‘American Horror Stories’ season 1 finale, titled ‘Game Over, is a love letter for the AHS fans from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. The episode’s plot is so on-the-nose meta that it progressively blurs the line between reality and fiction. It revolves around the infamous Murder House, which makes this the third episode of this season predominantly set on that haunted property. The ending it offers to the audience is incredibly complex but quite appropriate not just for the episode but for the inaugural season of the show as a whole. Here is what you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.
American Horror Stories Finale Recap
The episode begins with a young couple, Connie (Noah Cyrus) and Dylan (Adam Hagenbuch), entering the Murder House despite warnings from their cab driver. Initially, it appears that they are just horror fans looking for some thrill that is inevitably leading them to a disaster. And then one of the characters mentions ‘American Horror Story,’ and the audience realizes that whatever world this is, both the show and the horror aspects of the house co-exist there.
Connie even mentions Sarah Paulson and her apparent dislike for ‘Roanoke,’ the sixth season of ‘American Horror Story.’ Soon ghosts start to appear in front of the couple. Some of them never appeared in the Murder House before, including Twisty the Clown and Bloody Face. Adelaide shoots Dylan in the head, and as Twisty the Clown and Bloody Face attack Connie, she suddenly starts glitching.
It is revealed that what the audience just saw is part of an ‘American Horror Story’ video game that a woman named Michelle (Mercedes Mason) has developed. Her son, Rory (Nicolas Bechtel), an avid gamer and fan of AHS, is one of the first people to try it out. He dislikes it because he feels that the game doesn’t convey why the ghosts are stuck in the Murder House. There are evidently some issues that the two of them need to figure out together. Michelle says that she developed the game for Rory, prompting him to reply that she could have just watched the show with him, which would have been enough.
After Rory leaves to stay with his father, Michelle binge-watches AHS and tries to buy the house. However, she doesn’t have enough money to do that, having already spent all her savings on the game. On Halloween, she visits the Murder House and runs into several of its residents, including Ruby (Kaia Gerber), who becomes ecstatic after seeing her girlfriend Scarlett (Sierra McCormick) has come for her yearly visit. As Michelle wanders around the house, she runs into Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott). After they confide in each other about their personal failings, Harmon tries to get Michelle out of the house, but Scarlett and Ruby kill her.
The next Halloween, she goes to see her son and tries to apologize for everything. But Rory understandably refuses to listen, declaring that the Murder House needs to be burned down, so that fire will purify everything and free the spirits trapped there. The following day, after Scarlett leaves, Rory shows up with gallons of gas. Ruby tries to stop him, but Harmon, the Mean Girls, and Michelle put themselves between her and Rory. Scarlett arrives and begs Rory not to do it. But he disregards her and sets fire to the Murder House.
American Horror Stories Ending: What Part of the Episode is Real? Do Scarlett and Ruby Reunite?
In the season 1 finale, the creators of the show go all out and tell a mind-bending and fourth-wall-breaking story. The episode is littered with meta-references. For instance, Connie and Dylan are most likely named after Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott, actors who portray Vivien and Ben in ‘Murder House,’ the first season of AHS. The characters Connie and Dylan mention the LaLaurie Mansion. The LaLaurie family appears in multiple seasons of AHS. Connie and Dylan reveal that the new owners have turned the House into a lodging facility that offers the “Escape from Murder House Experience,” which was the idea that Michael (Matt Bomer) and Troy (Gavin Creel) had before they died.
After Rory burns the Murder House down, Scarlett returns three years later and buys one of the condos that has been built there. That evening, she reunites with Ruby. When that seems like the ending of the season, the camera suddenly pulls back, and it is revealed that everything that we witnessed until that point is part of an updated version of the ‘American Horror Story’ game that Michelle has been developing, making the audience question which part of what they just saw on screen is real and which isn’t.
There are at least two possible ways of explaining what happens at the end of the season 1 finale. One of them involves believing that some scenes with Michelle and Rory are set in our world. This includes the first time Rory tastes the game for his mother, his departure for his father’s home, Michelle binge-watching AHS, visiting her former husband’s home on Halloween, and the final scenes with her and Rory. The rest, including her visit to the Murder House and meeting the realtor, are part of the game. The realtor has to be part of the game because it’s the same realtor that Scarlett meets after she returns three years later. And if the realtor is part of the game, so is the scene involving him and Michelle.
According to this interpretation, none of the ghosts either get freed or move on. The conversation that Rory and Michelle have about the ghosts strictly refers to the game’s content. In our world, the Murder House is an ordinary property, and there is no reason for it to be burned down. And as it has burned down only in the game, it should not affect the Murder House of the AHS universe.
The reunion between Ruby and Scarlett also happens within the game, and hence is not real. In the closing scenes, the audience sees Beau’s ball rolling across the floor of Michelle and Rory’s home. This likely denotes that certain parts of fiction are now bleeding into reality. This keeps true to the theme of the rest of the episode. It is also a perfect horror ending, making the audience question everything they just saw.
Another possible way to interpret the ending is that most of what the audience sees in the episode actually happens to Michelle and Rory. Michelle does visit the Murder House and gets killed. And Rory later burns down the House. What Michelle says about the fate of the ghosts inside the Murder House is not just speculation. It’s actually what happens to them. Some move on and go to heaven or hell. The rest are now free to roam the world.
This makes Michelle herself a ghost. After being liberated from the constraints of the house, she has reunited with Rory and perfected the game. Elsewhere, Scarlett and Ruby likely have reunited as well, perhaps in the same way as it has been depicted in the episode. As per this interpretation, after seeing Beau’s ball in Michelle’s house, the audience can presume that he, too, hasn’t moved on and found a new home there.