American Horror Story Horror TV Recaps

‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’ Episode 1 Recap: The End

Ready to meet the Anti-Christ?

Now on its eighth season, FX’s American Horror Story has covered it all. From ghosts to vampires, serial killers to cult leaders. And while each season has its own fantastically and uniquely horrific moments, the majority of AHS fans would agree that nothing really compares to those first few seasons. Murder House, Asylum, and Coven were and are beloved by fans, all for different reasons. So what happens when a crossover occurs?

Season 8, titled Apocalypse, is a crossover between Murder House and Coven, and it’s also been teased that Asylum will have a part to play. Whether that’s just in tone or perhaps an answer to the whole alien mystery in Season 2 is yet unclear, but either way, we’re excited. And if the premiere is any indication, this season may very well be the best yet.

AHS Apocalypse is exactly what it sounds like. The season premiere is called “The End”, but as one of Sarah Paulson’s characters, Wilhemina Venable, points out, this is not the end. It is the beginning.

Apocalypse begins with the introduction of three characters. Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt, played by Leslie Grossman, is an aspiring influencer who is, to put it nicely, extremely spoiled. She says herself that she doesn’t know how to load a dishwasher. We then have Evan Peters’ new character, Mr. Gallant, who is putting his finishing touches on Coco’s new hairstyle while her assistant, Mallory, takes the perfect photo. Coco, being the apparent ray of sunshine that she is, spends each second insisting that everything needs to be perfect. She may be rich because of her father, but she needs to become famous on her own. And if Mallory doesn’t bring her a macchiato ASAP, she may just find herself out of a job.

Suddenly, an alarm starts coming out of everyone’s phones, alerting them that a missile is going to hit Los Angeles in one hour. While she fluffs her hair, Coco tells everyone to ignore it, that it’s fake, when her father calls her. This is not a drill or a hoax, and there are four seats reserved on a private jet for her. It’s too late for him, her mother, and brother. But it doesn’t have to be for her. With a tearful goodbye, the connection is lost, and all havoc breaks loose.

Coco grabs Mallory and runs to the car, and as they drive through the streets we see the destruction that’s been caused in a mere few minutes. People are flinging themselves off rooftops to avoid the blast. Fighting each other for food and supplies, or simply trying to get out of the city. In mere minutes, everything has changed. Chaos now reigns.

Apocalypse episode 1 Leslie Grossman
Credit: FX

Gallant runs home, grabs his Nana, Evie (Joan Collins) and meets Coco at the airport. Needing her hairstylist, she agrees to let them have the other two seats. She calls her husband who’s still in the middle of LA, and knowing he won’t make it in time, tells him that he can now see other people. She enters the jet as airport security comes and guns down her driver, trying to stop them. But the jet is on autopilot, taking off before they have a chance to stop it. The four make it out of LA, but are still in the air when the missile lands. We see the mushroom cloud and we know. It’s all over.

This is not the first city that was hit. Before the blast in LA occurs, we watch a family of four gather around a laptop as their eldest son finds out he was accepted to UCLA. It couldn’t be a happier sight until the alarms start to sound. They turn on the television to find out that Hong Kong and London have already been wiped out, along with Moscow and numerous places in the Baltics. But that isn’t the most shocking part. No, the part that has me truly puzzled is when the newscaster says a simple, short sentence before saying goodbye to his children.

“I can’t believe we did it.”

But it isn’t panic we hear in his voice…it’s almost relief. Like he knew it was coming. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but knowing AHS, probably not. This is World War III, and it is no accident. Mark my words, this was planned. And by the end of the episode, we may just discover the man behind it.

Moments after the newscast ends, government officials (or so they seem) arrive at the family’s door to take the eldest son, Timothy, away. According to them, he has the optimal genetic makeup to survive. They drag him away from his family and take him to a secure, padded cell, where he meets Emily. The same thing happened to her, except she wasn’t torn from her family’s arms. She was in jail for protesting at the time, but they didn’t tell her anything about why they were taking her. All they know is the end of the world is coming. But someone doesn’t want them to be in the body count. The only question is why.

Apocalypse episode 1 grays
Credit: FX

Two weeks later, Emily and Timothy get transported to a different site, something more long-term where they won’t be alone. Coco and the others are there, along with some not so friendly faces. Some people were chosen, like the two of them, but others bought their way in for the steep price of one hundred million dollars per ticket, which funded the operation.

They put on radiation suits and enter the outside world, which is covered in a thick smoke. They are greeted, in a way, by another in a radiation suit, only this suit is black, and honestly, kind of cult-like. She leads them to a circular wall, and just outside are four people, two in radiation suits, two without. The ones without are all in gray and on their knees. Seconds later, they each have their brains splattered across the grass. This is not the welcoming place they were hoping for.

Timothy and Emily are led inside, where they both go through a decontamination process and, once cleared, meet their leader, Wilhemina Venable, who welcomes them to Outpost 3. Venable walks them through the Outpost, which used to be an exclusive school for boys, and through the events that have transpired. She tells them of the Cooperative, who has saved them from dying in the nuclear wasteland that is spreading over the Earth. That they have far greater plans than just “the cleansing fire”. She insists that though their way of life may seem like a step back, what with candles being the only source of light, it is in fact the opposite.

“Technology is what destroyed the world. Social media gave people the illusion they were equal. But that’s all been swept away. The natural order will restore itself.”

Trust me, you’re not the only one cringing right now.

She leads them each to their private rooms, which they should be honored to have. They are Purples you see, the Elite. There are Purples, and then there are Grays. Grays are just as important, for they are the workers, making sure the food is served and everything is spotless. AKA, servants. And to keep things simple, the Purples wear purple and the Grays wear grays, just so there’s no confusion. Venable is neither. She is an arm of the Cooperative, above them all.

There are few rules in Outpost 3. Only 2 that are intensely enforced. The first of which is that no one is allowed to leave the building, for the risk of radiation is too great. The second rule is that there is no unauthorized copulation. In simpler terms, no sex. Well, no unauthorized sex. The punishment, well, we saw what happened to the two Grays earlier. It goes to show the greater plans the Cooperative has. Unauthorized is the key word here. Clearly there is a plan to rebuild the population, but to make it as strong as possible. Which means mating will be specifically calculated to ensure the best results. Creepy, I know. And we’re just getting started.

Timothy takes a quick shower before getting ready to head down for dinner, where he hears a warning voice and sees the numbers 666 written on the fogged mirror. Alright, this is what we were waiting for. Our first real glimpse that something of a higher power is at play here.

Apocalypse episode 1 Evan Peters
Credit: FX

Timothy and Emily head down to the dining room where they meet Coco, Gallant, Evie, Mallory, and a few other new faces. Mallory is the only Gray, everyone else is considered an Elite and are extremely interested to know what’s going on in the outside world. Gallant’s face falls when he finds out everything’s been wiped out. Life in the building has become depressingly repetitive in just two weeks. Apparently only one song has played on repeat every single night, and it’s starting to get to them.

Dinner is even more of a droll occasion, if you can even call it dinner. Though it is served on fancy plates, all they get for food is a single cube that contains all the nutrients the human body needs to survive. Not very filling, but it keeps you alive. They have enough to last for about eighteen months. And after that, they’ll get even less. And that’s only if they don’t get overrun. Three of the outposts have already been wiped out, the mounds of rotting bodies out in the world are too many to count. And the people that are still alive are sick beyond belief, willing to kill each other over the smallest crumb. As Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) puts it:

“Everything we know is gone. It was always fragile. They made you think the system was a rock. It was a water balloon. One prick of the needle…that’s all it took.”

This is, without a doubt, the scariest part of Apocalypse. It’s why this season could very well be the most horrific yet, because it is based so heavily in truth. Looking at our world today…the concept doesn’t seem so surreal. Our system is a water balloon. That’s what’s terrifying.

After that encouraging message, we see another demonstration of power from Mead and Venable. They detect an increase in radiation and begin to check everyone, finding a surprising amount on both Gallant and Stu. They take them from the table, bring them to the decontamination room, strip them naked, and scrub them hard. They are bleeding, raw, and shaking by the end of it. But Gallant is now clean. Stu, however, is still dirty. He begs them not to scrub him again and Mead smiles and promises she won’t. She just takes out her gun and shoots him instead. She actually seems to enjoy it. And shortly after, we find out why.

Apocalypse episode 1 Sarah Paulson
Credit: FX

Venable and Mead have been lying. They are not working directly for the Cooperative. Not in the way they seem. They, too, are Purples, but took it upon themselves to become something more. They giggle as they look in the mirror, dressed in purple in the privacy of their own rooms, and they look like two little girls playing dress up when they’re not supposed to. Mead is almost giddy. And it’s almost cute, if it wasn’t so horrifying. We find out that while they did work under the Cooperative, and while they still technically do, they are simply pretending as if they don’t, exercising their power as they will, and relishing in every second of it. Choosing who they can kill and why, saying someone is contaminated when they aren’t. Stu simply annoyed them, so they decided to have him killed. Easy as that.

But they still maintain the facade. Losing one of their own after all, is, as they say, a tragedy, so they’ve decided to give them a little treat. Instead of a cube for dinner, they get a nice hot stew. Each of them eat up, grateful for a hot meal with actual meat in it. But they all start to question where they got the meat from. And when one of them comes across a bone that looks rather like a finger…well…

Whether that stew was, well, Stu, is unclear. Venable denies it, but we wouldn’t put it past her. And this is an apocalypse. The lengths people will go to changes as their situation worsens. As they argue among themselves, something suddenly changes. The music stops. The song that plays every single day has stopped, and a new song has begun. A song talking about the morning after, and Gallant realizes it’s a message from the Cooperative. They’re saying they’re coming for them! They’re going to be rescued! Oh, happy day!

Fast forward eighteen months.

The same song plays. Each of our residents must survive on half of a cube per day. Coco’s hair is terrible. Things have changed. Timothy and Emily have grown closer, and while they haven’t had sex, they steal one kiss a week. It is enough to keep them from going mad. And it is at this time, as our episode reaches its final moments, that Outpost 3 receives a visitor. He comes in a black, Victorian carriage, flashing an ID that reads a familiar name. Langdon.

Yes, you read that right. Langdon. As in Michael Langdon, the son of Tate Langdon and Vivien Harmon. The son of a ghost and a live human. The same son that was declared the Anti-Christ back in Season 1. He’s all grown up now, with long, flowing blonde locks that rival Tate’s. He is here to observe Outpost 3, to see if any of the residents are worthy enough to be transported to a long term facility. He may take all of them, or none of them at all. And if they are not worthy…well, you can guess what will happen to them.

So, there you have it. So much has happened in this first episode alone, it’s not only intriguing, but exciting, to see where the rest of Apocalypse takes us. As AHS always does, it’s sure to make us question our own society in an even greater way than ever before. Trust me, this is a season you do not want to miss.

We will be covering new episodes of American Horror Story every week, so remember to give us a follow for the newest recaps! See you next week.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse Airs Wednesday Nights On FX. 

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