Television Reviews

REVIEW: American Horror Story – Season 8, Episode 10 “Apocalypse Then”

“I always thought the world would end with fire and ice, not witches and warlocks.”

*Spoilers*

In “Apocalypse Then,” Myrtle arrives at Mutt and Jeff’s headquarters to meet them. Ms. Venable tries to stop her because she doesn’t have an appointment, but Myrtle works her magic to get past her. She does a similar trick on Mutt and Jeff, telling them to sell spots in Outpost Three to Coco’s father. The witches plan for Coco to take Mallory to the Outpost and for Cordelia to put the girls under an identity spell to hide them from Michael. Coco’s new personality is modeled on Madison, and she’s instructed to demean and belittle Mallory to provoke her powers. After the enchantment is in place, Madison drops the two off at Mr. Gallant’s salon, where Coco meets Brock. Madison sees a poster for Dinah’s show and informs Cordelia and Myrtle; the three agree that she must have sold her soul and betrayed the Coven to get it. This catches us up to the present day, with the witches, hiding underground outside the Outpost, being awoken by a surge in Mallory’s powers when she scares off Michael. A scene from earlier in the season is repeated as Michael, Dinah and the Coven are all face to face again. Dinah says she has to choose the winning side as she walks toward Michael; Marie Laveau comes out and it’s revealed that Cordelia only revived Dinah so she could trade her to Papa Legba in exchange for Marie, who kills Dinah on the spot.  

Mrs. Meade explodes, leaving Michael truly alone. Madison fills him with bullets, but Cordelia says it won’t be enough to kill him and that Mallory needs to perform Tempus Infinitum. Brock shoots Mallory, saying that he should have been on the plane. Myrtle burns him alive. Michael wakes up, heals his wounds and kills Madison, blowing her head up. Marie tells Cordelia and Myrtle to get Mallory out, sacrificing herself to slow Michael down. Coco tries to intervene but gets killed as well. Mallory is unable to perform the spell again. Cordelia kills herself so that Mallory can become the Supreme and reach her full potential; she performs Tempus Infinitum at last. Constance and Michael are seen arguing about his having killed a priest she called to exorcise him. She tells him to leave and that she doesn’t care where he goes. He motions to kill her but stops short; Constance knows he won’t do it because he’s a coward. As he leaves the house, Mallory hits him with a car. As he lays dying, he asks Constance to take him back in the house, a request she declines. Back at the Robichaux Academy, Mallory again arrives and is admitted as a student. In this new reality, Myrtle was never revived. Queenie tells Cordelia about the hotel she’s gotten tickets to, and Mallory implores her not to go. She decides to stay in Venice instead. Madison is still in Hell, but Misty is released by Papa Legba and Nan in thanks to Mallory. In 2020, Emily and Timothy meet by chance when he bumps into her protesting. A year later, she gives birth to his child. Three years after that, their child is out of control and full of anger. When they come home one night, the babysitter is dead, and their son is drinking the blood. Mrs. Meade and the Black Pope arrive for their son.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Apocalypse Then

I’ve expressed concern over the past couple of weeks that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a satisfying conclusion to such a huge story in one episode. After all, starting with “Could it be… Satan?” every episode has been a series of flashbacks between several periods of time in Michael’s life. While I still maintain that it’s very strange to use this method of storytelling up through the middle of the final episode, “Apocalypse Then” is pretty impressive in numerous ways. The story itself flows naturally, although some of the cameos and fan service feel rushed along. I also get the feeling that some viewers may need to watch this episode, or even the whole season, again to get a clear timeline on some things. I’m really happy with Dinah’s fate, and now we know why Cordelia would save her in the first place: so she could be killed again, to take Marie Laveau’s place. It’s just too bad that in the new reality Mallory created by killing Michael, Dinah is alive somewhere and Marie is still in eternal suffering. Mallory did mention eventually saving Madison from her personal retail-work Hell; maybe she’ll do the same for Marie. Kathy Bates’ part in “Apocalypse Then” feels somewhat shoehorned in, both as Mrs. Meade and in her cameo as Delphine LaLaurie. I was thrilled and shocked to see Angela Bassett as Marie, but I was also disappointed in her scarce appearances. While I would have loved for them to make this a two-season story arc, they should have at least made this episode 90 minutes. If “Return to Murder House” can be a longer episode to flesh out its story and squeeze in fan service, why can’t the same be done for the season finale? Regardless, it was amazing to see Bassett in this role again, and it was amazing when she killed Dinah; so satisfying.

“Apocalypse Then” has some really memorable dialogue, both of the comedic sort and epic declarations. I got chills when Cordelia decided to kill herself, giving Mallory her powers as the Supreme and denying Michael the pleasure of killing her. She says something about how Satan only has one son but her sisters are a legion, and I got goosebumps. This scene is well done in general, completed by Myrtle’s scream of agony when Cordelia dies. Madison and Coco both utter a couple of funny lines, and Myrtle is on fire for the entire runtime. Although her part isn’t as large as some of the others, there’s something to be said for Kathy Bates as Mrs. Meade, both in “Apocalypse Then” and throughout the season. She’s at her best when interacting with Cody Fern’s Michael, but either way, what she has done here is tremendous. Out of the Satanists following Michael, she’s the only one who feels like a real person. She worships the devil and makes ritual sacrifices, but there’s real humanity and a warmth in her care for Michael. It’s incredible that a side character can be funny, endearing and an evil old crone all at the same time. Aside from Michael and returning characters from Coven, she was probably my favorite this season.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Apocalypse Then

Cody Fern also portrayed a very complicated Anti-Christ, and one who was pitiful at times. I don’t think you can make the argument that Michael is sympathetic or relatable, but I like the concept of a confused child being fused with the seed of Satan. As time progresses, Michael becomes less human and more of a cold, obedient servant of his father. But even in the end, he needs Mrs. Meade by his side to feel complete and confident, and I think Constance is ultimately right about him being a coward. If he’s not obviously winning, he turns back into a scared little boy who doesn’t know right from left. Fern has a thankless job here; aside from his good looks, there’s nothing to Michael to garner a fandom or make him the most popular character/actor of the season. But he does the job well, and I can genuinely say I don’t know who else could have played this part. As an aside, I think this is the least we’ve seen of Evan Peters in a season of American Horror Story. I hope he returns to the forefront in coming years. I figured Timothy and Emily would come back in some form, but I didn’t really care about them much. It makes enough sense to have them bear the next Anti-Christ. I just wonder if this story will be repeated on end in this universe.

Overall, “Apocalypse Then” had a difficult task at hand, and I’d say that for the most part, it succeeds. Series staples like Evan Peters, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett feel like afterthoughts, and Billy Eichner as Brock literally is one. However, the main story proceeds in a very cathartic manner. It’s so heartwarming at the end when Mallory rejoins the Coven, tears streaming as she sees Cordelia and her sisters again. The demise of Dinah at the hands of her superior Voodoo Queen was also exhilarating, and the acting in “Apocalypse Then” was dynamite all around. While I think they should have made this an extended episode, overall I can’t complain too much about a good finale that advances and concludes the plot and, for the most part at least, gives the fans what they want.

American Horror Story - "Apocalypse Then"

Plot - 10
Acting - 10
Progression - 7.5
Production Design - 8
Comedy - 9.5

9

Great

“Apocalypse Then” had a difficult task at hand, and I’d say that for the most part, it succeeds. Series staples like Evan Peters, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett feel like afterthoughts, and Billy Eichner as Brock literally is one. However, the main story proceeds in a very cathartic manner. While I think they should have made this an extended episode, overall I can’t complain too much about a good finale that advances and concludes the plot and, for the most part at least, gives the fans what they want.

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