‘American Horror Story’ Season 1 Finale Review & Discussion

Published 3 years ago by , Updated December 22nd, 2011 at 12:24 am,

american horror story season 1 finale American Horror Story Season 1 Finale Review & Discussion

Over the past 12 weeks, FX’s American Horror Story has done a beautiful job at telling a really ugly little story. And now, the first season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s haunted house tale has come to a close, and strangely enough, after all the mystery and ambiguity that initially surrounded the series, we are left with a pretty clear picture of where AHS will be headed in future episodes.

At this point in the season, it would be something of a letdown if someone in the Murder House – preferably someone with the last name Harmon – didn’t end up a permanent resident of the real estate nightmare. Once Violet (Taissa Farmiga) said goodbye to this mortal coil during ‘Smoldering Children’ (arguably the high point of the season), her mother Vivien (Connie Britton) joined her in the penultimate episode ‘Birth.’ Now, as we venture into uncharted territory in the aptly, yet unpleasantly titled ‘Afterbirth,’ all eyes are on the philandering Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott).

Certainly, after the unbridled lunacy of ‘Birth,’ the expectation that Murphy and Falchuk would unleash the full fury of their twisted imaginations upon ‘Afterbirth’ was fairly high. However, the creators apparently decided to go in the opposite direction – proving once more how adept they are in leading the audience to an inevitable conclusion, but surprising them with the method of delivering said conclusion.

Case in point: the finale begins nine months prior, with Ben attempting to convince Vivien to give him another shot by moving to a house he found in L.A. While the scene seemed to suggest that the tragedy, which befell the Harmons, would have been avoidable with just a little more resolve on Vivien’s part – it really brought forth the clever notion that the Murder House had claimed the family long before they had ever stepped across its threshold.

The scene jumps to a rare moment of touching concern as Ben calls for his wife and daughter, aware they are in the house, but are unwilling to become corporeal enough to let him see and touch them once more. For a brief moment we are left to ponder if this will be the course on which American Horror Story sets itself. But no, before too long, Ben attempts to join Vivien and Violet by taking his own life, only to be stopped by the presence of his loved ones.

Dylan McDermott as Ben Harmon American Horror Story FX American Horror Story Season 1 Finale Review & Discussion

From there it’s hard to tell if the scene simply stumbles or purposely becomes laughable when Violet attempts to comfort her father by mentioning the load of cash he’ll save by not sending her to Harvard – to which Ben smiles and says, “You sure did.”

Possibly spurred on by the thought of all that money he doesn’t have to spend, Ben decides to head out, Antichrist in tow, but is instead killed by Hayden and her murderous friends in what ironically looks like a suicide. Meanwhile, the Antichrist goes on to live with his grandmother Constance (Jessica Lange).

So, in the first 10 minutes, American Horror Story manages to wrap up any thought of a Harmon escaping the house alive, and sets itself up to become a story of the Antichrist and the ghost family next door – sort of The Omen meets Parenthood.

Having Ben become a part of the ‘crew’ so early, the rest of the episode plays out like some may have envisioned season 2 getting underway – with a new family moving into the house, and the Harmons, along with the other “good ghosts” conspiring to scare them off, lest the house claim them too. The scene in which Ben and Vivien deal with their marriage problems while cathartically eviscerating and shooting one another is both hilarious and awful at the same time – meaning it’s both delightfully gruesome and laughably bad all at once – And that’s a great way to think of American Horror Story as a whole. As often as the series came off smart, shocking and bold, it matched those moments with furious bouts of ham-fisted dialogue and unnecessarily large performances.

Yet somehow, without all of those elements in play, the series wouldn’t be the ridiculously entertaining bit of television that it is. More often than not, horror toes the line between being actually scary and snicker-inducingly funny – a notion that Murphy and Falchuk seem to understand all too well.

For example: while decorating a Christmas tree, Moira (Frances Conroy) explains to Violet that the term “ancient” will cease to have meaning, now that she’s on the long road to eternity. This line of dialogue comes off being rather poignant, and a little unsettling… until you realize you’re watching what amounts to A Very Special Dead Harmon Family Christmas – while Hayden (Kate Mara) and Tate (Evan Peters) quietly seethe in the background.

Jessica Lange as Constance in American Horror Story FX American Horror Story Season 1 Finale Review & Discussion

But even at its ridiculous worst, it’s hard not to like American Horror Story, or at the very least be entertained by it.

Thankfully, through all the strange, Lynchian aspects of the show, the performances manage to stand out and give something tangible for the viewer to latch onto. Extraordinarily, amongst Connie Britton, Dennis O’Hare and a myriad of guest stars, the two best performances came from the most seasoned and decorated actress, and the show’s most novice thespian. For much of the season, Jessica Lange and Taissa Farmiga managed to ground the series by somehow embodying the extremes of the storytelling. Lange’s larger-than-life, Tennessee Williams-esque performance was often tempered by the more subtle, subdued nature of Farmiga’s acting. Having that kind of talent will certainly go a long way in making American Horror Story last.

Even though it seems like the ongoing story of the dead Harmons and the Antichrist living next door might be something of a straightforward plot, there is still a chance that Murphy and Falchuk will further the thought that this American Horror Story isn’t solely about a family trapped in a haunted house. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a much larger, ongoing story that explores the very notion of horror itself, with the events of this season acting as the catalyst for the terrors that are about to be unleashed upon the world.

We can hope, anyway.


American Horror Story will return for season 2 in 2012.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Well… Overall, I felt it was a weaker episode, and a bit on the cheesy side. Was actually expecting more darkness and less Beetlejuice.

  2. This has nothing to do with the finale, which I loved, but does anyone know why Moira is old when she was murdered at a younger age? Or did I miss something

    • sorry. don’t know

      • This is going to bug the crap out of me! Lol

        • She was young when she was murdered but has a duel apperance in the after life. To the “perverted men” she is in her youthfull state, but to all others she is in a “un-attractive” state. This is just to prove that all men are “whores”

          • Moira said that those types of men see how they imagine her .. Which is sexy and young.. But then everyone else sees her for who she really is which is a kindhearted old soul in my opinion

        • i was wondering the same thing..:S maybe they have the ability to look their own age? and she wants to…i have no idea

    • I may be wrong, but the way I take it she assumes the preception of what the person talking to her thinks she should be. Like for Ben and other males she is some hot young maid but to all the women she is just your avg old house maid.
      I thought the same thing at first but as time went on and the Albanian developer had the same image of her as did Ben I took it as she conforms to peoples preconcieved notions of what she should look like.

      • @ Timp… He’s an Armenian developer… Not Albanian :)

    • I was just wondering the same thing! omg I have so many questions, I don’t even know where to begin!

      • Now we all have to wait another year lol

  3. I kinda expected more (people fighting over the demon baby more than just what happened). I wonder whats the story from here on; Is it mainly going to revolve around Constance and the demon baby? What about the house? The Harmon family? I know I CAN’T wait till the next season. Next few months are going to be excruciating!

    • I know! I would like to personally Thank the creators for RUINING my life for the next few months until the 2nd season! This has truly been one of the greatest shows on tv.

      • I agree

    • That’s what I thought at first but then there was the episode when she told Ben that he is finally starting to see things as they are and when he looked at her again he saw her as an old lady

    • Are you a plant?

    • i know right? i mean maybe it will revolve around families moving in and out…a few deaths here and there obviously and the demon kid has to eventually move into the house or at least visit often i mean how is Constance supposed to hide all the bodies without help?.. and Violet and Tate…what will happen with them…

  4. I don’t know what you mean about Beetle-juice that show was hokey, I for one consider it to be very dark and always twisted. However, yeah, its a little frustrating to see the whole family not make out alive. I have a suspicion that now it will be an even more intriguing episode for next year, because it will be an even playing field for the house good vs. evil if you will. To Adrian: Moria appears old only when you look at her with your heart an not with desire. To see her as she really is, and old woman damned, for being a temptress.

  5. Unless there is an exorcist, or the house burns down I would guess we will see more of the family and the other ghosts next season. Depending on far they jump come next season, the kid might end up being a focal point of the stories.

    • Thanks Shannon! That actually makes a little more sense now

    • I read online that the house set has already been torn down and if any of the actors do come back in Season 2, that they’d be playing entirely different roles and have entirely different stories. They want to go off in a whole new direction every season, to keep it interesting every time. The creator said that Every seaon will have a separate beginning, middle, and end. This very much dissapoints me, especially after Tate having said that he’ll wait forever for Violet if he has to, and we’re never going to find out what happens :/ I honestly love it because it seems almost real and actually possible, so you’re constantly left wanting to know how the story goes on. I LOVE this show.

  6. I can’t wait to see what happens next year!!! This show rocks, and I’m not very fond of horror movies to begin with. So there doing something right, for me to keep watching religiously.

    • *LOVE*

  7. I’m most interested to see what happenes to Constance’s story arc next season, I mean she is raising the ANITCHRIST!

    • We don’t know that he’s The Antichrist for certain, just that the medium said so. And remember that she was incorrect about the Croatoan spell excorsizing ghosts. She seemed like a real life BSer medium to me.

      • Well yeah that’s true, I just assumed she was right given he murdered the babysitter in the end lol

      • She may be a BSer Medium, but clearly, she has a REAL gift! She was able to discern spirits in the home and also able to communicate with Violet telepathicly… I think, sometimes, she OVER exaggerates her stories and make stuff up to seem more powerful

      • Ah but she did see and “speak” to Violet when Violet was in the room but hiding the fact that she was dead from Constance. Not a total BSer.

  8. Ok,ok,ok..someone please tell me this: why, out of ALL the 15 kids that Tate (whom I find very attractive!) murdered at the school, why did only those few kids come back to find him? And where are the gay guys? We didn’t see them at all in the finale. and why doesnt Constance ever age? and where is her husband that she shot??? so many questions!!!

    • I thought the last episode was cheesy. I mean the kid is the antichrist. Give him glowing red eyes that he can change back to his normal eyes or give the kid a sinister laugh. Where was Vivian and Violet when they were killing Ben? So many questions. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be another “Lost”

  9. and why hasnt Vivian’s sister shown up for the baby?

    • Well I think its because Constance told the cops Violet ran off with the baby so why would she show up, or they are saving her appearance for season 2

      • But by the way Ben talked, she’s be showing up the same day he was murdered. AND, why havent the cops came back looking for Violet to take her to juvi after she missed more school?

        • I just assumed that stuff happened off camera lol, the show is too well written to let those things slide. But those are valid points

          • Yea, that would mean a detailed investigation on Violet being missing. I wonder how bad that house smells. You’ve got Violet’s body still hidden and the big fat exterminator’s body hidden haha

            • I know lol wonder why the new family didn’t pick up on that

          • I’m sure these issues will be addressed when the show comes back…they will be looking for violet im sure and i hope they do something with the bodies that are rotting away…

  10. What did Constance mean in the scene when she put her hands on the maid’s shoulders as she was looking out the window at Ben building the gazebo and said “now they will never find your body, now this house will be your tomb”…(or something like that). why just her body? Tate, Ben, the son in the attic, the original owners, the gay guys, the woman and daughters that were burned..all these people’s bodies were found, yet there still trapped in the house. Why just the maid’s body that can be found and set free? Remember when she tried to temped the Persian man into digging up the gazebo and making a heated pool? What’s so differnt about her?

    • Yeah I definitely think something is different about the maid, just can’t put my finger on it lol

  11. I am so disappointed with this episode. Evenets happen in it that you really don’t care about. The last episode Birth was amazing, with the camera angle, atmosphere, and acting. They built the suspense masterfully. Then this crap airs, and it sprays the big twist within the first five minutes. I hope you enjoy a lot of people standing around delivering monologues, because there is a lot in this episode. The entire function of this episode was to showcase the antagonist for Season 2. And none of anything that happened had any real relevance to the plot. This travesty is comparable to Ryan Murphy laying down a donkey punch to the viewing audience. Shame. Shame unto you.

  12. Seriously this episode was so disappointing. Where was the 4th child…the sappy scene with the family…it was all over the place. I have been waiting all week for this and now I feel cheated. The way Tate just confessed what he had done was so unbelievable . Will I watch season 2 …probably but my expectations will be a lot lower. Thanx Ryan Murphy for pulling a ‘Lost’

  13. amazing finale!!! Was really suprised that they killed off Dr. Harmon but this was probably the only way. For next season my prediction is the antichrist will somehow be a connection to the real world and the dead…that he’ll be able to affect the dead in some way

  14. Bit fascinated about the house’s power, more specifically, where they stemmed from? They hinted that the house wanted to “come into our world” or something of the nature and in a way, it did. Through the dead, it was able to deliver a piece of evil (it’s power?) into the corporeal world. So in a sense, the child is the house…. The house’s way of reaching our world and fulfilling it’s plans (ie horror/death)

  15. Dont be so sure that the “other” baby, the ghost one wont play a major role as well. I feel that the comment made about it being weak and pitiful will tie in somewhere later on. Just as the house has good and bad ghosts maybe we have a bad, evil, demon child and a ghost good kid who might have to deal with his evil twin in the future. Just please dont let the family who moves in next be a group of Mediums or Ghost Hunters who arent scared off becauase they like ghosts.

    • I think a medium or ghost hunter moving in wouldn’t be so bad, the ghosts need a connection to outside the house, Constance can’t be the only one

  16. Wish the Ghostbusters would come and give Gozer and the rest a nice kick in the ass !

    Anyway..the antichrist and his brother,these kids are twins..it’s like Ying and Yang..the keep the Balance,and they will have an important part in future seasons !

    • this show jumped the shark when a ghost killed Dr. Harmon. really. a ghost did that? actually, it jumped the shark when tate was solid, and all the other ghosts were solid. how the heck are ghosts solid? now this show is just silly. stupid. include me out!

      • It’s the house itself that gives them a special power over and above normal hauntings.

        My only WTF moment was that all the “good” ghosts didn’t come to Harmon’s rescue. They could have done anything; stopped the others from stringing him up, cut the rope, broke the chandelier…..SOMETHING. Instead they just stupidly sat by and let the bad ghosts make yet ANOTHER ghost. Pretty far fetched even for this twisted story.

  17. I have to say the creepiest moment of the whole season was the last few seconds. The Antichrist Baby was so happy that he killed the Nanny. The way he was pointing at the body and showing the blood on his hands creeped me out.

  18. I was expecting more I guess. So I’m thinking WTF, you’ll have new families move in the house and the good ghosts will scare them back out. Really? That’s it? Am I missing something? Tate’s son is true to form obviously, killing the Nanny which lets us know a little of Season 2 but what about Tate and Hayden? Are they now banned? I noticed them standing behind the bars which says to me they are banned from interacting with the good ghosts. Right? It’s an awesome show and I look forward to Season 2 but I still have a zillion questions.

  19. I was so disappointed by the season finale. I expected something more “horror”. And I hope they don´t make another season, because it will just be like the first one but with a different family.

    • You are wrong my friend. Next season, Different cast, different place ( not necessarily a house), different story :)

      • Yeah, I´ve read that. But that was after my comment.

  20. Evan Peters gives a better performance than Farmiga, so I don’t know why you didn’t list him as giving one the better performances on the show.

  21. When can we expect Season 1 on DVD? Can’t wait! ~ Stark

  22. Lol at people saying ‘pulling a Lost.’ This show shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Lost. The acting in this is horrid, minus Constance. Every time I’ve watched it either Tate or Violet were crying or Ben or his wife. Lost resolved the important questions IE: the characters and yeah the Church ending was sorta cheesy I was satisfied with the way it was pulled off. So this show…probably as good as Heroes. Which isn’t saying much.

    • Impersonating the owner of the site (Vic Holtreman) is a no-no.

      I know (at least relatively sure) it’s unintentional. Just messing with ya. :)

  23. apparently season 2 is going to be completely different

  24. I absolutely love the scenes with the Real Estate Agent! Her racist comments are outrageous! I dont know who’s worst, Constance or she! LOL

    PS. I love how the Creators decided that, new characters and new haunted places, would be the way to go for this show! So every year, we get a whole new cast, place and storyline, and some actors might make a guest appearance! Jessica Lang is definitly a must!

    PSS.. Wouldnt it be neat if they created a Mini Series during the summer, about our favorite yet sometimes dramatic, Medium, Billie? You know, because she’s supposedly in talks with LifeTime about a docu series pertaining to her spiritual gift!? That Would be AWESOME!

  25. LOL… Ray-Mos (Rah’Mos)… Really? The Realtor lives in LA, and she cant pronounce one the most common hispanic/Spaniard name? She cracks me up.

  26. Ryan Murphy in Regards to American Horror Season 2 and so on:

    “The (haunted) house is done. Every season of the show will be a different haunting. That’s always been the plan. Every season of the show will have a beginning, middle and end, and all new characters and setting. We’re still negotiating with a handful (of the performers) about returning. We’re also meeting with new actors whom we’ve targeted roles for. I will say that Connie and Dylan will not be playing the leads of the show in the second season….”

  27. Ryan Murphy in regards to Season 2 and so on: Comment number 2

    “We too loved those characters and will mourn them and miss them. But the aspects of the show that people love, including the mystery and love story, will be there, albeit with new actors and characters. But you know, this has always been the plan from day one. We just weren’t interested in doing another season with those people trapped in the house…I’ve always wanted to do a kind of Mercury Theater approach, with a (rotating cast) and each year do kind of like a little novella. There are a lot of actors who have their own careers and don’t want to make a five-year commitment. This gives people who haven’t done TV before an opportunity. Our shooting schedule is like three or four months every season, so it’s like commiting to a film really. I get a lot of calls from film actors who want to dabble in TV but don’t know how to do it. Being on a series where all of the characters’ stories are done after a season is a way in for them. That’s been the plan from the beginning with this show.”

    • That is all well in good except the story DID NOT have an end. I mean, what about the baby?

  28. I like this idea but hope even though the story will be different that it isnt to much like this one. I mean a family, a house, and ghosts doesnt have to be the plot. Not saying it will be, just saying I hope it’s not. I can say that apparently all ghosts can be “solid” when they show themselves. I say this because of Tates school victims and their appearance on Halloween. So I assume all ghosts will be able to be touched and appear as a human physical form. Although Tates victims and some in the house still had their “death wounds” after death and some in the house did not so not sure about that aspect. Of all the characters Constance and the devil child need to be kept up with for sure. Cant wait for season 2.

  29. Considering this was the end of this particular season, cast and storyline of AHS, it left a lot to be desired. With the cheesy Christmas and predictable ending and unanswered questions, it seemed to me that there was no effort in really wrapping the story up or giving us a real finale. I was very disappointed and I’m not sure I tune in next season.