‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’: Sex Marks the Spot

American Horror Story: Apocalypse
“The Morning After”
September 19, 2018

Because everyone loves the American Horror Story theme so much, may I present the single greatest tribute to it I have ever seen:

lucille-applause-clap-arrested-development

So, this episode: Eve is alone in her room when her closet door creaks open, and, being a braver person than your trusty blogger, she goes to investigate. That’s when the snakes start falling on her head, which is why you don’t investigate when your closet mysteriously opens itself. Screaming screaming screaming, and Adam, Mead and Mead’s giantess friend run to the rescue. Mead and her crew collect the snakes to add to dinner because protein’s protein, y’all.

Over dinner, Andre is still complaining about the last time they had some surprise protein in the form of his boyfriend Stu. But Eve has other concerns: namely, who is in Ms. Venable’s office. Venable is pretty sure she is above answering questions and everyone should just eat their snake soup and keep quiet. Except! When they open their soup dishes the snakes have, somehow, returned to life. HI GUYSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

After not-dinner, the group assembles in the library where they are introduced to Michael Langdon who intimidates Venable into stepping aside. Once he has command of the room, Langdon explains that he is from The Cooperative and that the news ain’t good, kids. The three other American outposts in Syracuse, New York; Beckley, West Virginia; and San Angelo, Texas have all been overrun and the other six international outposts are expected to fall at any moment.

The good news is The Cooperative has another location, The Sanctuary, which has unique security measures that prevent it from being overrun. Mead wonders why they weren’t given similar security measures at the Outposts — which is a good question! — but Langdon hisses that information is classified. He goes on to explain that the people populating The Sanctuary will need to repopulate the Earth if humanity is going to survive. As for who those people are? Classified.

His job here at Outpost Exposition 3 is to determine whether any of the occupants are worthy to join The Sanctuary. This will be accomplished through a rigorous questioning technique they call “cooperating.” Those who refuse to cooperate are welcome to stay in Outpost Exposition 3 and wait to be eaten by tumor-faced cannibals — or, alternatively, take this poison that The Cooperative has provided them. Gallant volunteers to go first, and Langdon is all, “Cool, now I have to go comb my ridiculous wig. Laters.”

Once Langdon, Ms, Venable and the rest of The Cooperative goons leave the room, the Purples begin bickering over who amongst them will be chosen, with Grandma Joan hard foreshadowing that she is a “survivor” according to notorious non-survivor, Natalie Wood:

abraham twd the walking dead to the survivors cheers drinking

Meanwhile, Langdon interviews his first subject, Gallant, warning him that he best not lie or hedge or try to game the system, Langdon will know. Gallant volunteers that he’s gay, but that he is capable of having sex with women if that’s what they’re looking for. Langdon’s like, “Nah, bro. Now tell me about your anger. And Grandma Joan.” Gallant wonders why Langdon links those two before launching into a rant about how Grandma Joan wants him to be the “perfect gay,” married with Wedgewood and Yorkies.

Langdon notes that Grandma Joan shamed Gallant and Gallant wonders what Langdon knows, if he’s looking for a confession. Langdon insists that he’s not a priest — he doesn’t even know if he believes in God because what kind of God would allow Armeggedon to happen (a Biblical God, uh duh). Gallant then goes on to describe a luncheon that Grandma Joan hosted in an effort to fix him up with an acceptable gay, only for Gallant to ruin it with his Frankie Goes to Hollywood and leather queening and eating bisque through a gas mask (?) while Grandma Joan called him pathetic.

Back in real time, Gallant asks Langdon is gay, and Langdon is all, “INTERVIEW OVER!”

Later, Gallant is busy gallanting himself to visions of Langdon doing … something … in bloody pentagrams …  when our old friend from Murder House, Rubber Man, shows up at his door. Gallant, believing it to be Langdon, invites Rubber Man to finish gallanting him.

Meanwhile, walking past Gallant’s room, Grandma Joan peeks inside, sees what is happening and marches straight to Mead’s office to tattle on her grandson.

that was cold blooded rick james.gif

Elsewhere, Adam and Eve decide that if Langdon can brave the nuclear winter by himself, they certainly can, and as such they should sneak into Langdon’s room to snoop around and maybe try to discover the location of The Sanctuary. (Of course, what kind of plan is this? Even if they do discover where The Sanctuary is, what is the next part of their plan? Just ask to be let in?)

They discover Langdon’s Apple laptop is somehow not only well-charged but connected to the internet and that he’s been busily emailing with the rest of The Cooperative`. Because like cockroaches, email will also survive the end of the world.

Now, on the show, Adam and Eve only comment on the fact that Langdon reports back to The Cooperative that Ms. Venable has established her own rule forbidding sexual contact punishable by death and they are all, “GODDAMMIT.” But we have the screenshots below and the emails are FAR more interesting than that. Meanwhile, Rubber Man is watching them from the ceiling like the creep he is.

Elsewhere, Langdon goes to Ms. Venable’s room where he confronts her about making up her own rules. She claims the “no sex” rule was straight from The Cooperative, but Langdon’s like, “Funny, because I WROTE THE ORDERS.” She suggests that he’s just angry because a woman like her happens to know more than him because male fragility.

Admiring her feistiness (or at least pretending to), Langdon sits her down to tell her what’s really going on out there, telling a grisly story about how on his way to the Outpost he came across a woman and her two children who had been exposed to radiation. One child was already dead, and the mother begged “us” to kill the other.

Hold up. Wait. Us? I thought he arrived alone?

oprah hmm thinking

Anyway, Ms. Venable asks if he killed the child, and as though she’s crazy to even ask, Langdon replies that he did not.

Langdon then begins asking who Ms. Venable believes deserves to be saved, beginning with Coco. Ms. Venable she insists Coco would be her last choice, along with Gallant and Grandma Joan, before admitting to not knowing much about Dinah.

oprah hmm thinking

Langdon demands that Ms. Venable remove her dress, that a physical examination is part of cooperating. At first she balks, but he insists he needs to see her “shame.” He then unzips her dress to reveal a back twisted by scoliosis, and asks her if it gives her pain or if it bring her great pain. “That, that last one,” Ms. Venable admits on the verge of tears before asking if she’s passed his test. “Nope!” Langdon cheerfully admits just as Mead comes to the door, reporting to Ms. Venable that she needs to show her something.

Mead tells Ms. Venable about Gallant and Rubber Man, who Ms. Venable assumes had to be Langdon, duh, they obviously know one another, why else would Gallant volunteer to be interviewed first?

The two women then interrogate a chained and nearly naked Gallant, whipping him when he refuses to answer (prompting Gallant to yell out, “RIP TAYLOR!” and “LARRY KRAMER!” and “GREG LOUGANIS” with each lash), but when Ms. Venable realizes that Gallant is enjoying the abuse, they leave in disgust.

Once they leave, Langdon enters and marvels at man’s cruelty to man. Gallant informs Langdon that he didn’t rat him out, and Langdon’s all, “for what?” insisting that he never came into Gallant’s room, certainly not in a latex fetish suit, come on. In fact, he’d never fuck Gallant if he were the last man on Earth — which he very nearly is — because he’s too needy and pathetic. In fact, he can see why Grandma Joan reported him.

Gallant:

rinna crying reunion sad bunny rhobh

Langdon suggests that Gallant speak to his grandmother himself, just as the cuffs break free, releasing Gallant.

Down in the library, the women are listening to “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, also known as THE SADDEST SONG OF ALL TIME — seriously, that shit would make me cry as a toddler and I had no idea what the words even meant — and talking about The Hardy Boys and whether the apocalypse is harder for millennials than older generations because of streaming services and choices in lattes. Just Ryan Murphy ryan murphying.

Gallant enters the scene and confronts his grandmother about turning him in and how he only wanted her love and acceptance. However, Grandma Joan isn’t having it and reminds him about how she cleaned up after him and took care of him for YEARS but she now intends to be the last bitch standing.

“WELL, IT’S A GOOD THING YOU CONVINCED ME TO BRING YOUR NANA,” Coco hisses.

Later, Gallant is alone in the library when the radio changes songs again, this time to “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac. Rubber Man peeks around the corner, and Gallant follows him back to a bedroom where he pushes Rubber Man down onto the bed and tries to remove his mask. When that doesn’t work, Gallant grabs a nearby pair of shears and stabs Rubber Man repeatedly in the chest. Only, that’s when Langdon walks in and when Gallant looks back down to where Rubber Man should be, WHOOPS! He’s killed Grandma Joan.

kim rhobh oops

Back over in the Adam and Eve storyline, having discovered that the whole “no sex” thing is some straight-up bullshit, these two horny teens do what horny teens do and make the hornytime while Rubber Man watches in the shadows. They are soon discovered by Mead and dragged out of bed. On their way to the execution room, they confront Ms. Venable about her whole “making up prudish rules” thing, but she’s all, “RULES ARE RULES.”

But once in the execution chamber, Adam uses a nearby hose to knock a gun out of one of the guards’ hands and shoots Mead in the belly, and — what’s this? — instead of blood, she oozes that white milky android liquid from Alien.

alien milk blood ash.gif

DAMN, MEAD’S A BEEBOT, AND SHE DID NOT KNOW.

oprah you're a robot westworld

true blood did not see that shit coming

Wait, so, if Mead is an android, robot, whatever, does this explain the pilotless plane? And if so what does it any of it meeeeeeeeaaaaannn? 

Moving on to some other items, the Adam and Eve imagery was very strong in this episode from the snakes in Eve’s closet, to the young couple literally being led into temptation by what they learned from an Apple:

american horror story apocalypse apple.jpg

Speaking of the emails, let’s look at the screenshots because while Adam and Eve focus on the part where not having sex was just a bullshit rule that Ms. Venable made up, there was plenty more that they just totally skimmed over:

email 2 american horror story ahs

ENHANCE:

unopened emails ahs american horror story apocalypse

“All attempts at carrying a fetus have failed … ” OK, go on. “… are altering the DNA of the fetus to potentially …” TELL ME MORE.

Also, note the email dated October 18: “status update” — why does this message have no content? What happened on the 18th?

And then, what’s up with the dates on these emails? It looks like the most recent email was on October 20, but Langdon’s first email to The Cooperative regarding the situation in Outpost Exposition 3 is on October 11? So … wait … how much time, exactly, has passed in this episode? When Langdon arrives, he says the interrogation process should only take a couple of days, but he’s been there at least 9? WHAT IS GOING ON WITH TIME ON THIS SHOW ANYWAY?

But as for the email that revealed the “truth” about Ms. Venable, here it is in its entirety:

The Cooperative email status venable ahs american horror story

Oh! Fun! Another color: Red! Red is dead! So I suppose we shouldn’t grow too attached to Venable and Gallant?

But who are our “two promising candidates?” And, of course, is this all a con job on Langdon’s part to stoke rebellion and chaos? Is it possible that the no sex rule was real and Langdon is, like the serpent in the garden, tempting Adam and Eve to disobey?

Speaking of temptation and sex, I’m not sure what to do with the whole Rubber Man situation, it’s all so weird and layered and weird. To recap: on “Murder House,” the original Rubber Man suit was bought by the gay couple that lived there but was never actually used by them. Instead, Tate the Ghost put it on and murdered the couple. Later, he wore it and raped Vivien, who, at the time believed it was her husband. It was in this violent encounter that she became pregnant with Michael Langdon and his stillborn twin.

So — the character in this chapter that is played by Evan Peters is raped by Rubber Man who in the first chapter was Evan Peter’s character. On the one hand, it’s one of those interesting coincidences that happens when you reuse the same actors to play different characters. But on the other hand, I think there is something more symbolic happening here with the Rubber Man character. Ultimately, based on the way Rubber Man was spying on Adam and Eve both in Langdon’s room and in their own bedroom, I assume Rubber Man will be some sort of familiar of Langdon’s, a spirit that he conjures to serve as his eyes and ears within the compound. But symbolically, I suspect Rubber Man is supposed to represent the Jungian idea of the “shadow self,” the unknown dark side of the individual, the unconscious. Even though they are supposed to be different characters, we as an audience can not unknow that Evan Peters’ character is being raped by Evan Peters’ character. Gallant is being abused by his darker self, his shame.

AND SPEAKING OF SHAME, that is what Langdon seeks out from both people he questions in this episode:

Langdon to Ms. Venable: “Your file won’t show me what I need to see. Your shame. I want to see that part of you that humiliates you the most.”

Langdon to Gallant re: his grandmother: “She shamed you.”

I think we’ll have more to say about this issue of shame later, especially in light of the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis and how after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the very first thing that happened was they realized they were naked, they became ashamed and immediately made themselves some clothes out of fig leaves. But for now, let’s put a pin in this shame business as I think it will play out in later episodes.

More curious is this mirroring of Gallant and Langdon in their relationships with their grandmothers. Langdon was raised by his grandmother Constance after the death of his mother, and Gallant has, as he reveals in this episode, a complicated and fraught relationship with his own grandmother. Gallant’s relationship with his grandmother ends with him murdering her after he mistakes her for Rubber Man — his shadow self, his shame.

This leads me to wonder what Langdon’s own relationship with Constance was like (she didn’t have a great relationship with any of her own children, after all) and what, ultimately, her fate was.

But going back to Gallant and his grandmother, we have to talk about the music in this episode. When Gallant sees Rubber Man in the last moments of the episode, the radio begins playing a new song, “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac. This is obviously  a nod to the upcoming “Coven” crossover (and spoiler alert, Stevie Nicks is supposed to guest in this season), but it is also obviously about Grandma Joan:

Rock on gold dust woman
Take your silver spoon
Dig your grave
Heartless challenge
Pick your path and I’ll pray
Wake up in the morning
See your sunrise loves to go down
Lousy lovers pick their prey
But they never cry out loud
Cry out
Did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
And is it over now do you know how
Pick up the pieces and go home.
Rock on ancient queen
Follow those who pale
In your shadow
Rulers make bad lovers
You better put your kingdom up for sale
Up for sale
Well did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
And is it over now, do you know how
Pickup the pieces and go home.
Well did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
And now tell me
Is it over now, do you know how
Pickup the pieces and go home
Go home
Go home
Pale
Shadow
Of a woman
Black widow
Pale
Shadow
Of a dragon
Dust woman
Pale
Shadow
Of a woman
Black widow
Pale
Shadow
She’s a dragon
Gold dust woman
Woman, woman
Songwriters: Stevie Nicks
Gold Dust Woman lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

“Rock on gold dust woman
Take your silver spoon
Dig your grave”

and then

“Well did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love”

It’s clearly a message, a subliminal one even, to Gallant, reminding him of how his grandmother shamed him and rejected his love. And then he kills her.

emma thompson obviously obvs

As for the other song in the episode, “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce — and whose lyrics I can’t even read without tearing up a little bit:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with
If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with
Songwriters: Jim Croce
Time in a Bottle lyrics © BMG Rights Management

It’s obviously a lament for lost time and lost opportunities  — not an inappropriate sentiment at the end of the world.

But I keep returning to the idea of “time” in a “bottle” and this image:

ahs apocalypse hourglass

Time, literally in a bottle. But can it be restarted? Can time, like an hourglass, be flipped over and given another chance?

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also note the use of “Time in a Bottle” in this scene of X Men: Days of the Future Past, featuring Evan Peters as Quicksilver — a mutant who is so fast he can manipulate time:

Finally, I neglected to talk about the other song from the previous episode, which this episode was named after: “The Morning After” by Maureen McGovern:

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on looking for the light
Oh, can’t you see the morning after?
It’s waiting right outside the storm
Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm?
It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time
There’s got to be a morning after
We’re moving closer to the shore
I know we’ll be there by tomorrow
And we’ll escape the darkness
We won’t be searching anymore
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
(repeat and fade out)
Songwriters: Al Kasha / Joel Hirschhorn
The Morning After lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

The song was originally known as “The Song from the Poseidon Adventure,” The Poseidon Adventure being a film about a luxury cruise ship which is capsized by a tsunami, and a preacher who tries to lead a group of survivors to safety. Which, obviously, sounds a bit like our situation here.

But I turn to these lyrics:

“It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time

There’s got to be a morning after
We’re moving closer to the shore
I know we’ll be there by tomorrow
And we’ll escape the darkness
We won’t be searching anymore”

… to wonder if there isn’t some way to prevent what we are seeing from ever happening to begin with.

Timeline:

March 2012: Michael Langdon is born inside the Murder House. His mother, Vivien dies in childbirth; his father is murdered by murder ghosts; his twin is stillborn. Michael is raised by his next-door neighbor and his sorta-grandmother (it’s complicated), Constance.

2015: Michael Langdon murders his nanny.

April 2020: A nuclear war kills off most of humanity. A small group of survivors, including Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt, Mr. Gallant, Grandma Joan, Dinah Stevens, Andre Stevens, Stu, Timothy Campbell (Adam) and Emily (Eve) reside in an outpost run by Ms. Wilhemnia Venable, her second-in-command Miriam Mead and their soldiers on behalf of a mysterious group called The Cooperative.

October 11, 2021: The outpost is visited by a higher-up in The Cooperative, an adult Michael Langdon. He reports that the other outposts run by The Cooperative have either been overrun or about to be.

October 2021: Langdon interviews Gallant and Venable. Timothy and Emily discover Ms. Venable’s rules are fake. Gallant murders his grandmother. Ms. Meade bleeds white.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs on FX on Wednesdays at 9/10 p.m.

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