to her fruit cellar and the other on Daniel’s member, she pukes. I think we can call that a success all around, no?


Jude ambushes the Monsignor (Joseph Feinnes) and tells him about Arden being a Nazi and all that. He is unmoved. She then lets fly the news that Anne Frank herself appeared in the asylum to indict Arden, and the Monsignor tells her she’s obsessed. He also tells her she’s a filthy lush, as evidenced by the fact that EVERYONE noticed how pissed she was at the movie night. Ha! She insists she’s trying to help him protect their dream, and he tells her to go pray or make some candles or something.

But the second she’s out the door, Father Judgeypants picks up the phone and calls Arden, warning him, “They’re on to you, Arthur – if you have any housekeeping, I suggest you do it now.” I really don’t think it’s the appropriate time to be dusting the blinds or rotating the mattresses but ohhhhhh you mean the double-amputee shot full of syphillis who’s writhing around on his table, aren’t you. Of course. The blinds can wait.

Meanwhile, Jude does what any good bitch does when backed into a corner: she runs to Mommy. Jude’s mommy is of course Mommy Superior, the daisy-fresh vision you see here:

While it may not be his best look, I’m thrilled to see Ed O’Neill doing something that doesn’t consist entirely of moving the furniture behind Manny to make it look like he’s alive.

Mommy Sups laments “the men of our church” and their tendency to sweep little things like Nazi war crimes and fondled altar boys under the rug. She tells Jude to stick to her guns, and reminds her that she doesn’t owe the Monsignor anything because she’s her own woman. She also advises against “scrubs”. (She don’t want none.)

Speaking of disassociative breaks, Grace is living it up in solitary until Kit is brought into the cell beside hers. He immediately asks her why she lied about not killing her family, which she most certainly did:

Oof! Lizzie Brochere took an axe, gave her mommy forty whacks…

Grace says that her father abused her, and she eventually snapped. When she tried to tell her stepmom about the abuse, her stepmom said, “I’m busy – go axe your father!” No, seriously, she said the last straw was when he sold the horses. Kit says he admires her. Good luck with that.

Back in the common room, Threadson apologizes to Lana for sexually assaulting her in the name of science. He insists that he isn’t an aversion therapy advocate, and he shouldn’t have tried it. Well! It’s a bit late for that! He also gives her the photo of Wendy that he used to make her vomit (“Memmmmmrieeeeeeees….”) and tells her that he’s getting her out of there in a week, come hell or high water. (Or, in the case of last week, both.)

Kit asks to meet with Jude, and then breaks down in her office, asking her if God really sees everything. She thinks he probably does, or she wouldn’t be wearing that habit right now. He says that even though he doesn’t remember doing it, he must have killed those women, because aliens don’t exist. We see Jude briefly flinch – she clearly remembers seeing some creature in the halls through a purple haze of sickly sweet communion wine. Ha! Kit begs, “Help me find God!” She tells him, “We’re all sinners.” Some of us are just better at it, AMIRIGHT?

Arden throws Anne Frank into his operating chamber, accusing her of lying. He insists that he has never even been to Auschwitz, adding, “I’m from Scottsdale!” Okay, I believe him. Because as bad as admitting to being a Nazi war criminal might be, admitting that you’re from Scottsdale is FAR worse.

Arden threatens Anne, telling her that she’s going to learn first-hand what goes on in his man cave. She pulls a gun on him. Hey, nice one! Turns out she nicked it from one of the detectives earlier, and she wastes no time putting a bullet in Arden’s leg. She then hears something behind a door, and demands the keys. When he hesitates, she threatens to shoot him again and kicks the injured leg. He throws her the keys, which she uses to open a door to reveal this:

“Kill meeeeeee!”


Oh. My. God.

Well, aside from the whole Anne Frank thing – which is so insane that I think it actually works – this episode was … well, the whole thing was nutty as a fruitcake. The aversion therapy – EEEWWWW! – was appropriately disgusting, the revelation of Grace’s backstory was nasty (in a good way), and Lana and Kit’s continued unraveling was pretty well done. I still have no idea where the hell any of this is going, but I’m very much up for the ride.

Notably Dead: Grace’s father and stepmom, my appetite for artistan breads

Notably Absent: PEPPER!!!! Seriously, somebody better find that little slice of heaven and return her to me NOW. Also, the mutant things, Wendy, and whoever the hell those Bloody Face cultists were, as well as ol’ Parakeet Puss himself.

Blood – 9/10

Thanks mostly to Grace, who treated us to a whole pantryful of red-tinted Karo syrup not just once, but TWICE!

Beasts – 2/10

Multiple mentions of horses and whatever Shelley’s turning into aside, this one was pretty light on the beasties. But that’s okay, because it left more time for…

Buns – 10/10

Woo-hoo! Nice work, fellas. Unnamed model who played the mute, altruistic Daniel, your contributions to the genre have been noted.


I’m loving the season. It’s horrific, it’s insane, and it’s proudly ridiculous – three of my favorite traits in entertainments (or people). In my professional opinion, this week’s therapy-heavy episode suffered from an acute case of Stockholm Syndrome with a Baader-Meinhof chaser. (Wait – I was just reading about that!)

Or, as patron Saint Barbra would say, nine out of ten Nutses:

But that’s just one schwein’s opinion. What did YOU think?

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.