In a TV interview, successful author Lana Winters recounts how the various inmates of Briarcliff fared, and then confronts her son, the new Bloody Face.
And so American Horror Story Asylum pulls off one final unexpected twist, ending an over-the-top outré series with a calm, considered and positively affecting character-based, low-key climax. Bravo!
Structured around a contemporary TV interview with successful author Lana Winters—whose literary career has been built on the back of her Briarcliff Asylum experiences and her connections to Bloody Face—the episode concludes many of the show’s on-going stories and builds to the only conclusion possible. It may have been a predictable ending, but it is no less effective for that.
Equally effective is the make-up used to age actress Sarah Paulson, something that often trips up television and film attempts to age characters in this way. It was subtly done, and convinced in a way that replacing the actress with an age-appropriate performer would not have done. That would also have broken the emotional continuity with the character whose trials and tribulations we’ve followed in great detail over the preceding 12 weeks.
The majority of those episodes were hilariously gruesome and OTT, especially those imaginatively directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon who is also behind the camera for this finale. In keeping with the tone of the episode, this sometimes show-off (in a good way!) director has adapted his style to match. Only one weird scene stands out as his camera moves in upside down under a glass table through which we see son-of-Lana-Winters, the modern-day Bloody Face (Dylan McDermott).
Through the episode we learn the fates of some of the central characters, with Jude (the great Jessica Lange) virtually adopted by Kit Walker (Evan Peters) and finally taken by the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy). Kit himself is also taken away, in his case by the largely unseen aliens who seemed heavily involved in his experiences at Briarcliff—the ideal ending for that character.
Of course, the climax is all about Blood Face. After we’ve seen the events of the opening of the first episode from his point-of-view, we follow his reunion with his mother, Lana Winters. It’s nicely done, but any attentive viewer knows he’s going to exit in the same manner as his father, Dr Thredson (Zachary Quinto), the original Bloody Face. And so it comes to pass, as he takes a bullet to the head, fired by his mother. It was the only way to go, and it gave satisfactory closure to the haunted fun house ride that this series has been.
Verdict: Brilliant end to a great season. Next up in season three: contemporary romance, American Horror Story style! Can’t wait.
Episode 13 ‘Madness Ends’: 9/10
Brian J. Robb