‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’: Princess Charmings

American Horror Story: Apocalypse
“Forbidden Fruit”
September 26, 2018

Langdon continues with his interviews of the residents of Outpost Exposition 3, including Adam and Eve, whom he saved from Ms. Venable despite the fact that Adam shot her robot pal right in the oil pan. He also covered for Gallant for murdering Grandma Joan, claiming that she “died peacefully in her sleep.”

As for Dinah, it’s clear that Langdon and the talk show host know each other from before? Because he notes he was surprised to find her there? And she promises to not be “powerful” enough to cause him any problems? What the what? Langdon, however, assures her that she’s just the type of “soul” he’s looking for to populate the Sanctuary …

… EVIL! declares her son Andre. Yeah, OK, but see, how do you know that’s not what Langdon is looking for, is the thing? Have you not picked up on his whole dark vampire vibe, dude? I mean, just look at that wig.

I mean, no. But definitely hilarious.

Coco complains furiously to Langdon about her assistant Mallory whom she keeps around because “the devil you know,” while Langdon hisses that he senses something about Coco. “Something dark?” Coco excitedly asks. But he dismisses such an idea as it requires a certain depth of character to be dark and she’s “too shallow for meaningful negativity.”

American Horror Story: Daria

As for Mallory, Langdon explains to her that he has a talent for seeing into the dark places of the soul that people try to keep hidden. Mallory is like, “Yeah, see, that doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have any dark places?” Langdon is all, “OK, but, like, you totally hate Coco and would kill her in a heartbeat, right?” Mallory concedes that Coco is irritating and a handful, but insists she’s too helpless to actually hurt.

As Langdon continues gnawing on the scenery with his whole vision of a world “without hypocrisy” filled with people “who would not just eat from the forbidden tree but cut it down to burn for firewood,” Mallory is like “cool cool cool so can I leave now?” Langdon suggests that she’s afraid to accept who she really is, and Mallory, crying, admits that she does kinda feel like there is someone else inside her trying to “claw their way out.” As she tries to leave, he physically blocks her causing her to scream with such ferocity, it turns out the lights and knocks him backwards.

His response is less than cool:

And she replies in kind:

I’m just saying, right now is not the time to fuck with women.

Later, Langdon, irritated that he didn’t “destroy them all,” performs a little Satanic blood ritual to ask Daddy what he should do next, and soon enough receives an answer. Ave Satanas!

And then we spend ten minutes talking about robot memories.

Mead reminisces about the first Halloween she was allowed to go trick-or-treating by herself in her homemade Rosie the Robot costume, naturally. Then there was the Halloween when she went on her first date and saw Rosemary’s Baby

~Ryan Murphy turns to the audience and exaggeratedly winks~

… and then there was the Halloween in 1988 when she had her first kill as a Mossad agent somewhere in the Maryland suburbs because someone has been watching sister FX series, The Americans.

The point is, she can remember all of these Halloweens in the most minute detail. She can also remember a beautiful blond boy she took care of and the love she had for him, but she can’t see his face, it’s just a blur. Mead goes all Westworld, wondering if these are real feelings or just programs, and if she’s just a machine following codes, and wonders what is she supposed to do now? Venable insists that her mission is the same as it’s always been — to protect the Outpost, before asking if she has any memories of Langdon. WHen Mead reveals that she does not, Venable suggests that they can’t trust him to take the right people to the Sanctuary, especially not since he already informed her that she won’t make the list.

In fact, Venable has a different plan:

And Mead is all, “BEEP BOOP DOES COMPUTE BEEP.”

Hey! Guess who’s still alive despite being right in the middle of Los Angeles when a thermonuclear warhead was dropped directly on it? BILLY ON THE STREET! And he’s not looking great, guys. Tumors, missing hair, his typical bad attitude enhanced 1,000 fold. He approaches some scavengers who are preparing to feast on some spit-roasted human leg asking if they’ve heard of some kind of fancy shelter, he’s on the search for his girlfriend. The men insist they would have already raided such a place if they knew about it before trying to attack Billy on the Street. As it turns out, the nuclear hellscape as made Billy on the Street pretty handy with a shotgun and he survives just fine.

And that’s when a fancy horse-drawn carriage trots past him and he’s all, “HMM.”

Back at Outpost Exposition 3, the perimeter alarm begins to sound, and Mead and her goons go outside to investigate. They find the carriage completely empty of passengers because they don’t look under it where Billy on the Carriage is hiding.

Turns out the carriage wasn’t entirely empty (but for Billy on the Carriage): it also contained a large coffin-like trunk full of beautiful, fresh apples, which Ms. Venable calls a “gift from the gods, divine providence, and answer to their prayers.” GET IT? DO YOU? I CAN EXPLAIN …

Venable then sends Mead’s largest goon, Fist, outside to deal with the horses. Alone with Ms. Venable, it’s Mead who suggests that they use the apples to poison everyone simultaneously.

Meanwhile, outside, Billy off of the Carriage attacks and kills poor Fist when she goes to tend to the horses and steals her entry card to gain access to Outpost Exposition 3, I’m sure to go find Coco for a romantic reunion.

Ms. Venable announces to all the residents of Outpost Exposition 3 that they maybe they’ve been a little overly harsh with the unnecessary executions and all, and so as a gesture of good will, they will be having a Halloween masquerade ball and their attendance is required.

While Gallant and Mallory help prepare Coco, Ms. St. Pierre Vanderbilt theorizes that Langdon will announce his choices for the Sanctuary that night, prompting Gallant to suggest that those who are going already know. Mallory asks if something weird happened to him during his interview, too, before revealing that she thinks she set the room on fire. LOL LOL OK DO IT AGAIN, Coco and Gallant insist. But when she tries and fails, Cinderella’s stepsisters are all “GET BACK TO WORK.”

And then it’s party time. Coco makes her big entrance …

… before Venable makes her entrance and encourages the crowd to eat and drink like tonight is their last. As Bread’s “Baby I’m-a Want You” playing, the guests begin to dance. A masked man approaches Coco who she assumes is Langdon, and the two dance while she yammers about how she knows she’s going to the Sanctuary, it’s cool, before promising him very specific sexual favors — sexual favors she never offered her boyfriend, Billy Dead on the Street, amirite?

The pair then head to her room where, as she is about to undo his pants, Billy in the Outpost reveals himself:

… before stabbing her directly in her face.

Back at the party, Mead reports to Venable that they can’t find Coco or Fist anywhere (HOLD THIS THOUGHT) and that Langdon declined their invitation. But Venable is all, “OH WELL, WE’LL JUST KILL THEM LATER, IT’S COOL,” before encouraging the guests to bob for apples. However, the rule is, everyone must wait to eat their apple until everyone has one. Because.

That’s when it’s revealed that earlier, Venable and Mead milked Langdon’s pet snakes and injected their venom into the apples even though THAT’S NOT HOW SNAKE VENOM KILLS PEOPLE. LIKE, AT ALL.

Anyway, everyone gets their apples and then they eat them and then they start coughing and then they start vomiting and then their dead.

Venable and Mead:

The pair then head into Langdon’s office, where they are like, “GUESS WHAT, MOTHERFUCKER?” But when Mead pulls her gun on him, she finds herself unable to stop herself from turning the gun on Venable whom she shoots and kills. Mead, devestated, doesn’t understand why she just did that, but Langdon is all, “Oh, I know: it’s because I programmed you to do so. Just like I programmed you to poison the apples.” He explains that he learned from his father to not get his own hands dirty but to encourage other people to discover the evil within themselves. He then exposits that he had her designed based on someone from his childhood, someone very dear to him, and she’s like, “OH! YOU’RE THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND BOY, I GET IT NOW, SOME 37 HOURS AFTER EVERYONE ELSE!” He then explains that he is ready to reveal to her, the only woman who ever knew and loved him, his full plan.

Finally, in the library, “Baby I’m-a Want You” changes to “She’s a Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones for the witches’ big dramatic arrival. Cordelia, Madison and Myrtle (the only witch who really matters) come swooping in from the nuclear winter in their fabulous capes and with exactly zero fucks.

Inside, Cordelia orders the other two to find their sisters, and soon Coco, Mallory and Dinah are lying in front of her. Cordelia uses the power of Resurgence to blow life back into the women, and as Mallory realizes she no longer needs her glasses, Madison delivers her signature line: “Surprise, bitch. Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”

And now I need a cape.

Just a few quick points about this episode:

There has been some chatter in the theorizing circles that Mallory will be the reincarnation of one of the coven members who actually died died because AHS fans love them some Misty Day and are unwilling to let her go. Others point out that the first thing Madison said to Mallory was her famous line that she uttered to Fiona after she resurrected, suggesting that she was speaking to Fiona inside of Mallory. The biggest problem with these theories is that unless Fiona or Misty’s spirits could possess an already living person, it doesn’t work. Both women died in 2014, and Mallory is presumably in her early twenties in 2021, so the math doesn’t hold up. That said, I should add the important caveat that this is American Horror Story, so logic does not necessarily apply, and who the fuck even knows where any of this is going.

As for the rest of the episode, the title was “Forbidden Fruit” which refers to the poisoned apples that Langdon feeds the residents of the outpost, but also, obviously, to the Book of Genesis story of Adam and Eve, and the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge that the serpent convinces Eve to eat. Adam and Eve’s inability to resist temptation leads to them being expelled from the Garden of Eden and, as a result, ultimately to their deaths. The episode clearly bashes us over the head with the allusion, but I should point out that the use of apples — specifically the bobbing of apples — is also an allusion to “Murder House” when Tate, dressed as Rubber Man, kills Chad in an apple-bobbing bucket. And Rubber Man/Tate is, of course, Michael Langdon’s father.

In fact, the apple is a recurring symbol on this series, appearing in a significant way in almost every season: Aside from the apple bobbing incident, later in “Murder House,” a truant officer stops by to check on Violet, and notices blowflies on a bowl of apples (we later see Violet’s body in the basement covered in the same flies); In the second episode of “Asylum,” Dr. Arden offers Lana Winters a candy apple which upon eating brings back her memories of receiving electroshock therapy; in “Hotel,” Alex tries to offer her rescued son apple juice, but he reacts in disgust, later killing the family dog and drinking its blood; in “Roanoke,” the Butcher feeds the colonists poisoned apples; in “Cult” there is a scene when Officer Samuels denies Winter an apple before telling her his story about meeting her brother Kai. He then tries to rape her and she kills him. The only seasons that I can’t find obvious apple references are “Freak Show” and interestingly enough, “Coven” (but if you remember any, let me know!). But clearly on this show apples represent not merely temptation but straight-up death.

Aside from the biblical reference and as a symbol of death, the apples also served as an allusion to a fairy tale: “Snow White,” specifically. A jealous witch feeds Snow White a poisoned apple which causes her to fall into a deep sleep. The seven dwarves, believing that she is dead, place Snow in a glass coffin. A prince comes across her and falls in love and in the original telling, when he lifts the coffin to carry her away, the piece of apple caught in her throat becomes dislodged and she awakens — in more modern versions of the story, his kiss awakens her. In any event, we have a woman eating an apple, “dying” and then being brought back to life through a kiss — just like what happens to Coco, Mallory and Dinah in this episode. (also, fun fact: Myrtle’s last name is “Snow.”)

There are also echoes to “Sleeping Beauty”: Again, a young princess is cursed by a jealous fairy to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. However, another fairy tries to undo the curse, but the best she can do is change “die” to “fall asleep.” Despite the king and queen’s best efforts to prevent the curse from coming true, it does, and she falls into a deep sleep. The rest of the kingdom also falls into a deep sleep, the castle covered in brambles and forgotten for one hundred years. Eventually, a prince comes along and kisses the princess waking her and the kingdom from the curse. We don’t know what has happened to the rest of the residents of the Outposts that the witches didn’t specifically revive — will their fates somehow hinge upon the salvation of Coco, Mallory and Dinah?

And finally, it’s a small nod, but there is clearly a Cinderella reference in the episode as I noted in the recap. The beautiful daughter of a wealthy family loses her mother, and her father remarries a wicked woman with two equally wicked and ugly daughters. The stepmother and stepsisters steal the beautiful girl’s clothes, force her to wear rags and be their servant and they call her ‘Cinderella.’ One day the King decides to hold a ball to find a wife for his son. Cinderella’s fairy godmother appears to her and gifts her a beautiful gown and glass slippers so she can attend the ball under the condition that she return by the stroke of midnight. Cinderella catches the eye of the prince at the ball, and losing track of time is forced to flee as the clock begins to strike midnight, leaving a glass slipper behind. The prince takes the glass slipper with him across the kingdom to find his mystery woman, and eventually finds Cinderella. They get married and live happily ever after.

It’s a very slight nod in the episode, but as Mallory helps Coco prepare for the Halloween party — where Coco is convinced the “chosen ones” will be announced — she asks about using one of Coco’s shoes for a costume. Coco and Gallant are then cruel to Mallory when she confesses to thinking she might be special — which, as it turns out — she is. It’s not an exact allusion: after all, in the show, one of the evil stepsisters, Coco, also appears to be as special as Cinderella. But it will certainly be interesting to see if these fairy tale allusions continue to pepper the season.

A couple of questions before I close up shop:

  1. If Langdon’s end game was just “kill everyone” the way it clearly was in the other outposts, why toy with the residents for so long? Or did I just answer my own question — that he is just that cruel to give the residents hope for a future just to kill them? Is that the point?
  2. At the party, Mead tells Ms. Venable that they can’t find Coco or Fist. Why couldn’t Mead find Fist? Billy on the Street murdered Fist and immediately went inside the bunker without doing anything with her body. All anyone would have to do is go outside to find her. Is this part of Mead’s programming? Was she programmed to not see Fist?
  3. Are we just done with the other residents of the outpost? Gallant and Andre and Adam and Eve? If so, what was even the point of Adam and Eve? ~sigh~ Of course, the same could be asked of any plotline in any season of this show…

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.

2013-2014: There is a power struggle in the witching world when the Supreme witch, Fiona Goode discovers she is dying of cancer and blames the younger witches. Eventually, Fiona succumbs to death, and her daughter, Cordelia, assumes the mantle of Supreme.

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.

October 31, 2021: Brock sneaks into the outpost and kills Coco. Ms. Venable and Mead poison a trove of apples, killing the other residents of the outpost. When Ms. Venable tries to kill Langdon, Mead turns the gun on Venable, killing her. Witches Cordelia, Madison and Myrtle arrive at the outpost and revive their “sisters:” Coco, Mallory and Dinah.

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

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