American Horror Story: Season Finale Review and Season Rundown.

The season finale of American Horror Story was, as the rest of the entire series has been: Not perfect. Strangely timed.Always entertaining.Unfailingly delivering solid diverse television to the masses.This is also when I wish Twin-Peaky was a word because I would use to describe this show. In this article I will recap/review the finale/season, give commentary and digest the good news about season two. Now let’s stop wasting time here when we could be playing Beetlejuice with the Harmon’s.

STEELY RESOLVE TURNS TO PUDDING
We started in a flashback to Vivien and Ben back in Boston nine months ago. Ben has just found Murder House on his nifty Ipad while Vivien has her bags packed to leave Ben (Am I wrong in assuming this isn’t the first time she’s packed her bags to leave Ben. Maybe I’m missing the vital part of a girl that would love to gush over their love for one another but MANNN Vivien you should have just gone to Florida. Therapy wasn’t working, and she obviously can barely stand this man even when madly loves him. As a woman, this was where I have trouble even contemplating Vivien as anything short of a weak-willed victim. Even when she has steely resolve it turns to more a pudding. Ben feels hope showing Vivien Murder House pictures pitching his big idea about a NEW FRESH START. This very same fresh start we see when we first meet them in the pilot. Question: Was this Ben grasping at straws to save his marriage? Was this Vivien giving her husband one last chance? Or is this the actual HOUSE supernatural reaching out to them? Is it grabbing onto their pain and hurt, pulling them to both their doom and salvation.

HOW IT HANGIN’ BEN
We expected a long drawn out war between the house and Ben and Constance over the little Michael what we got instead was one of better misdirects I’ve seen in a while. After setting up Ben to commit a sad suicide this show did something I did not expect. Ben with gun in hand is visited by Ghost Vivien and Ghost Violet. I’m telling you Vivien is fucking gorgeous as a ghost. Whoever lit this scene is a visionary because it was just so pretty and perfect. They convince Ben that he needs to stay alive, take care of the living baby, and most importantly get the hell out of the house. After a super-hot ghost kiss with his love/wife Ben gets the message for realz. Right when Ben is for the first time finally truly awake and ready to rise above all the house-bullshit reality comes in the form of his ex-mistress: Hayden. Baby in hand, top of the stairs making his escape he comically tells her he isn’t dealing with her bullshit but she has other plans. With the help of the now dead Franklin fan home invaders from episode two they attack Ben. Before my mind could fully comprehend what was going on Ben is suddenly being hung by the balcony chandelier. Where the hell are Vivien and Violet? Wouldn’t you walk him out? I am going to guess Vivien saw this goodbye as hard but after knowing and warning your husband to escape a death trap of a house why would you let him do that alone? Since when does Ben do things correctly? Although it was amazing to hear Ben tell Hayden he wasn’t in the mood for her bullshit. Ha-ha. There was no fear or apprehension just a blatant “get out of my face” eye roll. Hayden was there to just talk though. This was emotionally satisfying considering the show had really hammered into your head that Ben was going to be the Hero here. He was going to save his son, get out of that house, and find happiness living. This all falls away as he hangs lifeless becoming a new permanent resident of Murder House.  Hayden got her revenge for you know, the whole burying her in the backyard thing. No matter your feelings for Hayden you must admit she has gotten treated pretty badly considering she wasn’t always this basic-instincty crazy – It was nice to see her get some sort of vengeance on anything even if it was at the cost of Bens life.
Constance finds his body later on, insults the happy ghostly Harmon family reunion, and searches from the baby. She finds him being held by Hayden in the basement. Before I can even begin to imagine how this battle is going to end Travis (who wins the award for best mispronunciation of the word: Celtic) comes from behind and slashes Hayden’s throat completely unexpectedly. This is great flip of vengeance – As Hayden had killed him. Wow barely twenty minutes in and Ben and Baby plotlines are already wrapped up. This was surely rushed but it totally worked at the same time due to this shows need for speed in reference to storylines, reveal, plot twists, and punch lines.

MARCY IS BACK& THE RAMOS MACK IT IN THE KITCHEN& WHY DOES THIS SHOW MAKE ME HATE IT
Marcy is a piece of this show as much as the House is.  Her degraded moral character, pushy nature, and horribly racist and insulting viewpoints are what make her an unforgettable part of this show. The cap to the punch line concerning the Harmon’s all dying in the house is that their dog Haley is alive and well adopted by Marcy. This dog that most viewers anticipated would most likely be accidently written out, or actually blown up in the microwave ended up being the only living survivor – other than Tate’s little antichrist.
The house newly empty due to Vivien’s bleeding out childbirth, Ben’s murder, and Violets accidently overdose. Marcy is showing it to a new family which mirrors the Harmon’s only they actually seem happy. Of course they are going to buy the house because it’s gorgeous and cheap and Marci is keeping mum about its bloody past other than the recent Harmon deaths. The Ramos’s have a teenage son named Gabe who looks the SoCal skater archetype and therefore interests Violet. She could be more interested in his horrible music collection than him though.  Tate is seen both terrifyingly and comically watching from an adjacent room. He seethes taking in their interaction with a mixture of jealous rage and madness which I’m pretty sure only Evan Peter can pull off so well.
Ben and Vivien watch Miguel and Stacey Ramos get busy in their new kitchen because Gabe is graduating and the aspect of a new child is appealing. Ben and Vivien resolve to get rid of them because they are “such a nice couple” and they should not be bringing a baby into that house. Moira pops up comically standing right front of the sexing couple offering both her help and other ghosts help in their endeavor. I wonder if she is already getting pissy that she will have to clean up their muddled sex mess later on.
This whole bit with a new family felt forced to me. It was funny but ultimately I did not care about the newbie Ramos’s enough for them to have more screen time than some of our favorite characters. I’d rather one more scene with Constance or Tate or Hayden or Moira or Larry. Oh Larry, you could have been such a better more informed character but I don’t think the writers had any idea what they were doing with you… like ever. Or one more good ghost story about the house! I’d rather watch a scene with Thaddeus eating a possum, and Chad just drinking wine. There don’t even have to be lines. They just have to sit there and be awesome.

BEETLEJUICE!FUNAND BATMAN GROWLS
Ben and Vivien’s plan to get rid of the Ramos family is to literally scare them out of the house. I don’t know how anyone could have not seen this connection. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a nifty Harry Belafonte musical number happened. This whole thing ties back into the pilot, like most of the episode, to Tate and Violet teaming up to scare bully Leah.
Much like Ben in earlier episodes Miguel is awakened from his bed for an evening sleepwalking date with some fire. Ben dons the now infamous Rubberman latex suit and invades the Ramos bedroom much like Tate did earlier only Stacey realizes it is not her husband currently trying to get into bed with her. She screams and this show is finally hitting some slasher movie type speed in its scares. Beau tumble rolls out of the attic all “PLAAAYYY!!” Did anyone else suddenly wish Beau had joined the circus? Beau, the loving slothy tumbler. Gladys chills in her bathtub of death all “look what he did to me”. Elizabeth Short presents herself in her famous pieces. Moira Jr. and Sr. shows up playing a sort of chilly guide. We even catch Phil the fumigator wondering around the house. This part was so quick; realizing it was him was made ten times more fulfilling. We also get a reveal that the ghosty takingthe handsome husbands to burn themselves up at the fireplace and stove during the night is burned-alive Lorraine trying to make them PHYSICALLY feel her pain. Vivien steps in making herself visible all “Time for you to open your eyes and see what this house can do”. Between Stacey’s mad dash away from the now suddenly bigger and ten times scarier Rubberman led her to the basement. Miguel now awake and realizing this all is real ends up finding his screaming wife there. Ben and Vivien turned up the volume on their game here: Vivien scolds Ben for getting at the “new meat” and stabs him viciously in the chest, slicing downward and letting all his insides escape. She amazingly snarks to the terrified Ramos’s “You don’t know how long I’ve wanting to do that”. Ben whips out a gun and puts a bullet between his wife’s eyes and responds in kind of what Vivien said. I think this little exercise is working far better than any failed therapy sessions they had in Boston. They both play dead then rise ghostly to inform them that this is “what the house does to you”.  Then in her best growly batman impersonation Vivien tells them to “Run”.

SAYING GOODBYE TO VIOLATE IN THE BEDROOM OF SMOLDERING CHILDREN
During his parents tremendous scare session Gabe was not left alone to sleep peacefully. Of course the bedroom he chooses is Violets old room, which is also Tate’s, which is also where Larry’s little girls were burned alive. Tate sat and watched him much like he used to with Violet except for separate reasons. Tate assumes Gabe is dreaming of Violet and in Tate’s mind who wouldn’t dream of Violet. He certainly would if he could still dream. Gabe gets pretty frightened because Tate is talking all crazy and is carrying a knife. He informs Gabe he has to kill him but is purely so Violet doesn’t have to be alone for an eternity in the house. What a gift huh? Tate wants to give Violet a “normal” boyfriend for all of eternity. This is from the same boy who during the pilot donned a shirt that said “Normal people scare me” right before assaulting a girl.
Tate is all I don’t want to hurt you but I have to kill you which is so not want you want to hear from a strange insane boy watching you sleep. Tate comically straddled a struggling Gabe and stabs downward dramatically a few times but something is stopping him from connecting. This is mega hooky but I actually buy it. At first I thought Gabe was actually putting up a good fight but we see that Tate literally is having trouble hurting Gabe because he looking at him with his scared sad little eyes. In Tate’s mind this can be remedied by getting Gabe to stop looking at him. I can’t believe this show had me laughing so much during such a climatic sequence for these characters. Violet, stepping into her Hero role, enters the scene. She distracts the completely insane Tate to get him to get away from Gabe. I also believe she meant what she saying though. Tate does deserve to suffer for all he has done and spending it not being able to be with her for eternity is fitting in my opinion. I believe she loves him, and even wants him. But that is simply something that is not going to happen so she says her goodbye while slyly signaling to Gabe to RUN THE HELL AWAY. They kiss one last time for her to say her goodbye. Then she’s gone and Tate is all alone… how do I feel any sympathy for this character? He is a monstrous horrible person but Evan Peters makes me wants to reach into my TV and console him. What a sick world we live in huh?

HAPPY ENDING?
The Ramos clan is getting the hell out of dodge and with good reason after the scares they all have been put through. The Harmon’s comically walk out of the front door of the house watching them scramble to the tune of “Tonight You Belong To Me” by Patience and Prudence, the first song in the pilot episode that played when the snappy redhead twins were killed by Thaddeus in the 70s. This idea of the Harmon’s turning more into guardian ghosts is wonderful. On paper this all works beautifully but it was missing something. In context of the entire season this whole wrap-up finale did not quiet sate my thirst. Too bad this is end of the Harmon’s.  I can see how they probably wanted to reshoot much of this entire episode and they simply ran out of time.

BEN AND TATE CREATE MY FAVORITE SCENE OF THE EPISODE
In the aftermath of the haunting Ben is cleaning up his empty old office from the mess he made chasing Stacey through it. Tate appears as the lonely sociopath in the doorway looking for some sort of relationship (any) with his old Doctor Harmon. Ben tries to shut him out but there is a weird connection between the twoand I feel it’s more so than being a “bad person”.
I am not sure if Ben means EVERYTHING he is saying or if he even believes it all or if he is simply trying to hurt Tate as badly as possible but Ben admits that therapy won’t help Tate and therefore he can’t “get better” because he no longer believes in psychoanalysis. He calls it blame-shifting and self-indulgent bull. Is this the show getting oddly preachy again or is it just a jaded man trying to hurt someone who has hurt nearly everything around him.  Tate asks why people use it then and Ben responds: “Because they don’t want to take any responsibility for their crappy lives. So they pay a therapist to listen to their bullshit and make it all feel special … so they can blame their crazy mothers for everything that went wrong.”HA. I personally think this is Ben’s way of hurting Tate: Convincing him he is beyond redemption. Mentally torture because as we know and seen beating the crap out of him really doesn’t work. BUT Tate actually showed him up when he said out loud what he either couldn’t say before or wouldn’t say: all of his crimes or at least the cliff notes of the most important ones to Ben. Ben says he is not Tate’s priest and he can only get forgiveness from those he has hurt. Tate totally gets that (I pretty sure he actually doesn’t though because Tate’s world skew is MESSED UP) but could Ben just like “hang out with him sometimes”. HAHAHA! Ben can’t take this especially with Tate trying to seemingly understand everything about these pesky emotion’s he has probably never really felt before. Ben responds with silence because I simply don’t think he has the willpower to answer Tate.Therefore it is left to us the audience to decide. Is Tate worthy of anything? Is an eternity alone punishment for a short lifetime of evil? Is any punishment fitting for the things he has done?

HAPPY HARMONS + BABY + MOIRA
The most surprising ironic aspect of all of this is the Harmon family got a happy ending and it lasted most of the last episode. They got closure. Hell, they even got some nifty heroic makeovers. The Harmon’s, also known as the most victimized family EVER, ended on top of the ghost pig pile. This is some intense closure that was unexpected. Its messy-clumsy closure but closure none the less.  This was the exact part I did not fully expect. After all the drama and horrible ways they treated each, gotten treated, and acted this family got a happy ending. It was like a Christmas special. Seriously they played “Little Drummer Boy”.
As the Harmon’s come into the ghostly self’s, Vivien is seen playing her cello in the attic. I really wish this had more depth because it really is just Mrs. Coach playing an effing cello. But then suddenly she hears a baby cry. Basement bound she find an exhausted Mrs. Montgomery with Vivien’s ghostly crying dead baby. He wasn’t stillborn as Dr. Montgomery thought (“Genius!” sneered Nora) and therefore his little soul is tethered to the house as well. His little soul is also colicky as hell and Nora is probably having harsh reminders about how this whole “motherhood” thing was never really for her. Vivien dealing an overtired abrasive Nora (“What do you call him?” “Noisy little monster”) volunteers to babysit for the night because she knows “some tricks” to help calm him. This whole for the night business seemed to be more like a “forever” deal on their faces. Nora goes to the shadows for some much needed rest gripping about her “mother” and her “nannies”. This is a character I will miss. Her Broadway reach and prim way of playing Nora is sort of amazing.
Vivien, her baby in hand, leaves the basement without ever looking back. We see them again upstairs as she is rehearsing baby names for him. It’s cute but I can’t believe the amount of bullshit they are throwing at us in this episode.
Vivien also asks Moira to sort of a pseudo-godmother to the new eterna-baby. This is the series way to making the sad misjudged Moira part of the family she never got to have. As the Harmon’s + Baby + Moira Sr. begin decorating a Christmas tree with “The little drummer boy” playing the background (This really happened). This is the writer’s way of giving Moira an actual arc as she seems to be less hateful of men and taking responsible for her own actions. I call it cheap though because we still don’t know shit about this girl WHO CAN LOOK LIKE TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. None of the other ghosts do this. I am just going to move on though because I have hated on the writers staff enough.
The happy family shares each other’s company and basks in their self-made happiness. However we do see Violet react to something and notice Tate and Hayden watching them from outside the house. Forever left in the cold for their wrongdoings Hayden and Tate deal differently. Hayden turning crass tells Tate he will never be with Violet again in ANY way but Tate admits to waiting for her… Forever. This kid is so dramatic. For real. I am mega surprised he doesn’t dress up for all of his crimes. I bet he has a prop bag filled for costumes in the basement for special occasions.
And we leave the Harmon family looking remarkably content with their afterlives. In fact we have never seen them so happy and so together. Did the house really provide that hope? That second chance?

JESSICA LANGE ADDS MORE FOOTAGE TO HER REEL
Constance, the sole survivor of all these horrors, hasn’t been able to be her beautified self as of late. It was years since we last saw her hiding her demonspawn grandson from the police. Between her monologuing to her hairdresser/her own reflection in the salon mirror we get some dialogue that only few actors can communicate as beautifully as Jessica Lange can. Essentially Constance sees Michael as “special” and therefore playing his caretaker makes her special by default. It is exceedingly creepy because we cannot tell whether she means special like becoming president (a good one) or becoming a CEO of hell and she doesn’t seem to care which either.  It was not perfect and she has had better monologues in this series but can this woman turn anything to gold or what? For as much as this last scene with her seemed rushed/not quite TV ready or finished it worked for me.
Afterward Constance goes home, her hair freshly did. As soon as she enters she is already holding a conversation with her babysitter/nanny/housekeeper (an offensive conversation of course). She stops when she notices blood on her floor. She follows it to her little Michael’s bedroom where she finds the woman’s body cold and bloody on the floor. Michael, an adorable little blond boy, is sitting in a white rocking chair, hands wet with blood, and little bloody hand prints cover the whiteness. His stance is exactly like his daddy Tate’s back in the pilot but more childish and giggly which only makes all the more scary. This was the sort of darkness I expected from the finale. Too bad it was only the last few minutes.  Her reaction of both horror and affection saying “Now what am I going to do with you?” is nearly as chilly as her mirror speech. He so pleased with himself and she seems just as pleased as we listen to the familiar tune whistling “Twisted Nerve”.
And scene.

AN EMPTYENDING
My opinion on this season finale rushes between a cool admiration and a slighted disappointment. Truly I don’t think I will ever be able to truthfully convey my very mixed feelings about this show. This finale lacked everything I had come to want/expect from this show but that is also something I love about it. I cannot predict anything. I can theorize and speculate like a boss but ultimately this show surprises me like none else.
The biggest surprise to me was the lackluster light tone the finale had compared to earlier truly dark episodes. This one leaned more toward dark comedy which is all well and good but.. Really?! For the finale?! I really expected some intense downer and that was soooo not what we got. Maybe it was the influx of teen angst via Violet and Tate in every episode but this one felt so… empty.  After losing Vivien to a gross screaming bloody birth scene the week prior I think we all expected something other than what they gave us. This is the reason for the letdown so I won’t blame the show/Ryan murphy but my own worthless expectations.
Between the odd timing and brick-breaky scenes throughout the finale I can only theorize what is/was holding it back. Although I am speculating, much of the finale was cut as it was initially granted a 2 hour finale but ran out of shooting time therefore cutting themselves down to 90 minutes. And even then the actual showing was a mere 70 minutes with no reason given as to why.  I am guessing this has everything to do with the show planning/production and getting green lit for season 2.  Way back in the beginning they (Ryan Murphy, FX) weren’t sure how they were going to proceed with this show. It was a definite hit but most of the lure was the mystery and plot-evasiveness much like Lost. I believe they were not sure if they could get away with the finale they had planned. Early episodes had set up possible character developments for many of the characters: Ben’s childhood. Vivien’s Cello playing. Violet’s grandmother.  These could have taken the Harmon’s, and Murder house for seasons but it definitely wouldn’t be as interesting as this show is now given the shows future. These little gems were probably built and planted in because the writers were unsure whether they would be able to move on after the finale or if they would be eternally stuck with the one-dimensional Harmon family.

SEASON TWO = NEW EVERYTHING
With good reason this finale had a definite endgame vibe which makes complete sense now considering the news that season two will be a complete reboot on cast, characters, location etc. I can hear the Tate fangirls crying still. However this only seems to be good news to me. This was always Ryan Murphy’s plan for Glee: New cast every season. (which probably would have been for the best). It works best in action for the UK’s Skins. This news would be more disturbing to me at the prospect of losing SOME of these actors but they admit to keeping some of the existing actors on as new characters (!!!). This leaves the door wide open to everyone (Evan Peters & Jessica Lange) to coming back in some form or another. The only thing I will miss from this storyline is the actual House and my darling Beau. Let the Harmon’s get their silly happy ending – but my condolences to Murder House.
Rest in peace Murder House. Your origins were fun- albeit seemingly anti-abortionist preachy but fun. Your ghosts were lovely. You even have a legit monster that has an actual hunger for blood. From the murderous psychopaths to the well-to-do east coast socialitesturned pillheads to the red-headed trampy age-undecided maids. We’ll always have Tate axing a bitch in the bathroom. But I don’t know about you but am ready for more creativity. More stories.More monsters. And more blood please.
Perhaps the leading reason I am not blaming this finale for all its faults is due to this shows nature. Sure, we are being left with multitude of loose ends and questions but I believe this is because they did not know if they could continue this show as the anthology it is and will be. To quote Jeff Jensen (Entertainment Weekly), he called season one a beta test for this show. Hopefully, now that the show’s stencil is clearer, we can hopefully get a season two (and onward) that will be a great deal more planned/stylized and less buggy. Who else is majorly excited that a network is actually letting a successful TV show break some major TV land rules and use a very different storytelling vehicle?

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~ by ATOM on January 6, 2012.

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