Fans of American Horror Story have been waiting for the current season since the conclusion of Murder House. This episode gave us the Antichrist, and Ryan Murphy teased that the character would return in a later season. Hearing that Apocalypse was to be the joining of Murder House and Coven (arguably one of the show;’s stronger seasons) had many of us waiting on the edge of our seats. Now, seven episodes into a ten episode season, we are left largely disappointed at just how lackluster this season has been.
The season started off strong, with the first three episodes setting a tone of true terror. Coco and Malory fleeing to Santa Monica to get on a plane to escape the unavoidable apocalypse and Timothy being separated from his family because of his “superior DNA”, gave the viewer a true and disturbing sense of what would actually happen if the world engaged in a sudden nuclear war.
Upon arrival at Outpost 3, we had the pure evilness of Wilhemina Venable, the sadistic Miriam Mead, and the delightfully wicked Evie, played to perfection by the legendary Joan Collins. Michael Langdon’s sudden and mysterious arrival brought with him the revelation of the Cooperative and the Sanctuary, as well as the return of the Rubber Man.
All of this comes to a screeching halt when Venable and Mead hatch a plot to poison everyone and escape to the alleged Sanctuary themselves. Ultimately, everyone but Michael and Mead dies. Suddenly the Coven arrives, bringing a select few back to life, and confronts Michael in what should be the ultimate showdown. Suddenly, we make a time jump three years into the past and we begin to watch Michael’s painstakingly slow rise to power.
The extreme tonal shift is not a welcome one. It not only slows down the plot, it also drastically changes some of the characters. While we do learn that Coco and Malory were under identity spells, we are suddenly expected to believe that meek Malory is actually a very powerful witch and that the selfish Coco is actually a kind person who wants to use her extremely odd powers for the good of others and the Coven.
In what should have been the best episode of the season, with the return of our beloved Jessica Lange, Return to Murder House felt like gratuitous fanservice with the return of old characters barely driving the plot. While actors playing multiple characters has worked well in other seasons, this season the portrayal of multiple characters by one actor has fallen flat. It expects the viewer to have no questions as to why Madison doesn’t notice that Billie Dean Howard looks exactly like Cordelia, or that Violet looks exactly like Zoe. Even our beloved Constance looks exactly like Fiona. We are supposed to just go along with Madison not recognizing the person that killed her the first time? Instead, we spend a majority of the episode in a frustrating stage wait as we learn inconsequential minutia regrading Michael.
The only useful information we receive is in the last five minutes of the episode where we learn what the majority of astute viewers had divined long ago … that Michael is indeed the Antichrist.
Apocalypse has also brought along the introduction of Warlocks, who are also governed by the Supreme. Their introduction leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Where were they back in Coven and why was there no mention of them, especially in the search for the new Supreme? Their introduction has also been incredibly sexist on both sides, with the Coven claiming Witches are vastly superior to Warlocks and Warlocks trying to hatch plots to kill all the Witches and seize power. While the insults being thrown are not that far off from our current real life extremes on the Left and the Right, it is a far too “in your face” subplot that so far has only given the horrible message that men will do anything for power, even if it means following the ultimate evil to get it. With only three episodes left in the season, we still have more questions than we do answers, and with the way the plot seems to progressing, it is questionable as to whether we’ll get the answers we are looking for.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse” airs on FX, Wednesday’s at 9 PM Central Time.