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

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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