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American Horror Story: Apocalpyse Review – ‘Return to Murder House’

October 17, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
American Horror Story: Apocalypse Jessica Lange
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American Horror Story: Apocalpyse Review – ‘Return to Murder House’  

I think we can safely say that part of the objective of this season is to right some of the wrongs of past seasons. Obviously, what’s done is done, but where characters have been left in underserved and horrible circumstances, there are a few reprieves. So far, I enjoy who is being rescued even as I’ve complained about characters being reanimated in the past. “Return to Murder House” also explained a sticky timeline point that’s no doubt been bothering some of you too. Spoilers for—basically the whole series up to this point—follow.

Madison and Behold pose as newlyweds to buy the Murder House. Already hilarious, since nobody ever would believe they’re a couple. The realtor who took over for poor Marcie reveals that 36 people have died in that house. I haven’t taken time to count, but I was thinking it was more like 20-something if we count all the suicides and all the murders. Let’s see, the three Montgomerys, The Black Dahlia, Denis O’Hare’s wife and kids, Moira, Constance’s husband and her young lover, the twins, four nurses, three intruders, Quinto and his boyfriend, Tate, Beau, Hayden, and the four Harmons. Am I forgetting anyone? That’s like, 28 or so. This week we learn that Constance also died in the house, while Billy Dean managed to remain alive. She’s pretty smug given how she got chased the hell out of the Cortez, eh?

The most striking things about the ep are what stayed the same and what changed in the Murder House, and with these characters on the whole. Madison wants to be a better person. Is this a real change brought about by her second return from the dead? Or is it another short-lived idea she had that she’ll abandon as soon as it suits her? Time will tell. Anyway, she and Mr. Chablis begin their magic right away in the hopes of getting answers about Michael.

Violet is still not speaking to Tate. Vivienne is not so into Ben either. That’s nothing new. Now that Constance has killed herself (surprising because she’s so vain, but unsurprising because she’s so weak and blind), Moira seems less willing to put up with her mean-spirited crap. Harmon is still having sessions in his office, which is silly since all his patients are dead…until Michael shows up.

What do we learn about Michael Langdon? Not much, actually. We pretty much assumed he was the antichrist already, and that was confirmed. We see that he was a nice enough kid, well-meaning, just completely devoid of empathy and overflowing with psychopathy. The lack of people skills makes me wonder if he’s not a bit autistic. Most people understand that it makes others uncomfortable when you kill animals and hang them up as décor. The most exciting thing we learned is that in addition to his skill at killing, Michael can also cause ghosts to um…die? Blink out of existence? He kills the whole person—even their soul. That’s probably bad, mmkay.

The best zinger of the night came pretty early on. When Behold wants to know what Ben Harmon has to do that’s more important than talking to him—Ben casually quips, “I gotta look out the window and cry while I masturbate. It’s my daily thing.” Fans everywhere no doubt sprayed their screens with boxed wine during that simultaneous spit-take. The tear-jerker follow up? Nice.

Billy Dean (A “shitty Miss Cleo” Hahahahahaha!) also strongly implies that Madison is related to the Montgomerys in the house. But there’s no extra info given. The big news though, is that Constance thinks she was “born for motherhood.” Yeah, the lady who locked Addy in a closet (repeatedly) so she could have alone time with her young paramour, the woman who raised a school shooter, who kept Beau locked away in the attic like the Hunchback of Hollywoodtown. She fancied herself a capable, loving, attentive mother. What is it with terrible women who do that? Her romanticized ideals about motherhood, gender roles, and what makes a great man great are all completely whacked. When she says she was meant to mother monsters, it’s a clear homage to her Freakshow character, Elsa Mars. I miss Pepper.

Can I ask—where do ghosts get their cigs? Constance and Violet (at least) all appear to be chain smokers. And you know at least one of the nurses smokes. So where are they all coming from? It’s like the Blair Witch Project with the random smokes appearing out of nowhere. Speaking of nonsensical things—Constance tells us that Michael aged roughly ten years overnight. Literally. That explains a fussy element of the timeline I wasn’t down with. But sure, if Satan is your Deus Ex Machina (see what I did there?) that works fine for me. This insane growth spurt made Michael a little extra murdery. This led to her suicide, and the eventual emergence of the Satanists.

But first…Ben Harmon (DILF, hahahaha) thinks of Michael as a son. He’s not. We all know it. But Tate disavows Michael, which you’d think he’d know better than to do. Ben, you’ll recall, is super full of himself and thinks he can shrink evil out of the antichrist. When Michael murders the house’s new owners, Ben realizes that the kid is hopeless. A few murders of crows, some witchy, Satanic happenstance, and Anton LaVey is afoot with some acolytes (including our Ms. Meade), there to sacrifice a young lady, snack on her heart, and make some sweet friggin’ shadows on the wall. Anybody got a gif of that glorious thing? LaVey apparently faked his own death. Yawn. Interesting that eating the heart had such a profound impact. We know Michael ate plenty of raw innards when he was still a fetus.

It’s lovely to see Jessica Lange return, if only for a week. When this show began, they couldn’t say the F-word yet. But now…she can clearly say what she wants. How delightful that Constance’s annoyance with Moira is actually the thing that frees the trapped maid? I wonder whether Constance really wanted to be rid of her—or if she knew Moira deserved to finally be free. Seeing her walk off into the clouds with her mother was really sweet. And we get precious little sweetness on this show.

The music was delightful this week, making amazing use of “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” of Carmina Burana, a selection from Ghost in the Machine, and of course, “You Belong to Me.” AHS always chooses their music well, but this season it’s like a story unto itself. The odd-coupleish chemistry between Madison and Behold was really fun to watch. Both of those performances are simultaneously subtle and flamboyant, which doesn’t seem possible. Madison has one last good deed, which was to hook Violet and Tate back up again. Hilarious, given their relationships in Coven.

Who was the girl with no eyes? I didn’t recognize her. Might she be one of Denis O’Hare’s daughters from Murder House? Constance mentioned four children, but we only know about Tate, Beau, and Addy. Could that be her fourth child, one who died young? Funny story about the roses. I hate roses, can’t stand the smell. Maybe that’s why. Too much death.

Where does all this leave us? Moira is free from Murder House. The Harmons are en route to a happier stay in their ghost lives. Ms. Meade’s origins are largely explained, though we still don’t know how she died. We also don’t know what happened to the remaining warlocks. I think we can presume that any who doubted him, John, Behold, will end up dead. Those who remain loyal—Ariel, Baldwin, might not die until later.

We have four episodes remaining, most likely. Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange will both direct episodes before the season is out. I’d heard Jessica Lange might also direct, but that doesn’t seem to have materialized. Lots of online discussion about who else might be brought back from the past. I think we’re done with that. Nan is the fan fave to return, but because she killed someone willingly (Patti LuPone’s character), she may not be eligible. Plus Michael would have to wrestle her directly away from Papa Legba. Not sure that would work.

This kid, Cody Fern. He’s great. I didn’t like the grown-up Michael character at all. But this kid, I like him. He has a weird youthful…not innocence, maybe a naiveté? It’s cute, even when we know all the nasty stuff he’s doing, and the worse things he’s capable of. He also totally looks like he could be Evan Peter’s kid. And by the way, nobody from Murder House appears to have aged a day. It’s been 8 years. Grow some wrinkles, you slags!

This was an exceptionally fun episode. It answered questions, righted wrongs, taught us a few new things, and confirmed some long-speculated fan theories. I’m madly in love with this episode. If you’re not, feel free to fight me in the comments. 😉

See you’s next week!

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
This season got off to a slow and irksome start, but is rapidly turning into one of my faves. This week's return of our favorite (almost) characters was delightful, revealing, and cathartic. Plenty of sick burns thrown, tea spilled, and hilarious zingers laid out for our enjoyment.