'American Horror Story: Apocalypse' Prepares for Final Battle in Penultimate Episode

[This story contains spoilers from the ninth episode of FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse, "Fire and Reign."]

American Horror Story: Apocalypse took on the Illuminati and the Romanoffs in its penultimate episode. In doing so, the eighth season of the FX horror anthology laid the groundwork for a swirling theory to materialize in the finale: that witch Mallory (Billie Lourd) is the key to saving the world.

Ever since the plot of Apocalypse was revealed, questions have loomed about how the supposed world-ending nuclear event that kicked off the season muddled the timeline of the entire AHS universe. As co-creator Ryan Murphy has revealed, even though the series is an anthology, all cycles are indeed connected. The series has leaned into Easter eggs in recent years, culminating in the current crossover cycle featuring both season one's Murder House and season three's Coven. The wrinkle in the timeline occurs when lining up the Apocalypse with season five's Hotel: the finale of Hotel flashed forward to 2022, but the apocalypse happens in 2019.

That realization has become the topic of Reddit threads and discerning viewers taking to social media, with one theory becoming louder than others. The guess is that Mallory, who has already exhibited magical powers unlike any the most experienced of witches have seen, will grow into her time-warping ability so she can prevent the apocalypse from happening and effectively save the entire AHS universe.

On Wednesday's ninth episode, Supreme witch Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) put Mallory on course to become the first witch who can time travel in order to change the outcome of past events. In order to make a change that would go undetected to the all-powerful Antichrist Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the witches sent Mallory back to 1918 Siberia in hopes that she could save the youngest of the Russian royal family, fellow witch Anastasia Romanoff, from being murdered by the Bolsheviks. Though Mallory wasn't able to save her, she came close and that might just be enough to do what's needed next week.

The face-off will be between the witches and Langdon with his Cooperative army. The Cooperative, who up until this point have existed in secrecy as the government agency that funded the survival shelters after the nuclear attack, were revealed to be the Illuminati. The infamous secret society is made up of world leaders, tech giants, media moguls and cultural influencers who have all sold their souls to the devil, including former president Bill Clinton and Russia's Vladimir Putin. (It's made clear that Hillary Clinton is not on the list.)

The Silicon Valley tech billionaires (played by Evan Peters and Billy Eichner) end up being the ones who connect Langdon with The Cooperative, kicking off plans for the impending plan of nuclear destruction, and assigning Ms. Venable (Paulson's other character) as ruler of one of the several outposts.

"Humanity is at a crossroads," Langdon tells the masked members, male and female, of The Cooperative. "Time has come to wipe the slate clean. Friends, it's time for the apocalypse."

Before holding his meeting about the end of the world, Langdon paid a visit to Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies where he killed Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and burned their souls. He also killed Bubbles McGee (Joan Collins). Voodoo Queen Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter) helped him enter the Academy, where Ms. Mead (Kathy Bates) showed off her robotic Mossad skills and murdered a handful of the coven. After, Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) shared with the remaining witches that she had learned during her visit back to Murder House that Langdon has the ability to erase one's soul. Langdon also murdered all the remaining warlocks.

The episode also toyed with Antichrist lore only weeks after coming under fire from the Church of Satan for its depiction of Satanism and church founder Anton LaVey (who is played by Carlo Rota). When Langdon suggests he should run for president, the tech gurus programming Ms. Mead respond by telling him his idea sounds like the plot of Omen 3, one of a handful of movies that have tackled Antichrist lore. "It's not like there's a lot of material on how to be the Antichrist," Langdon, who has been reading from the Book of Revelation, quips.

The most revealing scene, however, came when Cordelia confessed to Myrtle that her biggest fear is becoming her mother, the former Supreme Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange). The conversation invoked the former AHS leading lady's likeness only minutes before the episode ended, and the teaser for next week revealed that Lange will be returning as her other AHS character, Constance Langdon. Constance's story was neatly wrapped up in the highly anticipated Murder House crossover episode earlier this season, but the scene previews an impending showdown with Langdon, her paternal grandson. The finale is set to be a battle between good and evil. When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the ending, Fern said he "can’t confirm anything and I won’t deny anything" when asked if the show will revisit Murder House. 

"In order to save the world, we'll have to watch it burn," Cordelia says in a scene from the finale.