American Horror Story had its ups and downs this season — but at least the show ended its second season with style and grace. On Wednesday night, Briarcliff went out with a bang. And for the first time in a long while, it felt like the show's script was getting the same attention as the cast's wardrobe.
First up, I have to give a special hooray to the amazing homage to the "Willowbrook: the Last Great Disgrace" — the real-life, star-launching exposé filmed by the mustachioed reporter Geraldo Rivera. There are lines in "Briarcliff Exposed" that seem directly lifted from the 1972 documentary about the horrifying Staten Island Institution. Geraldo is the perfect real life character counterpart to Lana. Their work launched them into the spotlight and eventually turned them both into monsters. But obviously in very different ways.
Perhaps the best part of the finale was how it cracked open relationship between Lana and her Son (present day Bloodyface). For the first time the audience was allowed inside the inner thoughts of Dylan Mcbadhair. Fuming and brooding Baby Bloodyface listens to his mother's book-on-tape while slicing into the horny youths from the season premiere. In his madness, inside the ruins of Braircliff, Baby Bloodyface cobbles together his neurosis. Long ago the murderous child of Lana and Dr. Threadson got his hands on a tape of Lana and his father fighting. Lana was threatening to abort her future son, while Threadson was desperately arguing for his son's life. It was then that Baby Bloodyface "started loving him and started hating you." And just like that, all the pieces fell into place. No more slicing and dicing, we are witnessing the creation of a madman.
But luckily, it's never that simple on AHS. Lana being the conniving-name-dropping-fully-out-and-fabulous creature that she is now, sets a trap for her son. Buttering him up with grandiose reveals about his existence, while cutting him down with her cold delivery. Lana reminisces to the cameras about the time she fluttered to her mystery son's playground and saved him from the bullies. We realize this is the very instance that Baby Bloodyface realized that Lana might be his mother. It falls into place like an early episode of Dynasty, but with so much more style.
And then the ultimate sudsy twist: Lana shoots her son in the head with his own gun. With a blast that heralds the reason we love and fear this character so much. No one is putting this baby in a corner — or she will shoot you in the fucking head. The whole scene is tied together with a delightful flashback to one of Lana and Sister Jude's earlier experiences. Lana is begging for the chance to interview the original Bloodyface and Jude snipes, "Just remember if you look in the face of evil, evil's gonna look right back at you." This led to a flood of internet speculation that Lana was also possessed with the devil. I don't believe it: Lana's own ambition is her demon. And I think she beat it in the end, beat it with a fucking rock until its skull shattered and brains fell all over her gorgeous shoes. This was why I enjoy American Horror Story. This is creepy, demented horror.
We visited a few other characters throughout the conclusion. Kit was sheepishly remarried (yay) and hustled up to alien Heaven because there was no where else for that terrible no good rotten plot to go. So head toward the light Kit, we're sorry you got stuck there in the first place.
Sister Jude, had a much more poetic farewell. Freed by Kit, she's nursed back to health for 6 glorious months with Kit's alien babies. It was all very nice, and I'm glad to see Jude get some quality quilt and cuddle time. But the payoff was all Lana. As Kit described Jude's final moments and her request to the Angel of Death for peace he states, "I don't know who she was talking about." To which Lana answers, "I do." This moment of joint pain and agony, a throw back to the copious times both of these women have been dangled at the edge of life by this series, almost ALMOST made up for the copious amounts of female brutality we had to witness for a whole season. It was a peaceful goodbye to a changed character that started off as a villain and ended as a saint. I can't say enough great things about this character. Jessica Lange is insanely fun to watch, perhaps it stems from her ability to straddle Jude's internal conflicts with a kind of power that I worry doesn't exist in young Hollywood. Her character from the previous season didn't really become human until the truth about her son was slowly revealed, but you can't help but cheer for Jude.
I'm thankful the season finale took the time to make the events about the characters, and not just about ramming a coat hanger inside someone while that person screams. The show finally gave the actors a chance to breathe, and emote. There's good closure here.
Meanwhile the Monsignor commits suicide in a de-aging bath. And just like, that the possession and Dr. Arden's flock of zombie patients are gone. Giving Lana a bit of a clean conscience, as it was her pestering that got the corrupt Catholic to "retire."
If I've learned one thing from the entire season of American Horror Story: Asylum it's that Tim Minear should be assigned to write more (if not all) of the episode of this series. Hell, he made the aliens plot work by pulling a poochie2. Thank goodness — it was an absolute delight to focus in on one story and finish it well. The second season was definitely harder to get through than the first. No matter how strange the first season went, it never felt like it was teetering on lady torture porn quite as much as the second season. However, season two has had a dynamite ending, full of resolution and introspection. I'm much more invested in delving into the psyche of a character like Lana than watching the ghost Harmons decorate their ghost Christmas tree. Plus there were plenty of additional highlights. It will be a long time until I forget the sweet smile of Sister Eunice, or her little dance.