Murder House fans, this one’s for you.
Season 8 of American Horror Story, suitably titled Apocalypse, is by far the biggest crossover season yet. Sure, we’ve seen glimpses of connections in the past via flashbacks or certain characters. But this episode does so much more than that. In this episode, we are actually taken back to where it all started: the Murder House. Oh, and did I mention? This episode was directed by none other than our very own AHS alum, Sarah Paulson. And she blew it out of the water!
At the end of Episode 5, Cordelia decides to send Madison to the Murder House for answers, as it was where Michael was born. But she’s not going alone. Behold overheard the conversation, and he wants to know all the dirt on Michael, too. If he’s evil, he needs to know. And so, with the help of their fellow witches, and a lot of fake peppiness on Madison’s part, the pair purchases the house. But not before the realtor has to disclose all the ugliness associated with the house. Like how it has been unoccupied for a decade, but there’s been numerous accounts of break-ins. How no fewer than 36 people have died in that house. But hey, that’s why the price is so good, right?
Now it’s important to note that Madison and Behold are used to using their magic for pretty much everything. And while they open the gate magically with no problem, the door does not budge. It isn’t often a place messes with their abilities. And the fact that they’ve encountered this before even walking in the front door is enough to make them hesitate. And as soon as they enter the house, the bad feeling worsens.
Behold can sense the countless spirits trapped here, describing it as more of a prison than a house. He senses a deep and unforgiving evil, an anger within that he does not want to waken. He’d much rather go clubbing. Who wouldn’t? But Madison isn’t about to mess up her third chance at life, despite the fact that it was Michael who gave her that chance. Cordelia wouldn’t have sent them to the Murder House if she didn’t believe Michael is evil. They’re going to find answers one way or another here, and maybe sooner than they think. Though they can’t yet see any ghosts, the front door slams shut behind them. Promising.
They head upstairs and unpack all the supplies they need to truly enter the house, or rather, the world that lurks inside of the house. The ghosts don’t want to see them, but they need answers, so they’ll have to force their way in, whatever that may cost them. Forcing a ghost to be seen is tricky business, and in a house where their magic is affected…let’s just say we’re glad we’re not in their shoes right now.
They cast the spell together, and within less than a minute, they’re in. And even Madison is shocked. Madison, who frequently describes herself as a stone-cold bitch. She sees two dead children with burnt skin and sparks of fire and ash floating around them. She gasps and literally has to take a step back, wondering what could’ve possibly happened in this house. And then, who should they run into but Tate and Ben.
It seems that even in death, even after everything that happened, Ben has continued to treat Tate, though the nature of the sessions have changed. Tate knows he’s dead, he knows what he did, but that anger in the boy we used to know is no longer there. Tate always had two sides to him, a gentle innocence and a fierce darkness. But it seems only the innocence is left, yet Violet still won’t talk to him, literally ignoring him whenever they cross paths. He calls out for her, for the person he loves and needs. And though he knows she still has feelings for him, she persists in ignoring him. And as Ben points out, who can blame her? After everything that happened, everything that he did, it would mess with someone’s mind, even when they’re dead. The only Harmon he can talk to is Ben, and that’s only because Vivien refuses to speak to her husband. Shocker, that one.
That’s when our witches interrupt. Ben and Tate are confused, how can they see them? They add a little bit of a threatening tone to their explanation, making it clear that they’re very powerful. But as Tate tells them, not even magic can protect them in this house. They should watch their back. As for Ben, he’s not in the mood to talk about Michael Langdon, he’s got better things to do. Like masturbate and cry while looking out a window. As he puts it, it’s his daily thing. Both Behold and Madison step back at that, but she feels for Tate. She wants to help reunite him with the one he loves, she’s a sucker for a romantic tragedy. But before she can, a red ball rolls down the stairs and past her feet. This house just doesn’t stop.
As she bends to pick it up, she’s tackled by Bo and begins to scream. Behold is about to cast a spell when who should grab his arm but Billie Dean Howard. A very much alive Billie Dean Howard. She tells him not to cast that spell, as it would bring all the spirits upon them, and not all are as gentle as Bo. Though he seems harmful at first, he’s nothing but a big softy who wants someone to play with. Both Madison and Behold are confused. How can someone alive be in the house? But Billie is one of the rare living humans to be allowed to come and go as she pleases. She is a friend to the ghosts in the house, almost like a protector. Madison scoffs slightly and says something less than polite, shall we say, when she’s interrupted by a woman wearing an elegant dress. With her Southern drawl, she asks who they are. Madison informs her they’re the new owners and asks her the same question.
“I’m Constance Langdon, and this is my fucking house.”
That’s right! The Queen is back! And she’s the same as ever. Vengeful, eccentric, expensive taste, and all about manners. Well, there is one thing that’s changed. She’s dead, now. And in her afterlife, she enjoys torturing Moira just as much as she did when she was alive, forcing her to clean each room over and over again and criticizing her work ethic. No wonder the house looks so spotless. And while Billie feels bad for Moira, who she calls the saddest soul in the house, Constance wants her gone, tired of seeing her face day after day. So, when they ask her about Michael Langdon, she perks up.
“I know more about that boy than any woman, dead or alive. But I don’t spill a drop of tea for free, kiddos…remove that insufferable, cloudy-eyed ginger from these premises. Permanently.”
They are witches, after all. If they get Moira out of her afterlife, she’ll tell them anything they want to know about Michael. Which means it’s time to go digging. Behold knows a spell that would keep Moira locked in a closet forever, Constance would never have to see her again. But despite what she pretends, Madison does have a heart, and she won’t do that to Moira. She tells Behold to keep digging until they find her bones. All of them. And despite the amount of bodies buried in the yard, they do.
When they take them to Moira, she falls to her knees and thanks them. They’re her ticket out of the house, and now, she can be buried wherever she wants. And there’s only one place she longs for. Madison and Behold take Moira’s bones to a nearby cemetery, where her mother is also buried. And as night arises, Moira awakes atop her mother’s grave, and is soon joined by her. She begs her mother to forgive her. She feels responsible for her death as she pulled the plug on her life support. Her mother smiles tearfully and tells her she did the right thing, she let her be at peace. They hug tightly as they begin to wander the grounds together, and the reunion is not only heart-breakingly touching, it’s exactly what Moira deserved. She deserved to find peace, and thanks to the witches, she finally has.
After enjoying Moira’s permanent absence, Constance opens up to the witches, revealing everything she knows about Michael. She begins with things we already know. That he is the son of Vivien and Tate, that he was born in this house and that when Vivien joined Tate in the afterlife, Constance took it upon herself to raise him as his grandmother. And oh, how she loved that boy. He was beautiful, and she was, after all, always meant to be a mother. She swore not to make the same mistakes with Michael that she did with Tate. But Michael was always a little different.
“He was my destiny. Oh, such a beautiful child with such a cheerful disposition, even when he was committing unspeakable acts…well, it was trivial at first, of course. You know, I’d find dead flies in his crib with their wings shorn off, and then as he got older, small rodents. I have seen enough Discovery Channel specials to know exactly what evolutionary tree he was shimmying up…”
As Michael got older, he began to graduate, as Constance put it. He would kill larger and larger animals, each time leaving her a present, a piece of them, as a symbol of his love and devotion. And while she could appreciate that love, she did not appreciate the presents. She would bury each one in the backyard and plant a rosebush over top until the yard was filled with nothing but roses. And then he killed the babysitter, of course, which we remember from the Season 1 finale. But Constance was able to convince the police that she took her own life.
Constance thought she was just raising a talented serial killer. It wasn’t until one morning, when he was late getting up for school, that she realized something much darker was at play. Overnight, he had aged ten years. A grown man, the man we know Michael Langdon to be now. And one night, he went into Constance’s room and tried to choke the life out of her, telling her that she didn’t get to order him about anymore. But before she loses consciousness, something in his eyes changes. As if shaken from a reverie, he lets go and sits back. He’s trembling as he looks at her with wide, innocent eyes and whispers in a shaking, airy voice that he’s sorry. He looks like a man, but his voice and eyes show nothing but the innocence of a child. He asks if he can have a glass of water, and with a raw voice, Constance stutters the words, “May I”, correcting him even after he just tried to kill her. He repeats her, looking almost ashamed like a child does. It’s incredible to watch Fern transform himself in so many different ways as Michael Langdon, and it speaks volumes about his talent.
But while Michael still may sound and smile like a child, he is far from innocent. He murders a priest in his bedroom and then goes back to playing video games as if nothing happened. And it is then that Constance realizes her time as his mother is over. She sensed Michael’s anger, and his unpredictability scared her. She genuinely thought that if she corrected his grammar one more time, he would’ve slit her throat. And honestly, we think she’s right. But Constance has always been one to live life on her own terms, and she wasn’t about to let a man take that choice away from her. So, she went next door to her old house, where she knows all the ghosts and all the rules. She took all the pills she could find and drank all the booze she could as she danced around the living room, going out in true Constance style. The overdose was slow, but painless. And her death was her choice.
She woke up surrounded by her children, well, everyone but Addie. But Bo was there, with all his innocence. As was her daughter, a beautiful girl with a yellow dress but no eyes. And Tate, who looked at her not with anger or resentment, but with love. His eyes were filled with nothing but it. This is the gentle boy we fell in love with back in Season 1, there’s no doubt about it. And Violet will see it too, but we’ll get to that.
Madison and Behold may have learned much about Michael’s upbringing, but they still have questions. So, they visit Ben Harmon again. He’s still unwilling to talk, until Madison promises that she can get him out of the loop he’s stuck in. You know, the whole masturbating and crying thing. It’s the crying he could live without. And so, he continues the story of Michael Langdon, who he met on the day that Constance killed herself. He came to the house searching for her, and when he found her, he started weeping hysterically, apologizing over and over again and begging her to wake up. But she wouldn’t. That’s when Ben appears, revealing that the spirits in the house can only be seen when they wish, which means she doesn’t want to see him. He starts crying more, and it’s at this moment that we realize it isn’t an act. He isn’t all evil, or at least, he wasn’t. Ben offers to help him, because he can’t help but feel partially responsible, like he’s his own son, even though that isn’t possible. And so, they start their sessions.
Ben sees Michael’s intense longing to be good. And he hopes that if he can become a father figure to him, he could help. He plays catch with him, he teaches him how to solve a Rubik’s cube, which he does with ease. His brilliance is clear. But there’s always something beneath the surface. Something evil that’s desperate to get out. They’re making progress until, one day, Michael sneaks into Tate’s room and finds the rubber suit. Tate screams at him to get out, and Michael reveals that he just wants to be more like him, like his dad. Tate lunges at him as Ben holds him back.
“Not even I could create something as monstrous, as evil as you.”
After this, Michael begins to spiral, to turn to the darkness. He starts to experiment on some of the older spirits here, like the aspiring Hollywood actress, cutting her face so she has a permanent smile. And when a couple moves into the house…they haven’t even been in the house for two minutes when he quickly ends their lives. Ben begs him, pleads with him to stop, but when their confused spirits arise, Michael clenches his hands and literally burns their spirits. He makes them cease to exist.
So, they’re pretty much screwed. The new Supreme, as Madison puts it, is pretty much pure evil. They have to leave and tell Cordelia as fast as they can, but before they even get up, Vivien Harmon appears in the doorway, telling them it won’t be so easy. Ben hurries over to her, clutching her hands and kissing her. And she kisses him back. They haven’t spoken in years, but it seems that silence is over now.
But, for now, they have more pressing matters. Vivien reveals that Michael is more than just an evil witch they have to take care of. His evil runs deeper. She reveals that while he was at the house, strange things started happening. The house was sweltering all the time, a murder of crows would constantly fly above the property. And one day, three people in dark robes came to the house in the middle of the night. And one of them? Michael’s adoptive mother, Miriam Mead.
The three reveal themselves to be part of the Church of Satan. The man is the Black Pope, and Miriam and the other woman are his Cardinals. They have followed the omens and have come to show Michael his true power, as he is the Chosen One. Vivien thought it was crazy at first, who wouldn’t? But then the Mass happened. They abducted a girl late at night from a bus stop and brought her back to the house, strapping her down on the table. And so, they began a ritual. The Black Pope kisses her. One of the women, after telling Michael that this was all for him, plunges a dagger into the girl’s stomach. She screams in pain as the Black Pope drags the dagger up to her chest. He reaches his hand deep inside her, grabs her beating heart, and rips it from her body. He places it in a goblet, and Miriam hands it to her soon-to-be adoptive son. He takes the heart in his hand and takes a bite. As he does, the shadow of a winged, multiple-headed demon appears behind him. His Father. His true Father.
Vivien reveals that neither Ben or Tate is Michael’s father. Michael was born from the evil of this house, this house that was built on the portal to Hell itself. And that isn’t something that’s easy to stop. She tried. She tried to murder him herself, but he saw her coming. He tried to end her existence, burn her spirit like he did the others, but Tate saved her just in time, proving once again his goodness. But unlike Tate, Michael cannot be redeemed. He is the Anti-Christ. Of that, there can be no doubt. Which means it’s time for Madison and Behold to get the hell out of there and back to Cordelia.
But the episode doesn’t end on this terrifying note. No, just before they leave, Madison spots Violet in the corner, curled up and crying to herself. She knows this is the girl Tate is in love with, and like I said earlier, Madison is a sucker for romantic tragedies. Violet is trapped in a house with the man she loves, but feels she shouldn’t. She feels guilty for still have feelings for him, after everything. But Madison doesn’t think Tate was really responsible for the things he did. She believes that the house, the evil in it, was using Tate as a vessel, and that any evil in him left when Michael did. Violet wants to believe that, so Madison helps her get there with a spell, allowing her to see the truth without clouded judgement. She blinks with tearful eyes, seeing her surroundings in a new way. She calls out for Tate just once, and a second later he runs down the stairs to meet her. He apologizes for everything as she thanks him for saving her mom. As Madison and Behold drive away from the house, they watch as the two ghosts embrace for the first time in years, finally together again.
So, there you have it! The episode we’ve all been waiting years for was everything we hoped it would be and more. Not only did we see the return of the Queen herself, Jessica Lange, but we also got to see the happy ending Tate and Violet deserved. It’s about time! Sarah Paulson did an incredible job directing this amazing episode, and we can’t wait to see what she does next with her behind the scenes work!
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American Horror Story Apocalypse Airs Wednesday Nights On FX.