[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of American Horror Story Season 8: Apocalypse, Episode 4: Could It Be… Satan? DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 4: Could It Be… Satan? can be seen on FX, FX+, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
Witches, warlocks, and Satanic panic, oh my! American Horror Story: Apocalypse is starting to pick up some steam, folks. If you’ve been keeping up with my recaps, you know that I thought the first couple of episodes of this season were slow. However, that has very much changed with this week’s episode. In true AHS fashion, we are treated to some non-linear narrative as well as backstory. So, let’s delve into Episode 4: ‘Could It Be… Satan?’!
The episode in recap this week picks up where the previous one left off. Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) is under the misguided impression that all residents of Outpost 3 are dead. As such, Langdon takes the time to fill his robotic servant, Ms. Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) in on her origins. Langdon explains to Ms. Mead that she’s modeled after Langdon’s maternal figure (who’s never named, but is also portrayed by Bates.) Fittingly, Langdon’s “mother” is a worshipper of Satan, who doesn’t take gup from anyone. Meanwhile, in the Outpost’s common room, Mallory (Billie Lourd), Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), and Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman) have been resurrected.
The new lives the women have been granted are thanks to the powers of witches: Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson), Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). Cordelia reveals to her freshly resurrected companions that were once part of her coven. However, they all had an identity spell cast upon them. Therefore, the three ladies have no memory of their true identities or time in the coven. This refresher course is cut short when Langdon and Mead confront the witches.
After this, we go back “Three Years Earlier: Before The Bomb,” to the Hawthorne School for Warlocks. The Grand Chancellor of the institution, Ariel Augustus (Jon Jon Briones) summons the heads of Hawthorne to an emergency meeting. The purpose of which is to show them security footage of the then presumably teenage Langdon killing a cop with what seems to be dark magic or demonic possession. Despite the reservations held by John Henry Moore (Cheyenne Jackson), the school decides to recruit Langdon. Doing so in hopes of finding a Warlock Supreme to overpower the covens.
In quick order, Ariel Augustus frees Langdon and brings the young man to Hawthorne’s. Once enrolled, Langdon excels in his levels of magic; proving more powerful than the head warlocks imagined. Meanwhile, at Cordelia’s school of witchcraft, it also seems that Mallory could be just as adept with her sorcery as Langdon is as a warlock. Alas, the school day is interrupted when the witches are summoned to Hawthorne’s. Regrettably, they make the mandatory appearance at the boys school out of respect for the community of magic.
At this rare meeting of witches and warlocks, something unprecedented is brought to the table. Ariel expresses that he believes Langdon could have the potential to be a Supreme. A notion which is immediately shot down by Cordelia, who cites, “There has never been a male Supreme.” Even so, Ariel proposes that he like Cordelia to administer the test of The Seven Wonders to Langon. Cordelia refuses this proposition on the basis that she “Would be condemning this boy to his death.”
Playing hardball, Ariel reminds Cordelia that she “Abandoned Queenie.” At this point, we go back in time to The Cortez Hotel. Defending herself, Cordelia explains that she did not abandon Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), who in actuality is trapped in the Hellmouth that is The Cortez Hotel (which of course ties-into American Horror Story: Hotel.) See, The Cortez was Queenie’s Hell and despite her efforts; Cordelia was just not strong enough to rescue Queenie from that Hotel Hell. During all this, Langdon has been using his magic to listen in. With the information he knows has Langdon transports himself to The Cortez, from which he rescues Queenie.
After that Langdon and Queenie make a pitstop in what is Hell for Madison Montgomery. A place which requires her to a disrespected department store clerk for eternity. Madison spends endless day after endless day, dealing with a horrible manager and even worse customers. Thus, when Queenie and Langdon show up, Madison does not hesitate to join the two of them. Now a trio, they make their way to Hawthorne’s. They arrive, just as the three of the coven are making their exit. Once again using his dark magic, Langdon makes Cordelia (at the very least) pass out. Thus, ending this episode on a cliffhanger.
My dear fellow horror fiends, this is without a doubt, the best episode of Apocalypse thus far! Unlike its predecessors, ‘Could It Be… Satan?’ is far from claustrophobic. To the contrary, this episode is all about world-building and then crossing it over with the rest of the pre-established continuity of AHS as a whole. While I remain against the idea of making this entire series interconnected; I must say that this episode proved such storytelling could be expertly-executed. So much so that I can’t wait to see how the rest of this season unfolds and connects. A sentiment which I certainly did not feel during the previous couple of weeks about this show. If I have one gripe about this episode, it’s a minor one. However, I do feel the episode lacked actual horror. Even still, I look forward to seeing Apocalypse continue!
Episode 5: Boy Wonder Aired on FX on Wednesday, October 10, & Is Currently Available FX+, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service!