Actor Cody Fern Takes Center Stage In AHS: Apocalypse’s 8th Episode
by Ben Martin
[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of American Horror Story Season 8: Apocalypse, Episode 8: Sojourn DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 8: Sojourn can be seen on FX, FX+, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
American Horror Story: Apocalypse has shown us what the end of humanity. However, with just a couple of episodes to go, the series is still in the process of detailing how the titular Apocalypse came about. The chapter in recap, Episode 8: Sojourn, focuses on The Antichrist, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern). In doing so, Fern gets to take center stage as Langdon; filling us in on the remaining pieces of this tale of the end times. So let’s get into Sojourn:
The episode opens with Michael Langdon, angrily mourning over the charred corpse of his maternal figure, Ms. Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates). Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson) appeals to Langdon; suggesting that he change his Satanic path and serve as a source of goodness instead. The young Antichrist refuses; instead swearing vengeance on Cordelia and her fellow witches. With this proclamation, Langdon tears off, intent on figuring out his next move.
Hoping to find answers from his Dark Lord of a father, Langdon wanders off into the woods. Here, he draws a pentagram and stands within it refusing to leave until he receives an answer from Hell itself. (Think of it as a perverted version of the Biblical conflict in Gethsemane.) Alas, after four days with no answers, food, nor water, Langdon starts losing his grip.
His anguish and starvation foster hallucinations which come in one rapid string. First, there are a couple of children; one offering Langdon an apple, the other bearing a grape Fanta. Then he sees Ms. Mead who rips of a scene and dialogue straight from The Exorcist (1973). From there, things escalate as he sees Anton LaVey (Carlo Rota), who praises him. Finally, Langdon’s hallucinations culminate when a black a goat appears. Filled with rage, Langdon disembowels the goat with a knife; only to find that the guts of the beast are filled with snakes.
With no answers, Langdon heads out of the woods and into the city. In the urban jungle, he finds solace in an underground church of Satanists. All of whom seem to have an enthusiastic appetite for violence and chaos; to open the earthly gates for The Devil. Sitting in the back pew, Langdon makes the acquaintance of Madeline (Harriet Sansom Harris), who offers him a meal after the service. After being nourished and making a connection with Madeline, Langdon reveals his true nature to her. Wasting no time, Madeline introduces the Antichrist to rest of her congregation. The Satanic group bestows on him the honor of slitting the throats of two innocent people.
Hoping to help Langdon in bringing about the apocalypse, Madeline offers him the means to “Resurrect” Ms. Mead. Said means come in the form of an artificial intelligence and robotics company; headed up by two coked-up morons, Jeff (Evan Peters) and Mutt (Billy Eichner). Thankfully, for these Harry and Lloyd looking dudes, Ms. Wilhemina Venable (portrayed once again by Sarah Paulson) keeps their company in order. Once Langdon shows Jeff and Mutt that his true marking; they fall in worship. Following that they quickly get to work on building and bringing to life Ms. Mead. This episode ends with Langdon, and his dear Ms. Mead reunited.
Merriam-Webster defines Sojourn as, “A temporary stay”; “To stay as a temporary resident.” In other words, Sojourn is the perfect title for the episode that’s just been recapped. After all, it depicts the true beginning of Langdon’s stay on earth as the Antichrist. Cody Fern gives an excellent performance here. Which is not something I feel that the actor has had a chance to do, thanks to the tone of Apocalypse. This episode offers him a genuine opportunity to emote, which is a nice change of pace.
Alas, it’s AHS’ tone that undercuts the episode as a whole. No matter who you are or what you believe, I feel that within the horror genre, Satan and cults can be played for true terror. However much to my chagrin, such characters and plot points are played with that horror meets vaudeville mix of which Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are so fond. While I enjoyed this episode, such an approach to its material was grating at times. Particularly when the phrase, “Hail, Satan,” was chanted for what felt like the millionth time. Still, this was a showcase episode for this season’s theme and Fern. I look forward to seeing how the end concludes with only two episodes left in Apocalypse.
Episode 8: Sojourn can be seen on FX, FX+, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service. Recap of Episode 9: Fire and Reign COMING SOON!