‘The End’ is just the beginning in ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’

In first episode of new ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’ season, familiar faces return for a crossover revival that positions them all together dealing with nuclear fallout

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This review contains spoilers for the newest season of “American Horror Story,” as well as seasons one and three.

In the newest season of anthology series “American Horror Story,” familiar cast names such as Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Kathy Bates find themselves holed up together underground in “American Horror Story: Apocalypse.”

This is the first season that seems to be a real crossover, unlike season five’s “Hotel” where a couple of characters were briefly shown. In trailers and stated online by show co-runner Ryan Murphy, the entire coven from season three is set to appear as well as the Harmon’s, residents of the “Murder House,” of season one.

Sarah Paulson returns to the series, as she does every season, playing new character Wilhemina Venable. She is also slated to play two past characters as well - coven leader Cordelia Goode from season three’s “Coven,” as well as medium Billie Dean Howard of season one’s “Murder House”. Evan Peters returns as both his character in “Murder House,” Tate Langdon and new hairstylist Mr. Gallant. Additional returning actors are Kathy Bates as Miriam Mead and Leslie Grossman as Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt. Grossman’s partner from last season, Billy Eichner, makes a brief appearance only to be unfortunately killed yelling in the street, as he is wont to do in his regular life.

Multiple other actors will also be reprising their roles from seasons one and three. These include Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, of season one’s Murder House, along with Taissa Farmiga, who is also appearing as her witch character. She is joined by fellow witches Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy and Stevie Nicks all appearing as their respective “Coven” characters, who curiously were mostly left in very strange positions at the “Coven” finale, but seem to be fine and ready to join the party now. This is hopefully explained within the season.

The show begins in first episode “The End” as Coco (Leslie Grossman) is getting a haircut from Mr. Gallant (Evan Peters), and then gets a notification on her phone alerting her to nuclear crisis coming towards her city of Santa Monica, California. She blows it off, referencing the previous false nuclear warning in Hawaii, until she gets a call from her family telling her to board a jet and come to a designated safe place. The message is real, as is proven by the news stating that multiple major cities around the globe have already been decimated by nuclear bombs.

She gathers her assistant Malloy (Billie Lourd) to come with her and meets Gallant, who convinces her to let him board along with his grandmother Evie (Dame Joan Collins). They then fly off into the unknown without a pilot as they look down upon the mushroom cloud from their windows.

Meanwhile, Timothy Campbell and Emily, (Kyle Allen and Ashley Santos), are told their DNA was chosen to continue on in the new world and are taken from their families and previous lives to be with organization “The Cooperative.” They are then brought to where the rest of the cast awaits at Outpost 3, an underground former school for boys transformed into a luxurious-looking bunker, lit with only candles. It’s run by Wilhemina Venable and assisted by Miriam Mead. Venable explains their genetics were deemed superior and they are designated as purples, (the elites), and the opposite of grays, (the worker ants). These designations indicate what color clothes they must wear; and their closets are teeming with beautiful, but all purple, dresses and suits. She also tells how The Cooperative is not run by any government, as all forms of government are now destroyed, and is instead run by the smartest group of people, the visionaries. They are then given strict rules on how to dress, how to spend their time and to not engage in any copulation.

Venable and Mead prove to be rather unkind leaders, taking joy in false punishment and even murder, going power hungry as they realize they are one of the last civilizations on earth. They tell how three outposts have already been overrun and there are only three left. This leads the residents of Outpost 3 to wallow in their own misery after one of their own was killed under false pretenses by Mead and fed to them. They then live their trapped lives for 18 months, eating sad meals and complaining.

At the end of the 18 months, another member of The Cooperative, Michael Langdon (played by newcomer Cody Fern), shows up in a horse-driven carriage to announce he can pick some members of the outpost to take to a better one with him with more rations, but only if they’re deemed worthy by him. His horses, which were contaminated by the nuclear fallout, were shot by Mead and then taken away by a strange, mysterious, creeping darkness into the surrounding forest.

Watchers of the series will know the name Michael Langdon as the demonic child of “Murder House,” born from Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) and ghost Tate Langdon, who was taken out of the home as a baby by Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange). He has now appeared to have grown into an adult member of The Cooperative.

After first hearing of this season, it is my belief that Ryan Murphy and co. were aware that people haven’t been particularly in love with the past couple seasons, and have taken the two most popular ones and made a crossover of them to interest past viewers to watch the show once more. I do admit to being one of those who liked the first couple seasons and disliked the past couple, yet still trudged on.

I have high hopes for this crossover, but still have many questions: will the witches of the coven that are soon to arrive work with or against demon Michael? How is it that the witches even came to be there, with several of them being left dead or trapped inside their own minds at the end of “Coven”? How will the ghosts of “Murder House” even come into play, as the previous season states that they are confined within the mansion only? Lastly, is it because he’s a demon that Michael has such beautiful hair, or are these things uncorrelated? Either way, I am hoping to find these answers within the show and am very curious to how everything will end up playing out, and excited for whatever new fear “American Horror Story” may strike in me next.

Edited by Siena DeBolt | sdebolt@themaneater.com

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