Last night’s finale for the Briarcliff saga on American Horror Story: Asylum was pretty much the epilogue of what turned out to be a polarizing season of American Horror Story where just about everything except time travel was possible. Serial killer? Check. Demonic Possessed Nun? You bet. Nazis and aliens? Why the hell not? While the fans of the FX series will no doubt debate nonstop on whether Asylum held up to the American Horror Story name, hopefully they will come to the same conclusion on this finale being the best episode of the season (or even series) so far.
The episode played as a Stephen King epilogue, if the great storyteller himself had gotten a chance to write/produce an episode of This Is Your Life! based on Barbara Walters or Oprah Winfrey. At the start of the episode, we saw Lana as a celebrated figure in today’s society, a far cry from her wet-behind-the-ears beginnings when we first met her in the season premiere. She was hardened, sardonic, and didn’t pity fools, all attributes that came to a head when the “sapphic reporter” finally came face to face with Johnny, her offspring and the modern-day Bloody-Face. In three carefully chosen words: simply, freaking amazing.
Early reviews of the episode by colleagues hailed the chilling confrontation between mother and monster as one for the top ten lists for years to come. I’d say that the raves and were hammering home the honest-to-God truth, but simultaneously they miraculously downplayed the final 5-10 minutes of the episode, which went above and beyond the call of duty. Everything naysayers and detractors of the season had to say about modern-day Bloody-Face was answered without an abundance of unnecessary exposition. Also, even though the explanations behind Johnny’s manical behavior was clear as a bell and, in some demented sense, plausible, I still couldn’t help but yell, “Damn skippy!” when Lana declared she didn’t love Thredson Jr. after hearing his sob story. In short, it was all about Lana Banana and despite a few pitfalls in playing the fame game, you still couldn’t help but root for her in the end.
Initially, I felt that Ryan Murphy and crew were ingenious to reserve introducing the tough as nails Lana we met last night until the finale, but in the end it was simply common sense (for the sake of the narrative) to not disclose Lana’s status as the survivor of the AHS:A’s main trio. However, using Lana’s life post Briarcliff as a framing narrative to see how Jude and Kit lived out the rest of their days was (again) simply, freaking amazing…
The most gut-wrenching moments from the episode, which was appropriately titled “Madness Ends,” was Kit’s time with Jude, who found the peace she had looked for through the pure love of Kit and his children Tom and Julia. Seeing Jude slowly but surely come out of the darkness of her madness, becoming a beacon of hope for Kit and his kids was just a wondrous way of tugging at the heart. In short, Jude’s redemption song ended on a high crescendo that received a standing ovation from this nearly tearful blogger. If we were in a perfect world, Jessica Lange would not only win another Emmy for her role as Sister Jude Martin, but a damn Oscar as well. I highly cannot wait to see what new skin Ryan Murphy has crafted for Lange next season, but I’m sure it will fit better than spandex on an 80s fitness instructor.
Then there is Kit, who reminded me (but mostly my editor-in-chief Jon Lachonis) of the quintessential Stephen King hero, who came full circle at the end of this episode. For someone who had faced horrors that would bring a man to his knees and abandon all concepts of hope, Kit turned out to be a complete 180 of what most people would expect him to be after Briarcliff. Instead of leaving the woman who tortured him to rot in the same hell hole that tried its damnedest to break his spirit, Kit not only went back for her, but he integrated her into his family without a hesitation. Talk about being the epitome of a stand up guy.
Then there is Kit’s disappearance, which does not need to be explained, people. Kit was the perfect symbiosis of a man of faith and science, despite whether he believed that himself or not. The aliens took interest in that and simply came back for their specimen. Plus, Kit’s kids are not only carrying on the legacies of their parents, but of the alien as well. I don’t think it’s a coincidence for Tom and Julia to have become a Harvard history professor and a well-known neurosurgeon, respectively.
Then there were the little moments, such as Monsignor/Cardinal Timothy’s downfall, which I think he got off scot-free. There was also Lana’s partner/wife(?), the opera singer, who I hope Johnny didn’t get his hands on. Plus, Kit’s wedding was a much-needed touch of light that he and Lana needed after being in the dark so long.
Finally, I have to say the “missing scene” from the pilot between Lana and Sister Jude summed up the Asylum arc very nicely, but I must go back and rewatch it to analyze it thoroughly. But there is one thing I did snatch from their exchange and that’s ‘ambition is a mofo’ and you can lose yourself in whatever the endgame to said ambition might be. More on that soon.
So what did you think of “Madness Ends?” Or of American Horror Story: Asylum in general? What aspects of the episode grasped you the most?
Photo Credit: FX Networks