American Horror Story 2.12: "Continuum" (2013) directed by Craig Zisk
After killing off nearly all of their bad guys, this episode abandons the 1965 story and skips into the future. We find Jude continues to resides at Briarcliff and is truly bonkers, Kit briefly lives happily with two wives and two kids, Alma also goes bonkers and kills Grace, and Lana releases a slightly inaccurate but successful book about her experiences with Thredson. The asylum is sold to the county and becomes increasingly chaotic and filthy. This type of thing seems to be the show's M.O. In season one, they also completely changed directions for the last few episodes. It didn't work out so well then...
For a scene or two, we see Jude and Pepper as friends in the asylum, playing games and looking out for each other. It's by far the most Pepper has been given to do on the show since we learned the aliens had given her the power of speech and the mandate to protect Grace. And, just like the alien storyline, she ends up being largely unnecessary and likely only added to the show to up the "WTF" factor. We find that Jude has lost track of time and Pepper died some years back. Like the aliens, we never see her again.
American Horror Story 2.13: "Madness Ends" (2013) directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Gotta love how we're unnecessarily shown Johnny breaking into Briarcliff and chopping that guy's arm off, as seen in the first episode. We already know he did this. Why are we wasting time in the final episode showing this stuff from Johnny's perspective when there are a zillion storylines to finish?
An interview with Lana in the present day is used to finish these storylines. As she speaks to a reporter, we flash back and back and back again, touching on Lana's exposés of Briarcliff and Cardinal Timothy, and her conversation with Kit about Jude's fate. It's rushed and largely unsatisfying. The final scene, in which Lana again uses her wiles to talk herself out of being killed by a Bloody Face, is easy to see coming.
I liked how much stuff the showrunners shoved into the first episodes of this season -- aliens, an insane asylum, a serial killer, a mad scientist, an ambitious priest, a cruel nun, wrongfully imprisoned inmates, a demon -- but it's just too much for them to handle. They just don't know how to tie all of this stuff up properly and tons of ideas are simply thrown away without being used to their potential. The alien story is shrugged aside: Kit's kids became a professor and a surgeon. Hardly world-changing. Cardinal Timothy's story is shrugged aside: we hear -- but don't see -- that Lana did a report on him and got him fired. The mad Nazi scientist's story was finished episodes ago when he cremated himself. The demon's story was abandoned episodes ago when its host was killed. Briarcliff's story is completed when it turns into a Willowbrook and then gets shutdown... but we already knew that from episode 1 when we saw it abandoned.
The only thing I felt they got right was Jude's story. A kind man she once abused rescues her and she finds a small amount of redemption. This is nicely contrasted with Lana's tale of a woman consumed by ambition who abandons her connection to humanity. Cut the aliens, cut the demon, cut the mad scientist... just focus on these three characters (plus Bloody Face and the priest to spur Lana and Jude's character growth). Had they done this, the ending of the show would've been much more satisfying. As it is, I'm too annoyed at the dangling threads to be happy.