American Horror Stories: “Game Over” Review

The season finale of American Horror Stories (which will be back for Season 2) proved that this series really can’t shake its obsession and reliance on Murder House.  However, the worst part of this season finale isn’t that it marks the 3rd out of 7 episodes that feature Murder House, it’s that the narrative and plot make some pretty big leaps beyond all logic and reason, even for this show.

Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned

Return to Murder House…Again
Opening with an incredibly annoying couple who are supposed to be horror fans, but aren’t written like real people, the episode takes us back to Murder House once again.  However, things are a bit different as the characters outright mention the series American Horror Story and their shared fandom of it.

They reference the different seasons, as well as behind the scenes drama, all while interacting with characters from the show itself.  But there’s a genuinely clever subversion of expectations when we come to find these are video game characters, and we zoom out to the designer, who’s trying to perfect her game.

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Had the entire episode been a satirical take on the company making the game, that might have made for a better episode.

What is Even Real?
We’re then introduced to the actual main character of this episode, the video game designer, who’s trying to impress her teenage son, who’s also a fan of AHS, but to no avail.  So this plotline seems to be taking place in our real world where the series exists, but the house is also haunted in real life…?

Things get even more strange when we see ghosts like Ben Harmon from Season 1, while existing in the same universe as the show American Horror Story and all it does is raise a million questions about how any of this makes sense, all while reminding us that this series really can’t shake Murder House.

There are plenty of other iconic locations such as Hotel Cortez, Briarcliff Asylum, the LaLaurie Mansion, and others that they could be returning to.  And this spinoff’s obsession with going back there resulted in a 7 episode season that 3 of which were spent at Murder House.  Those are 3 episodes that could have been interesting one off stories like “Ba’al” or “Feral”, but weren’t.

To the episode’s credit however, its ending features Murder House being burnt down and all the spirits (save for one) moving on to the afterlife (above or below), and a development of condos being built on top of the former site.

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It goes a heartfelt ending with Scarlett and Ruby, but their relationship wasn’t ever given time or nuance to develop. At least not on screen.

But given the final moments, where it pulls back again to reveal all of that was just the video game, who knows if they’re actually done with Murder House or not.  And if you’re tired of seeing the words Murder House repeated in this review, that is but a reflection of how tired and played out Murder House is on the series!

Meta Failure
Between the characters commenting on Sarah Paulson’s distaste of “Roanoke” and the fandom’s obsession with the house itself (which does get many tourists, myself included), “Game Over” tries very hard to do a meta reflection on the series itself, and its impact on horror in general.

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Yes, it’s true. That’s me in front of Murder House while on a trip to California back in 2015.

In a series not at all known for subtlety, taking this approach went about as well as you’d expect.  AHS is at its best when it’s just giving us interesting characters that we come to love.  And it’s at its worst when it’s trying way too hard to send a message, or when it awkwardly tries to replicate Gen Z dialogue and makes them into caricatures instead of people.

This season finale felt like it represented the very worst of the series, and it made for a disappointing ending to a pretty disappointing spinoff.  For the sake of the second season, I hope that they do more one off stories that are interesting and clever.  But we’ll just have to find out next year.

What did you think of this episode? How do you feel about the series overall?  Let us know in the comments!

AHS 4American Horror Stories is streaming exclusively on FX on Hulu

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