Image credit: Byron Cohen/FX
TO BE FRANK, OR NOT TO BE FRANK? Franka Potente as Anne Frank... or someone who thinks she's Anne Frank. Which Persona is she?
Lana Winters wasn’t the only one who tried to play a martyr part that didn’t fit. Kit Walker tried to live up to the meaning of his name (bearing Christ) by taking on the sins of Bloody Face. His muse in misguided martyrdom: Grace, who took the episode’s best risk, and reaped the reward of… well, grace. Grace’s impact on Kit trickled all the way down to their worst enemy, Sister Jude, who by episode’s end saw in Kit’s clouded-confused eyes a mirror that showed her a path to redemption for herself. Yep: God works in mysterious ways in The Asylum.
It began in the Briarcliff kitchen, where the star-crossed mental cases toiled as slave labor in Commandant Jude’s bakery, rolling and shoveling dough into the ovens. Grace noticed a fresh abrasion on Kit’s lip. “Arden?” she asked. Indeed. The doctor had been torturing him anew, trying to get him to confess what he didn’t know: The secrets of the alien tech in his body. (Did you get the sense that the leggy chip that Arden extracted from Kit’s neck in the pilot had gone MIA? That Arden suspected that it had recombined with its host?) Kit appreciated that Grace didn’t judge him crazy – or at all – for his tale of extraterrestrial abuse. He encouraged her to share her story, and offered her the same grace she shown him.
And so she told him a story. She lived on a farm, with her father, stepmother and stepsister. They had horses. She loved to ride them. It felt like freedom. But everything was taken away on the day she was framed for chopping up her parents -- an act of violence reminiscent of the legendary Lizzie Borden axe murders. A hired hand on the farm named Red had conspired with step-sis Patsy to take control of the property by bumping off her father and stepmother and pinned the savage acts on Grace. “And no matter how many times I told my story, no one believed me.” “I believe you,” said Kit, who could totally relate. Grace's yarn of being falsely accused of committing outrageous atrocities sounded so much like his predicament. Suspiciously so…
Dr. Thredson also believed Kit Walker was innocent, from a certain point of view. During another session together, Kit’s court-appointed shrink confessed he had an ethical dilemma. “I don’t think you’re crazy,” said Thredson. “But I don’t think you’re evil.” Problem was, “crazy” was the only diagnosis that could keep Kit out of the electric chair. Thredson’s theory landed somewhere in the middle: Kit was a perverse product of cultural conditioning. “You are a victim of a brutish society that drove you to commit act so terrible, so antithetical to who you are as a person, that your psyche concocted this alien abduction to absolve you of your guilt.” Kit wasn’t buying it. Thredson – stepping up the intensity and urgency (why?) – cut to the chase: “Listen to me kit. I am willing to lie to the courts to save your life. But only on one condition: That for the rest of our time together, you face the truth of what happened.” Kit, frustrated, insisted for what probably felt to him like the billionth time that he had already explained what happened.
“I know you did,” said Thredson. “Now let me tell you what happened.” And with that, the headshrinker tried to take control of Kit’s story and impose his own perspective, his own narrative on Kit’s life. To wit: Kit was a troubled misfit whose secret marriage to a black woman placed him in profound, untenable conflict with racist white society. His angst – an intensifying storm of guilt, shame, fear, anger, more – curdled into psychosis. He found catharsis by stabbing and skinning white women. “Why the skin, Kit? Was it their race? The very things society was punishing you for?” As for the aliens, they were actually Kit’s hick pals, making an unannounced visit. Terrified that his relationship with Alma was going to be exposed, Kit snapped and slaughtered his wife as he did the other women. “You killed the thing you loved the most,” said Thredson. The flaw in the theory was what we saw of Kit in the pilot. He wasn’t ashamed of Alma, nor was he afraid of what people thought of their union. He wanted to go public. He wanted to be exposed. Another flaw? It sounded like a pulp fiction pop psych treatment of psychosis. Where did Thredson say he got his degree again?
Kit rejected Dr. Thredson’s diagnosis. He also felt helpless, impotent, screwed. During his next shift in the kitchen crucible, Kit pounded the dough as he writhed in his John Proctor bind. Put his name to the psychiatrist’s lie and live. Insist he was sane and innocent and face certain execution. Exacerbating the internal conflict: His fear that Dr. Thredson was right. He told Grace: “What if I made it all up because I couldn’t face up to what I had done?” Kit then turned on Grace, or tried to, grabbing her throat and chocking her, as if attempting to flush out the Bloody Face monster hiding in psyche: “What am I? Crazy or sane? Am I a killer?!” Grace said, “I don't care. Whatever you are, I will be with you.” The moment between them was charged with… something. Something hot. Something forbidden. Having sex would be a big no-no in The Asylum. So defying the rules would… sexual revolution! Kisses led to groping led to a hard, fast grind on the kneading table dusty with flour. And then Frank walked in. Busted.
They were taken to Sister Jude’s office. Devil possessed Sister Mary gleefully picked out a barbed stick for their caning. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, Sister, but it’s a decided improvement,” said Sister Jude, who then ripped into Kit and Grace for defiling her bakery. She said they were way too “familiar.” She likened their attraction to “The Serpent” and “The Apple.” (Garden of Eden references, and evoking Arden’s mystery creatures and his candy apple temptation of Sister Mary in the woods two episodes ago.) She accused them of trying to conceive “a murder baby.” Kit stood up for her falsely accused friend (“Grace didn't kill anyone!”), and as he did, Grace, looking suddenly alarmed, tried to change the subject by pushing Sister Jude to the endgame. “Just give us our beating and get it over with.”
NEXT: Return To The Mending Wall