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American Horror Stories Ba'al Ending Explained

On paper, Liv Whitley (Billie Lourd) has a life anyone would envy. She has a bottomless pile of family money, a loving and supportive husband, and when it comes to her struggles with fertility, access to the best doctors in the world. But even with those advantages, she's still unable to fulfill her dream of conceiving a child. When the receptionist at her doctor's office offers her an unusual alternative method in the form of an ancient fertility idol, Liv is initially skeptical. Then again, she has exhausted all of her scientific options, so why not try a spiritual one?

"Ba'al," the title of the latest episode of FX's "American Horror Stories," refers to a god of the ancient near east who is associated with fertility, among many other qualities. Liv is instructed to put the statue of Ba'al under her bed with the promise that it will help her conceive. Sure enough, she becomes pregnant almost instantly. However, when her baby finally comes, she begins to wonder whether there are strings attached to this gift from a god.

Liv struggles with motherhood and has a difficult time connecting with her new child. While her husband, Matt (Ronen Rubinstein), believes that she's experiencing a simple case of postpartum depression, Liv is convinced that something else is afoot. It's not just the general depression and anxiety that has her on edge. She's been hearing strange noises in the house and seeing flashes of a demonic figure in the baby monitor. Even though nobody else believes her, she is convinced that in calling on Ba'al to help her conceive, she may have inadvertently made a deal with the powerful deity and that he has arrived to collect his due.

But, as is so often the case in the "American Horror Story" universe, nothing about this tale of terror is quite as it seems.

Ba'al is an actual mythological figure

As Liv becomes more and more tormented by the supernatural happenings surrounding her child, she becomes convinced that Ba'al himself is at the root of it. In the episode, the fertility clinic receptionist Bernadette (Virginia Gardner), a modern pagan who gifts Liv the idol, refers to Ba'al as "Sumerian or Babylonian." The figure of Ba'al is based on a real god of antiquity. In reality, though, his worship is typically associated with the ancient Levant, or the area along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the location of present-day countries such as Israel, the State of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria.

According to Ira Spar of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ba'al was indeed a fertility god who was also known as the god of warriors and storms. His association with fertility wasn't contained to human reproduction. In his essay, Spar notes that Ba'al was also associated with the fertility of the natural world and that he had "control over the powers of nature." He was also one of the more prominent gods in the region and even plays a significant role in certain stories in the Bible.

The episode "Ba'al" mostly looks at the eponymous god through the lens of his power over human fertility. However, as we see toward the end of the story, his status as a fierce warrior also gets a nod.

How Matt and his friends pulled off their con

Before Ba'al himself appears, we first learn the truth about who was actually behind Liv's torment. In the middle of the episode, there is a scene in which Matt invites his college friends over for dinner. During the meal, we get a quick introduction for each friend and not only learn their names, but also a bit about their showbusiness professions.

There's Rory (Chad James Buchanan) the "tall, geek character actor," Emma (Kimberley Drummond) the "set [decorator]," and Stan (Jake Choi) the "[editor]/sound [designer]." These very specific introductions seem like basic character exposition at first. But when it's revealed that all of the frightening happenings experienced by Liv were actually orchestrated by Matt with the help of his friends, it becomes clear that this scene was actually foreshadowing for the episode's big twist.

Stan used his editing and sound design skills to manipulate Liv's baby monitor and make it seem like she was hearing and seeing a demonic presence, Emma put on her set design hat to make the physical manifestations of Ba'al that Liv sees around her house seem extra-real, and tall Rory got into costume to play Ba'al himself. Even Bernadette, who is revealed to be Matt's secret girlfriend, was in on the con. She supplied Liv with random bits of pagan ephemera to get her spooked.

This plan was a success (although some fans have questions about certain aspects of it). Liv commits herself to a psychiatric hospital following a disastrous attempt to hold a ceremony to expel the non-existent demon and it appears that Matt is about to get away with draining her of her considerable wealth. However, just because they faked the supernatural events that drove Liv to madness, doesn't mean that Ba'al isn't actually real. As the group of gaslighters celebrates their con, the god himself appears and brutally kills most of them. Matt is left as the only survivor and the number one suspect for the grisly murders.

Will we see characters from Ba'al appear in future American Horror Story seasons?

In the episode's closing moments, we get the satisfying revelation that Liv has gotten revenge on her tormentors. She visits Matt in prison where he's awaiting trial for the murder of his friends. He desperately begs Liv for money and warns her that Ba'al is real. Although she calls his claims unbelievable, we soon find out that she is now the gaslighter in this relationship.

Back at Liv's home, Ba'al appears to her. A flashback reveals that while Bernadette believed the demon banishing spell she gave Liv was nothing but hokum, it was actually a powerful incantation that could summon the god. Liv didn't learn this until she tried the ceremony in her cell at the psychiatric hospital and brought Ba'al forth. Although it's never explicitly stated in the episode, we can assume that in summoning the real Ba'al, Liv realized that the previous supernatural happenings had been faked and then sent the deity after Matt's friends to get her bloody retribution.

The episode ends with Liv promising Ba'al that she'll release him back to the supernatural realm after he gives her another baby. "American Horror Stories" may be one-off stories but this ending does leave an intriguing door open for future installments. Two things that are common in the "American Horror Story" franchise are crossovers between seasons and children that are the products of copulation between humans and supernatural beings.

As Ba'al climbs into Liv's bed to bestow her with a child, we have to wonder if their offspring will appear in either another "American Horror Stories" episode or even as a player in an "American Horror Story" season. It's too soon to say for sure, but keep your eyes peeled for Ba'al Jr. in future installments.