Attention: The article contains spoilers for American Horror Story
The path of American Horror Story it had started in the best way. With its iconic nature, the series was capable of narrating the world of horror in a sometimes subtle way with the aim of demonstrating that fear does not always have to do with the unknown or the paranormal. Sometimes it’s even human beings who scare us, according to Murphy the most ruthless monsters. Although the twelfth season has demonstrated a higher level than the last seen, the loss of narrative power of the series is still clear and, in no way, is it the same as a few years ago. The level has lowered, and this is also demonstrated by the recent season finales which are nowhere near as good as the former. The surprise effect is missing, the adrenaline is missing, the true trademark of American Horror Story is missing. Those who have known the series since its golden days know well what it meant to experience the epilogue of the season, to scrutinize the way in which Ryan Murphy changed the cards on the table by completely distorting the narrative. All this has now been lost and, barring some future twists, there is nothing left for us to do other than remember the golden times and those wonderful season finales that only Ryan Murphy could give us.
Changes in perspective, subtle delicacy and iconic farewells: these are the ingredients of the best season finales of American Horror Story
Murder House not only corresponds to the first season of American Horror Story, but also to its first wonderful ending. With a change of perspective that makes the protagonist family also ghosts, the series brings all its characters on the same level. From behind the window, the ghosts who have been trying to ruin their lives all along peer at them, finding themselves completely cut off from the norm. Ben, Vivien and Violet find what they had lost by feeling, in death, more alive than ever. What is striking about this first ending is that, despite the condition of the protagonists, it is not about it neither a happy ending nor a tragic ending. The epilogue of Murder House is a set of bittersweet elements which tell the story of a family condemned to live only inside that cursed house and who, in an attempt to survive, try to enjoy everything they have left. To recover that relationship that they had initially lost, there is now finally an immeasurable time. They can’t help but find each other again, just lull themselves a little in that house that has taken so much from them and which is now ready to give them back.
The second season of Asylum is perhaps one of the most acclaimed of American Horror Story. Dividing itself between Pepper’s wonderful tenderness, science, religion and aliens, the ending of Asylum gives us a twist with attention to detail that no one had ever imagined. The ruthless serial killer Bloody Mary is in fact actually the doctor we thought we could trust, that Lana thought she could trust. The revelation happens in a gradual but adrenaline-filled way while, in the meantime, all the different storylines put the pieces back together. We discover that Kit was actually kidnapped by aliens and that therefore everything she said was the result of reality, that Lana managed to save herself by transforming what she experienced in the last moments of her life into a book. Among the different endings of American Horror Story, the second is certainly the most complex and cynical, the one that best tells how humans know how to be more dangerous than any inexplicable event. Maybe because they live just a stone’s throw from us, maybe because we ourselves are: Ryan Murphy doesn’t know why, but he tries to understand it through his protagonists who, in this season, are used as scapegoats, victims of a society that it discriminates against them and uses them as guinea pigs for their hatred. With evolutions and writing that we will never see again in American Horror Story, Asylum makes evil triumph over good, closing his story with a close-up on Sarah Paulson that still gives us chills.
Perhaps considered the weakest Top 5 season of American Horror Story, Coven manages to defend itself well especially when compared to future seasons that will come after season five. In short, in the midst of what has happened, this still appears like an anchor in the middle of a stormy sea. Once again Jessica Lange here plays a role designed and made especially for her, divided between good and evil, revenge and resentment, the acceptance of one’s destiny and the attempt to change its fate even at the cost of sacrificing others. The third season of American Horror Story concludes its narrative by focusing on her death in the arms of her daughter, the only one she chooses to save from her clutches despite her powerful feeling of power and revenge. Through this narrative device, the protagonist Academy manages to get back on its feet and live again with the designated Supreme, Cordelia, the only one truly capable of acting for the common good. Even if in this case the surprise effects that have made other season finales strong are missing, the epilogue of Coven works and, above all, it distances itself from everything we have been accustomed to. In spite of others, in fact, here good triumphs. The third season comes to an end with a happy ending, a medium that Ryan Murphy has always filtered and never made pure until this moment. In an original, dynamic and, for the first time, happy way, Coven comes to an end making room for the fourth season of American Horror Story.
Freak show could only end like this: to the notes of David Bowie and through the magnetic voice of Jessica Lange who, just like his character, says goodbye to American Horror Story. The ending of Freak Show is imbued with melancholy and delicacy, it neither condemns nor absolves anyone. The protagonists of the fourth season, once again, are not established as saints or sinners, as angels or devils. It’s both. None of them can go to sleep with a medal of merit that attests to a perfect moral code, a life made up of good deeds towards others. In a mammoth way, Freak Show comes to an end to the tune of David Bowie putting the pieces back together for all the protagonists. In an ideal world, Elsa would have found her creatures again and would have finally kept them all for herself, and that is precisely the world that Ryan Murphy builds at the end of the season, finally returning this cryptic character to the destiny that, despite everything, she deserved. With her premeditated death, Elsa takes off all her sins remaining only with everything that over the years has made her fragile, vulnerable, human. Once again a bittersweet ending returns, an ending that smacks of American Horror Story in its purest nature. Perhaps, the last ending truly capable of giving the viewer chills.
If Freak Show moves us by being imbued with melancholy, Hotel gives us a twist by revealing the identity of the 10 Commandments killer. Jessica Lange’s absence in the fifth season, the first without her, was strongly felt despite the presence of Lady Gaga. Even today, Hotel is considered one of the most divisive seasons of the series. Probably, the negative judgments are dictated by the new type of narrative, a narrative that will unfortunately have to do without its backbone. Despite this, Hotel is a TV series that must be seen several times to be truly understood. Thanks to its adrenaline-filled finale, the fifth season of American Horror Story scores a point of no return for Ryan Murphy which, after this moment, will no longer be able to make future seasons iconic. With an epilogue that sheds light on the life of the hotel and its ghosts in the future, American Horror Story closes Hotel in the best possible way using both a twist and a subtle, delicate and melancholic trait. For the last time, American Horror Story, at that exact moment, is still great. The last pure memory of a saga that could have been perfect, if only it had stopped at the right time.
American Horror Story isn’t what it used to be