American Horror Story‘s 8th season, titled Apocalypse, is bringing out all the stops. Not only is this the season of crossovers, it’s raising the stakes in every way. And each episode is more exciting, enthralling, and entrancing than the last. Episode 5 is no exception.
The episode begins with Cordelia waking up to a world of ashes. If you recall, Episode 4 ended with her fainting at the sight of Michael returning from the Hotel Cortez and from hell, with Queenie and Madison by his side. Now, neither girls are to be found. In fact, she lays outside Miss Robichaux’s Academy, or what’s left of it. Burned to the ground like everything else, there is nothing left but the bones of the establishment. And nothing answers her calls but a feral, hungry growling. Soon, Cordelia finds herself surrounded by infected creatures that once resembled something human. Her magic is useless as they begin to tear her limb from limb, gruesomely ripping muscles from her neck with nothing but their teeth. She screams in agony and, through the crowd of monsters, sees a man who is not a man. A being with a pale, cracked face, the face of a demon. And he laughs as he watches her suffer her slow death.
She awakes in shock, with Myrtle and Zoe sitting next to her on the living room sofa of the all boy’s school. Not leaving so soon, after all, it seems. Myrtle carefully helps her sit and then stand, explaining her fainting spell, and how she was calling out and screaming in her sleep. But when Cordelia lays eyes on Queenie and Madison, she is no longer filled with shock, but delight and relief at realizing she didn’t imagine their resurrection. She wraps her arms tightly around both of them at once, nearly crying with joy.
Madison: “Maybe you forgot I’m not much of a hugger.”
Cordelia: “Tough shit.”
But as happy as Cordelia is, she knows the importance of what she saw, and gathers all the warlocks in the common area, insisting that her fainting spell was a result of seeing her friends return from the dead, nothing more. She thanks Michael for returning them to her, and he simply tells her that he wanted to get her attention. He certainly has it, but now she needs theirs. She tells them that she was graced with a vision of the future, a terrible, horrific future. Cataclysm is coming, and the future of the world weighs on her next decision. Despite Myrtle’s outrage, Cordelia asks Michael if he’s still willing to take the test of the Seven Wonders in two weeks time, at the rise of the blood moon. He agrees without hesitation.
The witches travel back to Miss Robichaux’s Academy, where Myrtle continues to berate Cordelia for her decision. If he passes the test, he will become the next Supreme. Myrtle is dead set against letting a man become the next Supreme, convinced they are not capable of making great leaders. And in true Myrtle fashion, she compares Attila the Hun to Mark Zuckerberg as proof of their inability to lead. But while Cordelia understands Myrtle’s hesitation, as she herself does not relish the thought of a male Supreme, she will not let her own pride and desires impede her judgement. She will not follow in her mother’s footsteps. If that boy is truly more powerful, if he could save the world, her Coven, she will name him the next Supreme.
Myrtle is still not convinced, pointing out that another lesson can be learned from Cordelia’s late mother. That being a Supreme does not mean you are worthy to lead. She begs her to hold the test off until he can take it with some of their own witches. Mallory, for example, has abilities unlike anything they’ve ever seen! When coming across a dying deer with multiple injuries, she was able to not only heal it, but undo the wounds completely. She could very well be the next Supreme! But Cordelia doesn’t have time to spare. She is fading. The skin around her stomach is beginning to blister and crack. Her powers are leaving her, and she is dying. As Myrtle begins to cry at this news, they are interrupted by none other than Mallory herself, who apologizes but lets Cordelia know her appointment is presently waiting. And that appointment is with, believe it or not, Coco! And let me tell you, she’s just as spoiled without the identity spell!
She insists this isn’t the place for her, but her father begs to disagree. Apparently once, a store was handing out free samples of Biscotti when she suddenly felt tingles rush through her. She stopped her brother from eating one, smacking it out of his hand. It was only shortly after they discovered her brother had Celiac disease. She saved his life, but Coco isn’t as impressed with herself as everyone else is. Gluten sensor isn’t exactly something to brag about! But Cordelia understands that it isn’t about food, it’s about danger. And the fact that she can sense it says much. She calls Mallory over to help Coco get settled in her new rooms, and already, she seems a little nicer and more open to this change of environment.
Meanwhile, back at the all boys school, the warlocks bless Michael Langdon with salt, water, and blood just before the rising of the blood moon, determined to help strengthen him in any way they can. All the boys congratulate him, his teachers as well, all but John Henry Moore. He still is as skeptical as ever, as he should be. As he watches on, Langdon lets Moore and Moore alone see his true face, the face of the pale demon. He doesn’t care if the others think he’s paranoid. Despite his friend and fellow teacher, Behold Chablis, trying to stop him, Moore packs and heads out of there less than an hour after the ceremony. The test of the Seven Wonders or not, he needs answers now. And he’s going to Cordelia to find them.
It doesn’t take long for him to leave the school and arrive at a nearby gas station, a brief stop just to fill up his car before the long journey. But shortly after he arrives, so does another. A familiar face this time. None other than Langdon’s mother, the one Miriam Mead is modeled after. She plays the innocent, helpless woman, asking Moore to help her fill up the tank, grateful for the kindness of strangers. But each moment that the small talk continues, it grows a little more unsettling. Until, when he bends down to help her pick up the wallet she drops, she slices the back of his ankles. He crashes to the ground where she then cuts his throat and covers him in gasoline. She gets in the car, lights a match, and drops it on his body as she drives away. And where does she go next but to see her son, of course!
Michael greets her with open arms, anxious to see if the deed was done. It was, she confirms, but with a little help. It seems the Grand Chancellor was in on the plan, too. As he walks over to meet them under the cover of darkness, she insists they can trust him as long as they don’t mention anything about Michael’s father. Ariel is as determined to see a man as the Supreme as Myrtle is set against it. If that means killing one of their own, so be it. We see Ariel’s true moral compass now.
The witches return to the school not long after their last visit, to submit Michael to the test of the Seven Wonders. And in a comical, Charlie Chaplin-like sequence, he performs each with ease and lightheartedness. He makes each task look simple, until it comes to the final and most challenging, where he must descend into the nether world and make it back alive. But Cordelia needs something else from Langdon, something more. He must retrieve Misty Day, one of her witches who failed the test and is now trapped down there. Ariel and the other warlocks are outraged. No other Supreme has been made to do this, it cannot be done. But as Cordelia points out, whatever is coming is not going to be easily dealt with. If Langdon is fit to lead the witches and warlocks, he must be prepared for anything, strong enough for anything. If he isn’t, he is not fit to be the next Supreme. Ariel throws every insult he has her way, but she barely blinks. She reminds him that she outranks him, and if she so wanted, she could flick her wrist and tear out his larynx without hesitation. He should be mindful of who he speaks to and how.
Langdon interrupts to tell Ariel that it’s okay, that he agrees to Cordelia’s terms. Minutes later, he’s reciting the incantations and descends into the nether world to retrieve Misty Day. And oh, how we’ve missed her sweet, sweet soul. Of all people, she deserves to be trapped in that hell the least. She finds herself in science class, where she is asked to dissect a frog. But she refuses, and is able to bring it back to life in seconds with her magic. One of the children points it out to the teacher, who then, to teach her a lesson, forces her to kill it. After which she brings it back to life again, and so the cycle goes on, endlessly. This is her own personal purgatory, and its painful to watch her innocent soul suffer through it. But, thanks to the Anti-Christ, Misty’s hell is about to end. Langdon guts the teacher gruesomely, and Misty looks up at him with a mixture of horror and awe.
“Are you here to save me?”
Langdon awakes back at the school, gasping for air, and the witches are left confused and disappointed, but only for a moment. Seconds later, Misty materializes out of thin air next to him, and soon after, wakes up, as bright-eyed as the day Cordelia first met her. But the joy in their reunion is short-lived when Cordelia grows weak, her nose dripping blood. As Langdon’s power grows, hers weakens. And she is forced to do what every Supreme must eventually and inevitably do. She names him the next Supreme, and with that, passes out once again.
This time, she wakes with Myrtle and Misty by her side, and Misty warns Cordelia of the darkness she sees in Langdon. She tells them that when he was down there, before he was able to retrieve her, he conversed with hell itself, with the evil spirits. He understood them. And while he may have just been negotiating her release, she’s certain it’s more. She’s always been able to sense evil, and with him, she senses the essence of death itself. And this is when Cordelia reveals her true plan. Langdon will never be the next Supreme. She said the words to appease the warlocks, but in reality, the test of the Seven Wonders was a test of his strength, to see what they’re up against. And now, thanks to him, she has all her witches back.
As the witches gather for dinner, a very special guest arrives just for Misty: Stevie Nicks, in all her glory. And she puts on a performance dedicated to Misty. Even the warlocks watch, even Langdon himself. But while everyone is entranced with Stevie Nicks’ gorgeous voice, Cordelia catches Madison’s eye and they head away from the group and upstairs. Cordelia tells her that she has to leave immediately to the one place that holds the answers they’re looking for. The place that will tell them who/what Michael really is. But here’s the catch. Chablis is coming too. Overhearing their plan, he insists. After Moore went missing, his own suspicions have grown about the boy, and if anyone’s going snooping, he’s coming along. And where are they going? The place where it all began: the Murder House.
You know what that means!! In one week’s time, we will see Jessica Lange finally return to American Horror Story! Tate, Violet, and the whole Harmon gang are back! American Horror Story is going back to its roots and we could not be more excited. Is it Wednesday yet?
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American Horror Story Airs Wednesday Nights On FX.