And so we come to the end. Some might be happy that I'm finally done reviewing episodes of a show that has ended weeks ago. Others might like reliving the experience of American Horror Story: Asylum once again. This show always polarizes its viewers, and there are some that don't like the overall craziness of it and then there are some that enjoy how off-the-wall it is. I admit that this season has had its ups and downs but I can say that I've enjoyed this season a whole lot more than last, if only because its plot arc has seemed a lot more functional. It set out to craft a story out of Briarcliff, and it did.
"Madness Ends" is exactly the type of episode that the title suggests; we've had a comedown from the horror throughout these final few episodes, and now that we've reached the epilogue, the action has slowed down to a crawl. This is an episode meant to expose whatever else the show has missed on its way from the induction of Lana and Kit into Briarcliff to their release; and now we do get to see Lana, Thredson's son, and even Kit in their later years.
There's a lot of exposition to "Madness Ends", and it is a significantly slower-paced episode than the others. It focuses on Lana as she shoots an interview for a biography segment, bringing the viewer back through the years as Lana wraps up what happened to everyone after they left Briarcliff. Lana shot a fantastic documentary about Briarcliff, exposing the terrible secrets of the institute and incriminating the Monsignor in the process. Kit went back to living his life, raising his two children and finding a new love before disappearing during a fight with pancreatic cancer.
It's also revealed where Sister Jude went; Kit decided to take her out of Briarcliff and care for her himself, out of a debt he felt he owed. These moments are tender, sad almost, because there won't be more of them after this season. Kit has been a hugely likable character among terrible people, and it's good to see that preserved to the end.
But there's also Thredson's son in the picture. He's been looking for revenge for a long time, and he seeks Lana out during her interview. In a tense scene where the two confront each other, Lana's fate is sealed. She has led throughout the entire series, and so the juxtaposition between mother and son, and the power struggle within, is wonderful. It's not handled as well as it could be - the episode's a bit too wordy - but it's a satisfying ending nonetheless.
And then American Horror Story wraps around itself, bringing us back to where it all began at the beginning of the season. Lana meets with Sister Jude, tells her her ambitions, and Jude gives her the speech about looking in the face of evil. It's most likely not the intent of the show, but there are a couple of different interpretations of this wrap-around scene. One is the most obvious - we come back to where we start. But for me, I saw the inclusion of this scene in a different light. Lana is led by her ambitions, and it's noted that we don't know to what lengths she will go to get her story. What if this wrap-around was meant as a dream sequence? What if Lana was imagining everything that happened during this season of Asylum as though those are the lengths that she would go for her story?
I have a feeling that Asylum isn't smart enough for such a grandiose scheme. But it made me think, all the same. And that's the feeling I get coming away from this season in general. It's been a ride through aliens, monsters, exorcisms and demons, and I've enjoyed it every step of the way because of the odes to films and the excellent camerawork this season. It's made me question each episode, but its disturbing subject matter had me hooked. That's a little nutty, isn't it?