As promised, American Horror Stories once again took us back to the iconic Murder House in Thursday’s season finale, though not the way anyone expected. The fact that it featured not one but two Fuller House cast members was merely the first of many surprises.
The extremely meta episode began with an American Horror Story-obsessed couple — curiously named Connie (Noah Cyrus) and Dylan (Adam Hagenbuch) — arriving at the actual Murder House, which is now being rented as an Airbnb “experience” for fans of the FX show. The love birds, who of course met at Comic-Con while cosplaying as Son of Bloody Face and Sister Jude totally ignored their driver’s warning (“That house was built above the Devil’s asshole!”) before running inside.
Their visit began with some light role play — she made him keep his Tate shirt on while they had disappointing sex, naturally — followed by a grim encounter with the Infantata in the basement. When things got a little too real, however, they tried to escape, only for Dylan to get gunned down by Addie (Jamie Brewer) and for Connie to get hacked up by… Twisty the Clown?
It was a confusing scene, but it became considerably less so when we learned that it wasn’t actually real. It was merely part of an American Horror Story video game being developed by a woman named Michelle (Mercedes Mason), whose son Rory (Nicolas Bechtel) wasted no time explaining everything she got wrong, including why it made no sense for Addie to be there since she didn’t die in the house. “Even casual fans are going to be pissed,” he told her… which kind of sums up the way AHS fans have felt about much of Horror Stories thus far. (Sorry!)
Desperate to prove that she understood the “vibe” of American Horror Story — and that she understood Rory by extension, for some reason — Michelle sought to become the new owner of the actual Murder House property. (“I think I found someone to adopt our little devil baby house!” her excited realtor told his colleague.) Ignoring her ex-husband’s concern that this was merely another of her life-ruining obsessions, Michelle decided that Halloween would be the perfect night to move in. You know, just to prove him right.
Michelle soon discovered that the house was, indeed, full of spirits. Her first memorable encounter was with Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), last seen in a very special episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse, and he got the best entrance line of the night: “Sorry, I usually only cry like this after I masturbate.” He gave her the abridged version of his afterlife story, including little updates about how Vivien is still “judgy and sullen” and how Tate is “just as bananas as he’s always been,” before determining that Michelle is someone who likes being hungry more than she enjoys being fed.
The psychoanalysis continued when Michelle met Ruby (Kaia Gerber), who explained what makes the residents of the Murder House tick: “The only thing that we love more than being stuck in our own misery is being stuck here with the suckers who are even more miserable,” she said. “The repetition is the point. The endless nothing filled with pain is the purpose. The only thing that we need is more souls to feed the suffering.” And that was the last thing Michelle heard before she was killed.
Michelle visited Rory on Halloween the next year, and it was a typical family reunion for this franchise. He said she’s been dead to him for much longer than a year, she complained that there’s no escaping the Murder House, and he suggested that maybe it all needs to be burned down. “I never want to see or hear one more thing about Murder House again!” he said, which once again felt like the viewers were speaking directly through a character.
Rory ended up following through on his promise, dousing the front of the house with gasoline. Ruby sent Scarlett (Sierra McCormick) an emergency text, raising a few questions about who’s still paying that dead girl’s phone bill, but she was too late to keep him from burning it all down.
Three years later, Scarlett returned to the “hallowed ground” on which the Murder House once stood. Now a semi-retired assassin, she had plenty of cash to plunk down on a condo in the building that was constructed in its place. After failing to conjure Ruby in the bathtub, Scarlett feared that her beloved was lost forever — that is, until Ruby appeared in her bed. She apparently stayed behind to wait for Scarlett, unlike all of the other spirits who willingly crossed over. “They seemed happy,” Ruby said. “Most of them did, at least.” Cue the kissing, the bloody fireworks and… wait, what?
That’s right, folks, this was also a game, albeit a much better version than the one Michelle had Rory play at the top of the hour. “It’s super cool, and I’m really proud you,” he told her. It was all she ever wanted to hear. The episode ended with Rory asking about the other spirits, inquiring as to whether any of them “escaped into the world.” With a laugh, Michelle replied, “I hope not,” only for that damn red rubber ball to come rolling out from underneath the couch.
What this episode means is probably up for some interpretation, but at least on a surface level, it left us with more questions than answers. Was any of it real? Did Michelle even die? Did Rory play a video game in which he, his mother and his divorced parents were all characters? And, of course, the most important question of all: Why does Sarah Paulson talk so much crap about AHS: Roanoke?
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