TV Review: American Horror Story 2.13, “Madness Ends”

Rating: One of the reasons I’m most excited for next season of American Horror Story is to see how it...

Alex Trivilino

Contributor

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Rating: ★★★★★

One of the reasons I’m most excited for next season of American Horror Story is to see how it compares to the show’s first two iterations. This year, anytime something was tonally different, it was only in comparison to last year — often time a direct contrast. But next year, we’ll have even more source material to refer to, and it will be nice to see its own brand as well as traces from this and last year. Already, Ryan Murphy has stated that the tone will be lighter and funnier. While the show has always featured these elements, I wouldn’t yet use any of those words as general labels for the past two years yet. Just as the plot concepts and themes will differ each year, so too will the flavor of the show’s tone.

Take, for instance, the powerfully emotional tone with which this entire finale was riddled: I doubt anyone (myself included) would have expected or desired Kit and Jude to have such a tender relationship when the season started, and even as the season came to an end, Lana couldn’t understand why Kit wanted to care for her. But quite a bit of this episode found Kit paired with the only person he had left in his old life aside from his children, and everyone involved played it beautifully. Kit’s children being able to “cure” Jude temporarily by bringing her into the woods and back was equally sweet and all the more potent by being left in mystery. While some people may be irked that the purpose of the aliens or their mission was left vague, I tend to find the open-ended  of their plight to be more enjoyable left unspoken. And even if you’re not one for ethereal enlightenment, there was definitely not enough time to detail another plot strand.

The end of Kit and Jude are both also played emotionally with one final visit from the aliens and the Angel of Death respectively. It’s no mistake that both of these phenomena were portrayed with beauty instead of horror, and both work marvelously because of it. Last year, the finale featured a sweet ended with the Harmons and Moira finally together as a family. It was tender, but almost shocking because the show had not shown that side to it previously. In an almost direct contrast, this season has put a larger emphasis on character-driven stories. That’s not to say the characters were incredibly complex or deeply-rooted, but they were undeniably more deeply felt. So again, with next year being a whole new game, I’m intrigued to see where on the barometer its tone lies.

Despite how much was going on this season — one or two supernatural subplots too overstuffed in my opinion, now that the story is complete — it was smart to stay rooted on Kit, Jude and Lana at the end of all things, and this episode continued the success of last week’s move through history. Unlike last episode’s triptych pattern, this hour featured news segments and archival footage linking the stories through the ages. It was certainly effective in helping the story feel as if its world is bigger than the thirteen episodes we saw, and I quite liked the link back to the early openings of the season with Armless Adam Levine. It made the entire thing all feel as if it came together in a nicely wrapped package.

And though Kit and Jude found their ends through the supernatural presences that plagued them, Lana’s end came in an equally poetic way: putting a bullet through another Bloodyface’s head. After watching Lana’s life get worse and worse with every hour, it was nothing short of a relief to see that she was finally free, and free after decades of waiting for her son to approach her once more. The Lana of the present had let her head deflate a little bit after last week, when her diva status was still a little extreme (though arguably justifiable), but her powerful life status was still all the more present. Lana was always in sympathetic positions, even while not being always a sympathetic person. But either way, after the storm of staring at evil, it was a refreshing exhale to see that the clouds had finally parted.

Crazy Horror Conspiracy of the Week: It’s gotta come back to Kit’s alien kids. I swear, even if there’s one scene with a Harvard professor next season, HE’S AN ALIEN!!!  Look out, witches!