Given the utterly bizarre way that the first season of ‘American Horror Story’ drew to a close, I had no idea what to expect from the Season 2 finale, but braced myself for something that might pull the rug out from under the whole ‘Asylum’ storyline. Now that I’ve finally caught up with the last episode, I’ve found that it does just about the last thing I would’ve guessed. It provides an actual ending and fairly straightforward closure for most of the characters.
The finale episode is titled ‘Madness Ends’. In a lot of ways, that’s true. However, don’t worry, it wouldn’t be ‘American Horror Story’ without some amount of craziness.
The episode has a framing story in which present-day Lana, now an elderly, famous Barbara Walters-type telejournalist, is interviewed by a younger reporter in anticipation of receiving Kennedy Center Honors. Psycho son Johnny has somehow snuck onto the set to get close to his mother. As she discusses the story that first made her famous, we flash back to the early 1970s, as young Lana and a film crew break into Briarcliff to document the deteriorating conditions there. The clips from her documentary ‘Briarcliff Exposed’ are shot and edited in hilarious imitation of 1970s TV newsmagazine style.
Lana decides to use the interview to come clean about some mistruths and distortions in her original story. She’d previously claimed to have rescued Sister Jude from the asylum. In fact, she found that Jude was long gone by the time she got there. As she says, what actually happened was, “One hell of an ending, just not the one I wanted.” (Is this the writers’ way of bracing against possible fan criticism for this episode?) What really happened is that Kit had rescued Sister Jude, cared for her and helped her recover, then let her live with his family as a nanny until she died, peacefully. Lana learned all this too late. Jude was already dead by the time she found Kit. It’s suggested that Kit’s alien-spawned children had a magical hand in Jude’s recovery. They later grew up to be a law professor and a neurosurgeon. An elderly Kit, dying of cancer, simply vanished in a burst of light.
In the biggest disgrace of her career, Lana had attempted to expose the wrongdoings of Cardinal Howard. His suicide created quite a scandal around the prying reporter.
After the TV crew leaves, Lana asks Johnny to step out from hiding to talk to her. She knew he was there and who he was the whole time. Johnny, of course, tells her that he’s going to murder her, as she murdered his father. In his research over the years, he’d listened to the recordings in which Thredson told Lana how much he wanted to be a father to the boy, and she responded that she had no love to give a child. She calmly admits to being a bad mother, apologizes, and shows Johnny tenderness and affection. Overcome with conflicted emotions, Johnny breaks down and cries. Lana gently removes the gun from his hand, then turns it on him and shoots him in the head – just as she had his father. Poetic justice achieved.
Although I had some misgivings about the opening few episodes of Season 2, I think that it shaped up very nicely once the storyline found its footing, and that this was a very fitting and satisfying conclusion. A few matters are still left unresolved, however. We never really got a good justification for the alien abduction storyline. (Mrs. Z calls that part of the season “a bridge too far.”) Yes, they’re referenced again here, but we never learn why they cared so much about Kit or needed to ensure that his children would become a teacher and a doctor. With everything else going on this year, did the show really need to add aliens to the mix?
I haven’t been paying close attention to these things, but I assume that FX has renewed ‘American Horror Story’ for a third season. Now that we know that each season will tell a completely unrelated story, I can hardly imagine what fresh madness next year will bring. Can the show really justify a third season? Will Jessica Lange be back? I know this much: I can’t wait to find out.
[I apologize for the lateness of this recap. Due to moving and general chaos in my life, I was without a TV or electronics for over a week, and am just now catching up on my TV watching.]