There are some interesting pivots throughout the penultimate episode of Inventing Anna, moments wherein you think things are going one way, and then something else happens or is revealed and things change, as we get the culmination of certain plot points, the meeting of timelines, and setup for the next and last episode of the season.
While the past timeline we’ve been watching unspool all season long, the one that shows us the rise and fall of Anna Delvey as chronicled in Vivian’s article, finally meets up with the present day of episode one (Anna’s indictment), the episode still jumps back and forth through time — because the new present-day is two-ish months from the birth of Vivian’s article and human baby, and that present-day plot also includes deep flashbacks to Anna’s teenage years in Germany.
Why? The short answer is because Vivian can’t let go of Anna Delvey. (Can anyone? I mean, this show is premiering three-ish years after most of us first heard the name Anna Delvey.) She feels like most people missed the point of her story, which went massively viral, and that maybe even she missed the point of her story. It doesn’t help that Anna so much as says this when Vivian visits her with the magazine in hand. Anna, as she does so, so well, has wiggled her way into Vivian’s heart and mind, and that, combined with something that happened when Anna was at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, leads Viv to break her maternity leave and fly to Germany to look deeper into Anna’s family and report a follow-up story, a.k.a. jump to conclusions all over Germany.
Vivian’s time in Germany is a case study of the Anna Delvey effect, with a little bit of the Donovan Lamb situation coming up again to needle at the back of her mind. As she and her translator, a Turkish-German journalism student, trek across the small town Anna grew up in, they manage to collect a lot of rumors and gossip, and Vivian lets her imagination run wild about Anna’s origins. When she finally connects with — by stalking — Anna’s parents, the reason for her wild goose chasing becomes clear. Anna’s apparent suicide attempt in Los Angeles has Vivian convinced that there must be some clue, something dark, in Anna’s past. But Anna’s mom tells her gently that Anna was always a stranger under their roof, much as we may like to think we shape our children. She cautions Vivian to let Anna go.
Vivian scraps her follow-up article and almost lets Anna go until she gets a copy of Anna’s L.A. hospital records — the contents of which make up part of the episode’s other storyline, with Anna ending up in the psychiatric wing of a hospital after drinking wine and consuming an entire bottle of Xanax at the Chateau Marmont — from Anna’s father, who also can’t stop wondering why Anna would hurt herself. Back at Rikers with all the pieces of yet another Anna scam clicking into place, Vivian confronts Anna and offers her another option: “Kill Anna Delvey. Stop the con. Stop pretending. Admit what you did … go back to Germany, be with your family.” But, puh-lease, that’s not Anna’s style, nor is it the story she’s interested in telling or living. I guess we’ll see how she envisions her next chapter playing out in the season finale.
And about that L.A. Anna scam: Back in 2017, Anna, after fleeing to Los Angeles at the end of episode seven, checked into the Chateau Marmont, faked a suicide attempt, told a tall tale about an abusive, alcoholic father back in Germany, and got herself admitted to rehab — which put a pause on her about-to-expire visa clock, buying her time. Unfortunately for her, she also continued to post #bestlife Instagram photos, which ticked off Rachel even more and led to Rachel participating in a sting with the DA’s office to have Anna arrested. And thus, two timelines have merged; Anna is indicted and trying to become the Queen Bee of the Rikers bus, Kacy is removing herself from the Anna Delvey narrative for her own sanity, Neff is shocked by the depth of Anna’s fall and suspicious of Rachel’s role in Anna’s arrest, and Rachel is … kind of pleased? Honestly, I do agree with Neff that Rachel is annoying overall, though I also get why she’d be so pissed at Anna.
The blue-tinted deep flashbacks to Anna’s teenage years don’t add all that much to the episode, especially since some of them seem to be real, but some seem imagined or enhanced by the gossip and rumors Vivian absorbs on her Germany trip. But they do verify at least one thing Anna told the doctor in Los Angeles: Younger Anna in Germany was obsessed with studying fashion magazines. Here, you can see the early breadcrumbs that led to her becoming the Anna Delvey of New York in the years covered in Vivian’s article.
Speaking of that Anna Delvey, even though the season isn’t over yet, it seems like we’ve finally got some semblance of an answer to the “Who the hell is Anna Delvey?” question that runs through the course of the show. It’s not all that neat and tidy of an answer, either, which is why even knowing all she knows, Vivian tells Anna she’s still rooting for her, that she should start over. Anna Delvey is a made-up character. Anna Delvey is a scam artist. Anna Delvey is a fake. Anna Delvey is a genius. Anna Delvey is entitled and rude. Anna Delvey tips generously. Anna Delvey just wants to be taken seriously. Anna Delvey can spin a story like no other. Anna Delvey is a lonely person. (Anna Sorokin was probably bullied and also a mean girl.) Anna Delvey still believes in that bright future.
Everyone knows Anna Delvey. No one knows Anna Delvey.
Who knows where Anna Delvey will go next? Anna seems pretty sure the answer is “somewhere.” But I bet the court will have something to say about that. (Obviously, we know what the outcome of the real-life Anna Delvey’s trial was — but still.)
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
• Anna-ism of the Episode: “I hear I’m famous.” That is what Vivian surmised that Anna wanted way back in episode one.
• Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge: Vivian sees — and rolls her eyes at — a woman wearing a the Cut “Fake German Heiress” T-shirt at the library after her article has gone viral. Also, Scam Culture alert! The Manhattan publishers want Vivian’s take on Elizabeth Holmes next since the Anna Delvey article was their best-performing piece in five years.
• Fashion Is Life: “Oh my God, I love your tattoos, they’re so cute,” Anna says to the face-tattooed inmate sitting next to her on the bus to Rikers. Meanwhile, a former classmate of Anna’s tells Vivian that during high school Anna “got obsessed with clothes, started dressing better than anyone, and became, like, the fashion police.”