American Horror Story Asylum Season 2, Episode 12 & 13: Murphy and Falchuk’s team have trouble delivering a conclusion…again
This post contains spoilers.
The second season of American Horror Story (Asylum) has ended, so what the result of our long journey of Aliens, Demons, Serial Killers, and Inmates? Some things (maybe) and unanswered questions (unfortunately).
The team behind this series are very good at coming up with a universe and setting but are not very good in delivering a satisfying ending and resolution to the issues raised. This was the result in the first season where they “resolved” things but none of the actual big questions were answered. (Why did the ghosts get trapped, why did they work toward creating a “demon baby”, what are the actual rules for this world? What will be their fate?)
The most disappointing thing to me for both seasons is my belief that the creative team literally doesn’t know or care about the workings of the universes they have created, just the trappings that we see in them. They appear to be making stuff up as they go along which result in contradictions and a lack of a consistent set of rules for the universe.
This doesn’t mean that the story itself is bad. It’s just not as good as it could have been if a deeper understanding and design had been considered. If they do have this knowledge in their series bible they did not do a good job of making this clear to the viewer.
So, what specifically was a problem for the second series? Well, in the course of the last few episodes we see Sister Mary Eunice’s (Lily Rabe) demonic possession story abruptly ended. It’s not a consequence of some epic struggle but a quick aside with little indication that there was meant to be any lesson learned. It’s shocking in fact, given the sheer amount of time devoted to the character within a series that only had 13 episodes to tell a story that seemed already too large for the time duration they had. When you have only 13 episodes you generally want to give the most time to characters that mean more to the overall plot than Sister Mary Eunice eventually ended up meaning. Her death had no set up and there were no indications that Sister Mary Eunice was getting more able to resist the demon. In just seemed like a “well, it’s time to end this so let’s just drop it (literally)”.
It’s almost as if they wanted to have her on the show so long because they liked her and for no other reason. This make some sense because she is one of our favorite actresses but we wish they would have made her mean something more than she did at the end. The same thing can be said for Doctor Arden’s (James Cromwell) immediate resulting suicide.
The aliens are also just dispensed of with no real indication of their goals or why Kit (Evan Peters) was special or unique. Yes the children seem somewhat above average in capability–but not extraordinarily so except for their one “walk in the woods to cure Sister Jude” scene–with again no real idea of what this means. Did the early deaths of everyone involved with this area come as a result of the aliens interactions with them or were they just coincidence? No real evidence is presented to make a judgement.
Thredson is also dispensed of pretty quickly. This could be seen as part of the overall hardening of Lana’s character but his death and their son’s death didn’t feel like they made the series ending a high point. The serial killer angle of the series has always felt pretty low level in scope compared to the other forces at play. The set up of everything was far more compelling than the result.
The modern day elements seemed almost like an annoyance rather than anything else. That thread didn’t seem to add much at all to the season. I didn’t really buy the way that Lana’s child was just naturally evil. Mcdermott played the character so over the top as if to be a farce.
There are other frustrating inconsistent elements to American Horror Story: Asylum. For example. how did the police label the killer “Bloody Face” before the details about Thredson’s killings were revealed to them? When Kit is first charged with the crime they have no idea about the face mask and other elements. These would have been revealed later in Lana’s book.
AHS:A really just felt like a tangled mess of stories that may have been being written as they were filmimg it and just sort of end up being vaguely resolved. While the look and feel of the first two thirds of the series was really gripping no pay off is really felt at the end. From the beginning the entire series seemed to be based on Sister Jude–and in fact should have been, but even this lapses and runs from her to Lana and then Kit.
I’m not against pieces of a story being unanswered but you need to make it clearer that this isn’t due to being sloppy in the writing of the story. Some things can’t be easily answered, but then the problem needs to be acknowledged by smart characters with real results. Why is everyone so blase about the fact that aliens must be real and demons are also real?
I see these series as being gripping, interesting, well-filmed, and set up with amazing ideas. I can only hope that they decide to really dive into their universe and fulfill the promise of a fully satisfying resolution to the intriguing issues that they will inevitably raise in season 3.