Spoiler Alert: this recaps every episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse and also discusses events from previous seasons. Proceed with caution.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse has been described as the Infinity War of the AHS universe. Creator Ryan Murphy teased the crossover of two fan favorite seasons, Season 1, Murder House, and Season 3, Coven, and fans have rampantly speculated how the witches of New Orleans and the Harmons (and all their demons) will cross paths.
Apocalypse starts at the end... of the world. A global nuclear war wipes out nearly all of humanity, save for a lucky few. Given Murphy's penchant for intricate character webs, bodily pleasures, and to-die-for outfits, this hellish narrative likely won't feature only the dreary and the drab. It will be outrageous, detail-heavy, and probably the best time you'll ever have contemplating a post-apocalyptic dystopia.
If you've missed an episode - or were so enthralled with Ms. Wilhemina Venable's spectacular outfits to notice anything else - here is what you need to know about every episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse.
Blink-and-you-miss-it Easter eggs:
- When the Satanist Cardinal cut out the hitchhiker's heart, she said, "It's all for you, Michael," an homage to the classic line from The Omen.
- The Satanist Cardinal is played by Naomi Grossman, who first appeared in Asylum. Her character has popped up in Freak Show and now Apocalypse, making this one big crossover episode.
- A red rubber ball bounces down the stairs after Chablis and Madison perform the spell to see spirits - a nod to 1980's The Changeling.
Questions for next week:
- Does Constance's fourth child, the eyeless "little beauty queen," play a larger role in the series?
- Why didn't Billie Jean Howard report Michael to anyone? She is the only character who could have left the house after Constance died.
Recap: In Sarah Paulson's directorial debut, AHS fans finally saw the return of their queen, Jessica Lange, who reprised her role as Constance Langdon in the most extra way possible. Madison Montgomery and Behold Chablis make their way to the Murder House to study Michael Langdon's Satanic past. The two pose as the oddest couple ever for a realtor, who warns them that 36 people have died in the house. Wildly aware, Madison assures the realtor that she is "ready to make babies" in the Murder House as they finalize the purchase.
When the two arrive at the house, however, there is not a spirit in sight, despite the fact Chablis feels a dark, heavy psychic presence. The two perform a spell to unveil the spirits, and a few Murder House favorites pop up. The witch and the warlock stumble upon Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) and Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) in the middle of a therapy session. Tate is upset because Ben's daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) refuses to talk to him. Madison demands answers, but the ghosts can't be bothered. Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) shows up, claiming she's the only human that is allowed to come and go as she pleases in the house.
"What are you going to do, make us MORE dead?" Ben says. He then leaves and adds, "I gotta look out the window and cry while I masturbate. It's my daily thing," calling back to one of the most memorable and bizarre scenes of the series's first episode. Chablis and Madison feel like they've hit a dead end, and then the matriarch of Murder House makes her first appearance. Cigarette in hand, she introduces herself: "I'm Constance Langdon, and this is my f*cking house."
Chablis and Madison ask the spirits about Michael, and most are willing to share, save for an absent Vivien (Connie Britton) and Constance. Constance doesn't give anything away for free, and before she talks, Chablis and Madison need to make Moira (Frances Conroy) disappear. The two dig up her bones and bury her near her mother, freeing her spirit from the house.
The Murder House cast tells the audience what they already know: Michael is evil, and not just a "garden variety serial killer." Constance recalls all of the small animals Michael killed in a joyous manner - she also mentions the babysitter we saw dead at the end of Murder House, and Constance says she was able to convince the police she died by suicide. Michael then kills a priest, but that isn't what finally convinces Constance that Michael is pure evil.
One morning, she sees that his body aged about a decade, and he tries to strangle her to death. He snaps out of his murder daze before finishing her. Constance decides she is going to take her own life before he can, and she overdoses on pills and alcohol in a fever dream sequence reminiscent of Lange's portrayal of former Supreme Fiona Goode. She opts to die in the house and mother the spirits there.
Madison and Chablis continue their interrogations, and Vivien graces them with her presence. She recalls the night three Satanists - Anton LaVey, Ms. Mead, and the Satanist Cardinal - came to the house to find their master. Mead kidnaps a hitchhiking woman, and they cut out her heart and feed it to Michael. As he eats, his shadow turns into the silhouette of a winged-demon, and he finally knows who he is: the son of Satan. It was then Vivien knew she had to kill him, but she was unable to do so.
Now that the witches know for sure that Michael is the Antichrist, they leave alert the rest of the coven. Before their departure, Madison performs a bit of fan service and talks to a crying Violet, who can't get over the fact that she loves someone so evil. Madison explains that Tate was a vessel for evil and the house made him do these things. The episode ends with Tate and Violet reunited, in love for eternity.
- Cordelia said Langdon could take part in the Seven Wonders during the Blood Moon. In Roanoke, all of the ghouls and demons could cross over into the world of the living during the Blood Moon. All of these spirits followed Scathach (Lady Gaga), the original Supreme.
- When Stevie Nicks sings "Gypsy," she changes the lyrics from "She was just a wish" to "She was just a witch."
Questions for next week:
- What was going on with Cordelia's gut when she showed Myrtle she was dying?
- Is Madison related to the original owner/builder of the Murder House, Dr. Charles Montgomery? If so, how will her presence affect the home?
- Are zombies being added to the mix?
- Who is the White-faced Demon?
- Is John Henry actually dead? We didn't see the body, and Cheyenne Jackson is listed as a lead in the season - surely he will be around for more than two episodes.
Recap: Episode 5 opens in what appears to be the aftermath of the apocalypse. Cordelia stands in front of her school - or the rubble that used to be Miss Robichaux's Academy - as radiated zombies attack her, tearing her flesh off her bones. Fortunately, she wakes up, and we see that Cordelia was only having a post-fainting vision. Cordelia realizes that Queenie and Madison are actually alive, and while she is relieved, she also has a feeling that whatever she does next may directly affect whether or not her vision will come to fruition. She tells the warlocks about her concerns, and she also decides to administer the test of the Seven Wonders to Langdon, who is more than happy to partake.
Back at the academy, Myrtle tells Cordelia she doesn't agree with her decision to let Langdon take the test - is this really who she wants to be her successor as Supreme? Cordelia shows Myrtle her stomach - which looks a lot like the insides of Ms. Meade - and reveals she is dying. She doesn't have time to wait for a female successor, even if Mallory is showing some promising progress.
Coco arrives at the academy with her father, even though she doesn't feel like she belongs at the school due to her lack of powers. She does have one ability, however: she can tell whether or not something truly has gluten in it. She has become a sort of medium for Beverly Hills housewives, helping them determine if they could eat alleged gluten-free cakes and still stay at their ideal weight. Cordelia sees something though, and she decides to admit Coco to the school. Mallory comes in to give Coco a tour of the academy.
Meanwhile, the warlocks bless Langdon, preparing him to be the first male to pass the test of the Seven Wonders. John Henry (Cheyenne Jackson), however, has his concerns. He leaves for New Orleans to warn the witches and makes a quick pit stop at a gas station. A familiar face pulls up to the poorly lit, foreboding gas station: human Ms. Meade. She asks John Henry to help her get the hose in her gas tank, and then she slashes his ankles and throat, leaving him to bleed out on the pavement.
Langdon takes the test on the evening of the Blood Moon, and he passes the first six Wonders with ease. When it comes to Descensum - descending into the netherworlds of the afterlife - Cordelia adds a task to the already arduous attempt: Langdon is to save Misty Day (Lily Rabe). Misty has been stuck in her own personal Hell dissecting a live frog over and over when Langdon swoops in and rescues her. Cordelia is shocked, and she has no choice but to label him as "the next."
But that doesn't mean people have reservations. Misty tells Cordelia that something is off with Langdon. We then flash back to her actual rescue, and Langdon dissected Misty's human biology teacher to get to her. All of her fellow students sit with their mouths agape, as if Langdon were somehow corresponding with them. Cordelia reveals she wasn't actually testing him to be the next Supreme - she was trying to gauge how strong he is. She knows they will have to fight him, and she used him to get back all of her girls.
Stevie Nicks makes a guest appearance and sings to the warlocks and witches, and Cordelia and Madison sneak out for a moment. They're followed by Chablis, who overhears all of their fears about Langdon. He agrees, and he and Madison are sent to investigate Langdons origins. Madison and Chablis walk up to the infamous Murder House, and then the credits roll.
- The detective interrogates teen Langdon in Room 237, the room of the Stanley Hotel where evil lurks in The Shining.
- During their council, Cordelia tells the warlocks that "time's up" - a topical nod to the movement of the same name aimed at ending sexual assault and inequality in the workplace.
- The warlock equivalent of the Supreme is the Alpha. In Murder House, Vivien goes into labor three months early because the "alpha twin" developed so quickly. If Langdon is the alpha twin, chances are he is absolutely the warlock Alpha as well.
Questions for next week:
- Is Mallory the next Supreme? The credits sequence - and her demonstrated abilities at the academy - might suggest so.
- Why didn't Langdon save Misty Day? He was able to save Madison from her own personal Hell and Queenie from the Cortez - why not go for all three?
- What happened to Constance? She was the one taking care of Langdon as a child.
Recap: The witches are back! This episode picks up right where the last episode ends with Mallory, Coco, and Dinah revived from death by Cordelia. We learn that Cordelia and co. put the three women of the Outpost under an Identity Spell for protection. Michael Langdon walks into the foyer, and it is clear that this isn't everyone's first time meeting. Myrtle Snow shoots off a few signature digs at Langdon, and then we dive into some backstory.
We go back three years before the end of the world to an all-boys school for warlocks called Hawthorne - an underground facility that is later transformed into Outpost 3. Students work in a circle to transform pieces of glass into an orb. They are led by a council of warlocks (played by Billy Portner, Jon Jon Briones, B.D. Wong, and Cheyenne Jackson) who are hellbent on being on top of the magical food chain; witches have always been superior, but lore tells of an alpha, a warlock who can supplant the Supreme.
Meanwhile, teen Langdon is with the human Ms. Meade. Meade is a devout Satanist, and Langdon truly feels comfortable around her. She goes to a grocery store and asks for a goat's head from the butcher, who rudely dismisses her. Langdon, seemingly unable to control his powers, levitates three knives and shoots them into the unsuspecting butcher's body.
This warlock council stumbles upon interrogation footage after the death of the butcher. Langdon cries as he talks to the detective, saying his was just protecting Meade, but the detective isn't having it. Langdon then telekinetically destroys the cop, literally blowing up his head. The council is impressed, and they believe Langdon could be the one to finally overpower the women. Grand Chancellor Ariel (B.D. Wong) busts Langdon out of prison and takes him to the school, where he quickly astounds - and even scares - the faculty. Ariel believes Langdon could be the warlock savior, so he calls upon Cordelia to hold a council.
At the girls' school, we see Mallory, Dinah, and Coco all working on changing the colors of rose petals. Zoe leads the lesson, and she tells Cordelia that there is something special about Mallory, who transforms the rose into several colors and sends the petals floating about in butterfly form. The look on Cordelia's face suggests that Zoe is onto something.
The witches get the call from the warlocks, and much to their chagrin, they make their way to the men's underground lair. There, Ariel asks Cordelia to administer the test of the Seven Wonders. Cordelia refuses, lamenting how she lost Misty after pushing her before she was ready. The men call Cordeila a bigot, citing the fact she didn't care about Queenie, who is stuck in the purgatory known as the Hotel Cortez. Cordelia shoots back, saying this is one of her greatest failures as Supreme - no matter how hard she tried, she was unable to rescue her former pupil, as the hotel is controlled by the Devil himself.
This isn't too much for Langdon to handle, though. He is in a trance of sorts as this meeting is going on, and we see a sketch of the Hotel Cortez. Langdon makes his way to the Los Angeles hotel and effortlessly saves Queenie from playing yet another round of cards with her murderer James March (Evan Peters). Langdon then goes to what appears to be a K-Mart, where Madison Montgomery is living in her personal Hell. He rescues her too, and they make their way back to Hawthorne, just as the witches are leaving. When Cordelia sees Madison and Queenie with Langdon, she faints.
- As a child, Ms. Mead - who we now know is an Antichrist-designed cyborg - dressed up as Rosie from The Jetsons.
- When the witches arrive, the music changes to a '60s tune - a motif that seems to be running throughout this season.
- When Mallory is resurrected, her vision is blurry with her glasses; one of the signs of a Supreme is perfect health.
Questions for next week:
- What was the nature of Dinah Stevens and Michael Langdon's relationship before the apocalypse? They clearly knew each other before the bombs dropped.
- Who was Ms. Mead before she was a cyborg created by Langdon?
- How do Madison and Mallory know each other?
Recap: During the cold open, Michael Langdon questions the occupants of Outpost 3. Their answers overlap in suggestive ways, and intriguing information comes to light. Apparently, Dinah Stevens and Langdon knew each other before the end of the world. The biggest revelation during these interrogation sessions, however, comes from Mallory. As Langdon questions her, Mallory admits that it feels like there is someone buried deep within her trying to get out.
As Langdon pushes the subject, Mallory becomes increasingly uncomfortable. When Langdon grabs her arm as she tries to leave, she makes the flames from the fire place shoot out; Langdon responds with a demonic face and, for once, surprise. "Who are you"" Langdon asks. If her title card from the opening credits is a hint, she may be tied to the ladies from Season 3, Coven.
Whomever she is, Langdon is not happy about it. We see him in a satanic ritual, cutting himself as he lets his blood drip over a pentagram on the floor.
"I thought I destroyed them all, but one survived!" he cries as he ceremoniously cuts himself. He asks for guidance from his not-so-heavenly father, and the blood on the floor starts to boil. Live snakes emerge from the pentagram.
Meanwhile, out in the nuclear wasteland, a couple of mutated people sit around a fire, cooking a human leg. From the distant haze emerges Brock, Coco's boyfriend who presumably perished during the initial bombings. It turns out he's managed to survive, and in a bizarre way, he's thriving in this apocalyptic landscape. He asks the others where the hideaway is for rich people, and they claim not to know. Out of patience, Brock shoots them.
Fortunately for Brock, Langdon's carriage passes by. He latches on to the bottom of the horse-drawn carriage, and even though he no longer has eyebrows, there's no hiding how angry he is. When the carriage arrives at Outpost 3, Venable and Mead do not notice the stowaway, as they are too busy marveling over the chest full of fresh, Delicious Red apples.
Mead is still dealing with the fact she is a robot. She realizes that all of her memories are an implanted backstory, even the part where she was a secret agent. Still, she doesn't seem to be all that hung up on it, as she is back to her usual, Venable-loving self when the apples arrive. Mead calls the apples a gift from god, and suggests a nefarious plan: poison the apples, feed them to everybody - including Langdon - and then head to the sanctuary with Venable.
Venable announces to her tenants that in order to celebrate Halloween, they will be having a masquerade ball. The guests are all too excited for the break of monotony to even question Venable's intentions.
As Mr. Gallant styles Coco's hair in a style worthy of Marie Antoinette, Mallory reflects on her interaction with Langdon. Coco doesn't care until Mr. Gallant says Langdon told the people he was taking to the sanctuary - and she's not one of them. She then degrades Mallory and mocks her claim that she shot out fire. Coco taunts Mallory, imploring her to recreate the fire, but Mallory is unable to do so.
At the ball, everyone is in high spirits, despite events of the past 24 hours. Timothy and Emily are chipper and don't question how Mead is still alive, even though Timothy shot her square in the chest. Everyone eyes the apples, which are in a tub for bobbing. As they start the game, Venable says everyone has to wait to enjoy their treat until everyone has an apple. Coco spots a masked man, who she believes to be Langdon. She attempts to sweet talk her way into the sanctuary and goes as far as to offer him an illicit sexual favor.
Coco leads the masked man to a bedroom, and as she talks about her gag reflex, the masked man says he knows all about it. He takes off his disguise and Coco freaks out as she sees radiation-poisoned Brock. Coco tries to defend her decision to leave him, but Brock made up his mind a long time ago about his girlfriend. He stabs her in the forehead and leaves her body.
As violent as her death was, Coco met a much kinder fate than the rest of the occupants. As they all bite into their apples, everyone starts puking up blood and foaming at the mouth. Venable and Mead's poison plan goes off without a hitch - that is, until they talk to Langdon about it. Venable thinks she has a winning hand, but in reality, Langdon was the one who came up with the scheme. He designed Mead after a woman from his childhood, presumably his mother, and he was the one who put the kernel of the idea in her robot head.
Mead tries to deny the sway her true creator has on her as she points a gun at him. Langdon laughs, and the gun trains itself on Venable. Mead shoots, killing her friend and unsure why she did so. Just three episodes in, nearly all of the characters are dead, until a few familiar faces show up. Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) walk in like they own the place.
"Find them. Find our sisters," Cordelia instructs. They gather the dead women - Mallory, Coco, and Dinah - and resurrect them. Madison squats over Madison and says the fan favorite line, “Surprise b*tch. I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”