”It’s about to end. You know that, right?”
I am as surprised as anyone to be flat out nostalgic for American Horror Story: Asylum, so soon after watching the finale. This season was a pyramid of madness, with a wide foundation of depraved moments piling up to what Team Murphy/Falchuk call catharsis. Somehow, the rampant display of lunacy that guided the early episodes was very slowly sifted out, and the underlying story became one of humanity, and how our minds can never lie to us about who we really are. This season was far more adept with its use of time as a narrative push, showing us just how effectively a major event will be whittled down to a few key words once time has passed. And dammit, even though there was a pronounced lack of horror in this season, the (American) story of Briarcliff and the evil it housed will stay with me much longer than most seasons of television have. Of course, in my memory, I’ll be replacing Dylan McDeadfinally with Gilbert Gottfried’s AutoTuned voice, which would be far less annoying. I mean seriously, somebody give McDermott an alien cop drama on Syfy.
The through-line of “Madness Ends” is a present-day, world-famous Lana, for years openly gay and married, giving a televised interview for a Kennedy Center Honor to an actress who looks like she won a contest that gave her the chance to play an interviewer terribly. Lana refuses to talk about the Bloody Face saga, until she actually talks about it, revealing to the world that she and Bloody Face’s child never died at childbirth! Dylan McDaddysboy is hiding out in the other room, listening to the admission while eating and drinking shit from the craft service table! I’m just assuming he didn’t use her food. But if he did, I bet he didn’t find any warm Tab in there. He’d actually brought her a bottle of water in between takes, foreshadowing this final scene. The one we haven’t been waiting for all season, but knew they were building up to anyway.
Lana surprises everyone by calling him out of the silence. It turns out she’d tracked him down as a schoolboy, and stopped a bully from possibly feeding him a brontosaurus dick. Then much later, police came to her to warn her of his murders. So she knew who he was, and I guess she was just waiting for him to show up at some point. Meanwhile, he somehow remembered her from that childhood incident, and blabbed to everyone that she was his mother. (Even though he said her autograph was the closest he’d ever been to her. I can’t tell if it’s bad writing or if he’s just a lying murderer.) He even found Thredson’s confession tape on Ebay! How the fuck did that happen?
She inevitably disarms him, of his gun, intent, and manhood, by appealing to his need for his mommy. It’s fine that he can’t measure up to Thredson, because she is a part of him as well. It’s all far too gross for how I wanted this scene to go, but at least there wasn’t any breastfeeding involved. And then without any fanfare at all, she pulls the gun on him and shoots him in the face. Considering McDermott managed to go all of last season without getting shot in the face, I found my own sense of closure here that went far beyond a mother and her rape baby. This was real.
So with all that not at all wrapped up tightly, we can move on to Jude’s epilogue, which ties into the Project: Take Down Briarcliff, which took Lana until 1971 to get around to. The story is presented as a TV documentary, washed-out colors and all. She and her cameramen sneak onto the grounds through the usual back way, capturing just how horrible things have gotten. Is Massachusetts this haphazard with its mental care? There isn’t a single room where people aren’t just lining the walls, biting their elbows and looking like anything but human beings. She gets a worker to bring her to Jude’s cell, and then she’s rescued and everyone lives happily ever after. Except this was all a ruse, and Lana admits Jude wasn’t in the asylum anymore by the time she got there. She admits this to a room full of people who had presumably seen that documentary and knew the Jude part wasn’t in it, so its inclusion is questionable, beyond showing that Lana has never been fully truthful with her reader and viewer fanbase.
Jude was rescued by Kit, who’d started visiting her after Alma died, and it’s the most heartfelt “checkers montage” you’ll ever see. She stayed with Kit and his two kids, at first having to detox from all the medication. Thank Christ those moments didn’t hit Transpotting levels of discomfort. Things were all right at first, until Jude’s mental confusion took over, and she fell back to her bitchy nun habits, no pun intended. The kids, those special kids, ominously take Jude into the woods, where she is “healed” in return for a limited lifespan afterward, six months to be exact. And boy was there some juking, jiving, and wailing going on in those six months. Her time comes, and after offering sage life advice to the kids, she welcomes Francis Conroy’s Angel of Death. In arguably the most striking series of images of the show thus far, Jude’s bed leaves the confines of the room and drifts in darkness until she is kissed into oblivion. And just like that, the most powerful character in the last four months of television is dead. And though her exit came on good terms and was handled poignantly, “it was one hell of an ending, just not the one I wanted.”
And what of Kit? Well he got remarried to someone who didn’t get abducted or admitted at any point, and then developed pancreatic cancer at 40. After naming Lana godmother to Thomas (now a law professor) and Juliet (now a neurosurgeon), he sends everyone away and has his Richard Dreyfuss moment, where the lights get bright and the aliens take him “home.” Even though he isn’t officially declared dead, just like that, there’s no more Kit, no more aliens, no more alien babies. I thought I would have more problems with this, but it’s a fitting farewell to an unfit storyline.
What do Monsignor/Cardinal Timothy Howard have in common with Jim Morrison? No, it isn’t a voice that makes you want to leave the room after ten minutes. They both died in a bathtub. Lana’s investigative team tracks him down in New York and threatens to blow his life apart with all of Arden’s records on human experimentation that they found, and the mutant bones they found in the woods. And so he killed himself, and all of his followers blame Lana for it. I’m still not sure why Howard didn’t get into trouble twelve times over already, but whatever. He’s dead, and it’s a shame it wasn’t another crucifixion.
The last notable portion of the show was the cold open, which Dylan McDovetailed into the first scene of the season, where Adam Levine got his arm chopped off by Bloody Face. The scene started out beautifully, with Dylan McDeranged visualizing things, such as Thredson’s arrival at the asylum, only having it take place in the present-day ruins. Also, Lana chastising him and Thredson empathizing with him. We knew where the scene was going already, and really didn’t need to see it from both points of view. But Dylan McDiscman was listening to Lana’s soul-searching audiobook – as blandly read by the author – so that little bit of absurdity almost made it worth it.
The final scene takes us back to 1964, when Lana initially tried getting Sister Jude to let her talk to Bloody Face, who was still Kit at that point. Jude sends her on her way, saying, “If you look in the face of evil, evil’s going to look right back at you.” The moment has an immediacy that feels larger than it is. It says that Lana sets her own future in motion by coming back, and that reaching into the darkness means a little bit of the darkness is going to stay with her. It’s a nice moment, but almost means nothing.
If Lana didn’t show up at Briarcliff, the devil still would have invaded, and Kit and Grace’s story would presumably still take place, albeit with facts changed. Though Lana was the one to finally take Briarcliff down, her presence there, while always important to the scene, seems to have mattered very little within the walls themselves. If this version of Bloody Face goes on living, then we never get to meet the offspring, though Kit may have still formed a plan to blackmail him.
Her confession of lying about having a living child is met with barely any fanfare, and the interview ended with her talking about Kit’s death. No fanfare. No recent news. Just whatever fits into what viewers need to know.
I could go on with the questions I have that will forever go unanswered, but I’d rather take my critical eye out and put it in a box in the attic for a while. I’ll look forward to watching this season again without taking notes the entire time, and I think I’ll come away all the richer for knowing where everything is going already. Oh, the days when James Cromwell used “mossy” to refer to a vagina. They feel like they really did take place in the early ‘60s. Until Season Three, dear readers, I bid you adieu. I’m classing it up with French because that damned “Dominique” song ended the episode. Stay horrified.
The Inane Asylum
Props to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for another great looking episode, and I’ll be looking forward to his return in Season 3.
How did Levine and Tatum not smell Dylan McDopefiend’s smoke coming from the other side of that door. Or even hear him inside. They couldn’t hear the music that viewers could hear, nor were they listening to audiobooks.
Has anyone in this show ever seen a 75-year-old?
In less than a minute, there are references to Bono, Rielle Hunter, Julianne Assange, and Bernie Madoff. Just in case you thought all of these scenes take place a few decades ago.
Lana likes to do her own eyebrows, and somebody put that fucking Tab on ice!
I wanted to call him Dylan McDasani up there when he gave her water, but I couldn’t shoehorn it in.
I’ll never understand the motivation behind me affirmatively nodding in respect anytime someone has referred to her as Sister Jude, showing respect to a woman who has demolished so many lives. I’ve felt angrier thoughts than this about elementary school teachers. But only the ones who put me through electroshock.
Jude’s advice to the kids is great. “Don’t you ever let a man tell you who you are and make you feel like you are less than he is.” “Don’t pick your nose and never take a job just for the money. Find something that you love.” “I don’t know if six months made up for a lifetime of horrors, but she sure seemed happy.”
Spoken like a true bumpkin, Kit.
I liked how Dunkin McDonut’s super-secret entry into the interview revolved around him being able to pull off looking like a guy who delivers donuts. In this, he succeeds.
So did Lana ever tell the truth at all about anything in this show? Almost everything she ever did was either cloaked in secrecy or an outright lie. My wife took this all to mean that the very last scene meant that she made the entire thing up, and she even found some Internet chatter laying out theories about this. But that’s not how I see it. I just think she was a lying bitch.