TV Review: American Horror Story: Episode 12 “Afterbirth”

 

Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror | Thriller

Air Date/Time: December 21 at 10/9c

Network: FX Network

Creators: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk

Director: Jessica Sharzer

Writer: Bradley Buecker

American Horror Story revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who moved from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. The all-star cast features Dylan McDermott (Dark Blue, The Practice) as Ben Harmon, a psychiatrist; Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as Vivien Harmon, Ben’s wife; newcomer Taissa Farmiga as Violet, the Harmons’ teenage daughter; Jessica Lange (Grey Gardens, Big Fish) in her first-ever regular series TV role as Constance, the Harmons’ neighbor; Evan Peters (Kick-AssInvasion) plays Tate Langdon, one of Ben’s patients; and Denis O’Hare (J. EdgarTrue Blood) as Larry Harvey. Guest stars for the series include Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, Happy Town) as the Harmons’ housekeeper; Alexandra Breckenridge (True BloodTicket Out) as the Harmons’ housekeeper; and newcomer Jamie Brewer as Constance’s daughter.

Wow.

I am worried about overselling this. You know, when you hear that something is absolutely superb, so that you go in expecting your own image of what “absolutely superb” means and are invariably disappointed? I don’t want that to happen to you, or to this season finale. It deserves so much more. I love it as much as I love the pilot, and that, my friends, is saying something. Oh sure, I can see how some people, probably those who don’t really care for it or who are on the fence about it, will pick at this rather epic season finale, call it uneven maybe, or missing this, that, or the other, but I found it breathtaking. Sweet. Hilarious. Shocking. And SO MUCH FUN. I laughed out loud more times than I gasped, but the gasps were doozies.

Pitch-perfect performances by all. Standout work from everyone, some even more than usual. Best or near-best of the season for each. I wish I could tell you more, but I’m doing you a favor by letting you see for yourself. There is, however, one very minor spoiler that some people will want to know ahead of time. If you don’t want to know anything other than IT’S GREAT, MAKE SURE TO WATCH IT, then skip the rest of this paragraph, or even the rest of the review, as long as you promise to watch the episode. Here is that minor spoiler: you will not see every single character from the season making a guest appearance in this episode. Almost every single one, absolutely. Just not all.

All done with the teeny tiny spoiler.

Here’s a good learning experience for me: the writer and the director of this episode were the writer of my second-least-favorite episode (the sixth, “Piggy Piggy”) and the director of my least favorite episode (the third, “Murder House”). Of course my least favorite episode of American Horror Story is still better than my favorite episodes of most other series, so there’s already a level of quality that is rarely matched. But the writing and directing in this episode blew the other lesser memories away. Like an atom bomb. The twists, turns, and pace of the writing kept me guessing to the point where I finally gave up and just let it wash over me. And the direction set the tone perfectly in every varied scene.

Bless em, they were able to fit in TWO more (that I spotted; there may be more) salutes to scary movies. This time they’re both newer (well, newer than Gaslight from a few episodes ago) but definitely classic horror-type movies with yet two more themes. No, I’m not going to tell you. And like a cherry on top, they even included my two favorite bits of music from this season.

WARNING: THIS IS LIKELY TO BE AN EXTRA-LONG EPISODE. We had been told it would be two hours, then recently they announced that it had to be pared down to 90 minutes because they just didn’t have enough time to complete a two hour production in time. They have been silent about it ever since, with no press release and no TV spots specifying the length. It’s really difficult to tell from the screener as there are no time indicators. Even my TV is confused, as the DVR (yes I’ll be watching live but I always record it anyway) says it’s an hour, but the onscreen guide says 70 minutes. And it could still be 90 minutes.

And just to drive you a little bit crazier, there is what some would consider a false ending. You’ll see what I mean; there’s a scene at around what will likely be the hour mark that has the look and feel of a last scene. So let me be clear; it is not the last scene. THIS EPISODE IS LIKELY TO BE MORE THAN AN HOUR LONG. DO NOT MISS THE ACTUAL END OF THIS FINALE. Just to be safe, don’t stop watching until the credits finish rolling.

Although I can hardly bear the thought that we will have to wait months before we see a new episode, this season finale will not leave a months-long bad taste in your mouth. It is delicious, so savor it. But please, do yourself a favor. Expect nothing. Seriously. Don’t go in with demands for answers for certain questions; that NEVER goes well. You know what I mean. And don’t go in expecting the scariest thing ever, because it’s not. It’s just GOOD. So grab something or someone cozy, sit back (though make sure you’ll be comfortable if you end up spending any time at the edge of your seat) and get ready to sink your teeth into the crispy chewy sweet and savory deliciousness that is the American Horror Story season 1 finale.

I give American Horror Story: Episode 12 “Afterbirth” Five Out of Five Stars.

 

 

Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for SciFiMafia.com