December 21, 2011 8:10pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'American Horror Story' Finale: Burning Questions Answered
[WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Wednesday's "Afterbirth" season finale of American Horror Story. Read at your own risk.]
FX's American Horror Story capped off its freshman season Wednesday with an epic finale that laid rest to several theories and opened the door to quite a few new mysteries. Would Ben survive? What happened to the babies? What will Season 2 look like?
Here, The Hollywood Reporter responds to the big burning questions that were revealed in the season finale, titled "Afterbirth."
1. Will Ben survive? No. Just as Ben is finally ready to leave the house with what he thinks is his son, Hayden and the ghosts from the "Home Invasion" episode attack him, taking a rope to his neck to hang him from the chandelier, where he dies -- joining Vivien and Violet in Murder House purgatory.
2. What happened to the stillborn baby that Charles delivered and handed to Nora? Was it a stillborn baby? Nope! Turns out that the baby wasn't stillborn after all -- it survived momentarily before perishing in Nora's arms, thus joining the swelling ranks of the undead inside Murder House. In a touching moment, Vivien hears the baby's screams and finds out that her other child -- Ben's baby -- survived and that the Harmons will be happy, together, forever. Let's just hope the house has an endless supply of diapers.
3. Who's the daddy? Ben and Tate each fathered one of the babies, but was the child delivered stillborn Ben's? Is the child growing at an alarming rate Tate's? Yes and yes. After jumping ahead three years, the baby Constance kidnapped (aka Little Michael) -- to raise as her own -- kills his babysitter and is alarmingly happy about it, sitting in a rocking chair, smiling, with blood on his hands. "Now what am I going to do with you," Constance says. That's what we're wondering, too, Constance. Will the baby grow up to be Dexter? Crossover, anyone?
4. Speaking of growing at an alarming rate, what's with that anyway? What kind of "demon baby" is it? Apparently the killing kind, see No. 3.
5. Will Ben realize that the surviving baby (assuming the stillborn baby is dead, that is) isn't his? Yes. In the beginning of the episode, when Ben is contemplating suicide, he reveals to his ghostly wife that he knows the living twin isn't the baby he fathered. Later, as the Harmons decorate their Christmas tree, Ben meets his son for the first time and says, "I didn't think it was possible for me, Vivien, but I'm happy." It's like he knows this is his son. Is this the final message of the series, which co-creator Ryan Murphy has lamented for months is about marriage and infidelity? That cheating only wrecks the family? That there are no winners in infidelity?
6. Why do all the ghosts of the house -- Nora, Hayden, Chad and Pat -- have baby fever? Who knows! Did we miss something in the 90-minute finale that explained why everyone in that house wanted to get their undead hands on Viv's babies? Theories? Why was it so important to get the Ramos family, the (temporary) new owners of Murder House -- out of the place once the Harmons realized they wanted to have a baby?
7. What's it going to take for Ben to finally get his ass out of the house? Visions of his dead wife and daughter. Ben ignores a stern plea from Constance to take the baby and never set foot in the house again, while Vivien decides to ignore her own advice and reveal herself to Ben in an effort to save his life. Ultimately, after blaming Constance for all the tragedies that have befallen his family, it was her he should have listened to.
8. Why does Rubber Man return and who's wearing the suit now that Vivien and Violet know it was Tate who originally wore it? Surely the buff promo photo isn't Tate, right? It's Ben in the Rubber Man suit this time. After realizing that the Ramos family who move in are planning to have a baby of their own, Vivien, Ben and Moira rally the good ghosts in the joint to scare the living daylights out of them -- and essentially re-enact the torment that the Harmons experienced in the pilot.
9. How do you get rid of the undead? Billie Dean's "croatoan" ritual from 1590 didn't exactly work when Violet attempted to banish Chad and Pat from the property. Unclear. But we do know how the house will get rid of new, living residents.
10. How will Moira play a role? She has a history with Constance after being trapped in the house at her hands and is still loyal to the home. Will she want a house of happy ghosts and play a role in deciding who gets to play mommy? She played a big one when she helps Vivien lead the charge to spare the Ramos family when she tells Viv: "Some spirits in the house are angry and vengeful and eager to inflict their fate on others. But many of us are innocent, kind and blameless victims at the hands of another and we don't want to see more suffering in this house." Who knows if Vivien and Ben would have been able to get the new family out of the house were it not for Moira. In a rewarding twist, Moira becomes the godmother to the ghost baby.
11. Who will finally retain custody of the baby when all is said and done? Constance will raise the baby Tate fathered, while Nora initially took custody of the little one Ben fathered. After Nora realizes she isn't the mothering kind, Vivien and Ben ultimately raise the baby, reuniting the damaged family.
12. What will Tate do to make nice with Violet after she realized that her ghostly boyfriend raped her mother and fathered her brother? How will he respond to news of the atrocities he committed that landed him in the house to begin with? Seek therapy and wait forever. A jealous Tate attempts to murder Gabe, the young Ramos son who (briefly) takes up residence in the room that used to be his -- and Violet's -- but can't bring himself to do it now that he's aware of his violent past. In a bid to save Gabe's life, Violet reveals herself to Tate as she bids him goodbye with a kiss and vanishes. A lonely Tate continues his quest for redemption, and turns to Ben, who says he can't absolve him of any of the atrocities he's committed. "I'll wait, forever if I have to," he says.
13. Judging from the promo clip for the episode, why is Constance keeping the baby locked up in a closet with the same shattered mirror that she'd use to torment Adelaide? To retain custody of Michael. The Feds, still suspicious of Constance for her role in Travis' disappearance and proximity to all the bizarre events of the Murder House, pay her a visit. In an effort to explain what happened to Ben and the missing baby, Constance feeds the cops a wild story about Violet -- who it turns out nobody realizes is dead -- and that the troubled teen must have taken the baby and fled. As soon as they leave, however, Constance retrieves little Michael from the closet as she continues to raise him as her own.
14. Will Ben blame Constance for the loss of his wife and daughter? Will Constance survive Ben's wrath? What will the house's growing army of undead do to Constance? Is she immune from the house's dark pull? Yes, yes, nothing and yes! Ben really enjoys blaming others for everything, doesn't he? The psychiatrist first blames Constance, connecting that it was her who disguised her voice when she sent Tate his way for therapy. Ben then claims she destroyed his life. Constance has the line, perhaps of the season, when she retorts: "You are paying for your own sins, Dr. Harmon." In the end, Constance is the one left with Tate's son next door and, as she tells the Feds, "returning to that house is difficult for me … after what I saw." She'd be smart to heed her own advice and never set foot back in the house.
15. Can Violet and Vivien change the energy of the house? Will all the ghosts remain? Yes and yes. See No. 10.
16. Is that a baby Tate in the promo photo with Constance or is this "demon baby" really aging quickly? It isn't Tate, but his demon baby -- three years later. The series jumps three years into the future to reveal what's become of the baby that lived. Constance explains that the baby is the son of a distant cousin who died in a car crash. In one of the SAG and Golden Globe-nominated Jessica Lange's best monologues, she says that all of her losses that came before prepared her for the child. "A remarkable boy destined for greatness, in need of a remarkable mother, someone forged in the fires of adversity who can guide him with firmness and with love." Could Season 2 jump further ahead and see Michael moving into Murder House?
17. Who painted "RUN" in what appears to be blood on the walls? What's frightening enough to get an already dead Vivien to run screaming through the house? While it isn't definitive, our money is on Vivien as she and the friendly ghosts tormented the new lady of the house Stacey Ramos in an effort to get her to run (screaming) from the property.
18. Will Charles and Nora's sewn together child Thaddeus, aka the Infantada, rear its fanged head in a bid for a normal mother? Unless we missed it during all the insanity, no. Although it appears Beau paid Stacey a visit when he dropped in from the attic.
As for the big burning question of what Season 2 will look like, that remains a mystery. What are your theories? Did you like the finale? Hit the comments and sound off below.