Tuesday, September 18, 2018

American Horror Story: Apocalypse - The End

** Spoiler Warning** This season is a crossover of seasons one and three (Murder House and Coven) so expect spoilers for both those seasons as well as the episode being discussed.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse starts with both an ending and a beginning. The end of the world as we know it and the beginning of a new kind of existence for those who survive. This season promised the end of the world and that is exactly what the opening minutes deliver. The end is not brought upon by some supernatural means as one might expect with a show like this. No, it instead is caused by something much more mundane: nuclear missiles and people willing to use them. It seems like a nuclear war is the most likely culprit even thought it is never explicitly said.

The main setting for this season is Outpost Three. A bunker like facility that our survivors find themselves at. It's ran by The Cooperative, a shady group that we know next to nothing about. The setting feels a little claustrophobic, even as the sets feel huge, and tense in the best possible way. 

Our survivors include Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman), a Real Housewives-ish character who, when we meet her, wants nothing more than to be an 'Instagram influencer'. There is also a talented hair stylist (whom I already love) named Mr Gallant (Evan Peters). There is Coco's long suffering assistant Mallory (Billie Lourde) who could not possibly hate her job more.

We are introduced to this group at Mr Gallant's hair salon. He is, naturally, styling Coco's hair. Coco's assistant is trying to get her to take pictures drinking some gross cold juice press and Coco is totally not having it. Mr Gallant does not think much of Mallory's skills either and hints that she totally should be fired. He's amazing and perfect and Evan Peters is having a BLAST playing this role.

Things quickly take a dark turn as sirens start to go off and emergency notifications start coming in detailing the imminent arrival of missiles. Coco's father calls to say a quick goodbye and tell her that she can still make it out. He purchased four spots on a plane leaving Santa Monica and she is the only one of her family that still has time to make it.

The panic is palpable as Coco and Mallory rush outside and into a waiting car to whisk them to the airport. People are freaking out, news reporters are detailing the chaos that is happening all over the world. Hong Kong, London, and various other cities have been destroyed by nuclear missiles. The effect is pretty chilling. 

Coco has a husband/boyfriend (not sure of his exact status) named Brock (Billy Eichner) whom she calls and implores to meet her at the airport so he can take one of the four spots available. She loves him and doesn't want to go without him. We don't need to worry much about him because he won't be around long, sadly. Coco also convinces Mallory to take one of the four spots instead of going home. 

Mr Gallant decides to rush home to his get his Grandmother Evie (Joan Collins). He quickly tells her that the warnings are real and that missiles are coming. She quips that 'so is global warming' and that it is probably 'fake news'. People will obviously love how ridiculous she is. Mr Gallant rushes them both to the airport in an attempt to take two of the four spots on the plane. Coco is not impressed because Brock is so totally going to be there (except not at all) so there isn't enough room. Mr Gallant points out the obvious: Brock will never be able make it and seals his spot on the plane by reminding her of his usefulness with her hair. 

People, obviously, come to hijack the plane for themselves. Coco basically breaks up with Brock over the phone (ouch) as she is rushed into the plane by her body guard (who is killed for his trouble). Brock is understandably pissed to be left behind but the plane takes off without him anyway. Goodbye, Billy Eichner. 

Elsewhere we meet the Campbell family who provide another one of our survivors. Timothy Campbell (newcomer Kyle Allen) is a teen who is eagerly awaiting news of his college acceptance. He is celebrating his acceptance to UCLA with his family when the alerts start to come in. Their panic is interrupted by government officials storming into their home. They want to take Timothy because his genetics make him an idea candidate for some secret program. Nobody else in the family is allowed to come.Timothy's father wants him to go because it is the only way for him to survive but his mother is not having it. She wants to spend her final moments together as a family. Timothy is eventually taken and brought to a holding facility where he meets Emily (Ashley Santos), a girl about his age, who has also been selected to survive because of her genetics. This totally has to be a 'repopulate the earth' deal, right? As they begin to compare notes we find out that Emily was in jail before she was brought to the facility. The blast happens which shakes the holding cell they are in (which seems to be underground) and Timothy begins to sob as he realizes his entire family is dead.

Two weeks later, Timothy and Emily are finally transported to Outpost Three. They are made to put in hazmat suits to walk from the truck to their new home. Their introduction to this new home is an unsettling one.They view two people getting shot along the path they take to the main door. It may be safe, but they could also shoot you apparently.

Outpost Three was once an exclusive school for boys but is now one of the few remaining outposts still standing. We are introduced to another of our survivors,  Wilhemina Venable (Sarah Paulson). She is in charge but really answers to The Cooperative (shady group who controls the fallout shelters). Each person in the outpost is assigned one of two colours: purple or grey. Purples are the elite. Those chosen to survive. Greys are those who serve the elite and are thankful for such an opportunity. 

The rules of the outpost are plentiful and mostly ridiculous (though some are just common sense). Some of these rules include:

1. Refer to her as Ms Venable
2. Do not go outside (radiation, duh)
3. Dress for dinner
4. No unauthorized sexytimes (no exceptions)

Breaking these rules will result in consequences which can range from being tossed outside the walls with the rest of the puss filled, cancer ridden people there or getting shot in the head. My interest was piqued by the mention of these 'puss filled, cancer ridden' survivors. Could we possibly be dealing with zombies? Is this a zombie apocalypse?!

Our arrival at Outpost Three introduces us to some more survivors. There is Andre and Stu, a gay couple (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Chad James Buchanan) who we barely learn anything about, Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter) an Oprah Winfrey like former talk show host, and Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) who is Ms Venable's right hand woman. 

The group that we are following is mostly made up of 'purples' with them either being rich enough to buy a spot, or chosen for survival because of their DNA. The only 'grey' of note is Mallory. 

Life at Outpost Three is, as you would expect, really boring. The food is beige cubes that are packed with the required vitamins, proteins, and other nutrition bodies need. There is no hydro, no TVs, or other modern technology. There are some books and a radio that plays the same song over and over. It is the definition of monotonous. This feeling is something that is captured very well. Timothy and Emily are the new people and therefore big news. Naturally our group of survivors begins to get a bit of cabin fever and does not react well to the conditions they are living in. Mr Gallant, in particular, is unimpressed. He would very much like to die. Coco is hangry all of the time. Food seems to be the biggest disappointment among the group. Ms Venable advises they have eighteen months of beige cubes and that things will get worse food wise if their situation doesn't change. Turns out that those who did survive the blast turned to killing each other for food, and the governments all but fell apart. It's chaos basically, so they can't expect anyone but The Cooperative to help them.

The first hint of something supernatural comes with our first shower scene. Timothy is cleaning up for dinner and exits the shower to find 666 on the bathroom mirror and a voice whispering 'beware'. That's real great, spirit. Beware of what exactly? Unfortunately for Timothy my guess is that it is referring to pretty much EVERYTHING. 

At dinner one night they discover that someone has gone outside and brought radiation contamination back into the shelter. Mr Gallant and Stu are singled out and taken to the washing stations. After being scrubbed clean only Stu is determined to still have radiation on him. Stu is immediately killed by being shot in the head for his trespass (remember those rules). Andre is upset at the loss of his lover and Mr Gallant is probably traumatized from having to witness it.

We quickly learn that Ms Venable and Miriam have decided go against the orders of The Cooperative and terrorize the people living in Outpost Three. They faked the entire radiation scare to get away with killing Stu. They make use of Stu's death by offering up a stew for dinner that is made from Stu's body. Yup, you read that right ...

Beyond gross and cruel. Coco demands Mallory come and stick her finger down her throat. Only Evie Gallant decides to keep eating. Ms Venable and Miriam deny it and say it is chicken (why is there is freaking TOOTH?!). Andre demands to see Stu's body. The others point out, perhaps to reassure themselves as well, that Stu was contaminated so it makes no sense that they would be fed tainted meat. Good point, except we know Stu wasn't actually radioactive.

The song on the radio switches to a hopeful tune about morning afters which prompts Mr Gallant to dramatically sing and swear the songs are messages from The Cooperative and they are about to saved. However, we learn eighteen more months pass with the same song playing and nothing else changing either. Mr Gallant is beyond done. He has stopped styling Coco's hair and even suggests eating someone. Timothy and Emily have begun carrying on a very tame, but I bet still forbidden, affair. They've limited themselves to one kiss each week (which keeps them from unraveling like the rest of the survivors). It's cute and chaste and I bet they get in trouble for it eventually.

Just as Mr Gallant is snapping and causing quite the scene (including threatening Dinah with a fork in the neck for spouting some Oprah like wisdom about being strong) there is an alert of a breach. A carriage driven by gas mask wearing horses is approaching. It's majestic and darkly beautiful. The driver (who is in a tricked out hazmat suit) demands to speak with Ms Venable and flashes the following identification.

He also tells those around to 'tend to the animals' which means shooting them (they are contaminated after all) and giving them to what seems to be an unseen entity in the woods. Eeeep!

The name on the id should be VERY familiar to fans of the show. Yup, he is THAT Michael Langdon. As in this adorable little Antichrist from the first season of American Horror Story (aka Murder House). The son of Vivien Harmon and Tate Langdon:

He's all grown up now and is pretty much the hottest Antichrist ever. Michael inquires who is in charge and replies a biting 'of course you are' when Ms Venable states that she is. Michael is sassy. He tells her that is impressive that this outpost has survived. Three others have been overran and the other three won't last the year. Turns out that Michael is from The Cooperative (see the id) and he brings news of a sanctuary filled with supplies. Miss Venable is enthused by this news and inquires if he is there to transport them. Michael, however, is there for an entirely different reason.

Survival won't be that easy. Michael gets to decide who goes to this post apocalyptic paradise. It could be all of them or it could just as easily be none of them. Those who make the cut get to live and those who don't end up like Michael's horses (this is informed with the slyest of smiles from Michael).

I love Michael already. We last saw him taking delight in the fact that he had just killed his babysitter so I am curious to find out what has happened to him in the years since. Antichrists apparently age rapidly outside the womb as well since it has been roughly seven years since he was born (if my math is correct).

Ryan Murphy provided the tweet of the night with this gem:
He certainly does have Vivien's flowing locks and Tate's blue eyes. This casting is pretty spot on because I totally buy him as the grown version of the tyke we met at the end of Murder House. Side note - any bets on how quickly Mr Gallant cuts that hair? I bet it happens pretty quickly.

This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest premieres since the first season. There is something about this premise that just seems to click. I am curious about how Michael ties into The Cooperative and what their ultimate goal is. I am curious about this 'sanctuary' location Michael claims exists. It's probably under the Harmon's house right? It's totally got to be under the murder house. I am also counting down the episodes until all our fan favourites make their appearance. I am wondering if the witches are going to have to turn back time and prevent the apocalypse from ever happening (hence the hourglass used so heavily in the marketing)?! So much to speculate upon.

See you next week where we'll discuss episode two. Until then -  be sure to follow Outpost Three's rules. 

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