Last week, at a special screening of the American Horror Story: Asylum season finale, creator Ryan Murphy sat down with the press to talk about the final episode and tease us about what's to come in season 3.
*SEASON 2 FINALE SPOILERS*
Below are his spoilerific thoughts on American Horror Story: Asylum and how it wrapped up.
Ryan Murphy: I always knew that she would survive. I did not know how fantastic her wigs would be. It was a lot of fun working with Sarah Paulson, who had so many dark days, but she loved it and she was actually weepy when the show ended. Because she said “I never had a character that had a beginning, a middle, and an end like that.”
But we took extra care in that last episode to give her that Jackie Suzanne wigs and the fur and the jewels. I also like that meditation on fame that was also somewhat loosely modeled on that Capote and In Cold Blood stuff that I’ve always been obsessed with from when I was a journalist. She was kind of that corruption of fame that was really interesting. And I know a lot of people were really furious with Lana after [the previous] episode because she left all those people there to rot. But I love that she goes back and I love that she does try, even after everything sister Jude had done, she does sort of go back to get her and she does succeed in closing down that place. I thought it was a very heroic ending for her.
Sarah Paulson = Smart Cookie
Ryan: I always thought [Lana] was the smartest cookie in the jar. That’s how I told Sarah to play it. That you are the smartest person in the room. I liked that the hero of this season was a heroine. I like that she was a lesbian. I like that she had an arc to her sexuality. I like that she went through a lot of different things. And I like that she got a happy ending. I like that she was in a loving, accepting relationship at the end. I loved all of that. She had that great line a week ago. Somebody said that “You’re a tough cookie.” And she said, “I’m tough, but I’m not cookie.” I think that’s what she was. And she was directed that way. And Paulson is so supremely gifted. For me, Sarah was the great revelation of this season. She was very brief in the season before. She played a very sort of funny, light psychic in the first season. I just love her work so much because I think she’s so intelligent. So I called her up and said I want to write you a two-hander thing for you and Jessica. And she and Jessica are best friends in real life. She’s the best of her generation. I can’t say enough good things about her. I think that she works at it more than anybody I’ve ever met. She cares about it deeply. And she goes over it and over it and over it. So I love her. I’m glad that she’s coming back [for season 3].
Happy Endings for All?
Ryan: The show is always about 3 to 5 areas of interest that are so-called horror that things that shouldn’t go together that we put together. And I think that the show usually has a very strong whirligig energy when it starts, because you have to launch all that stuff. And I felt the same thing last year that the probably the most successful episodes were the last three. And I feel that about this year, because it became a very meditative, grounded, emotional story about these three people who started, which were Kit and Lana and Sister Jude. I don’t know how people will react, but for me I think Jude got a great happy ending. I know Jessica felt that. I know Kit got a strange, happy ending. It was very influenced by Richard Dreyfuss in the last scene of Close Encounters, where he takes off and probably lives forever. I always imagined that as a happy ending. And I think Lana having her Barbara Walters ending was great. I thought it was happy endings for not everybody, but most people.
[Jessica Lange] loved this episode. She loved all the stuff with those kids. She was very happy that Jude got a happy ending.
What About the Aliens?
Ryan: [After Asylum], I think I’m done with aliens. I thought the alien stuff was interesting because I thought it was so metaphoric because it was so take-it-or-leave-it. I think that stuff was polarizing for people. The thing that I thought people would not like was the Lily Rabe possessed by Satan, which was by far a great fan favorite of this year. But there will be no aliens [in season 3].
I was always interested in those stories. And the fascinating thing about those stories were the people who claimed to have been abducted and had been on those ships. Did that happen? I don’t know. But I’m fascinated that those stories started to come out right around the civil rights era and I was very interested the timing of that. So to me, that’s what that was about. I don’t even like to talk about that story because I like that that’s the one thing that everyone can put their own conclusion. Where did they come from? Who were they? If you read [fan] theories about it from this season alone, so many people have wildly different ideas of what it was and what it meant. And I wanted it to be that way.
A Little Song and Dance to Lighten the Mood
Ryan: We do map the show out, but that happened because [Jessica Lange] was so tired of sweating in that outfit and the oppression and the caning… it was a very dark thing for her to do as an actor. And she came to my office one day and she said, “You need to give me something fun. I can’t take it anymore.” And we talked and I asked her “What do you mean? What do you want to do?” And she said, “I want to sing again.” We did a thing very early on where Judy Martin was a sort of failed lounge singer. So we just came up with that. It was a very organic thing we did with that. I thought that what the song was about fit that episode perfectly, which was about how this asylum was run by the Catholic church and then the state came in and took it away and people became not individuals, but numbers, so that really worked well. And then I showed her this picture of Dusty Springfield and she was very happy.
Filling the Asylum
Ryan: The thing about this season that I just loved, but I was really worried about, was that we had a lot of extras this season, who were those mental patients. And we were very specific with the casting of them in the first two episodes. We got like 20 of them and they played the same characters. And Jessica would go up to them and thank them profusely, because they came with characters. They made up all that stuff themselves and they would stay in character during the lunch breaks. So on the lot on Paramount you’d see them walking around like zombies. And they were really really great and dedicated. That [musical] number lived and breathed by how game they were to do that dance and that choreography with her.