American Horror Story: Asylum Episode 13 Madness Ends
The end is here, folks. How will it all tie together? I was so eager to see that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was a sad and somber finale, but it was also satisfying to see some closure for many of the storylines that had been left open. I really felt for the characters this season as I watched them go through such horrors, and in “Madness Ends”, Murphy and his crew delivered a sweet, sometimes touching, homage to the second season of American Horror Story.
Remember the opening scenes of season two? When we see Briarcliff today with its crumbling and graffiti worn walls, we also see Johnny breaking in to the abandoned structure. It’s a homecoming for him as he listens to Lana’s audiobook being read by her through earbuds while he walks the halls. Visions of Lana in a bathtub telling him how her terrible feelings of his conception are followed by images of his father, Dr. Thredson, inside Briarcliff, confessing his love for his son. Thredson tells Johnny that Lana took their love away as Lana drones on through the audiobook and looks down upon them from above on the notorious circular staircase.
Four months prior to the present day, you see the newlyweds from the first few episodes as they go through Briarcliff, getting steamy and afterward meeting their demise. Johnny sits in the dark room and when Leo puts his arm in to take a video on his cell phone, we see Johnny put on the Bloody Face mask and hack Leo’s arm off with a knife. Now we have a definitive explanation for all of the killing in the name of Bloody Face from the beginning of the season, and a different point of view to see it from.
Now we see Lana in present day as the super journalist/TV anchor/mega reporter that she has become. Move over Barbara Walters. She’s being interviewed for television and decides to give away some pretty big secrets, hence the explanations of many character’s fates. When asked about her Bloody Face experience, she adamantly refuses to speak anymore about him, claiming that he had become a big enough celebrity. Instead they talk about her 1965 Briarcliff expose. As the film rolled, I had very strong déjà vu to a little expose done by another big name reporter in the seventies, Geraldo Rivera, titled, “Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace”. This was a piece about a state ran institution for kids with mental challenges in Staten Island, NY. Briarcliff, by that time, had been sold by the Catholic Church to the state of Massachusetts, and the conditions had greatly deteriorated. Lana walks into rooms with barely clothed, filthy people who have been left alone in the dark, much like Rivera shows. Lana was trying to raise the issue in order to shut down Briarcliff and she was successful. Lana goes on to tell in the interview that she demanded to see Sister Jude, who she found in a cell, in the dark, almost completely deteriorated. We soon learn that none of this was true. Jude wasn’t there. As they break, Lana asks for sparkling water, and it is hand delivered by none other than Johnny.
Next, Lana goes to Kit’s house and tries to film their reunion, but he refuses. Lana asks him if Betty Drake was there. She found records that said Drake was released to Kit in 1970. It turns out, after Alma died, Kit would visit with Jude. He could see life in her eyes, but if he left her there, he knew it wouldn’t last. He decided to take Jude home with him for his kids and to allow himself to forgive and leave Briarcliff behind. Kit took care of Jude as she detoxed and had some scary moments, as she was confused about being Sister Jude again. It was so sad to see Jude’s decline. She had once been a strong and sharp edged woman. During a moment of confusion, Jude chased Kit’s kids through the house, threatening them. Kit stepped in, but his children led Jude by the hands out into the woods. He didn’t know what happened, but chalked it up to Grace’s opinion that the children were different.
Jude has a nose bleed while they’re all dancing, and Kit explains that her last months she seemed so happy. As she lies in the bed, struggling for air, Kit’s children snuggle up with her. She gives them each a bit of advice then sends them out to play. Kit tells her he won’t leave her, but Jude mentions that “she” is there for her. He couldn’t see anyone, but the angel of death watches from the back of the room. Lana remembers her, though. When asked if she was ready to go, Jude admits she is and asks for the kiss. In one last display, the angel of death advances slowly on Jude and wings spread, leans down to kiss her. And that’s the end of our beloved Jude.
Yes I’m crying by now, I’m not ashamed to admit.
Lana’s next expose was very critical as she went after the Monsignor, who is now Cardinal Howard. She presses him for answers to some tough questions. Later we see that he has committed suicide by slashing his wrists in the bath. Since coming clean about lies was her theme, Lana admits that her child did not die in childbirth, and that she went searching for her son when he was a small child. After she became close to Kit’s kids, she also becomes their godmother. His children grew up to be very successful as a law professor at Harvard and a neurosurgeon at John Hopkins, but things did not go so good for poor Kit. He developed pancreatic cancer at age 40 which metastasized. It wouldn’t be Kit if he didn’t go out with a bang, though. Leave it up to the aliens to come zap him up in their bright light just before he succumbs to the deadly disease, so it seems to others that he disappeared. There was no funeral and his children said there was no reason to mourn, leaving the impression that they knew what had really happened, and that it was a good thing.
Now was when I started wondering why Lana would divulge all of this information during the interview. Did she believe she was going to die and was doing a sort of absolution by emptying all of her secrets? With the interview over, Lana is left alone in her home. But she’s not really. She tells someone to come out, to have a drink. Let’s get this over, she says. Badass Lana is back and Johnny strides out from his hiding spot.
It’s now time for the Lana and Johnny stand off. I have to say she handles herself well knowing that this evil man is right in front of her. Johnny tells her that he got in by killing someone and throwing their body in the trash. She looks concerned but not surprised. It turns out that Lana’s already been briefed about Johnny and has seen his picture. A journalist is always ready. After telling Johnny that he looked like his father, she asks him who told him his true identity. He reveals that he felt she was his mother when he met her on a playground as a child. But after he heard the Bloody Face confessional tape that he found on eBay, he started hating her and loving his father. eBay! How novel. With a gun to her forehead, Lana resorts to her old tactics that she used to survive around his father, and they work once again. A little baby talk, some pet names, and Johnny goes a big rubbery one. She guides the gun down slowly and tells him he’s not only his dad, but her, too. Just when Johnny is starting to feel for his mother, she lifts the gun to his forehead and claims it’s all her fault before shooting him in the head, just like his father.
The end scene takes place in 1964 and shows Lana in Briarcliff as a young reporter, talking to Sister Jude. Jude once again utters the moniker, “Lana Banana”. This time Lana smiles. The two of them compare their sordid jobs. There are some departing words of wisdom from Sister Jude: “If you look in the face of evil, evil’s going to look right back at you.”
Our last view of Briarcliff starts with the creepy music that Sister Jude favored in the common room when she was in charge. She gives a long glance at the white angel statue that hasn’t been destroyed yet. The camera pans back and we see Briarcliff going through the motions as we ascend and look down on the spiral stairs with the circular view.
And that’s that.
I am not ashamed to say that I shed some tears during this one. I really loved Sister Jude, no matter how evil she was. That could be due to Jessica Lange’s infectious and beautiful smile, but I really wanted Jude to rise above what had happened to her. I wanted to see something good happen to Jude, but something good really did happen to her. Not to die in Briarcliff, but to die as a Nana to two sweet children that belonged to a man she mistreated is pretty phenomenal. I still miss our spitfire, tough as nails, Jude, but it was also good to see a soft, maternal side to her. As mean as she could be, she could also be amazingly caring. I just really hated to see her go. And the same goes for Kit, but I carry hope that his situation was improved when he was abducted for the last time.
There is much to be said that Lana is the survivor of the season. I can look back on the first half of the episodes and I would have never pegged that. Thredson nailed her when he said she was plucky. She’s effectively ended the Bloody Face nightmare, and that is some damn good closure for the season’s end. I was hoping to see a little more explanation about the aliens, or maybe just see them more, but I see that they wanted to spend their time on our favorite characters.
It’s the end of another chapter to the book that is American Horror Story. I’m very curious to see where they will have it next season, and which actors will be returning. I would love to see Jude and Kit, Mary and Dr. Arden, Lana, Grace, the angel of death and Thredson as new characters. Considering all of the elements and tropes they threw at both season one and season two, I wonder what they will pull out of their sleeves next time and where it will occur. There was supposedly a clue to the next season in this episode, but I couldn’t tell you what that might be. The quicker I see a press release, the happier I will be.
Until we meet up again next season, thanks for reading.