Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:38 PM ET
When all was said and done, only one person was left standing in FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum."
The season that has featured aliens, Nazis, serial killers, demented doctors, a nun possessed by Satan, the worst insane asylum ever and Jessica Lange singing "The Name Game" came to a whirlwind, time-jumping conclusion when Sarah Paulson's aspiring reporter Lana was the one to survive.
"I always thought [Lana] was the smartest cookie in the jar," co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy told reporters at a recent screening of the episode. "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."
After jumping to the present day, the openly gay Lana is a successful reporter, best-selling author and documentarian for her work in having uncovered the misdeeds inside Briarcliff. While she's being interviewed for a Kennedy Center Honor, her son (by rape) Johnny (Dylan McDermott) is nearby awaiting an epic confrontation with his mother -- who lied that her baby with Threadson (Zachary Quinto) never survived.
What comes is a showdown for the ages when she reveals -- on camera -- that she lied about his death, with the duo ultimately coming face to face after the crew clears out. Revealing that he wants his late father to be proud of him, Johnny holds his mother at gunpoint. Being the smooth-talking reporter she is, Lana talks him down and reveals that Johnny isn't the monster Threadson was and then proceeds to kill the guy who posed as Bloody Face and cut off Leo's (Adam Levine) arm in the series opener.
"The thing we were most interested in writing about this season was the stuff in the last episode and the documentary series Lana made about shutting down Briarcliff. That's one of the first things when the writers landed on the idea of 'Asylum,' that period of time, those documentaries that were made," Murphy said, pointing to efforts from and the feature "Prophecy" as inspiration. "It also was about the unraveling health care system in our country and how so many people were dumped there and left to rot there and all those abuses that you see. … That was our jumping-off point. We knew we were going to have that character go in there, become a prisoner ... and go back to tear the joint down. That was the ending, which we had from the very beginning."
As for Lange's beleaguered Sister Jude, it turns out that Kit (Evan Peters) went back and freed her from Briarcliff. Ultimately, he helps her (temporarily) regain her sanity and she turns into a loving grandmother-type figure for his two children. She ultimately meets the Angel of Death (Frances Conroy) and knows it's her time to go.
"The show is always about three to five areas of interest that are so-called horror that things that shouldn't go together that we put together," Murphy said. "I think Jude got a great happy ending. I know Jessica felt that."
For his part, Kit essentially had a seemingly happy ending after getting married again with Lana serving as the godmother to his two successful children. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in his 40s, a suffering Kit disappears -- likely taken away by the aliens.
"It was very influenced by Richard Dreyfuss in the last scene of 'Close Encounters,' where he takes off and probably lives forever," Murphy said of Kit's ending. "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."
Murphy noted that the aliens plot remains happily unexplained. "I’m fascinated that those [alien abduction] stories started to come out right around the Civil Rights era, and I was very interested the timing of that," he said. "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? ... So many people have wildly different ideas of what it was and what it meant. And I wanted it to be that way."
While formal details about season three of the FX anthology are still months away, Murphy said next year would be more historical in nature and will explore "horror romance."
"Season two was really cool, and it was really about something cultural and social," he said, "but it was very dark and very unrelenting, and that was by design. You'll see a very different tone in season three, but that's the joy of the show. As a person right now, I do feel lighter and maybe wanting to embrace something a little bit more fun."
What did you think of the season finale? Tell us on our Facebook page!
More in The Clicker: