(This article contains copious spoilers for “Game Over,” the season finale of “American Horror Stories” which you can watch now on FX on Hulu)
The “AHS” universe is an unhinged place — that’s the appeal, in my opinion. But there’s being unhinged, and then there’s unhinged in a way that takes the show off the rails, and “AHS” certainly does stray into the latter territory more than we would like.
“American Horror Stories” has actually managed to avoid this problem for the most part — the anthology format helps with that a lot. But in the finale story, “Game Over,” that standard “AHS” problem rears its ugly head once more.
“Game Over,” which was written by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, is extremely meta, breaking the fourth wall by referencing “AHS” over and over again, and features several different twists. It actually makes some kind of sense up until the end. But once it gets there, it completely falls apart.
A brief recap. The episode opens with a young couple who are going to spend the night in the Murder House as some kind of tourist deal. But of course it all goes very wrong, the couple gets murdered, and we learn this was actually just the scenario of a video game that a game developer mom made to try to impress her son (Nicolas Bechtel).
But he wasn’t impressed, because she apparently didn’t understand the themes of the show or whatever. So she makes an appointment with the realtor so she can pretend to be interested in buying the actual Murder House — then she’d be allowed to spend some time in the place for a little bit and try to figure out its essence. So she hung out with some of the dead people, and had a long heart to heart with Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), and then got herself killed too.
Her son, angry, thinks he can free all the souls trapped in the Murder House by burning it down. And it works! Everybody is gone except Ruby, who stayed behind to haunt the condos that were built on the ruins. Scarlett moved into one of the units, and they lived happily ever after.
Except THAT was also a video game. The finished version. Mom is still alive. The son wonders if the Murder House souls all moved on or if some of them are now loose in the world. They go get some lunch, and after the front door shuts, an apple rolls across the floor — meaning, yeah, there’s still some of those dead people around.
There are several problems here. Why is the mom alive? If all that stuff we just saw was only in a video game, then that would mean the Murder House didn’t burn down and thus there wouldn’t be a Murder House ghost in their own house now. If it did actually happen and then the story was afterward turned into a video game, then the mom would still be dead.
The only way to logically make this work would be if the mom is actually still dead. Which would be odd, because it would mean that she would functionally be alive since she can apparently go wherever she wants and do whatever she wants. And this interaction wouldn’t make much sense:
Son: “Where do you think all of the spirits who got trapped in the Murder House went?”
Mom: “The ones who wanted to stay, stayed. And the ones who wanted to move on, they maybe went to heaven or hell.”
Son: “Do you think any of them escaped into the world?”
Mom: “Hope not.”
Now, the kid knew his mom died — that’s literally why he burned the house down. So “Do you think any of them escaped into the world?” would clearly be a strange question to ask her if she was dead, because he would know that at least one did: the person he’s asking that question to.
I don’t think there’s any answer to be found here. There must just be some detail that got lost that would make it all make sense, but all we have here is a strange collection of contradictory information, and a twist ending that was more than the episode could justify.