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American Horror Story: Apocalypse Recap: Could It Be … Backstory?

American Horror Story

Could It Be … Satan?
Season 8 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****

American Horror Story

Could It Be … Satan?
Season 8 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: FX Networks.

We start the episode as last week’s ended: with Mallory, Coco, and Dinah revived from their poisonous-apple-induced death. Apparently, the ladies have been under an identity spell that erased their memory. This spell was to protect them … FROM EVIL. Langdon confronts the coven of witches in the foyer, and it’s clear that these people (demons?) have met before. Referring to Langdon, Myrtle Snow lands the dig, “The world is almost as bad as his dinner jacket, but at least the world can be saved.” This is such a sick burn; I’m glad to see that people are still being petty in the throes of the apocalypse. Anyway, the end of the world has come down to a battle of witches and warlocks, and we just have to accept that every character we’ve been introduced to in the pilot is gone … FOR NOW.

Now it’s time for some backstory. We flashback to three years before the bomb at an all-boys school for warlocks called Hawthorne, not to be confused with Hogwarts™. A bunch of boys chant in a circle and transform shards of glass into a ball. Big whoop! I’ve been to Colorado. I know what glassblowing is, and I am unimpressed. (Turn some water into wine and then we’ll talk, boys.) These unremarkable warlocks are led by a remarkably cast council of rude men: Billy Porter, B.D. Wong, and Cheyenne Jackson with a goatee. When they aren’t training wizards, they surf the web on their MacBooks waiting for the prophesied “alpha.” It amazes me that with literally the entire supernatural world at their fingertips, these warlocks are using the same personal computer as me. Perhaps Apple is on the cutting edge of technology, or it has a great product-placement deal. Either way, I’m more impressed by this than the abysmal wizards and their stupid glassblowing. But I digress.

The council of warlocks comes across surveillance footage of a young Michael Langdon combusting a detective’s head in an interrogation room. The men are inspired by his power, believing Langdon could be the “Supreme” warlock to finally usurp the witches (read: women) and their monopoly on power. The grand Chancellor Ariel breaks Langdon out of jail as Ms. Meade joyfully watches and screams, “Hail the new world!” Why Meade was loitering outside of the county jail is a mystery to me. She could have at least posted bail for Langdon, but I guess this is more dramatic. The warlocks’ acceptance of Langdon and his powers is all to goatee Cheyenne Jackson’s chagrin, as he warns that dark magic should not be tangled with. (This will undoubtedly be a case of “I warned y’all fools” because Langdon’s evil will inevitably get them all killed.) But again, the council asserts that Langdon is their chance to stop being second-class citizens. It’s clear they are playing with devil fire.

We learn that the reason the boys’ school is underground is because Cordelia outed them as a bunch of sorcery-loving weirdos to their community, and people started vandalizing their school. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that this is why we should not discriminate against any religions, as mediocre as they may seem. We don’t want an uprising of emotionally stunted mages wreaking havoc on us, do we? Warlocks deserve to be a protected class under the 14th Amendment. Let’s start with Salem the cat.

After Langdon has been at the school for a month, the council of warlocks decides to administer a test to see where his power lands on the scale of one to four. No warlock has ever reached level four, and if anyone did, they would be the “alpha.” Calling it the “alpha” is a little heavy-handed for me with these men, and clearly goatee Cheyenne Jackson is in a wand-swinging contest with this 17-year-old. Langdon approaches the different tasks with ease — he teleports, he defies the laws of matter, it’s all fun and games until Langdon makes a blizzard and nearly freezes national treasure B.D. Wong to death. Clearly, Langdon is a talented witch. This excites the council of impotent warlocks because, again, this is their opportunity to finally overtake the witches. They talk a lot about the witches, but maybe they should look inside themselves because self-improvement starts at home. But of course, the council of warlocks is too blinded by their sheer lust for power, which, again, will be their own demise.

Now it’s time for more backstory. On a classier side of town, Cordelia and her sisters meet at their witch school, Miss Robichaux’s Academy. A bunch of aspiring teenage witches who are not Sabrina hold flowers and prove their strength by turning the flowers into different colors. Mallory doesn’t just change the color of her flower; she turns the petals into butterflies — proving that she is strong and has a flair for dramatics. (Note: These witches are starting off miles ahead of the circle-jerk of warlocks making paperweights.)

The coven of warlocks calls an emergency meeting at Not Hogwarts™, where the warlocks tell Cordelia that they finally got their hands on a male Supreme, and it’s not the clothing brand. This seems impossible to Cordelia, as men are just not equal in magical ability to women. It’s biological, people! And while this gender binary is regressive, we do learn that testosterone is a known inhibitor that impedes access to the ethereal realm. The discussion turns aggressive when the men demand Cordelia administer the test of the seven wonders. When she refuses for fear of sentencing Langdon to death, as she did with her promising student Madison, the warlocks call her a bigot for abandoning Queenie to a lifetime in Hotel Cortez purgatory. This is Cordelia’s greatest failure and shame, as she tried to rescue Queenie but couldn’t because the hotel is under the control of the devil, making her powers useless. Cue Michael Langdon! He goes to Hotel Cortez and helps Queenie escape from purgatory, where you’re forced to play an endless game of cards with Evan Peters in Charlie Chaplin cosplay. Langdon then hits up Madison Montgomery’s personal hell and frees her from an eternity of working as a sales associate that handles returns, where she is routinely recognized as the (alleged!) child kidnapper Lindsay Lohan. I like this game! My personal hell would be listening to a group of people trying to pronounce my two-syllable name and getting it wrong every time. (This is also known as the first day of school for the first 18 years of my life!)

Michael Langdon brings Queenie and Madison backs to Not Hogwarts™, and the very sight of them makes Cordelia faint. The episode title asks “Could It Be … Satan?” and while we have yet to get the definitive answers on Michael Langdon, it’s clear that he’s maybe, probably, definitely Satan. Until next week!

American Horror Story Recap: Could It Be … Backstory?