[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of American Horror Story Season 8: Apocalypse, Episode 10: Apocalypse Then DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 10: Apocalypse Then can be seen on FX, FX+, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
Aside from comic books, the horror genre has contributed a lot of material to the anthology format. When it comes to anthological horror television, there’s no shortage of popular titles such as The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), The Outer Limits (1963-1965), and Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996). However, the most modern example of horror anthology TV is without a doubt American Horror Story. This series presented us with the medium’s first long-form anthology series; with each season dealing with a different aspect of the beloved genre. Alas, every season of AHS has fallen victim to the anthology format to one degree or another. That is to say that some seasons are stronger than others.
The current season, American Horror Story: Apocalypse has been no exception. Apocalypse’s past ten episodes have proven to be a long and winding road that brings us to the end of our end. But before, I get into my thoughts on The Season Finale entitled Apocalypse Then; let’s break the episode down.
No doubt this Season Finale is all about putting the pieces together to bring us to the end of things as we know them. As such, Apocalypse Then opens by showing how the remaining witches rigged the end-game to their advantage. Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) pays a visit to Ms. Wilhemina Venable (Sarah Paulson), Jeff Pfister (Evan Peters), and Mutt Nutter (Billy Eichner). The purpose of which is to ensure that individual members of her coven end up together in Outpost 3, post-apocalypse; which Myrtle does by putting them under a spell. Later, at the swamp shack, Cordelia Goode (also portrayed by Sarah Paulson) puts Mallory (Billie Lourd) and Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman) under identity spells. This way, the two witches will live under their new identities, with no memory of the past. Thereby, their survival of the apocalypse will be assured.
From there, we go back to that fateful day where the world ended and quickly given a different perspective of the season opener. After that, we finally come back to the present to the post-apocalyptic world of Outpost 3. It’s Halloween night when the residents of the bunker were treated and tricked with poison apples. Outside the compound, Cordelia, Myrtle, and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) burst out of their respective graves; where the trio have been waiting for the past two years to strike.
Once inside, Cordelia, Myrtle, and Madison bring their fellow coven members back to life. In doing so, the identity spells are undone, and Mallory and Coco are brought up to speed. Surprisingly, the ladies take in all this information (which includes Mallory being the new Supreme) with no problem at all. Just as Cordelia wraps up her verbal data dump, the Antichrist, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), Ms. Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates), and Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter) show up to put an end to the coven. Dinah’s loyalty to Satan doesn’t last much longer though as Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) shows up and dispenses of Dinah by decapitating her with a machete. (Thereby incorporating American Horror Story: Roanoke Nightmare (2016) into this crossover season.) It seems Cordelia traveled to depths of Hell, ruled by Papa Legba to bring Laveau back to the earthly realm.
Like the loyal android she is, Ms. Mead quickly comes to Langdon’s defense; machine-gun hand and all. However, Langdon’s maternal figure is quickly disabled as Cordelia casts a spell that makes Ms. Mead explode, Alien (1979) style. Following this, Madison takes up the slack, turning the machine-gun on Langdon and pumping him full of lead. The Antichrist slumps against a wall, and while isn’t dead he’s temporary out of commission. Taking the only opportunity they have, Myrtle tears off a swatch of Langdon’s clothing so that Mallory has a “Personal item” with which to defeat him. Alas, as Mallory runs off to find cover, Brock (once again played by Billy Eichner) pops out from behind a pillar, stabbing Mallory in the stomach. In sadness and anger, Myrtle sets Brock aflame, and he proceeds to burn to death.
About this time, Langdon comes back to life. Just as Madison turns the gun on him, Langdon makes the young witch’s head explode with a flick of his wrist. One member of the coven perishes; another is revived as Cordelia resurrects Mallory. However, Langdon will not be stopped by Marie Laveau, who stands in his way. To the contrary, he rips out the voodoo queen’s heart. As he does this though, Coco plants a knife in Langdon’s back. Barely phased, Langdon takes a bite out of Laveau’s heart, snaps Coco’s neck, and removes the blade from his back.
Moments later, Cordelia realizes that Mallory can only be brought back to life if she is fully-empowered as Supreme. Thus, Cordelia sacrifices herself by stabbing herself in the heart; thereby fully transferring her powers as Supreme, and bringing Mallory fully back. After all this, we once again find ourselves back in 2015, at the Murder House, during Langdon’s teenage years. Times have changed now though as the grandmother of the Antichrist, Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) disowns and kicks Langdon out of her house following his murder of the priest. Utterly dejected, Langdon walks out into the street where he’s run over multiple times by an SUV driven by Mallory.
Thanks to Mallory’s Supreme powers, the world is saved, changing everything in the process. The entire coven is once again whole, with no memory of all that’s occurred. Then we jump to 2020 where Timothy Campbell (Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos) meet and quickly fall in love. The following year, Emily gives birth to their son, Devan (Nicholas Hodge). Alas, the young couple’s happiness only last three more years. One night, they come home to find that Devan, now a toddler, has murdered his babysitter. Before the young parents have time to process what their toddling Antichrist has done; there is a knock at the door. It’s none other than the Satanic trifecta which includes Anton LaVey (Carlo Rota) and Madame Delphine LaLaurie (also played by Kathy Bates). In the end, this season stays true to its genre, ending the tale in a genuinely horrific fashion.
Overall, I found Apocalypse Then to a well-crafted Season Finale. Not only did it handle every aspect of AHS: Apocalypse with care; but it was also a final, violent rush of energy to in this season. This episode is highly-entertaining and incredibly brutal. However, it also manages to fail in one regard. Unfortunately, I felt that the ending delivered here to a very unsatisfying one. In my estimation, employing time travel to end a story is also a mess for one simple reason. That being, 95% of the time, the use of time travel to a conclude a story, devalues that story as a whole. After all, if time travel is the solution, why not do it sooner.
As a whole, I find a AHS: Apocalypse to a decent, break-even season. Sure, it took a while to get going; but once it does, the season works for the most part as a dystopian tale. I may be in the minority, but I fought that the narrative structure of this season was its most significant issue. To me, the non-linear storytelling often felt bloated and a bit sloppy. At the same though, this season did hold plenty of surprises, despite being a crossover. If you’re a fan of this series (and if you’re reading this recaps you are), I believe you will enjoy Apocalypse.
Thanks For Reading My Recaps Throughout This Season. American Horror Story Will Return For its 9th & Final Season in Fall 2019 on FX!