(There are spoilers ahead for “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” through “Return to Murder House”)
Who knew the end of the world would be this confusing? The sixth episode of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” landed Wednesday, finally giving us the big “Murder House”-focused episode that fans have been waiting for. Still, even with some backstory filling blanks in in, things in the present narrative remain pretty confusing. But if you weren’t already expecting that from the latest installment in the Ryan Murphy anthology series, you clearly haven’t learned how “AHS” rolls.
TheWrap has rounded up our biggest questions after watching the first six episodes of Season 8 below. Here’s hoping they answer them all before the 10-episode run ends.
Surely we’re going to see more of the “Murder House” crew, right? Right?
The “Return to Murder House” episode took place almost entirely inside said Murder House, but it might have been a little bit too tidy. There’s at least three big scenes of characters getting some kind of closure after the catastrophic events of “Murder House” and the various bad things that happened in the years when Michael Langdon was growing up there. The kind of scenes that made this episode feel more like an epilogue for “Murder House” than a key part of the story of “Apocalypse.”
And then, at the end of the episode, Madison (Emma Roberts) and Chablis (Billy Porter) get in their car and leave the house behind. It ends very much with the vibe of “welp, that was the Murder House, time to move on,” similar to the appearance of the Hotel Cortez a couple episodes back. Could the nuclear apocalypse blow up the house and free the ghosts? Or could we return to the house at some point — it is above the entrance to hell, after all. I don’t know the answer, but the way that episode is built it kinda vaguely sorta feels like that’s all we’re getting. But that can’t possibly be right, because surely Constance and Tate and the rest of them will have to be some kind of factor in the resolution to this whole thing since they basically started it.
So, who was the Rubber Man in Outpost 3?
One of the weirdest parts of “Return to Murder House” was the scene in which young Michael dressed up as the Rubber Man and murdered two women who were moving into the house. Which casts further confusion about the identity of the Rubber Man from Outpost 3.
It seemed pretty clear that the Rubber Man was not Langdon physically wearing the suit, though it’s possible he was doing some sort of magical projection. On the other hand, it could be Tate, who was the Rubber Man back in the day, but Madison seems to think that he’s no longer evil now that Langdon is elsewhere.
But without knowing anything about what happened to those Murder House ghosts after the apocalypse, it’s hard to have any concrete thoughts about all that just yet.
Are we gonna get more Anton LaVey?
Another particularly weird bit of the sixth episode was the inclusion of the real life founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey (Carlo Rota) — who pops up out of nowhere with Kathy Bates’ unnamed character to help kickstart Michael Langdon’s Antichrist powers. The real LaVey died in 1997 (on the episode he says he faked his death), so Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk could pretty much do anything with that character if they chose to.
Where did the warlocks go?
We’ve been spending so much time in the past lately that it can be easy to forgot that in the post-apocalyptic portion of this story we’ve seen no sign whatsoever of the warlocks.
Very conspicuously, meanwhile, before the apocalypse the warlocks were based in the building that now houses Outpost 3. Did Langdon clear them out to make room for all this post-apocalyptic fun? He did indicate to his caretaker that his vendetta is against all magic users, and not just the witches. But did any of them survive into the present, like Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and Madison and Myrtle (Francis Conroy) did?
Where are Queenie, Misty and Zoe?
There are three witches we’ve seen in flashbacks but not in the present: Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Misty (Lily Rabe) were rescued from their personal hells by Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) has curiously just been kind of hanging out and not doing much in the flashback narrative. It seems likely that means they fell victim to Langdon’s vendetta against the witches, but it’s possible also that one or more of them switched sides to cooperate with him.
Whatever the explanation, it’s certainly very conspicuous that they didn’t show up with the other witches at Outpost 3 after the nuclear apocalypse went off. But there’s so far been no hint as to where they are.
What’s Dinah Stevens got to do with all this?
Meanwhile, there’s one witch we’ve seen in the post-apocalyptic present but not the past — Adina Porter’s Dinah Stevens. Given the focus on flashbacks lately, that means it’s been quite a while since she’s been around. After she was resurrected by the witches forever ago, she seemed to be positioning herself as a sort of neutral party, though that’s a position that can’t possibly last. She’ll have to take sides sooner or later.
A possible wrinkle in that dynamic is that they seemed to indicate that Dinah is one of the voodoo witches, a faction we really haven’t heard from in “Apocalypse” outside of that brief mention.
Where is Langdon’s surrogate mother now?
We’ve gotten to know the woman that Ms. Mead is modeled after (Kathy Bates) fairly well over the past few episodes — she was a “cardinal” in the Church of Satan who participated in the murderous ritual to help Michael get his whole Antichrist thing going, after which she actually raised him. This woman was still alive when Langdon was taken to join the warlock school, and she was still around to kill John Henry Moore (Cheyenne Jackson) after he expressed serious misgivings about elevating Langdon.
But that was still some time before “Apocalypse” began, so is that lady still around somewhere? Langdon implied that she isn’t (he “lost” her) but conspicuously doesn’t say she’s dead.
Is the Hotel Cortez going to be important for the rest of “Apocalypse” or was that just a fun reference?
It’s tough to say, but based on the fact that the world has ended and Queenie has been rescued from the Hotel Cortez, it seems unlikely the show intends to cross over more with “Hotel.” It’s true that the place seems so powerful that it exists as both a physical location and some kind of hellish eternal afterlife, but it also wasn’t a threat in “Coven” until Queenie accidentally stayed there. Then again, it seems like just about anything could happen in “Apocalypse,” and magic is running rampant, so who knows if the hotel will pop up again to torture people with endless bad card games.
Was Langdon always planning to kill everybody in the Outpost?
In case you missed or forgot this little detail way back in the second episode, the idea to murder everybody living in Outpost 3 with poisoned apples actually came from Langdon, and Ms. Mead then relayed that to Ms. Venable, without Mead knowing that Langdon was controlling her. But the timetable for when he came up with that plan is unclear. Like, if Langdon was always just going to kill everyone, why go through all the hoopla of pretending to be doing some kind of selection process?
Related: maybe Langdon also killed everybody at the other outposts?
What actually is Michael Langdon’s long-term satanic plan, and why is he in conflict with the Coven?
So Langdon was raised by a cardinal of the Church of Satan to become the Antichrist and then joined up with the warlocks and eventually passed the Seven Wonders to become the Alpha. But what specifically does he have against the witches? He does seem to indicate to the witches that the nuclear apocalypse was part of his plan (“I’ve already won”) but, again, what is the point of all this? What’s his endgame? Is it just that he’s trying to bring about the end of the world? We still don’t actually have any idea why any of this is happening.
What is The Cooperative actually?
Everything in the present narrative in “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” is centered on a group called The Cooperative building a bunch of outposts in case of nuclear war, and also transporting people to them quickly before the bombs fall. And then they make everybody who lives in the outposts dress like it’s the 1800s or something. They also basically kidnapped some teenagers, allegedly because they have good genes or something.
The fact that Outpost 3 used to be the home base for the warlocks could be a clue — could the Cooperative be all the various magical groups working together against Michael Langdon? Or just a front for the warlocks to maintain their power post-nuclear war? Or did Langdon make his big move against the other magic users before the war and the Cooperative is actually some kind of satanic organization?
Was Michael Langdon messing with everybody’s brains in the outpost before he killed everyone?
A lot of seemingly supernatural things happened in the second episode — the dead snakes coming back to life, the guy in the gimp suit appearing as if from nowhere, Gallant stabbing what he thought was the gimp who turned out to actually be his grandma. All of this stuff is really bizarre and there’s no normal explanation for any of it. But given Langdon’s demonstrable skill with magic, it’s not too much of a stretch to think he was responsible for the creepy goings-on.
However, we don’t actually know if he’s responsible for it, since there’s seemingly no reason why he would just mess with everyone like that. The three secret witches are also suspects, even though they seemingly weren’t aware of their identities as witches. Mallory, for example, is clearly powerful enough to use magic subconsciously. And you’ll recall that Adina Porter’s character Dinah is the one who had a snake come back to life in her bowl. When Cordelia and her coven arrive, she outs Dinah as a witch from a different coven, a fact Dinah was apparently concealing. Was there some kind of weird supernatural battle going on in the second episode that we didn’t have the context for?
What exactly led to the end of the world?
The apocalypse itself was very vague — no mention on the news about who was launching the nukes or why, just that they hit London, Hong Kong and Washington D.C. before Los Angeles was wiped out. Was it a war? Or was it just one country — or organization — who pushed the button? And could The Cooperative have had something to do with it? Or maybe Langdon, being the evil Satan worshiper that he is, have been responsible somehow?
What does it mean that nobody was flying that plane?
The big cold open sequence in episode one ended with LA getting nuked and Billie Lourd’s character discovering that nobody was flying the plane she was on. The next time we see those characters, they’re in the outpost with nobody mentioning that whole “nobody was flying the plane” thing or any explanation for how they got there. This seems like an important point, and something that will have to come up later.
What happened with Langdon’s horses?
So in episode one, Langdon rides up with another person on a pair of horses, which were looking sickly from being outside in the nuclear fallout. After Langdon went into Outpost 3, the other person shot the horses and seemingly offered them up to something living in the brush — a thing that managed to actually drag the horse corpse out of site. So, uh, what?
“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.