American Horror Story: Asylum Review: “Madness Ends” (Season 2, Episode 13)

After a season of television that promised absolute lunacy and madness, the title for American Horror Story: Asylum‘s finale seems quite fitting: Madness Ends brings closure (somewhat) to a season that has been all over the map. But with time comes growth, and there is an emotional aspect to this season that was sorely missing last year. You never realize how much you’ll miss some of these characters until they’re gone, and this final chapter in Briarcliff’s story brings the whole thing to a bittersweet conclusion.

In the quick intro, Johnny wanders around the abandoned asylum, lying in wait for the couple of lovers from the premiere to appear. In case you forgot what happens to them, Johnny gleefully takes an arm and leaves the man to bleed out. Ah, sweet memories.

We’re then taken back to 1971, when Lana sneaks into Briarcliff with a television crew, shooting incriminating footage of an asylum in disrepair that isn’t ready to take care of anybody. Although the video is successful in finally shutting down the mad house, Lana’s search for Jude’s records lead her to a new mystery: somebody has taken her out of the asylum.

This isn’t much of a mystery, since the only logical answer would be Mr. Kit Walker, the single father of two alien children. Lana visits him at his humble abode and finds out just what happened with Jude once he released her. After helping her through a painful detox from the pills she was force fed in Briarcliff, she relapses into thinking she is still Sister Jude, the ruler with the iron fist over her asylum. During one of her fits, the two children take her out to the woods and bring her back a while later, with a newly healed mind.

Jude then becomes a nanny for the children, teaching them about life, love and the criminally insane, while also living peacefully with Kit. Before long, however, she takes a turn for the worse and succumbs to the Angel of Death in what is probably the most beautiful scene in the series thus far.

Jump forward once more into 2013, where Lana is preparing to give an interview about her life as an investigative reporter. She reveals plenty of pertinent facts that help to fill in the holes between the 60s and the present, such as the fate of Cardinal Timothy Howard. Faced with the guilt of knowing what all happened in the asylum, including helping Dr. Arden cover up his experiments, Howard kills himself, unable to face his overbearing past any longer.

Lana also reveals Kit’s fate, but there’s still plenty of his story that is missing. After developing pancreatic cancer at a young age, Kit dies a totally normal death. Except not really, because this is American Horror Story: Asylum, in case you forgot! Facing imminent death, Kit “disappears” without a trace into a blinding light. Nobody actually knows about the light, however (it’s shown to us rather than told). His grown children, who have fallen into extremely successful careers, tell Lana that she shouldn’t be sad for Kit.

For the first time, Lana proves false the lie that Johnny died as a baby, saying that she actually did see him once as a child. Saving him from a bully at school, she takes one last long look into his eyes before disappearing for good. Even though he is only a kid, Johnny somehow recognizes that she was his mother, and set out to find her once he grew up.

But then we get to the final confrontation between Lana and Johnny, who is revealed to have been working on the crew that set up the interview. After being shown photos of the man who had killed the occupants of Thredson’s old house and squatted there for a while, Lana recognized the face as her son, preparing for his vengeance. After everybody else leaves, the two sit down to discuss a few things before he blows her brains out. He tells her that he found Thredson’s taped confession to her, including his misery at the thought that she had killed his child, bringing about the pent-up hatred that Johnny has had for his mother all these years.

Mother manages to convince son that he isn’t the killer his father was, giving her the gun as he cries into her chest that all he ever needed was a mother. Remorseless, Lana points the gun back in his face and pulls the trigger, officially cutting all ties with Briarcliff for good.

For what it’s worth, this season’s finale fares a little better than last season’s simply because it knows how to close out the story definitively. Watching characters we’ve been following all season reach their end is much more emotional than I was expecting, especially when it was Jude’s time to go. Her story of redemption was as uplifting as her death was devastating. Returning director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon shoots the flashback beautifully, especially when it comes time for the Angel of Death to take Jude with her. I’ll admit, I teared up quite a bit, just don’t judge me.

The openness of Kit’s alien storyline is frustrating, as it seemed to be hinting at some pretty crazy revelations. Luckily, the mystery surrounding the abductions and actions of his two alien children is satisfying enough to make up for the unresolved ending. But seriously…why did the aliens fixate on Kit and those around him, particularly those he graced with his lil’ Kit? This is one question that will probably drive me crazy until next season helps me forget.

Lana’s ending wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, either. It’s disappointing that such a small amount of time was spent getting to know Johnny, and seeing him open up with Lana was fantastic. Too bad she had to interrupt him with a bullet to the head. Lana was ruthless throughout the season, and after the finale was over, I still wasn’t sure if I actually liked her or not. What’s perfectly clear, however, is how compelling of a character she was.

So that’s the end of Briarcliff Asylum and all of our favorite characters from this season. It was a bumpy ride, a bit less coherent and a lot wackier than the premiere, but with the finale came a glimmer of hope. American Horror Story: Asylum has always been good for providing scares, laughs and plenty of “WTF?!” moments, but as the finale closed out, it was easy to see that the series was beginning to develop and – dare I say it – mature.

Here’s to hoping that when American Horror Story returns with season three, there will be much more madness and insanity to look forwards to. But for now, all we can do is reminisce. What was your favorite moment from American Horror Story: Asylum? What are you hoping for in season three of the series? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check back for news on the next season!