The Harmons extract themselves from that Murder House about as well as Michael Corleone gets out of the organized crime biz.
The Season 1 finale of FX’s (already renewed) American Horror Story, titled “Afterbirth,” dealt with the aftermath of Vivien giving birth to her and Ben’s stillborn child and the “demon baby” sired by ghost boy Tate, then succumbing to fatal amounts of blood loss and trauma herself.
But first, viewers were given a “Nine Months Ago” flashback to Ben and Vivien’s Boston existence, where he made the fervent pitch to relocate to a spacious home — one with (ahem) “personality” — in California, even as their marriage teetered on the edge of her-bags-are-packed-already implosion. (Raising an eyebrow at the property’s scary-low price, he quipped, “Maybe it’s haunted?” Yeah. Maybe.)
Back in the now, Ben went to retrieve the surviving newborn from Constance’s care, even though she advised him against it, saying, “There are forces in that house that mean to do this child grave harm!” Ben, though, upon making the connection that onetime patient Tate was Constance’s dead son, had had his fill. At the house, Vivien made a point not to reveal herself to Ben, for fear that if he saw her or Violet’s ghosts, he’d want to stay, when he very much should be moving along. (Fun moment: Moira declining to fetch Viv a cup of tea, saying that ghosts don’t take orders from other ghosts.)
Yet Ben was resolved to taking his life, and he got all his ducks in a row before stuffing a gun in his mouth. Then he balked a bit, and pointed it at his temple, only to have his late wife pull the gun away. “The baby needs his father,” Vivien maintained, dismissing the tow-head tyke’s actual paternity. “The one spot of light that there is is that baby… I want you to take that baby and leave this house and never come back. I envision you with that boy on your shoulders, walking down Newbury Street.”
Alas, no sooner did Ben subscribe to that happier fate than Hayden and a henchman looped a rope around his neck and hanged him from the second floor chandelier. And… the doctor is out.
Cut to Marcy showing the Harmons’ home to prospective buyers Miguel and Stacy Ramos (played by Third Watch‘s Anthony Ruivivar and The Event‘s Lisa Vidal). They, along with their skater son Gabriel, are game to move in, even after getting a sanitized version of how Mr. and Mrs. Harmon “romantically” each died in the house.
Later, as the Ramos family loads in, Constance gets a visit from the police, who are at a loss to account for MIA Violet and her baby brother. Constance unfurls a fib while we see, in flashback, how she found Ben’s hanged body, then went looking for Tate’s son, only to find him in Hayden’s arms. A quick slit of the throat by Constance’s boy toy lover, though, freed the newborn from Hayden’s grasp. Later, after the police leave, we see that Constance had her grandson secreted safely away upstairs at her house.
The next stretch of the finale consists of Miguel, Stacy and Gabe getting the tar scared out of them by the usual suspects, with many of the ghouls pulling from the same playbook they used to rock the Harmons’ world. (Joining in the hijinks, Ben and Viv even do their best Beetlejuice act, grimly gutting and gunning each other, only to bounce back with a wink.) But whereas the Harmons famously kept finding a reason to stay put, it was vamos! for the Ramoses, who I think literally left skid marks.
And as Marcy affixed a new “FOR SALE – REDUCED” sign in front of the house (and lobbed a few choice words at the “Murder House” tour bus), Ben had an overdue run-in with Tate, whose true nature he now knew. Tate longed to repent for his sins, but Ben was hearing none of it, saying that the people who needed to forgive the lad were long dead and by his hand. And even as Tate listed his litany of grisly crimes — his rubber-suited rape of Vivien included — Ben said he was in no position to absolve him.
Following that thinky bit of housekeeping, the finale moved forward with its ending. Vivien heard cries from the cellar, where she found Nora Montgomery tending to the first baby, which had not quite been stillborn but in fact died during delivery, there on the premises, and thus was now a ghost. Nora, at wit’s end, readily gave up the “weakling” baby. And that, punctuated by chords of “The Little Drummer Boy,” set up the Harmons for a Norman Rockwell-caliber moment, as Ben, Vivien, Violet and the baby, along with “godmother” Moira, trimmed a Christmas tree and experienced happiness for the first time in a while (even as Tate hovered and huffed outside, deflecting Hayden’s opinion that he’ll never get back with Violet.)
Indeed, not everyone got their happy ending. We flash-forward three years, where Constance returns from the salon — having just sung the praises her her “remarkable boy destined for greatness” — to find trails of blood leading from the kitchen. She follows the path upstairs to grandson Michael’s room, where the nanny lies on the floor, throat slashed, her pint-sized assailant giggling cheerily nearby. “Now what am I going to do with you?” she asked. What, indeed.
And that, folks, is American Horror Story Season 1. Where do you think the show will go from here? Will Season 2 haunt a different house? Did that coda with Constance hint at a new leg to the current arc? (Does her grandson grow up to be Michael Myers?!) UPDATE: Ryan Murphy has addressed those questions and others about Season 2.