TV Review: American Horror Story Season 2 Episode 13
It started out with a bang (literally), but American Horror Story: Asylum ended with a pathetic (yet not entirely vacant) whimper.
At what point does tying up loose ends outweigh action and narrative?
TL;DR At least everything does get tied up. Lana comes out on top, but brought all this horror (‘murican horror) upon herself. Poetic?
I don’t read poetry. The other hipsters look down on me, but it’s my cross to bear.
The plot is almost slavishly devoted to making sure every plot thread is concluded. Most of the episode follows Lana around (through a framing device of a present-day interview. Bitch be reminiscing) while all the remaining subplots dry up. She has become an investigative reporter in the early 70s and finally films a proper exposé to bring down Briarcliff. She then visits Kit, who it turns out saved Lange from Briarcliff. She was still a bit crackers, but his alien kids did something to fix her. Then she dies peacefully. Kit develops pancreatic cancer in his 40s and disappears (we are shown he is abducted). Lana also goes after Fiennes, who later commits suicide. Lana goes on to have a Barbara Walters-esque career, which brings us to the interview. McDermott weasels his way in and intends to murder Lana, but she distracts him long enough to shoot him in the head. The final scene is a flashback to Lana’s first visit to Briarcliff, a potent reminder of how this all started.
So American Horror Story really has taken the “most ridiculously overlong epilogue” title from Lord of the Rings: if you count in last episode, that’s 1 hour, 20 minutes of wrapping up. Holy shit.
This is especially disappointing when you consider how mostly solid American Horror Story has been this season. It’s a rare show where pretty much anything batshit crazy can (and does) happen all the time. It’s fucking absurd that they would cheap out on the final hurdle with this dull bullshit. At least season 1 had everyone dying and the survival of the antichrist. This episode is essentially “Lana tells you what happens to everyone and then shoots somebody, which is the only exciting thing that happens over the whole episode.”
On the plus side, Lana does survive like the cool boss she has become. And the ending has some easily digestible irony that is guaranteed to result in satisfaction.
Why I hate this episode:
The whole aliens thing really did end up getting frustratingly swept out of focus. Kit’s kids don’t seem to be particularly gifted or special or anything. The way they “fix” Lange is just to mysteriously take her into the forest for a walk. And then she dies anyway. And they grow up to be successful but not special, certainly not in the way Frenchie said: the boy becomes a Harvard law professor and the girl becomes a neurosurgeon. Impressive accomplishments, but not anything remarkable for gifted alien hybrid spawn.
Kit’s arbitrary abduction doesn’t give us any concrete answers on what the aliens wanted, either. American Horror Story put so much effort into explaining pretty much everything else in excruciating detail (did you know they wasted the final 2 episodes on it?) but they pussed out on the most exciting plot thread. That’s crap.
McDermott is way too easily foiled. Lana uses the power of “my hands are out of frame” to take the gun out of his hands and turn it on him. Did he not feel anything happening? What an idiot.
The interview (as even admitted by the interviewer) is supposed to be a light-ish look back at Lana’s career in lieu of some honour thing she’s getting. Instead, because hey, this is the last episode, Lana totally goes on and on about personal stuff she’s never talked about before. Including the revelation that she faked her abortion. Stranger still, the interviewer seems oddly unsurprised with it all. She’s kinda like “Oh, cool,” instead of the more appropriate “Holy fuck I just got a scoop on Lana motherfucking Winters.” Remember, Lana was supposed to have been reasonably famous and respected. Weird all over.
Oh, and Lana’s film crew just waltzes around Briarcliff as they please. Even when they come across an orderly (and make it pretty obvious that their filming isn’t approved by the administration), he immediately takes her into the cell she wants to go to. What?
Reasons to watch:
Dat ending. After present day Lana executes her son (with a strangely resigned facial expression), the episode flashes back to Lana’s first visit with Lange at Briarcliff when she’s trying to get an interview with the accused Bloodyface. Lange (as Jessica Lange should) says a line which very adequately encapsulates Lana, and the season. And is also the episode’s best line: “If you look in the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back at you.” We then cut to a close-up of Lana as she smiles, determined to keep pressing for that story.
The message is that Lana looked into the face of evil, and in doing so brought evil upon herself and those around her. It’s an irony that’s easy enough to appreciate without having to process it through 14 filters of hipsterdom (I’ve only got 12. Because I’m lazy), and appropriately dark for American Horror Story.
This is further reflected in how this has affected Lana. In her present day form, she’s not even bothered when her son shows up to kill her. And then she mercilessly and unflinchingly shoots him in the head at point blank range. Cold.
Lange doesn’t miss her opportunity to deliver some brilliant acting (think her drunken monologue from episode 3, but weepier) during her pre-death scene with Kit’s kids. She tearfully passes on some good advice. When Jessica Lange gets going, she is mesmerising.
70s Lana (when she tracks down child McDermott) looks hot.
Kit wears a bizarre procession of awkward period clothing. And marries a hippie. He’s adorably oblivious.
We see some of the Adam Levine/Jenna Dewan stuff from McDermott’s point of view, including him slicing Levine’s arm off from the other side of that door. Cute.
Oh, and Lana really has done a fantastic job with killing the fuck out of her aggressors. If there’s 1 thing that American Horror Story: Asylum got perfect, it was a strong female character who (although massively flawed. As in, bringing-unspeakable-evil-into-her-life-through-selfish-ambiton flawed) got that shit done. Hard. Slasher movie main characters take note: this is how you do it.