American Horror Stories Episode 5 Recap and Ending, Explained

‘American Horror Stories’ is a horror anthology series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. It serves as a spin-off of the immensely popular FX series ‘American Horror Story.’ Episode 5, titled ‘Ba’al,’ tells the story of a young woman named Liv Whitley (Billie Lourd), whose desire to become a mother leads her to call upon the help of the eponymous Sumerian deity of fertility. Although she does become a mother, she starts to believe that Ba’al will take her child from her. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘American Horror Stories’ episode 5. SPOILERS AHEAD.

American Horror Stories Episode 5 Recap

Liv and her husband Matt Webb (Ronen Rubinstein) have been trying to have a child for several years. After their most recent attempt at IVF turns out to be unsuccessful, their doctor tells them to consider options such as adoption and surrogacy. However, as Liv wants to be pregnant, the couple decides to keep trying. Bernadette (Virginia Gardner), the receptionist at the clinic, gives Liv a small totem that she claims represents a Sumerian fertility deity, adding it has been in her family for generations.

Believing that she has nothing to lose, Liv places the totem under her bed, and she and Matt have sex. 16 months later, the couple has a baby, whom they have named Aaron. However, Liv seems to be still dealing with some issues. She thinks that her child doesn’t like her, as he often acts agitated when he is with her. Frustrated and angry at herself more than anything else, Liv retrieves the totem from under their bed and notices that it has grown horns.

Her seemingly nice and ever-supportive husband thinks she has postpartum depression and stress and suggests speaking to Dr. Eleanor Berger (Vanessa Williams). Liv reluctantly agrees and realizes that she is doing a lot better. However, she finds the totem, now with a prominent demonic face and bat-like wings, in Aaron’s cradle and panics. She looks up on the internet and learns that the Sumerian fertility god’s name is Ba’al. According to Abrahamic religions, he is Beelzebub, a demon. She starts to believe Ba’al wants to take Aaron.

As her anxiety and paranoia grow, Matt brings Berger home, and she prescribes a particular brand of antidepressants for Liv. It initially works, but then Liv has an emotional meltdown in front of Matt’s friends. Liv goes back to the clinic and tells Bernadette what’s happening with her. The latter gives her several books that she claims are grimoires and suggests for Liv to perform a banishment ritual. That night, as Liv conducts the ritual, Matt comes home, and Liv ends up stabbing him. While Matt survives, Liv is sent to a psychiatric facility.

American Horror Stories Episode 5 Ending: Does Liv Have Mental Health Issues?

No, Liv doesn’t have a serious mental health issue, nor has Ba’al come to take her child. While she seems to have some postpartum stress initially, Berger’s treatment helps her with it. What happens to her is neither psychological nor supernatural. Instead, it’s simple greed. Matt is a struggling actor, while Liv has inherited considerable wealth from her grandfather. The episode establishes the dynamic between them quite early. She fully supports his pursuit of a career as an actor, while he seemingly supports her wish to become pregnant.

It is revealed after Liv’s institutionalization that Matt is having an affair with Bernadette and orchestrated the entire thing involving Ba’al with the help from her and his friends from film school. Matt switched out Liv’s meds with a psychoactive cocktail that increased her fear and paranoia. She would have likely seen through Matt and his friends’ schemes if she weren’t on those drugs. However, as she was, she truly believed that Ba’al has come to take her child.

Who Killed Matt’s Friends and Bernadette?

As Matt, Bernadette, and Matt’s friends celebrate the successful execution of their plan, knowing that they will be set for life as soon as Matt gets his hands on Liv’s money, the real Ba’al appears. The Ba’al that Liv saw was actually Matt’s friend Rory (Chad James Buchanan) in a costume. The real Ba’al kills Bernadette and all of Matt’s friends. Matt is subsequently blamed for the deaths and sent to prison.

No one believes Matt when he tells them that Ba’al, the Sumerian god, came and murdered his friends, just like no one believed Liv. One day, Liv visits him. It turns out that Matt never really wanted a child and was apparently forced to accept it when Liv insisted on it. He begs her to get him proper attorneys, a request that she outright dismisses. Before leaving, she tells him that Aaron doesn’t have a father and permanently severs all their ties.

The final scenes of the episode explain what really happened that night. There was actually a real ritual of summoning the Sumerian god among the grimoires that Bernadette gave Liv. Liv performed the ritual and then used the god to kill Bernadette and Matt’s friends. She then ensured that Matt would be framed for the murders. While Liv is with her child, Ba’al visits her and asks her to free him. She agrees under one condition: he will give her a second child. The story comes to a full circle. Liv brought home a totem that is supposed to represent Ba’al, hoping to have a child. Now, she will have her second child with the God himself.

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