So how about them aliens, huh?
In Wednesday night's season finale of American Horror Story: Asylum, all of our favorite characters found a perfect (if at times bloody) ending. Everything, it felt, was in its place; things were explained in a way that wasn't forced, but rather fitting. And then Kit disappeared.
For the entire season of television's most horrific miniseries, the alien abduction sub-plot has befuddled and bewildered many. I must admit that I, too, was in this camp — until the finale. Because during the final 39 minutes of Briarcliff, I noticed a few juxtapositions here, an interesting correlation there. But with so many questions left unanswered, could any sort of theory really be substantiated?
Unless, of course, those unanswered questions were exactly the point. After watching a screening of the finale last week before a Q&A with Murphy, I thought about why such a seemingly throw-away sub-plot would make its way into a show already chock-a-block with American horrors. And then it hit me like a ton of epiphany-laced bricks: the alien storyline is a direct foil to the religious control that runs throughout the entire series. Ryan Murphy is making a commentary on religion through [not-so] little green [or opaque-ish?] men.
The comparisons start with the ambiguous nature of both. Religion, like aliens, can be a hard pill for people to understand. It's all so unknown. And people either do or do not believe in both — oftentimes feverishly so, something that can be rather off-putting to people who feel the opposite. Religion and aliens, both outside of this earth's literal sphere, explain things that are out of grasp. Or, at least, provide answers and insights to what really is going on out in the great beyond.
And then there's Kit. Kit, the most selfless, forgiving person on the show. Also the most progressive (his marriage to Alma, for instance, was before interracial marriage was deemed legal in 1967). Oh Kit, always the ultimate Good. It's Kit who puts Lana on her destined path. He does right by both of his wives (Alma and Grace) and his two children (who were, Grace said, meant to "change the way people think" — something they quite literally did to Sister Jude). And, in the ultimate act of redemption and selflessness, he takes it upon himself to get Sister Jude out of Briarcliff and cares for her until her last dying day. Kit was AHS' moral compass and guiding light: the savior for every person around him. As we mentioned in our recap, Kit is the only one who could truly forgive. "After all the indignity she made you suffer," Lana says of his relationship with Jude. Forgiveness, Kit explains, is what helped him move forward. Forgiveness: one of the ultimate tenants of Christianity-laced religions.
Christianity, of course, plays heavily into the season's backbone. Briarcliff Manor is originally a Catholic-run institution. All around are nuns, the Monsignor, and the word of God. (Oh yeah, and that pesky little devil.) And every single one of them — these beacons and stalwarts of religious truths — rallied against Kit. When he was believed to be Bloodyface, it was these people who were the quickest to condemn him. And still he allowed himself to be the sacrificial lamb, all in the name of helping others — namely Lana: the one who brought down Briarcliff.
Plus there's the literal. Kit Walker. A kit is defined as (according to Merriam-Webster) "a collection of articles usually for personal use," "a set of tools or implement," or "a set of parts to be assembled" and used for a specific purpose. Not to mention the origins of the name Kit itself. The name is Greek in origin, and derives from the Grecian word meaning "carrier of Christ." St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers was also believed to have carried Christ across the river. And how would St. Christopher have carried Christ? By walking. Suddenly the name Kit Walker feels a lot more symbolic.
The comparisons don't end there: there's also the fact that the alien storyline is vague as hell. It's been the one overwhelmingly clear complaint of the audience from the onset. People don't like the unknown. Some might even argue it's the fear of the unknown that causes people to turn to religion (in some instances). Grace's adulation for her alien experience makes Alma uncomfortable. Alma, who's scared of the aliens, eventually goes mad from that truth, and murders Grace for the fact that she "acts like it was a religious experience." Grace is ready for the future, she says, and wants to keep looking forward. Alma wants to look back; to focus on the time before the invasion. Before she knew the truth.
But the aliens also perform miracles. They brought Grace back to life and re-impregnated her with Kit's child. Any time someone related to Kit was in danger, the aliens returned. They also gave Pepper the ability to speak again, and it's my belief that when the two kids brought Jude into the woods, they fixed the damage done to her mind by the electro-shock therapy (hey, Grace did say that they were going to change the way people think. In this instance, that fact could be taken quite literally). And then, there's Kit's disappearance — right when he's on the cusp of death from Pancreatic cancer. Never to be seen from again. But funeral services? Not for him, his children insist. There was no reason to mourn. Because Kit was with the aliens — these ultimate saviors who frightened many, but were the least deadly force on the entire show.
Religious imagery pops up all over the season — even when there's no religion in sight. Kit himself mentions his inability to "lead them [the patients]" out of Briarcliff "like Moses." And while being interviewed during the finale, Lana's interviewer mentions her "nailed to the cross interview with Madoff." Lana is the one that tells stories; it's been the one thing to drive her ambition forward. But it's not just Dr. Thredson who gets the Winters' treatment, because ultimately, it's Kit's story she tells the most. She discusses him more than once during her Kennedy Center Honors interview — she's like the pied piper of Kit Walker's subtle good. Is Murphy suggesting that worshipping deities is misguided, or does he believe more along the lines of 'whatever gets you by?' (I personally believe it's the former.) The biggest difference between the two, of course, is the idea of looking forward (the aliens) versus looking back (religion is one of the oldest historical entities within humanity). The storyline's ambiguities lead me to believe that Murphy wants you to make up your own mind, but feels more pro-alien than pro-religion, for sure.
But would Murphy really do that? Would he dare be so controversial and blasphemous in a culture where the religious right are more than a little bit protective and combatant? Of course he would! In fact, it's the last frontier for him, really. This show in particular has pushed the boundaries of what is or isn't OK to air on television throughout its entire run. Really, all of Murphy's shows are notorious for this. By doing it so subtly, though, Murphy allows his commentary to slip under the cultural radar without that controversy. And in a show that many felt was over-saturated with story lines and general information, subtlety is a wonderful addition.
Hollywood.com has reached out to Ryan Murphy for comment, but had yet to hear back at the time of publication.
What do you think of our theories? Are the aliens and religion connected? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: FX]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Eric Stonestreet:
On who he is excited to see tonight: "All of the cast of Modern Family. They are my family, and we are each others' family. We know this isn't going to last forever, and will be the old show in a couple of years, or next year even. I was pulling for Jesse or Ed tonight, and I know Julie was pulling for Sofia."
On mood on set after beating co-stars Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson: "It's going to be pretty violent, for sure. I'm sure Ed is going to do is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on me, and Jesse is just going to cock his hip or something. No, we love each other, and there is no competition at all between us."
On his pre-Emmy ritual: "The Emmys are on a Sunday, so there's football on. I watched football in the morning and saw my Kansas City Chiefs beat the New Orleans Saints."
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Julie Bowen:
On co-star Sofia Vergara's lack of Emmy wins: "She doesn't get the credit she deserves as an actress... there's only a few of us who understand that what she does isn't just play herself. I owe her a lot.... [but] she has a lovely, lovely life. I think rewards come in all different ways. She's getting rewards in other areas in her life, but she deserves one of these as well.
On what she's learned from her on-screen character, Claire: "Claire is a great mom, and she's taught me to be ballsy, and that you don't have to be your kids' best friend. That you don't have to look at every crayon drawing and frame it. Claire has given me that confidence."
On where she'll keep her Emmy: "Out of reach of my son Oliver, who broke the last one."
On the importance of comedy in today's world: "I love that both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama said that Modern Family is their favorite show… laughing is the only thing that matters."
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Jon Cryer:
On being surprised to win: "I am as shocked as you people. That's all I'm going to say. That's why my speech sucked...Who did I think was going to win? I thought Jim Parsons was going to win again. Big Bang is at the top of its game right now, and he has unfortunately not gotten any worse, so I thought this was going to go to him. I apologize for this speech.
On transitioning to lead actor: "When Charlie [Sheen] and I were doing the show together, the show really rested on Charlie. The show was structured around his character. It felt silly to be in [the lead actor] category… they've restructured [the show] and it's been more of a partnership, and it's been a blast."
On his chemistry with Ashton Kutcher: "With Charlie, [the chemistry] was automatic, you never had to think about it. With Ashton, we're always working on it, and coming up with new stuff. We rehearse a little more. It's a blast."
On Miley Cyrus' hair: "I know her haircut is very controversial, but I love it. I lay on the side of I think she looks fantastic."
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Julia Louis-Dreyfus:
On her plans for tonight: "How will I be celebrating? I'm going to have a glass of wine. My husband and I brought our 15-year-old son to the show tonight, so it's very exciting that he's here. He'll go to the Governor's Ball with us, then he'll go home because he has school tomorrow. Then his dad and I are going to live it up a little."
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Tom Bergeron:
On the toughest part of hosting live: "I would have to be making things up… the truth of the matter is, [hosting Dancing With The Stars] is the most relaxed part of my day. I love live television. They've created an incredible playground for me… I am never more comfortable than when I'm onstage live on that show."
On the all-star he is most looking forward to seeing again: "If I answer that question, I piss off twelve people. I'm looking forward to all of them equally."
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Aaron Paul:
On whether he thinks fans would be upset if Breaking Bad had a happy ending: "Yeah. I think so. I don't think that's what our fans want. It's not going to be a fairytale ending. I hope Jesse survives. I think he deserves to survive. But we'll see."
On his reaction to winning for a second time: "In my speech, I was out of my head. I truly was not expecting this whatsoever, so I didn't prepare anything. I was shaking and trying not to sob."
On what he said to co-star and co-nominee Giancarlo Esposito: "I cried in his arms, and said, 'It doesn't make sense to me that I was on that stage and you were not.' I didn't know what to say to him. What he did with Gustavo Fring is impeccable."
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Damian Lewis:
On the public's reaction to his character: "I still get jokes going through airport security: 'Have you got a vest on?'"
On his competition, Bryan Cranston: "I've been getting to know Bryan in the circus that is pre-awards merry-go-round, and what just a sweet, lovely, funny man. I love him already. I was quite convinced that he'd be walking up tonight again... I've been catching up on Breaking Bad, mostly out of politeness. I feel like I should see what my competitors are doing."
On the state of America today: "I think there is a particular polarization in your political landscape at the moment... but hey, that's the same in my country, too. I think 9/11 changed the world, and when people have not been at their best, they've behaved badly. And I mean us. I mean the west. We're doing the best we can after an atrocity that changed the world 11 years ago."
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Claire Danes:
On President Obama being a fan of the show: "No pressure, you know? It's way cool that he is a fan. I think it speaks to the relevancy of the show. It's hugely validating. I don't have to write the thing, I just have to play it somewhat convincingly… it means so much to us. We're stupefied by the fact that he's tuning in consistently."
On why Homeland is so popular: "It's not preachy. I don't think it's a particularly political show. I think it's a psychological thriller… it doesn't take a very biased position, but it does speak to our feelings about anxiety and unrest right now. We're in a new era where the enemy is not so clear."
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Julianne Moore:
On why she chose to star as Sarah Palin in Game Change: "This is an examination of how we pick our leaders. That to me is what was so compelling about this film."
On who she forgot to thank: "I wanted to give a shout out to Tina Fey and Katie Couric. Certainly in my research, when I saw how influential they were [on the 2008 election], it was really quite impressive."
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Minseries or a Movie Jessica Lange:
On season two of American Horror Story: "It's a more complex story [this year]. Ryan [Murphy] likes to create these things around themes. Last year it was infidelity, this year it's around faith and madness. I think the themes are bigger this year, which allows for all of us to go further. My character goes from A to Z in this one."
On working with Ryan Murphy: "It's very exciting. I never know exactly where he's going with his characters, or with the story. It's always surprising. 99 percent of the time, it's very rewarding. He's got an amazing imagination, and that translates to the writing. It gives me a lot to do. It's a great collaboration."
Outstanding Comedy Series Modern Family:
Steve Levitan, on his speech getting cut off: "I tend to be long-winded, so I think I got what I deserved."
Eric Stonestreet, on living in the moment: "We know that it will eventually not be this way, and you will hate us all."
Sofia Vergara, on her Emmy experience: "Even though Julie keeps winning all of my awards, I am still very happy and I will still keep coming."
Outstanding Drama Series Homeland:
Claire Danes, on ending Mad Men's reign: "Well, we didn't make our show just to undermine them. We're delighted and thrilled, and I think a little startled by this. I don't think anybody was expecting to be recognized this way right off the bat. But it feels pretty nice!"
Mandy Pantinkin, on working with Claire Danes: "It's like a magic trick, watching her. Not just her, the whole company."
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Kevin Costner:
On his best real-life moment: "I was raised in a very conservative way, and the day I told my parents I was going to act was a really momentous thing, because my father turned around and said, 'What? How are you going to do that? How are you going to make a living?'... I grew up in a very blue collar background, and I'd gone to college, and in his mind I was throwing it all away. I know a lot of younger people rebel a lot earlier in life… I was never that. There was a moment where I knew exactly who I wanted to be… that was a huge moment in my life, when I declared who I was."
On what's next for him: "I have been writing a lot of things. In the last five years I haven't worked very much. I had three babies with my wife. All that time I had been writing, and looking to direct. Writing some television also, because that's the way the stories were working out. My children, I'm not certain that they know I'm an actor. My five year old and my three year old think that I'm in construction, because of the building of the homes that we're doing right now. Hollywood works off perception, so I know what success means to people who deal with perception. I believe in the writing, and writing has propped my career up. My whole career. I'm a writer-oriented actor. When I find good writing, I don't care in what medium it sits. I love the community. I'm a real romantic about Hollywood, but I've always also been a bit outside of it. I play to go into heavy work mode. I'd like to direct more features, there's a television show I've been developing..."
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