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The Ending Of American Horror Story: Double Feature Explained

The "Red Tide" has finally receded and left an ... interesting finale in its wake. The first half of "American Horror Story: Double Feature" proved to be a bloody and visceral examination of fame, talent, and success that, perhaps fittingly, ended on a note of chaos.

Last week's episode saw Ursula (Leslie Grossman) preparing to make a pitch to The Chemist (Angelica Ross) to secure a supply of The Muse in order to take over the entertainment industry. While The Chemist had previously expressed disinterest in getting involved in Ursula's business, it appears that she has changed her tune. The two end up coming together in a fruitful collaboration that sees them making a pretty significant impact on Hollywood.

This complicates things for Harry (Finn Wittrock), who is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his life on the powerful drug. He would like to wean himself and his daughter, Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), off The Muse now that he's written enough future Oscar-winning screenplays to keep himself in money and acclaim for the rest of his life. However, neither Ursula nor Alma are content to let Alma's burgeoning career as a superstar violin prodigy dissipate that quickly.

Here's how everything played out in the finale of "Red Tide."

The finale kicks off with a bloodbath

Ever since Harry upended Belle (Frances Conroy) and Austin's (Evan Peters) mostly under-the-radar lifestyle, the writers have been looking for a way to bring the outsider to heel. They attempt to do just that by kidnapping the wee baby Eli as a bargaining chip.

Harry and Alma arrive to negotiate with Belle and Austin and while it seems like the latter pair's plan is to simply annihilate the Gardner clan altogether, that plot is foiled when pale people break through the windows and begin streaming into the house. They kill Belle and Austin and then are killed themselves by a gun-toting Ursula, who orchestrated everything with some help from The Chemist.

While Harry is relieved to have survived Belle and Austin's trap, he's still one step behind the actual plot. Alma goes to embrace her father but takes her caps off and begins to feed on him instead. Earlier in the episode, Harry had put his foot down about The Muse (in direct contradiction to the previous episode, when he made peace with Doris going pale because of his devotion to his newfound success) and expressed his desire to go cold turkey because he was done killing to feed his fame. Ursula was aghast at this, telling him, "Why have a conscience or a moral code anymore? ... This is what success feels like, Harry. It feels like moral superiority."

It was a noble attempt to right the wrongs of his foray into the world of fame. But he was naive to assume that Ursula and Alma, two characters who have proved multiple times throughout the season that they will jettison morality for success without a second thought, would sacrifice their own careers for his change of heart.

Hollywood calls

After the massacre, we flash forward a few months and trade in the misty shores of Provincetown for sunny Los Angeles. Ursula's plan to use The Muse to create a stable of super successful screenwriters has been a runaway success, as evidenced by the palatial Hollywood Hills mansion home of The Chemist, Alma, and the wee baby Eli.

While The Chemist has taken on the passion project of killing racist cops, Alma is on the verge of a major career breakthrough. She kills her audition to be the first chair violin of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and then literally kills her competition when it comes down to her and another violinist named Rory (Benjamin Papac).

Before she dispatches him, Rory gives Alma his bleak assessment of her prospects as a child violin prodigy. "You're a novelty. A distraction," he tells her, comparing having a nine-year-old as the first chair to a "freakshow." In his estimation, Alma's chances for genuine success are slim not because she's not talented, but in a way, because she is too talented. "We play classical music. We are as square as we can be. You're the bearded-f—ing-lady, kid."

His point is an important one. While "Red Tide" has often drawn a direct correlation between being a talented artist and achieving great success, having one does not necessarily mean you'll get the other. There are plenty of incredible writers and artists whose work will never reach the mainstream because they don't fit a specific mold. But Alma isn't just anybody. Not only does she have the power of The Muse, but she also has an insatiable craving for fame and a total lack of morals. For all the excellent points Rory makes, Alma renders them moot when she rips his throat out, thereby securing herself the position.

The Chemist takes off for new horizons

"Red Tide" wraps up at a seminar, where a self-proclaimed script guru is teaching students a convoluted formula for writing a great screenplay. Ursula is his special guest speaker and she horrifies him by coming in and basically trashing his ethos. She has placed a Muse under the seat of all the attendees and tells them that the secret to success actually comes down to one thing: are you going to take the pill, or not?

Everyone at the seminar complies but unfortunately for them and the citizens of Los Angeles, none turn out to have the gift. As the camera pans across pale people feeding in the streets, Ursula provides a voiceover to cap off the season. She says that while many people dream of great artistic success, few understand what it actually takes to make it happen. "The journey there is tedious," she says. "And those that achieve only do so because they are f—d up enough to push through the pain and failure it takes to reach your potential."

Ursula handing out The Muse indiscriminately and turning people pale on a mass scale is, quite frankly, an ending that doesn't make much sense given her character's financial motivations (fans seem to agree). Regardless, her final words do highlight two of the important themes of the season: success requires great sacrifice, and attending the best screenwriting seminar in the world is not a substitute for genuine talent. The Muse brings both of those ideas into stark reality.

As for The Chemist, she's last seen skipping town with Eli. She suggests to the infant that she'll start working on another drug, "Maybe one that will make you and I live forever."

This particular ending feels like an indication that it may not be the last time we hear from this mysterious figure. Perhaps The Chemist will appear in a future season of "American Horror Story," or even in the upcoming second half of the "Double Feature."