Lore (2017) s01e02 Episode Script


[FILM PROJECTOR WHIRS] AARON MAHNKE: In 1903, the 100 residents of a small town in Virginia didn't want the patients living at the nearby insane asylum to be their neighbors.
They voted, and it was agreed that the inmates would be relocated and the asylum closed.
The patients were transferred to the Lorton Reformatory, a prison outside of Washington, D.
The vehicle swerved, rolled, and crashed.
Two patients escaped into the woods Marcus Wallster and Douglas Grifon, a man who'd murdered his wife and child on Easter Sunday.
A manhunt discovered a trail of half-eaten rabbits left on the ground and hanging in the trees.
The trail led the officers to one of the escaped inmates.
Marcus Wallster was found hanging from a railroad bridge, a crude, self-made ax in one hand and a note attached to his foot.
It read "You'll never catch the Bunny Man.
" The other fugitive, Douglas Grifon, was the Bunny Man.
He was never found.
Two years later, on Halloween night, three teenagers went out into the woods to drink and were later found hanging from the bridge.
Each had been gutted, just like the mutilated rabbits.
Similar murders occurred the following year then in 1913 and once more in 1946.
The police were finally able to track Grifon down.
It turns out, as he escaped, he'd been hit by a train and killed.
Police reported hearing laughter after the train had passed.
[MAN LAUGHING] Nowadays, the bridge is a popular Halloween destination, but there's little chance of seeing the ghost of the Bunny Man.
You see, there are no records to prove that any of these events actually ever occurred.
The asylum that Grifon and Wallster were believed to have escaped from, it never existed.
The Lorton Prison wasn't built until 1910, seven years after the reported transfer of the inmates.
And there are no records of prisoners named Wallster or Grifon.
No record of any murders near or on the Bunny Man bridge.
But just because it's folklore doesn't mean we shouldn't listen.
The thing is the insane are the characters in our horror stories for a reason.
They're the dark side, the negative image of who we are, and that's fascinating and utterly terrifying.
I'm Aaron Mahnke.
This is Lore.
A place for people in need BUILT WITH THE BEST INTENTIONS: to ease the anguish of the insane.
But the mental institution is home to our worst nightmares.
Hell on Earth.
Where we set horror stories.
Bethlehem Hospital is Europe's oldest functioning psychiatric hospital, founded at the beginning of the 15th century.
As some of the earliest patients passed through its gates, they were greeted by two statues "Melancholy" and "Raving Madness.
" When Bethlehem first opened, mental illness wasn't seen as a condition that could be treated, and those considered dangerous would be shackled and kept in solitary confinement.
By the 19th century, Londoners had shortened the hospital name to Bethlam [SHOUTING, SCREAMING] which was then further clipped to Bedlam, a name that's become synonymous with chaos and madness.
Corrupt and cruel, Bedlam was run like a zoo.
For a shilling, Londoners could roam the hallways and see the lunatics.
As the centuries passed, so-called treatment at asylums like Bedlam continued to be variations of violence, as if mental illness could be beaten out of the mind.
Inmates were routinely placed in cages, chained, isolated.
Death often came before any cure.
In 1930, Bedlam entered the modern era when a new facility was constructed.
In spite of this, a nightmare of human misery was still contained within its walls.
The following decade, American physician Walter Jackson Freeman II imagined what can only be considered, well, unimaginable.
Walter Freeman was going to eliminate the need for the asylum forever.
[GRUNT] So, Ralph, Ellen.
Did you read the paper I gave you? Any questions about the procedure? Terrific.
There's a coffee shop across the street and down a block.
Come on back in, say, an hour? Hop on up, Ellen.
Hang on.
You can keep your shoes on.
[BREATHING HEAVILY] [THINKING] First transorbital leucotomy a success.
Transected cortical tissue of the prefrontal cortex to the thalamus.
Sallie Ellen lonesco suffered from depression and violent episodes.
Two suicide attempts.
Psychiatric therapy and several institutional stays resulted in no progress.
In asylums, patients are allowed to deteriorate.
Transorbital lobotomy promises a revolutionary advance.
A simple, effective method of treatment, it offers hope of returning a high percentage of "incurable psychotics" to their communities.
Critics may question a procedure intentionally damaging the brain, but which is better, to damage the brain a bit and get the patient out of the hospital or do nothing? [BREATHING HEAVILY] MAHNKE: For everything we know about what the brain is made of, we know very little about how it works and even less about how it doesn't.
Sigmund Freud believed that many forms of mental illness were the result of repressed unconscious desires.
He revolutionized treatment with the development of psychoanalysis, a dialogue between patient and doctor that would, over the course of many years, reveal the source of the problem.
[WHIMPERING] There was a rival and opposite approach TO PSYCHIATRY: psychosurgery.
Advancements in surgical technique made brain surgery a faster and less expensive route toward curing mental illness.
One of the founders of modern psychosurgery was a Portuguese doctor named Antonio Egas Moniz.
In 1935, Moniz drilled several holes into a female patient's skull.
The surgical procedure he was experimenting with would sever the nerves connecting the frontal lobe to the thalamus.
Moniz believed that severing the connection between these parts of the brain could produce beneficial effects, transforming a psychotic patient into someone more docile and less tormented.
He'd eventually win the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy.
Leucotomy, you see, was another word for prefrontal lobotomy.
When Walter Freeman and his partner, neurosurgeon James Watts, heard about the procedure, they knew it had the potential to radically alter the treatment of chronic mental illness.
Freeman, who wasn't licensed to practice surgery, would stand behind Watts and direct him, telling him how and where to point the blade.
In 1946, Life Magazine published an article titled "Bedlam.
" It was about the deplorable state in two mental hospitals in Ohio and Pennsylvania, conditions that were typical for the time.
Freeman was determined to become a savior to patients like those in the article, but the procedure he developed with Watts was time consuming and costly.
In the ten years they'd been performing lobotomies, they'd only done a few hundred.
If Freeman wanted to make a difference, he'd have to do thousands.
He heard about the work of an Italian doctor who developed a technique to reach the brain through the eye sockets.
This was the shortcut Freeman was looking for.
By inserting a large needle into the skull through the eye socket, he would wiggle it to sever the nerves in the frontal lobe.
He called the procedure the transorbital lobotomy.
It was quick, it was cheap, and it was so simple that it could performed in a doctor's office without the use of anesthesia.
When Watts walked into their shared office and saw a patient with a needle sticking out of each eye, he was horrified.
Freeman is said to have asked Watts to hold the instruments so that he could snap a picture.
I'm Dr.
Freeman, and this is my new associate.
And this it's an Orbitoclast.
We had a machinist friend of ours make this one, and we tested it by inserting it through a keyhole and then lifting it with a force of 25 kilograms on the handle without bending or breaking it.
But you see, this is actually the second Orbitoclast.
A funny story.
Marjorie my wife Marjorie.
And my wife Marjorie.
Honey, tell everyone what I used as the first Orbitoclast.
A An ice pick.
That's right.
Ha ha ha! An ice pick, right off our kitchen counter.
I needed a stiff, you know, sharp object, and there it was.
I practiced first on oranges and grapefruits.
But here today we have Allan.
Allan suffers from chronic depression.
He's tried to kill himself.
He's visiting us today from Saint Elizabeth's.
The problems of our mental hospitals cannot be met until the backlog of chronically disturbed patients is much more effectively treated than they are at the present moment.
Now, I maintain that the proper application of the transorbital leucotomy will turn our asylums into old peoples' homes, and this at a cost of only $25 to the patient.
[LAUGHING] No, no, no, no.
Allan, today is on the house.
Of the 400 prefrontal leucotomies that I've performed in asylums, only one patient has died on the day of the procedure.
Two died days later from bleeding in the brain, and six patients, uh, suffered convulsions or other complications.
But don't be nervous, Allan.
I have my private cases performed here in the office.
85% were allowed to live at home.
In fact, one went on to get his pilot's license.
Another's an orchestra violinist.
Many have been married since the procedure.
Now true, immediately after a lobotomy, patients are cheerful to the point of elation for a few days or a few weeks.
Then they display what I call the Boy Scout's virtues in reverse.
Patients demonstrate a lack of trustworthiness, helpfulness, kindness, cleanliness, or reverence.
- But that can be remedied - [ELECTRICITY BUZZING] with a follow-up of aftershock.
[GROANING] - Walter! - [MACHINE POWERS DOWN] This is not a cure.
This only shuts the patient up.
Bill, can you at least wait till you see how it's done? The only thing this accomplishes is making it easier for those who are nursing them.
Bill, you know what my favorite definition of genius is? Genius is the ability to put the cart before the horse and make them both run.
So, fellas, follow here as I lift Allan's eyelid.
I'll then take my small mallet, and, in back where the bone is very, very thin, I want to go in about 5 centimeters.
I will now transect the cortical tissues at the thalamus.
[LAUGHING] Oh, Bill.
I guess Bill won't be staying for the second one.
We'll extract the Orbitoclast, and that's all there is to it.
Now, Allan will suffer a couple black eyes, but we send them home with a fine pair of new sunglasses so they're not too embarrassed when they see their friends back at St.
His shuddering should slow down in about 35, 45 minutes.
And somebody want to check on Bill there? I don't think his pulse is nearly as good as Allan's.
1946 was a rocket ride for Walter Freeman.
America had just defeated fascism, and people saw possibility and potential everywhere, and they embraced his radical new procedure.
"Any damn fool could learn it," Freeman joked.
And he set off across the country to prove it.
For cash-strapped institutions, it was impossible to resist a procedure that could deliver such apparent relief so easily.
Just a silent insertion, a few tiny taps [TAPPING] and the horrors that had dominated the minds of the chronically ill could be taken away.
Buoyed by his growing popularity.
Freeman began promising more.
The lobotomy, he maintained, could provide relief for non-institutionalized patients as well, like Warner Baxter.
Baxter was the second man ever to take home an Academy Award for best actor, and he remained one of the highest paid actors in the 1940s.
But by 1950, he was plagued by arthritis that was so crippling that he had trouble feeding himself.
So in 1951, he famously underwent a lobotomy in search of relief.
Freeman had moved the lobotomy from the fringes to the mainstream.
One of Freeman's most noted cases, however, from years earlier, had been kept tightly under wraps.
But that secrecy wasn't intended to protect Freeman's reputation.
Rosemary Kennedy was the third of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children.
In 1918, Rose suddenly went into labor with Rosemary.
The nurse was reluctant to deliver the baby without a doctor present.
She ordered Rose to keep her legs tightly shut in an effort to delay the birth.
It didn't work, and she forced the baby's head back into the birth canal.
For two agonizing hours, baby Rosemary was deprived of sufficient oxygen, and this caused her lasting brain damage.
Rosemary was a joyful, exuberant child, but she often experienced seizures and violent tantrums, and she struggled intellectually.
In a family renowned for brilliant, striving overachievers, the frustration and feeling of inferiority must have been unbearable.
In response, Rosemary acted out.
Fearing that scandal might threaten his other children's political prospects, and without consulting his wife, Joseph Kennedy brought his troubled daughter to Walter Freeman and James Watts for a prefrontal lobotomy.
The lobotomy left Rosemary Kennedy permanently disabled.
Initially, she could only speak a few words.
She never regained the full use of one arm, and she walked with a limp.
Consigned to a church-run facility in Wisconsin, the rebellious and free-spirited Rosemary had been more or less silenced by the age of 23.
On July 8, 1946, Freeman took his two young sons Randy and Keen, along with a nephew, on a camping trip.
They planned to hike in Yosemite National Park, climbing along Vernal Falls, 325 feet off the Merced River.
While hiking along the river's edge, Keen bent down to refill his canteen.
I heard Keen shout.
I turned and saw that he'd fallen into the river.
The current was taking him toward Vernal Falls.
I was some distance back and became paralyzed.
If I had vaulted over the railing and extended my walking stick to him, I might have saved him.
A 21-year-old man Dale, just five days discharged from the Navy, jumped in the river and managed to grab Keen 15 feet from the fall.
The last I saw was his face as he went over the edge.
The small crowd there screamed.
Randy, Jeff, and I were paralyzed.
I jerked myself out of my paralysis of fear and ran down the trail, screaming to myself, "Keen "Keen "you're dead.
You're killed.
" They did not find Keen's body for a week, lodged between two rocks.
Loos, the sailor, was found a week after that.
I had to identify my son.
I had to look twice but there's no mistaking him.
He had been in the water for a week or so, and even though it was cold, there was some swelling of the tissues, body gases, and some peeling of the skin.
There was no disfigurement.
Fortunately, the back of the skull was severely crushed, showing that death was immediate and painless.
I was certain I'd find you here with another woman.
Marjorie, after 22 years of marriage, you should understand that, though possessing diplovirility, the path to my emotional recovery is through work and not through another woman's parted legs.
[DOOR CREAKS] They'll send you to a psychiatric hospital again if you keep that up.
[LAUGHING] "They"? [LAUGHING] [STOPPER POPS] Drink with me? Do something to help me.
Our children will support me if I file for divorce.
They told me so.
You don't have the strength to go through all it would take.
Is that coming from my husband or my doctor? [SIGH] [SIGH] The only thing that I know for certain is that my life is over.
[SOBBING] Oh, no.
[SOBBING] [SOBBING CONTINUES] Walter Freeman never tried to ease Marjorie's pain by subjecting her to the procedure that had brought him fame and fortune.
And, while he performed nearly 3,500 lobotomies, Freeman was never able to do what he set out to do, which was to empty the asylums.
By the mid-1950s, the number of patients in U.
mental institutions did experience a steady decline.
But it wasn't Freeman's lobotomies that were responsible for reducing the numbers.
It was a pill.
Chlorpromazine, more commonly known as Thorazine, was introduced in America in 1954.
Its effect on patients was immediate.
Psychiatrists were amazed.
In fact, it was so fast that it was popularly referred to as a chemical lobotomy.
The development of Thorazine was hailed as one of the great advances in psychiatry.
Thorazine calmed patients and greatly reduced their hallucinations, delusions, and agitation, the major symptoms of schizophrenia.
By the end of its first year on the market, doctors had used Thorazine to treat more than 2 million patients.
It might decrease the use of lobotomy, but I don't see it ever replacing it.
They're calling it the psychological equivalent of penicillin.
It's a stopgap used to mask the symptoms of mental illness, not to heal them.
It just shuts the patients up while others nurse them.
Walt, that's that's word for word what Nolan said when we demonstrated transorbital lobotomy.
Look, I think we should use the release of this drug as cause as the reason to call it a day.
Look, I've been given a heads up.
[SIGH] Greenblatt and Solomon.
They've just edited a report on the long-term effects of lobotomy its "permanent inability to inhibit impulses, "its unnatural tranquility with undesirable shallowness and absence of feeling.
" [RATTLING] Christmas cards from my lobotomized patients.
How many other doctors get Christmas cards? Do you think anyone is going to send the makers of Thorazine a Christmas card? I changed lives! [SCOFF] Look at that.
Did you really change lives, Walt? [DOOR CLOSES] [THUNDER] It's easy to think of him as a monster, an egomaniac who abused his patients' trust.
And he was all of those things.
But at the same time, he really did want to make a difference in the lives of the people who came to him for help.
WOMAN: He only gets worse.
He refuses to change.
You think he'd think what's best for the family first, for others, but he's destructive to me and my husband and himself.
and he will not he refuses to see it.
He thinks he's better than everyone else.
We've tried everything, and it's in your hands now.
"He does not react to either love or punishment and seems to do a lot of daydreaming.
" Me, too.
"And when asked about it, he says 'I don't know'.
"Charles turns room lights on when there's broad sunlight outside.
" Hmm.
Okay, then.
Any questions about the procedure? All right.
There's a coffee shop across the street.
Why don't you come back in, say, about an hour? All right.
Okay, Charlie.
Jump on up.
Go ahead and pop that in for me.
I'm just gonna lay you down gently.
Head on the pillow.
[ELECTRICITY HUMMING] - [ELECTRICITY CRACKLING] - [CHARLIE STRUGGLING] [MACHINE POWERS DOWN] [RAPID BREATHING] In 1967, the medical board finally banned Walter Freeman from performing lobotomies.
In 1968, he hit the road again, but this time, his mission was different.
Freeman crossed the country to visit his former patients.
He wanted to see what their lives were like, if he had truly been the savior that he so desperately wanted to be.
Maybe he was looking for the one thing his lobotomized patients couldn't give him: redemption.
Marjorie Freeman died in 1970, but, really, her life ended the day her son passed away.
Walter Freeman died of cancer two years later.
He's buried beside his wife and son.
There is a hole near the top of his tombstone, as if it had been punctured with a large ice pick.
When I first saw it, I thought of it as a hole in a life of unfulfilled dreams.
But then again, maybe I'm overthinking it.
Maybe it's just a coincidence.
After all, lore has a way of doing that to you.