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American Horror Stories Episode 7 Game Over Explained- Do We Love Murder House For The Ghosts Or The Humans?

American Horror Stories has been a little hit and miss for me. The first two Murder House-centric episodes were great. Scarlett and Ruby were a nice homicidal pair that reinvented the Tate and Violet dynamic. It is always fun to revisit the locale for arguably the best and still scariest season of American Horror Story. Drive In was a spin in the paranormal world where forbidden videos drive viewers insane. It wasn’t particularly scary, but it was fun. Ba’al was watchable but hardly fresh ground, and The Naughty List was nothing more than semi-satisfying karmic justice for a world tired of dopey reality bros and the consumerism that drives them. For commentary on social media, I would much rather watch Bo Burnham. Feral had its moments, but by far, the most enjoyable episode of the first season was American Horror Stories Episode 7 Game Over.

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk smartly bookended American Horror Stories season 1 with a return trip to the house that started it all. American Horror Stories Episode 7 Game Over is a meta love letter to fans of the original series. There were more than a few twists and turns between all the too-cute references to the Lalaurie Mansion and Tate’s striped sweater callback. What was real? Do American Horror Story and Stories exist in a pocket universe, or are they part of our real one? Is our perceived universe the real one? So many headache-inducing questions left the viewer with pain behind the eyes and an appreciation for the weird love affair we all have with American Horror Story and Murder House in particular.

Between the Easter Eggs, cheeky callbacks, and complex meta plot beats, American Horror Stories Episode 7 was a complete slice of everything that we love about the series. Love, betrayal, murder, mayhem, self-loathing comments about tearful masturbation were all there. It was spectacularly self-indulgent, and that self-awareness made it the best episode to date. Here’s everything you need to know about the wacky finale of American Horror Stories and what it means for the greater universe.

The plot of American Horror Stories Episode 7

The episode is split into three distinct parts. The beginning is a beta version of Michelle’s AHS game (Mercedes Mason from Fear the Walking Dead). Miley Cyrus’s sister Noah Cyrus(Connie) and her boyfriend Adam Hagenbuch(Dylan) have booked a stay at the Murder House B & B. They are there for the Escape the Murder House Experience and are aware of both American Horror Stories and Story. In Episode 1 of American Horror Stories (Wo)man Scarlett’s Dads have bought the house with the intent of making it a haunted B & B. After being chased by a glut of AHS canon baddies from all different seasons, the couple dies fairly quickly. It is revealed that Rory was playing the couple in his Mom’s game.

The second and longest part of the episode begins next. Rory tells his mother that she doesn’t get the vibe of AHS Murder House. He tells her she missed the critical human element of the house. The spirits are trapped there because of their failings. Failings of deranged minds, selfishness, mental illness, greed, and old fashion nastiest. Michelle meets with a real estate agent about buying the infamous house to satisfy her less positive traits. An extended scene halfway through between Dylan McDermott’s Ben Harmon and Mercedes Mason’s Michelle is a bleak expository dump revealing Murphy and Falchuk’s genuine opinion of the lore.

Michelle tells Ben that her son thinks all the spirits are trapped in Murder House because they haven’t worked out their earthly shit. Ben believes that is false. Scarlett and Ruby further explain that the whole point is the endless void of need, want, and pain. Some of the spirits don’t want out because they like the pain. For Ruby, she is drawn to Scarlett’s dark nature. She would rather love her for twenty-four hours once a year than not at all. Before anyone can get too deep into the healthiness of loving someone who loves killing people, Scarlett and Ruby kill Michelle, and she becomes trapped there with the rest.

On Halloween night one year after Michelle is killed in the Murder House she visits Rory and he is angry with her. He knows her obsession got her killed. Wanting to save his mother an eternity of misery in the Murder House, he plans to burn it to the ground. Rory posits that in proper Supernatural form, fire purifies everything. He believes that if he succeeds, all spirits will be free to go to their great beyond. The catch, of course, is Ruby doesn’t want to move on.

Evidently, Rory succeeds because we flash forward to a condominium built on the grounds of the Murder House years later. Scarlett returns and buys the last unit for one million dollars. She was wealthy as a result of a lucrative assassin career. The same real estate agent who showed Michelle the house earlier is now selling the condo to Scarlett. As Scarlett goes to sleep, Ruby returns to her wearing the gimp suit minus the hood. The two express their love, and the camera pulls back to reveal Rory has won the game by freeing all the spirits and helping Scarlett and Ruby reconnect. Rory says the game is much better, and the duo heads out for food as a small red ball rolls across the floor.

What was real?

So much of the American Horror Stories Episode 7 was layered meta-ness. AHS seasons all leached into each other and American Horror Stories melded into the greater universe. A literal reading of the episode would indicate nothing was real but Rory’s conversation with his mother about the game. He played both 1.0 and 2.0, and those are real in the sense that he did play them.

Michelle never tried to buy the Murder House and was never killed. All of that was in 2.0. This is why the real estate agent was the same person both times the property was for sale. The real estate agent is the game equivalent of the village shopkeeper or tavern owner who has a wealth of knowledge and is super chatty. Everything else that happened was part of the game. The Murder House was never burnt down, and Ruby and Scarlett never got their happy ending.

American Horror Stories Episode 7
Official Promo Screengrab

The only issue with this reading is the red ball. Beau’s red ball factored in prominently in the original series and made an appearance in American Horror Stories (Wo)man. The ball is unique to Beau in the AHS universe and is canon to the series. Michelle may have a dog, and the ball is a toy, or she purchased it as a way to physically channel some of the horrors of the house while coding the game.

Anything is possible, but in an episode as tricky as American Horror Stories Episode 7, the ball and the title Game Over indicate that nothing ever escapes the Murder House. We watch Rory and Michelle walk out of the house, meaning they are still alive, at least according to the predetermined rules of the greater universe. If that’s the case, Michelle’s game is a tonally perfect but problematic addition to the world of AHS.

Winning means Scarlett chooses to die. Ruby asked her to stay with her in the second episode of American Horror Stories by committing suicide. Scarlett refused and decided to live her life but return on Halloween each year. When Rory burned the house down, Ruby again asked her to die with her to guarantee the couple could be together forever. Again she refused. Years later, she returned and bought the condo, hoping Ruby was waiting for her. Their relationship is toxic and deeply concerning. Not only are the two women very selfish, wanting their loves to effectively sacrifice their own lives for the other, but once again, suicide is sensationalized. Scarlett says she is ready to be with Ruby forever, which sounds a lot like a suicide note. Winning should never include suicide.

Maybe the point of the Murder House is life sucks. The beauty is in the enduring. Suffering is the point. To find acceptance in violence is a form of death. Whether all the seasons and different iterations of Murphy and Falchuks’s world are aware of each other or not is irrelevant. The rules are the same. If you go searching for darkness one way or another, you will find it. The question is, will you have the strength to escape before you become trapped. At this point, with two series in the universe and more episodes than I can count, we might all be trapped in their world, and we don’t even know the rules yet.