American Horror Story Review: Harmony for the Harmons

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"Afterbirth" focused on the afterlife this week, as American Horror Story wrapped up an enjoyable, scary, bizarre first season with a relatively calm finale.

It was mostly an epilogue for the Harmons, really, as Ben was killed early on in the 90-minute episode, leaving him and his ghostly loved ones to finally move past their bitterness and resentment, coming together as a family unit that included a new godmother and an adorable - albeit deceased - baby boy.

Vivien and Her Baby

I was actually pretty bored throughout. A great deal of time was spent on the spirits frightening away the new home owners, which was sort of entertaining - it was nice to see Vivien and Ben actually laughing together, wasn't it? Too bad they couldn't find that kind of happiness in life... - but also rather pointless.

The haunting by these "good" ghosts proved how they'll now band together to prevent any more children from being born in the house, which is a noble goal, but not one I needed to be spelled out for me in such a manner. It should have been a DVD extra, some kind of bonus footage. Or maybe season two could have started with the arrival of a new family and this strategy to scare them away.

Because there wasn't a lot of action here, at least not related to the characters we've followed all season long. Moira is settled in comfortably with the Harmons; Vivien, Ben, Violet and Unnamed Child are in a contented place; Tate is, well, still all Tate-like. And then there's Constance, whose truly horrifying grandson may actually be the anti-Christ, as he was so forecasted a few weeks ago.

The final image of the season was undoubtedly a haunting one, making it likely that at least Jessica Lange will return for season two. (The status of Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton are not known; the latter says she was only contracted for one season when she signed on.)

I'm not one who believes a season finale has to feature a number of twists or turns, which is why I was perfectly happy with this episode. It brought everyone together, teased season two and tied up the key relationships nicely. I just don't have a lot to say about it. It definitely didn't need to be an hour-and-a-half. Once Ben died, the main source of tension in the house flat-lined along with him. There wasn't even a lot of suspense over the baby: Vivien found him with Nora and didn't have a lot of trouble re-claiming him as her own.

So a series that came in with a major bang - and sustained that bang for a majority of its season - ended on a slight whimper. And the bloody murder of a nanny by a three-year old, of course.

What did everyone else think? Grade season one of American Horror Story now:


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (123 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Compared to last year, this schedule is mlrteeexy favorable for several reasons:- Through November we have as many home as road games (good prospects for a fast start and momentum building, compared to last year's brutal start to the season)- We play 2 of 3 at home against BOTH the Lakers (we've won 8 in a row at home) and San Antonio (we won both games at home last season), and last season we played those teams 4 times each- We have no road trip longer than 5 games and we have 2 of those (and on the first we play only 2 teams that made the playoffs last season and on the second we play only 1) compared to last season when we had 3 of those (and played 2, 3 and 2 playoff teams on those trips)


@MISS There were twins. One died a few seconds after birth. He was the one the ghosts were looking after in the final epi. The second child survived. He was the Devil-Child that Constance was raising. I think the last scene took place two or three years later. That's why the child in Constance's care seemed a lot older than his twin.


My guess is that this episode was 90 minutes because they got an original order for 13, and then someone decided that they had to end before Christmas week. I have no evidence that this is true. It just seems rather trite and quick that Ben gets hung on the chandelier. It seems to me that that would have been the BIG ENDING of ep 12 after a lot of machinations and near misses for 42 minutes. He just seemed too languid leaving. Like he had vanquished somebody. My guess is the original idea was to have the last shot of 12 be him swinging from the chandelier, and the first shot of 13 to be Blanche DuBois calling him stupid.
The whole final episode was supposed to be, I am guessing, them coming to terms with how they were going to run the house. Ben and Viv doing their best Baldwin & Davis imitations and scaring the family away. But it was light on scares and twists.
I watched one to twelve in a marathon two day session while trying to get through Christmas. I held little hope for the series. All this talk of Rubber Man made me both want to try the series, and made me fear that it was lame. Well the Rubber Man mystery WAS lame. (He took far too many shots in the face with various lamps for me to be scared of him.) But I thought the series itself was pretty scary, that there was a great balance of gore and actual Hidden Horror type creepiness, and that no one in the show seemed to be winking at the camera. I liked it. I thought the denouement part of the house functioning was good enough for it's own ep. I really hope that the next season eschews going back to these people and goes for a whole other haunting. This one's played out. The only thing that bugged me was the realtor. She closed the sale on three couples for this house. How did she keep getting stuck selling it, again? The Spanish couple closed the sale, or they wouldn't have moved in. She's free and clear. She must be an idiot to try to sell again. Anyways, a good series.


I agreed with you Matt, it's kinda a slow finale after last episode climax. But, I'm a sucker for happy ending, so I'm glad the Harmons get it at the end. Crossing my fingers for Season 2.


Matt: Point taken. I guess I just find the word "boring" lame and lazy. And for the most part, those who use it seem to blame the show/movie/book for their being bored, when in fact, the lack is on their part.


YEAH, YA DID! .... was anyone else as disturbed by that line as i was? I think it may be the most horrible thing i have ever heard. so terrible it was hilarious!


Well I've read up on it, I'm currently housesitting and the woman doesn't have Fx (Should have found out BEFORE I said yes) Ha. But all in all I'm glad most people enjoyed it, and I'm interested in Season Two. I got hooked after watching episode three (I've missed the first two), and love how my other favorite series (TrueBlood) managed to pass off some AMAZING talent into this show. Brillant cast, amazing crew. Thanks for a great Season One.
Only complaint is I've had recent nightmares about a certain rubberman...*Shudder* Not getting over that one anytime soon...




I think this episode suggested a lot about Tate and why he was so full of evil compared to most of the other ghosts: maybe he was conceived in the same way that this "anti-Christ" baby was, but was so uncontrollably unhinged that he went off the deep end and was killed by the SWAT team. This new baby was a second try for Constance to get it right this time. It would also explain how Constance managed to have one "beautiful" child, just like the baby/toddler was, when at least two of the others were born with genetic aberrations. There was a lot of build-up suggesting the second twin would be some sort of monster, but instead he was a cute little psychopath killer, and a precocious one at that. Not unlike his father, Tate, who just maybe got a later start on his mayhem. Lots of unfinished story here, but I suppose we can guess how most of it would end. Much as I want to see it, a second season with the same characters might become a bit repetitious.


Yes this was somewhat of a lackluster season finale huh? The end definitely had that cheese factor (ghosts decorating and lighting a Christmas tree? really?) And are they going to take care of a newborn forever? I imagine that would get on my nerves after a while. Anyway I am very disappointed about Tate and Violet but I think there might be hope for Violet to forgive... I mean they're all gonna be there together forever might as well forgive and forget? Because of the Golden Globe nomination(s) my guess is that this show will be around for at least another season. The Antichrist kid is creepy (and he looks just like Tate) - which brings me to my next thought: When Tate was "confessing" his sins to Ben he mentioned everything bad he did but he did not mention his Antichrist kid...seemed rather strange to me. Does he not care about it or is he not curious about his child? Does he know his mother has him? More unanswered questions. Overall I give this episode a B-. Fingers crossed that next season we get to see some of the same characters return and perhaps we'll have more questions answered (I still have so many questions!!!).

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