American Horror Story: Asylum – Madness Ends Season Finale Review

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Rarely does a finale manage to ruin an entire season that was relatively successful. But that is what happened on tonight’s American Horror Story: Asylum.

It’s easier to begin by briefly discussing the few things that worked in this week’s episode. The format was extremely promising. In present day Lana Winters is being interviewed about her life and career for a Kennedy Center Honor. I loved the back and forth between her memories and the interview. We learn through the flashbacks that Lana successfully snuck a TV crew into Briarcliff, exposed the horrific conditions, and got it shut down. She had wanted to heroically save Jude, but she was gone by the time she got there. I’ll get to Jude in a minute though.

My favorite part of the episode was where we learn what became of Cardinal (formerly Monseigneur) Timothy Howard. When they raided Briarcliff, they found Dr. Arden’s files and learned of all the inhumanities that occurred under the Monseigneur’s watch. Lana confronted him about it, TV crew in tow, and exposed his involvement. He subsequently committed suicide. It seemed an appropriate end for the fallen holy man who looked past so many evils in pursuit of his own ambitions.

They also confirm what we had suspected, that Johnny, Lana and Threadson’s son, was the one who murdered the honeymooning couple in the abandoned Briarcliff.

The portions of the episode that make sense end there.

Before Lana’s crusade to close down Briarcliff, Kit had Jude released into his custody, rescuing her from the asylum she never belonged in. He brought her into his home, where his eerie children brought Jude back to herself and called her “Nana”. The scenes with Kit making Jude a part of the family, nursing her back to life, dancing around, and then peacefully staying by her side as she passed away played out like a bad Lifetime movie. His reasoning for doing so, that he wanted to leave Briarcliff behind him by finding someone to forgive, beyond being unbearably cheesy, just rang false.

Lana revealed that she had stayed close to Kit. His children both became wildly successful. Kit grew very ill with pancreatic cancer, and then disappeared. Abducted by the aliens. I’m actually relieved that they didn’t delve into any detail about the aliens, because the whole thing was just too ridiculous from day one. Any further explanation would have been too much, since the entire storyline never had a chance of making any sense anyway. Best to end it without actually addressing it.

Back in the present day interview, Lana reveals the truth about her son. We saw earlier in the episode that Johnny had snuck his way onto the TV crew, and Lana knew who he was because she had been questioned about him regarding his string of murders. After an absolutely absurd emotional reunion between the two once the cameras were gone, it seems that he’s hell bent on killing her, but Lana talks him down, stupidly muttering “my baby” after every sentence, telling him he’s not like his father. Telling him it’s not his fault he’s a murderer, that it’s hers. Then she takes the gun from his hand, and shoots him.

We get one more flashback, to a conversation between Sister Jude and Lana when she first wanted to interview Bloody Face, about ambition. And Jude tells Lana that if you look evil in the face, evil is going to stare back at you…or something…implying that Lana is evil. I’d prefer not to even have to analyze this scene because by the time they showed it I had ceased caring about an entire season that I had previously been very invested in. But I understand what they were trying to say. Lana put herself in the position, chasing the evil story of the mass murderer. That if she had put her ambitions aside, none of it ever would have happened. I get it, I get it. But it was a very anti-climactic and senseless way to end the season.

If you have not yet caught on, I really hated this finale. I’ll discuss a lot of the reasons more in depth in my season review, because there are A LOT of reasons. But to sum up: nothing mattered. Absolutely nothing that happened all season really mattered. It was a frustrating episode to watch as I slowly (and I do mean slowly, as this was the most sluggishly paced episode of the season) came to that realization. I was rooting for Lana Winters every week until this finale. I was captivated by the brilliant performances of Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, and Lily Rabe. I was confused at times, emotional at times, and always devoted to this roller coaster series. All of that was cancelled out in this episode. I’m happy this madness is ended. Because that’s what it was: madness. But not in the insane, glamorous way it had been all season. Characters became caricatures, storylines got wrapped up in ways that were convenient rather than ways that made any sense, camera work was sloppy and made me dizzy, and that felt like one of the longest hours of my life. Madness. Grade: D

By: Meghan Coan


2 Responses to American Horror Story: Asylum – Madness Ends Season Finale Review

  1. lodovico says:

    I agree with every part of your review. I was so enthralled with this series and they ruined it. Actually, I think the final 2 episodes seemed like they stopped writing and rushed it. Bummer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t really care for these last few episodes and I think it caused the season to go downhill a little bit at the end. The way they handled Sister Jude was the lone plot point to be handled consistently well. But these last 2 and a half episodes just felt way too disjointed from the first 10 episodes of the season.

    The insanity theme. Its a good idea and I think they handled it well these episodes with Jude. In these last few episodes, they tried doing more realistic horror. I have no doubt that facilities really were like the post-Church Briarcliff back in the day, from the overcrowding and the filth to the outright neglect of patients. I’m also willing to wager that the staff somewhere got away with experimenting on patients. They didn’t have any rights, they couldn’t stand up for themselves, and things like electroshock treatment certainly happened. Its definitely disturbing for its grittyness. Lana’s expose was the creepiest aspect of this episode.

    The problem I have is that when the perpetrators of some of these crimes are a Satan possessed Nun and a Nazi scientist with erectile dysfunction who has cannibalistic radiated mutants he created wandering outside the Asylum , the whole thing becomes so over the top and out there. I absolutely loved those storylines, but the sheer zanyness of it all overshadowed what I think they were trying to do with the more realistic “imprisoned against my will and suffering abuse” theme. It makes these last 2 feel out of place with where this show was going for most of its run.

    It wouldn’t be as bad if they didn’t brush so many plotlines under the rug. Not once did we see any ramifications on the Asylum from the huge change of leadership when Arden and Mary Eunice left. Its particularly grating for us never to get a reaction out of Jude, who suffered so miserably because of both of them. Or even from her tension with Thredson, which got thrown aside once he captured Lana. Did he really care about the abuse at Briarcliff? I’d think it was a way to earn Lana’s trust, but why did he bother butting heads with Jude over issues that Lana wasn’t even aware of or around to hear? They never fleshed this out. They never did anything with Arden’s Nazi past or the weird photos the prostitute found. Was he murdering and torturing women? I don’t know because they abandoned the plot element. The mutants plot seemed to go nowhere, despite many teases over the course of the first 9 episodes. They tied in some of Arden’s actions here to take down Howard, but there still seemed to be so much related to him that was left underdeveloped, which is weird considering all the build up and focus he got the first 5 episodes.

    The 2012 stuff. I’m so disappointed by it. I was interested in the first few eps of seeing the dots connected with how Briarcliff got run down and abandoned, but we find out here that its condition really had nothing to do whatsoever with most of what we saw over the course of the season. The teaser at the beginning here was cool – two young people murdered by a crack head is dark and even realistic, and McDermott was great in it- but the three copycats from earlier seemed completely pointless and weren’t even seen here. How did Johnny, a normal person, overwhelm and kill two men, one of whom was armed with a gun? How did he string their bodies around Briarcliff? I would have liked to see more of his rampage. I didn’t really care at all for the 2012 stuff until we got to Dylan McDermott, whose acting in addition to the flash back and forth w/ Thredson and Lana in #11 gave me some hope, but his death here seemed like a very anticlimactic finish to that storyline as well.

    I won’t even go in depth with the aliens, which seemed to be there purely for wtf moments. It probably makes sense that they didn’t fully explain them since their involvement in things was really only because of the coincidence of Kit being accused of being Bloodyface, but it still seemed very out of place. I thought it would go somewhere cool and become more of a focus when Arden saw them, but that also ended up not happening.

    This was a good, not great, finale, but I think the season went off the rails once they killed all 3 big bads in the span of about a quarter of an episode. Starting with “Spilt Milk”, the pacing was way too quick to try to blow through all of these plot elements and a lot of other things got tossed aside. I disagree about Sister Jude, I thought here ending here was a bright spot on a lackluster finale. I can somewhat dig that they tried making these last two eps about the remaining heroes moving on and trying to build they’re lives while coping. Overall though, this season ended up with a very disjointed storyline.

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