‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’: The witch is back

American Horror Story: Apocalypse
“Could it be … Satan?”
October 3, 2018

Do you like flashbacks? If you do, you’re in luck because this episode is nothing but flashbacks wrapped in flashbacks with more flashbacks. And a side of flashbacks.

We begin with Langdon telling Meade about the woman who he modeled her on: the “closest person [he] had to a mother.”

Pause. What happened to Constance?

FLASHBACK!

Anyway, this woman was a cheerful Satanist — an actual Satan worshipper, not one of those atheists who belong to the Church of Satan — who encourages Langdon to say his prayers to the “blessed dark lord” before regaling him with stories about poisoning her three husbands because “when something’s not working, you should cut the cord and make sure the insurance is up to date.”

Langdon explains that his Devil Momma made him feel happy and protected, which is why he gave Meade her form and thoughts. Meade helps him change into a new dinner jacket with a chipper, “HAIL SATAN!” But he corrects her: not quite, but he appreciates the sentiment.

Their conversation is interrupted when Langdon senses a “powerful presence” in the Outpost, and sure enough: WITCHES.

In fact, at that moment, Cordelia is explaining to Coco and Madison that not only have they been both “raised up” but they have also released from the identity spells that kept their true natures hidden from themselves for their own protection. It was imperative they protected Coco and Madison because they were going to need all of them and their special powers in the fight to come. Dinah, who knows EXACTLY who she is, is NOT INTERESTED in anyone’s battles, thankyouverymuch, and is just going to be Switzerland over here and stay out of it.

That’s when Langdon makes his big dramatic entrance, assuring them that when he’s done with them, they’ll wish they were dead.

FLASHBACK!

2017

Before it was Outpost Exposition 3, our hideyhole was The Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men, run by the four most fabulous warlocks in the business on their days off from their Broadway shows — Behold Chablis, Baldwin Pennypacker, John Henry Moore, and Grand Chancellor, Ariel Augustus.

Ariel arrives at the school with police security footage of cop abusing a young man — our friend Langdon — when, suddenly, the cop is flung by an unknown force against the wall and ceiling where his hands and feet are broken at unnatural angles. The cop then falls to the floor, looks into the camera, says, “SAVE ME” before his head literally explodes.

The warlocks are all, “GOD DAMN!” except for John Henry who is like, “Nope, this is some dark shit, and we should not get involved with it.” But Ariel is all obsessed with “The Prophecy” which says that there will one day be an Alpha, a warlock whose power exceeds those of witches, and who, after passing the Seven Wonders test, will take his “rightful place atop the hierarchy.” AND THEN THEY’LL BE SORRY. THEY’LL ALL BE SORRY.

So Ariel heads to the prison where Langdon is being held and is all, “OH HAI, UR A WARLOCK,” to an interested Langdon, before asking him how he ended up in jail.

FLASHBACK WITHIN A FLASHBACK!

Devil Mama was just trying to buy a goat’s head from a butcher who refused to sell it to her because he was uninterested in providing her props for her insane Satanic shit.

Langdon, finding the butcher’s behavior very unfriendly, goes into a rage and suddenly five of the butcher’s knives have flown themselves into his body. You know, like they do.

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL FLASHBACK!

Ariel opens Langdon’s cell with a wave of his hand, and when an officer understandably protests Langdon just sauntering out of jail, Ariel throws him up against the wall. Ariel assures Langdon that the officer will be unharmed, so Langdon, behind Ariel’s back, waves his hand thereby snapping the officer’s neck. Because Langdon knows exactly what’s he’s doing and I am pretty sure this was all a set-up.

As Langdon and Ariel climb into Ariel’s fabulous old Mercedes, Devil Momma appears on the street to shout some encouragement to her baby boy: “I’M A TRUE BELIEVER, MICHAEL! HAIL THE NEW WORLD! HAIL! HAIL THE NEW WORLD!”

When Ariel and Langdon arrive at the school, Ariel explains that there used to be a beautiful building on the grounds. But then Cordelia went and outed the existence of witches and warlocks to the world in 2014, so the neighbors burned the school down, and all that was left was the spiral sculpture. They were forced to go underground. Literally.

Ariel then leads Langdon down to the school where he introduces him to the other students and hopes for Langdon that he’s found his “true home.”

Within a month, the instructors test Langdon to see where he falls on the warlock level, which ranges from a 1 to a 4, and on which all of them only rank a 3. In fact, in all of warlock history, there has never been a warlock who has reached a level 4, they foreshadow.

Test one: Scrying. By looking into this mirror, Langon must find a book they’ve hidden … “The New Adam and Eve by Nathaniel Hawthorne?” Langdon finishes before reaching into the mirror and plucking it out for bonus points.

Test two: Salire per spatium. Basically teleportation. As Pennypacker begins hurling bricks and knives at Langdon’s head, he poofs himself into different spots in the room.

Test three: Stiricidium. The warlocks instruct him to turn the water molecules in the room into snow, and he does. But then the room goes dark and windy and cold and nearly kills everyone until the warlocks break him from his trance.

Langdon:

After they dismiss him, the warlocks discuss the fact that he is the most powerful warlock they have ever encountered, far more powerful than any of them, even. But John Henry is like, “YEAH BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE EVIL?” Ariel poo-poos this, and decides that it’s time for Langdon to do the Seven Wonders and PUT SOME BWITCHES IN THEIR PLACE.

Speaking of, over in my old landlord’s house in New Orleans, Zoe is teaching a group of young witches to change the color of a rose. When Cordelia enters the room, Zoe directs her to pay attention to Mallory — whose bloodline runs all the way back to Salem, apparently — who not only turns her white rose blue, but then the petals of said rose turn into blue butterflies before returning to their white petal state. “Cool,” says Cordelia.

Myrtle then enters bitching that the warlocks have called an emergency council meeting, AND SHE HAD RESERVATIONS AT GALATOIRE’S DAMMIT.

While Galatoire’s does take reservations, it is only for the undesirable upstairs dining room. The downstairs dining room does not take reservations and is the only place a woman as stylish and important as Myrtle would deign to dine. She would never stand in line, mind you, but instead presumably have a novice go wait in line for her and materialize when it was her time to eat some Oysters en Brochette and Crabmeat Sardou.

But instead of that lunch which is making me hungry just thinking about it, Cordelia, Myrtle and Zoe find themselves in the desert somewhere. The meeting is called to order and Ariel announces that they have a candidate they would like to perform the Seven Wonders, please.

The witches:

 

 

Myrtle then explains that men just aren’t equal to women in magical powers because testosterone. (I believe this with everything in my core, by the way, just so we are all on the same page here.) Cordelia adds that there has never been a male supreme, and Ariel is all, “so you are witchsplaining to me that because something has never happened before, it can never happen?” before demanding that their student be allowed to do the Seven Wonders.

But Cordelia forbids it, insisting that it would condemn their student to his death, like it did to Misty Day. She takes care of her own, Cordelia insists, only to have Chablis points out that she only takes care of her own when they’re WHITE. WHAT ABOUT QUEENIE, CORDELIA?

FLASHBACK!

Cordelia, it turns out, did try to save Queenie from the Hotel Cortez and her eternity of playing cards with Mr. March, but every time they tried to walk out the door, Queenie would return to the card game with March. Cordelia spent days trying to leave through every door and window, but nothing she did could free Queenie. The Hotel Cortez was too dark, too evil, a hellmouth. Eventually, Queenie gave up hope and sent her back to the other witches.

It was Cordelia’s greatest failure as Supreme.

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL FLASHBACK!

And this is why Cordelia will not allow this boy to throw his life away. No Seven Wonders test, GOOD DAY.

Ariel protests that Cordelia is just scared of an Alpha, of a man becoming Supreme.

Cordelia:

Meanwhile, in his room, Langdon is doing a little spirit drawing of the Hotel Cortez. Soon, somehow, he is there, inviting Queenie to leave with him. Queenie is like, “Bitch, if my Supreme couldn’t save me, I don’t know what you think you’re gonna do.” But Mr. March, sensing there is something different about Langdon, urges Queenie to go. He’s not sure she has a choice.

So Queenie walks out of the room with Langdon and right out of the hotel for the first time in years. Langdon then informs her that they have one more stop to make:

Bed, Bath and Beelzebub.

It seems our Madison is spending the afterlife as a clerk at a housewares store, being mistaken for Lindsey Lohan and wearing khakis. Langdon approaches her as she’s replacing towels and she instantly realizes that he’s different than the other “day players in [her] eternal suffering.” He explains that he’s there to take her out of here, and she wonders what the catch is, does she have to blow him? Not that she minds, she adds, before Queenie steps out of a nearby aisle and calls her a ho. Madison throws her arms around Queenie, who is NOT INTERESTED, but explains that she died in a haunted hotel and was stuck there until this guy showed up, and he’s not explaining why he saved them.

Langdon then offers his reason: he has to prove a point.

So as Cordelia, Zoe, and Myrtle are on their way out of The Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men,  Langdon, Madison, and Queenie (with a fabulous wardrobe change) are on their way in, and upon seeing her former students, Cordelia passes out.

A few VERY quick thoughts about this episode:

First of all, gimme more witches, please and thank you. The fashion, the glamour, the BITCHINESS, I love it all. so. much. Also, Myrtle is the best character in all of American Horror Story, fight me.

When I grow up, I want to be her.

So there’s a lot of theorizing out there that Mallory with her Salem bloodline and flower-petal-butterfly powers is going to be our next Supreme, which, who knows, maybe!

I’m more tickled by the episode’s not-so-subtle way of telling us that the great American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was a warlock. The school is named The HAWTHORNE School for Exceptional Young Men, and the book the warlocks chose for Langdon’s test was Hawthorne’s The New Adam and Eve, which happens to be about a post-apocalyptic world in which God creates a new Adam and Eve and plops them down in an emptied Boston.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, obviously a crucial location in our witch mythology. Hawthorne’s great-great-great grandfather was William Hathorne, a Puritan and an important member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a judge known for his harsh sentences. More notoriously, Nathaniel’s grandfather was John Hathorne, the leading judge in the Salem Witch Trials who never repented for his actions. When Nathaniel went to college, he added a “W” to his last name as a means to distance himself from his ancestors. In fact, his most famous work, The Scarlett Letter, is a rebuke of the Puritan culture that his ancestors so embraced (also there are some Adam and Eve parallels in the broader themes of the novel involving sin and expulsion and suffering, but also enlightenment). Hawthorne is the perfect candidate to open a school that would be an explicit and defiant rejection of Puritanism.

But back to the Adam and Eve thing: the inclusion of the book suggests again to me that we are not done with Timothy and Emily. There is some speculation out there that in the end, Michael won’t be the anti-christ, but Timothy (who is also under an identity spell or something according to this theory) will, the reasoning being that we saw that “666” on Timothy’s bathroom mirror that one time. And, more stupidly, because Michael is the name of the archangel who banished Satan to Hell, so why would Satan be named Michael, HUH? Meanwhile, the name Timothy means “to honor God,” so, you know, I’m not so sure about this theory, guys.

But I do wonder why we were introduced to these two characters associated with such heavy-handed Adam and Eve imagery only to have them killed off in the third episode. I can only assume this is not the last we see of Timothy and Emily, but I wonder how, exactly, they will be brought back. The simple answer is that a “raised up” spell is placed on them, too. But I still can’t help but wonder if time travel won’t be involved.

Because, and I know I shouldn’t be harping on this since the timeline we’re working with would suggest that Michael Langdon in 2021 is only 9 1/2 years old so it’s not like AHS rigidly adheres to internal logic …

BUT! But, it’s interesting that they not only alluded to American Horror Story: Hotel with Queenie’s return, they brought it back in a substantial and significant way. Again, according to the American Horror Story timeline, the Hotel Cortez is still in existence in 2022 … but all of the events that occur in this season are in 2021. So if the world ends in nuclear hellfire in 2020, how can the Hotel Cortez still be standing in 2022? I’m telling you, there’s going to be some time travel wackiness ahead and the fact that they dragged American Horror Story: Hotel back into it only confirms it for me.

Speaking of time:

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.

2014: Cordelia reveals the existence of witches; The Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men is burned down.

2015: Michael Langdon murders his nanny; Queenie checks into the Hotel Cortez and is murdered by Mr. March.

2016: Cordelia attempts to rescue Queenie from the Hotel Cortez but fails.

June 2017: Michael Langdon kills a butcher, is rescued from prison by Ariel Augustus and brought to the Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men.

July 2017: The warlocks test Michael’s abilities and petition Cordelia to have him perform the Seven Wonders. She refuses. Michael then rescues Queenie and Madison from the afterlife.

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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