American Horror Story episode 12 review: Afterbirth: season finale

The first season of American Horror Story comes to an end, and Ron, for one, is more than happy with the path it's taken...

This review contains spoilers.

12. Afterbirth

The chips are falling into place, and the Harmon family doesn’t seem to be long for this world. Constance has the sole survivor of Vivien’s pregnancy, though there’s still the issue of the annoying father issue. As for Ben, he’s trying to come to grips with a whole lot of death in a short time while trying to keep his son safe from the various elements looking to claim the baby for themselves.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of ghosts out there with an axe to grind against Dr Harmon, especially Hayden. Meanwhile, Vivien has to come to terms with her new status as a member of the non-living; fortunately, she’s got a good guide in Moira and the help of Violet to allow her to transition into her new status. There’s only one problem, she still loves her husband and is having a hard time letting him go.

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Will Vivien’s love of her husband be the thing that causes Ben to fall victim to the house, or will Vivien’s love save Ben from his own terrible instincts?

One of the things the show did well with its expanded runtime is really explore the experience of the Ramos family, aka the folks who move into Murder House after the Harmons. What the Harmons experienced in a full season, the Ramoses got in about a day, thanks to the participation of Ben, Viv, Violet, the Black Dahlia, and a whole bunch of our other good-guy ghostly friends. Tate also helped, but unwittingly. The Ramos family, wisely, runs off before the evil spirits within Murder House can act out on their newest playthings, which means that good, in the end, triumphs over evil. At least, in this particular case.

The scare montage in the middle of the episode was a brilliant piece of television. Visually, it looked great. The editing was top notch, the set pieces used were great, and the pacing was perfect. All credit due to Bradley Buecker, who directed tonight’s episode. He’s more an editor than a director, and that shows, but in a good way. The transitions from talking scenes to action scenes were seamless, and the show seemed to fit together well this week.

Ditto the script from Jessica Sharzer. The show’s confrontation scenes were great, especially when Ben, Hayden, and the others all faced off on the staircase. Also: Tate and Ben’s confrontation/heart-to-heart. Wrapping up a show for the season can’t be an easy task, but Sharzer manages to bring the whole thing to a conclusion in a satisfying manner. Given the amount of things happening this week, the extra-long run was needed, yet somehow most of what we wanted gets addressed. (The fact that they managed to get all of this season’s ghosts back for this episode is very impressive in and of itself.)

But not everything, and that’s what’s got some people irritated with Ryan Murphy and company.

Honestly, I loved the season finale of American Horror Story. It was a little uneven at times, but it was worth it if only to find out just how everything ends with Constance, Ben, the ghosts, and everyone else.

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Most American shows don’t wrap things up in a season; they stretch things out over years and try to milk story lines as long as they can. Not so for American Horror Story; it appears that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have embraced the British model of self-contained seasons of television, and if we never dropped in on Constance or Larry or whoever again, I could be completely satisfied with how the show ended. Granted, there are still some things we can learn about if they choose to revisit Murder House in the future, but they don’t have to (and perhaps they never will).

No, every question doesn’t get answered. But enough of them do, and I’m okay with that. There are enough loose ends drawn together to leave things in a neat little basket.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan has no idea what to expect from American Horror Story’s second season, but he knows it’ll be epic, whatever it might be. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.