American Horror Story's Season 2 Finale: The Lana Winters Story

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jan 24, 2013

American Horror Story S02E13: “Madness Ends”

Howdy, folks! Once again, American Horror Story’s magical mystery gore has come to a heartwarming-in-a-psychotic-way end. Price can’t be here right now because he’s off being awesome, so I’ll be your substitute tour guide.

Since we didn’t have a recap last week, here’s a quick rehash of what we missed: Kit, Alma, and Grace shacked up in polyamorous bliss with their cute little alien babies until Grace started waxing nostalgic for the good old days of hanging out in that goo pool and Alma hacked her up with an ax. It’s funny cuz Grace is an ax murderer. Kit took it rather well, but Alma totes got sent to Briarcliff anyway. Over at Briarcliff, the Monsignor decided to let Jude out of her chimney cage, and renamed her Betty. She was pretty cray by that point, but he got a promotion to Cardinal anyway. And somewhere far, far away from those people, Lana wrote her book and argued with hallucinations of Thredson and Wendy about how she glossed over her lesbian status and made up a bunch of serial killer stuff to make her her memoir more interesting and marketable. Yes, her memoir about being wrongly locked up in a mental hospital run by a demon nun and the Nazi doctor who loved her and kept pet mutants in the woods. That memoir. Not interesting enough. Granted, she didn’t know about the demons, but still.

So, present day, Lana made the leap from print to TV to out-and-proud journalism legend with an expose about the terrible conditions at Briarcliff following the state's takeover of the facility in 1965. It was all very Geraldo-Rivera-on-Willowbrook-State-School. Actually, Lana’s commentary about the smell was almost word-for-word from Rivera’s 1972 report. NICE.

Fresh off of stealing that nice old lady’s autographed copy of mommy’s bestseller, Bloodyface Jr. murdered his way onto the film crew that invaded Lana’s swanky abode and got himself some front row seats to her sudden change of heart about building her career on being a lying sellout. Bloody Jr. always kind of resented the fact that Mommy Dearest claimed he had died in the book. She apologized for that and even came clean about it during her interview, but he decided to proceed with blowing her brains out. It’s important to finish the tasks that you start!

Given that she recognized him from the very beginning, though, I can’t help but wonder how sincere Lana actually was about everything. Yeah, in the '70s she tracked down her spawn and saved him from bullies, but all that crap at the end about being a part of Junior and thinking about him every day, IDK, he had a gun pointed in her face and just wanted somebody to love him. Lana’s a smart lady. She knew which strings to pull to get him to put the gun down... which she then used to blow his face off. Lana, you cold.

Who knows, maybe Lana meant every word she said to Bloodyface Jr., slayer of Adam Levine and his horny-over-the-darndest-things ladyfriend. At first watch, Lana’s friendly reminder that babies need more than the spermies of a homicidal maniac to develop—and, therefore, that Junior was not 100 percent pure Thredson DNA—could have easily been read as Lana’s attempt to remind her son that there was just as much good as inside him as there was evil. SO PUT THE GUN DOWN, SWEETIE. But given Lana’s post-Briarcliff personality overhaul and the closing encounter with Jude’s cryptic warning that, “If you look in the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back,” maybe Lana was always darker, less heroic than we gave her credit for.

Lana provided the connection between past and present that we needed in order to wrap up the last of the dangling storylines and compared to last season’s finale, “Madness Ends” was certainly more succinct in closing this chapter of American Horror Story. Last season ended on a very Twilight Zone-esque note with the Harmon family gathered around a Christmas tree, the first time we’d seen them happy and content, despite the fact that they were all dead. Constance had run off with Tate’s nanny-eating monster baby while Tate himself still pined for Violet, locked in the Murder House forever. There was the sense that the story wasn’t really over, the threat not neutralized.

Asylum gave us a more definitive ending, which is appropriate given that the storytelling all season long was tighter and more focused than it was in AHS’s inaugural season. It was still unsettling and screwy in the way the show conditions us to expect, but the threat ended up dead. Frankly, EVERYONE ended up dead, except Lana, who's alone with the decisions she’s made over the past forty-plus years. Sure, Kit’s alien babies are still running around, but as a doctor and a lawyer, they’re apparently doing the “contributing members of society” thing as opposed to the “enslaving humanity from within” thing. Not bad for the progeny of an ax murderer and... an ax murderer. Wow, Kit clearly has a type.

But uh, yeah, the alien babies story ultimately worked out for the best (I so didn’t see that coming) even though the rugrats seemed to adhere to the Grace philosophy of the aliens being awesome, benevolent masters of the sky. It was implied that the kiddos had their alien overlords fix Jude’s crazy after Kit signed her out of Briarcliff during his forgiveness tour and when the aliens took a dying-slowly-and-painfully-of-cancer Kit to Heaven in their spaceship, it was considered a good thing. Wasn’t there a cult about going to Heaven with the Third Kind?

Everyone got a happy ending, except for the sooooper-evil people. Jude got to be genuinely happy with bonus sobriety for the last few months of her life AND she got to kiss the pretty death geisha. Kit remarried and managed to avoid ending up with an ax murderer this time (YOU GO, BOO). Plus, even though he ended up depriving us of his pretty face and glorious '70s hair too soon, his kids seemed to imply that he'd departed for quite a par-tay upstairs. The Monsignor-turned-Cardinal offed himself because GUILT. Then there’s our Lana. Since Lana was only kind of evil, her ending was only kind of happy. She got everything she ever wanted, sure, but sometimes I got the feeling she was mildly regretful of what she had to do to get there. Only mildly, though. Bono drew a picture of her on a napkin, after all. You gotta frame that shit. Old Lana is so awesome. <3 her.

So what did you think? Was it a satisfying send-off? Or was it too tame? My only complaint, which isn’t even really a complaint so much as an observation, is that the tone of the finale, at times, was so blatantly different from the rest of the season that it felt a little tacked-on. Rather than show us everyone’s fate, the writer literally sat Lana down on a sofa and had her verbally diarrhea all over the place. I’ll live, though. It was still an awesome, amazing season. I even ended up liking the alien storyline and I was SO not down with aliens when this all started back in October. High five, AHS. MISS U. COME BACK SOON.


– Bloody Face Jr. bought the blackmail tape on eBay? What the eff, Lana. I mean, really. How do you just lose track of something like that?

– So is Lana evil? Or is this season just a cautionary tale about the perils of unchecked ambition?

– What’s the fate of our dear Pepper? (I like to think the aliens took her to space heaven with Kit in the Millennium Falcon.)

– Kit’s babies: alien sleeper agents?

– Did anyone else laugh when they realized that Lana = Geraldo?

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  • marcusj1973 Apr 29, 2014

    As happens from time to time with me, I love the story but hate how we got here.

    Everything about the ending was perfect...but it was predicated on this stupid alien arc that as far as I'm concerned was a complete waste. Best as I can tell, it only influenced two things. 1. It made Kit question whether he was crazy/guilty. 2. Tipped Dr Nazi over the edge. Both of those things could have been done without these stupid aliens, but...

    Kit saving Judy and (alien kid magic aside) adopting her into his family to where his kids call her nana...AWESOME! Lana shooting Bloody Face Jr in his bloody face...also awesome!

    Must like season 1, there were a bunch of various things I took exception to, but there was far more good than bad.

  • prettyrainbow Feb 12, 2013

    Oh goodness, I was so relieved they kept Tate. This season was definitely better than season 1, but they both had a couple similarities. When I first saw the ending I was like "oh god Lana's a badass" and the flashback made me think either it was showing us it never really happened, just what would happen if she continued pursuing the asylum, or maybe it was that Sister Jude was warning her of evil. I was betting on the warning, and this article reassured me. I've been told by my boyfriend from one of his friends the ending of this season was "a mindfuck" and he's pretty right. I wasn't expecting Lana to do that at all. Poop, I didn't expect Lana to shoot Bloodyface (Buddy Holly look-alike?) in the first place. I expected this season to keep running until everything went to hell and nothing went better. It startled me a little when I realized in the last couple of episodes they were clearing the season up so quickly, but they still did a fine job of it. Oh and Buddy Holly again, Bloodyface, there's someone in my class, (yes, I am in highschool) who looks like a younger version of him, he's a little nerdy, has greased up hair like both of them, with the framed glasses and jawline. Even the first day of the semester me and my friend both agreed he looked like him, I'll never be able to look at him again without seeing a serial killer. I told him one day "You look exactly like a serial killer on AHS" he gave me an odd look and shrugged it off. I'm pretty sure I scare him, durr. Anyways the point of this is basically because I finished the season before my boyfriend and I had no one to talk to about this. I only know a couple people who watch this and I dont talk to them often, hell my mom watched both seasons until the "Unholy Night" episode. She threatened me to take away my tv if I watched AHS, and we have a connected tv service, so I just watched it online. I wish I could talk to her about it, I want to get her to finish it. I think after that one episode it was where the season started patching up wholes and connections. Oh and this is how I talk to my boyfriend when I go on rambles about things, beware future men or women searching girlfriends, this is what you will receive in conversations, a long verbal paragraphs about various things that don't relate to each other moving all over the place and jumping from topic to topic with a lost point.

  • Danimita Jan 29, 2013

    Great season! Loved it! Much better than season 1. That one ended up all over the place and I'm so glad this season ended as well as it did. :D I'm looking forward to season 3!!

  • mrjimmyjames Jan 27, 2013

    Fantastic season! I can't believe that I enjoyed this season even more than the last. Especially considering how lame it seemed at the beginning. How can you pull off a show that contains a demon possessed nun, Nazi doctor, aliens, a serial killer whose son follows in his footsteps? Any other show would be unable to even pull off two or three of those storylines but AHS continues to amaze with its ability to stay a high quality thrill ride. Just can't get enough of AHS. Can't wait til next year.

  • itsmemadie01 Jan 27, 2013

    This is a better season I'm glad that Sarah Paulson was in the lead with Jessica Lange, they are very strong screen presence. My favorite of this season is the Name Game production number, I love it. My only complain is the plot of Adam/whoever that girl is... not very good. I love Adam and maybe this is too intense acting for him and it only got worse with the girl he's with but after a few minutes after opening credits we get to watch Jessica,Sarah and Evan Peter, that's creepy but awesome acting.

  • Ankh49 Jan 27, 2013

    I don;t care what anyone says - In my personal opinion this show is freakin' GENIUS!!!
    What other shows can (again in my own personal opinion) sSUCCESSFULLY pull off Nazis, mutants, demons, aliens, the angel of death, serial killers, lunatics AND a musical number as well as have heartwarming emotional moments??
    That scene when Evan is dancing with Jessica - especially when you bear in mind a) how their characters' relationship has developed over the course of the season, and b) their previous characters' relationship in the first season was brilliant. and Lana? wow I thought demon Sister Eunice was fantastic but Lana is stone-cold out and out awesome!!! I've been a fan of Sarah Paulson ever since American Gothic and I am sooo glad she is getting decent roles and a chance to shine. Roll on season 3!!! Though I'm rather worried as I don't see how they can top this!!

  • monkeytheory Jan 26, 2013

    Great ep, while being tamer than the other eps this season it rounded things up nicely, love the interaction between the three main characters, they are fantastic.

  • gonzalorr Jan 26, 2013

    I WANT PRICE BACK, HE'S REVIEWS WERE MUCH MORE FUNNIER! Even the questions at the end of the review were silly, not funny, and without any sense, please Price, just get back for one last REVIEW!!!!!!! :'(

  • crenshawdk Jan 26, 2013

    Well a little anticlimactic but a fitting end i suppose.

    When you title a show with horror I usually expect more than AHS delivered. However it does make up for it with good drama. When I first heard the subtitle for the second season: ASYLUM I got my hopes up really high because the name alone gives you a free pass to go crazy on the horror. However this wasn't the case and though i liked season 2 as a whole I was a little disappointed by the lack of horror. Especially by wasting time with the whole alien thing. Not much horror about that. Not that they didn't try, but they just didn't make me feel it. Chopping off body limbs or shooting someone in the head just isn't that horrific for some reason. But then. In the very last episode I saw exactly what I wished the show should have showed all through the season. When Lana did the Geraldo expose at Briarcliff we got to see some REAL asylum horror. Wow. Now that's horror. When you actually feel horrified within the core of your body you know they've got it right. But alas, the season is over. Better luck next season. They've got the drama down. Now show us some REAL horror!

  • vcivi Jan 25, 2013

    Love it...can't say anything else...Lana played this episode a fantastic role...and i loved that Jude was saved....!!! Nice season...can't wait for the next one...!!

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