‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’: Home again, home again

American Horror Story: Apocalypse
“Return to Murder House”
October 17, 2018

UPDATE: I’m sorry if this was hard to read earlier. WordPress is making “updates” and RUINING EVERYTHING. Hopefully, this should be easier to read.

Mr. Chablis and Madison, posing unconvincingly as a khakis-and-polo-shirts married couple, purchase the Murder House — but not before the agent warns them that there have been multiple break-ins, missing persons and some 36 murders associated with the property. If something happens to Mr. and Mrs. James, the agency is not responsible. Good luck and GOD SPEED.

When the pair arrives at their new home, they find a property buzzing with psychic energy, and note that it feels more like a prison than a home. When Mr. Chablis suggests going out clubbing rather than staying there, Madison — showing an uncharacteristic flash of maturity — explains that she’s been given another chance at life, she can’t afford to fuck it up. And Mr. Chablis would like to remind her who gave her that chance, missy.

The two go upstairs where they perform a ritual that allows them to see the ghosts in the house, even if the ghosts would rather stay hidden. But if they’re going to learn anything about Langdon, they will need to talk to those who knew him best — his family — and they are all dead.

Now, how they know this about Langdon is never made clear, but OK.

The spell works and soon they find themselves listening in on Ben and Tate’s therapy session which mostly consists of Tate whinging at Ben that he’s not helping him win Violet back. Mr. Chablis and Madison interrupt what I assume is an endlessly recurring — and hopelessly boring — conversation between the two, and introduce themselves while explaining that they are here to get answers about Michael Langdon. But the ghosts are all, NOPE! CAN’T HELP YOU! WE HAVE VERY IMPORTANT MOPING AND MASTURBATING WHILE CRYING BUSINESS TO GET TO! BYE!

And then Mr. Chablis calls Ben “The Tear Jerker” and I AM SO MAD I DID NOT COME UP WITH THAT FIRST. DAMMIT.

Anyway, a red ball falls down the stairs soon followed by Tate’s malformed brother Beauregard who tackles Madison. Mr. Chablis is about to magic him off of her when he’s warned not to by a very alive Billie Dean Howard who is there for … some reason. Never explained. She does mention that she is a friend of the house and the spirits therein but then does pretty much fuckall for the rest of the episode.

And that’s when the true star of the entire series, Constance Langdon, makes her grand entrance at the top of the stairs, demanding to know who these intruders are in HER. FUCKING. HOUSE.

HIDE THE SCENERY BECAUSE JESSICA LANGE IS HERE AND JESSICA LANGE IS HANGRY.

I'm jessica lange ahs this is my show.jpeg

Before the witches can explain why they are there, Maid Moira appears to tell Constance that she’s finished cleaning the living room. But of course she has not cleaned it to Constance’s satisfaction, she never cleans it to Constance’s satisfaction, this is their own little dusty hell they have created together. This leads to a back-and-forth between the two women about bitterness and disappointment and blah blah blah, TL:DC (too long, don’t care): they hate each other.

When Constance returns to her conversation with the living, Madison and Mr. Chablis explain that they have some questions regarding Michael Langdon, and Constance is delighted. Well, they came to the right place because there is no woman who knows more about him than her. But she only talks on one condition: they get ol’ One Eye out of her afterlife.

This proves easy enough: the witches dig up some bones in the backyard, find the ones that feel like Moira’s “vibration,” and return them to one tearfully thankful ginger maid. Moira requests that they bury her next to her mother, and the witches oblige, allowing Moira and her mother to have a very sweet reunion and giving Moira something incredibly rare on this show: a genuinely happy ending.

Back at the house, Constance holds up her end of the bargain and tells the story of her grandson:

He was born in this house to a mother and family that were marked for death. When Vivien died, Constance took over mothering duties, hoping to fix the mistakes she made raising Michael’s father, Tate. Michael “was such a perfect little angel of light,” she explains, before going on to describe how Michael began killing small animals and like a psychotic cat, leaving them for her as “gifts.” Constance tried to make the best of the situation and would plant a rose bush over every gift until the smell of roses made her want to retch.

And then there was the nanny.

Up to that point, she thought she was raising a garden variety serial killer — which for Constance was no biggie, she had experience raising monsters before, after all.

But then one morning, she went to his room to wake him for school only to discover that Michael was now a grown-ass man. That’s when she knew SHIT HAD DONE GONE CRAZY. Soon after, she woke up to Michael strangling her in some sort of fugue state, and when he woke up, he seemed just as alarmed and scared as anyone. She tried an exorcism, but that just ended with a dead priest, and this, for some reason, broke her. With the help of a handful of pills and some Crown Royal, she offed herself in the house so as to be with her children forever.

Except not Michael, she never wanted to see him again, the end. And now if you’ll excuse Candace, she has a tea party with her eyeless ghost daughter to attend.

Chablis and Madison then go to Ben and offer to cast a spell on him to stop him from crying while he’s yanking it in exchange for the rest of Michael’s story.

Ben explains that the first time he saw the boy he considered his son — even though he knew he wasn’t — was when Michael discovered Constance’s drug and booze-filled corpse. Ben started therapy sessions with Michael, which turned into more of a father-son dynamic. However, when Michael met his actual father Tate, and Tate was all, “OH HEEEELLLLLLL TO THE NO TO BEING THIS WEIRDO’S DAD,” Michael turned super emo.

i'm not emo angry sad.gif.

And dark.

Ben found Michael mutilating the ghost of the Black Dahlia and then, later, when the house sold to a couple, Michael donned the Rubber Man suit and took out his daddy issues on the new owners, killing them both on moving-in day. Ben pointed out that all that Michael accomplished was trapping their souls in the house with them, so Michael … somehow … destroyed their spirits forever with some sort of magic fire hoodoo.

deal-with-it-dany-game-of-thrones

At this point of the story, Vivien — who has spent the last however many years giving Ben the silent treatment — arrives to draw the story to its conclusion: Michael is the antichrist. “Then I saw a beast with ten  horns and seven heads rising out of the sea and all who dwell on Earth will worship him.”

WELL OK THEN.

Vivien explains that one night the apparently not-dead Anton LaVey, the Black Pope of the Church of Satan, arrived at Murder House with two followers, Devil Momma and let’s call her Red Shirt Cape because methinks she is not long for this series. The three explain they followed a dark star in the West and it led them here, to this house built over a portal to Hell, to find him, The Chosen One. Now, all they need to do is perform a quick human sacrifice and he will come into his powers. Cool? COOL!

To that end, they kidnap a hitchhiker, tie her down on the dining room table, rip out her heart while she’s still alive and feed it to Michael in a quick Dothraki pregnancy ritual.

game of thrones got daenerys eating heart

And now he’s Khalessi Satan! Or something!

michael turns into satan ahs american horror story eat the heart.gif

When Michael’s Khalessi ritual was met with a terrible hailstorm, Vivien decided she was freaked out enough to take matters into her own hands, and snuck into his room (wait, do ghosts have to sneak?) with a knife. She found a 666 birthmark tucked behind his year and is all, “GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!” Before she could kill him, he tried to use the spirit fire annihilation trick on her, but Tate managed to pull her out of the flames at the last moment.

Which, I mean, OK. But is that how magic spirit fire spells even work?

WHATEVER. The point is: Vivien never saw Michael in the house again and Tate is now a hero.

kerry washington sigh eye roll testing patience

Vivien concludes by telling the witches that neither Ben nor Tate is Michael’s father. Instead, he was born of the “evil of this house,” whatever the hell that means, and that he’s here to “destroy the world.”

As Madison and Mr. Chablis pack their bags, he insists he would have never backed Michael if he knew he was the antichrist and they agree they need to go back to the Council and fill them in on all this noise.

But before they leave Murder House forever, Madison finds Violet, tells her that Tate isn’t all that bad, blows some sort of powder in Violet’s face which helps Violet “see the truth” and leaves the house as Violet and Tate have their happily ever after.

Gross. No.

First of all, let’s call this episode what it is: Fan Service. The whole purpose of this episode was to make longtime American Horror Story fans happy and give some of their favorite characters happy endings. And for the most part there is no real problem with that: Constance is one of the best AHS characters of all time, it’s nice that she is spending eternity with (most) of her children; Moira was a tragic figure who deserved some peace after some 40+ (50?) years of torment; and Ben and Vivien are finally speaking to one another after many lonely and melancholy years.

What I have trouble with is this nonsense of making Tate heroic and absolving him of his sins. He was a mass murderer! He was a rapist! He’s a monster and Violet does not deserve to have spend eternity with him even if the Violet/Tate shippers want that. Tate being trapped in the house with the one woman he loves and not be able to be with her was the fate he earned, and reversing that in the name of fan service is just gross.

Also, it doesn’t make any damn sense based on the internal logic of this universe. Madison claims that it was just the house that made Tate evil — which, OK, but isn’t the house also what made Michael evil, what made him the antichrist? Should he be forgiven? After all, by this thinking it’s not his fault that he murdered THE ENTIRE PLANET, it’s that he was born inside this house. Had Vivien given birth out on the lawn, he might not be the spawn of Satan and the nuclear holocaust could have been avoided.

And maybe that is the point: that everyone is worthy of forgiveness if they seek it, which Langdon at least up to this point, has not. But I suspect in their effort to give the idiots who want Tate and Violet to be together what they want, they didn’t think through the logic of making Tate not responsible for his actions. (Taissa Farmiga is kinda with me on this one.)

Just a couple of other quick things:

Anton LaVey was a real person who started the Church of Satan in the 1960s and died in 1997. The church he founded was based on a blend of esoteric thought and focus on the individual (he was heavily influenced by Ayn Rand and Frederic Nietzsche) and while he performed “Satanic rituals” they were not violent in nature. The Church still exists and does not actually believe in the devil or God — it is made up of “skeptical atheists” who have embraced the Hebrew origins of the word “satan” which means adversary, to suggest they are adversarial to other religions. They don’t perform dark rituals and they don’t perform human sacrifice. They are taking how they have been portrayed in AHS and Sabrina on Netflix all in relative stride, however, only a little worried this could cause another Satanic Panic:

Ultimately, it seems these current references, particularly in these Netflix and FX shows, are the price we pay for being prominent in contemporary media. The shows’ producers can easily claim these are parodies. Their dialogue establishes that none of this is meant to be taken seriously, that these are over-the-top exaggerations for what are meant to be entertaining programs. This is nothing new as there have been better parodies of Satanism and I’ve covered them in Laughing Best—Humorists Take On Satanism. However, these recent efforts fulfill the sort of Christian fantasies about Satanism that were rampant during The Satanic Panic. While the demographics suggest that the viewership of AHS and Sabrina likely won’t confuse these mockeries of Satanism with our legally recognized iconoclastic religion, I wouldn’t be surprised if less sophisticated viewers might take these as somehow being accurate and thereby feel they need to direct hostility towards actual Satanists who are “out” to society. Thus the current Satanic Unease could possibly escalate. We’ll be monitoring such developments as this trend plays out.

And the last little thing I will point out is that before Vivien makes the big reveal of Michael’s anitchristness to Chablais and Madison, Constance describes baby Michael as a “perfect angel of light” and Ben says that Michael being born alive was “the only light to come out of this.”

Lucifer, of course, means “light bringer” and in Roman times was associated with Venus, the morning star.

From Wikipedia:

Due to the unique movements and discontinuous appearances of Venus in the sky, mythology surrounding these figures often involved a fall from the heavens to earth or the underworld. Interpretations of a similar term in the Hebrew Bible, translated in the King James Version as “Lucifer”, led to a Christian tradition of applying the name Lucifer and its associated stories of a fall from heaven to Satan. Most modern scholarship regards these interpretations as questionable, and translate the term in the relevant Bible passage as “morning star” or “shining one” rather than as a proper name, “Lucifer”.

Nice little wink there, writers.

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: Constance raises young Michael who begins killing small animals Michael Langdon murders his nanny. Michael grows into a man overnight and tries to kill Constance. Constance realizing she was out of her depth commits suicide in Murder House, joining most of her children.

Ben Harmon then takes over raising Michael. Michael is rejected by Tate and turns even darker, murdering some new residents of Murder House and obliterating their souls.

The Church of Satan finds Michael at Murder House and perform a dark mass to help bring Michael into his full powers. Vivien attempts to murder Michael, and he tries to obliterate her, but Tate saves her at the last moment. Michael leaves Murder House and Vivien and the other ghosts never see him again.

2015: 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. Cordelia has an apocalyptic vision and agrees to allow Michael to take the test of the Seven Wonders.

Back in New Orleans, Coco’s father enrolls his daughter at Miss Robichaux’s. At Hawthorne’s, John Henry is killed by Michael’s caretaker when he tries to leave for New Orleans to discuss Michael with Cordelia.

Two weeks after Cordelia’s vision, Michael passes the test of the Seven Wonders, bringing Misty Day back to life in the process. Cordelia sends Behold Chablis and Madison Montgomery to Los Angeles to investigate Michael’s childhood.

Madison and Chablis learn about Michael’s history from Constance, Ben, and Vivien. They bury Moira’s bones near her mother’s grave and Madison helps Violet see that Tate was controlled by the evil of the house. Tate and Violet have their happily ever after.

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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