8:25pm PT by Jackie Strause
'American Horror Story': How Rubber Man Factors Into 'Apocalypse'
[This story contains spoilers for the second episode of FX's American Horror Story season eight, "The Morning After."]
Apocalypse continued to play with American Horror Story lore during its second episode on Wednesday night.
One week after introducing a key Murder House character during the premiere, the eighth season of FX's horror anthology saw that character, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), realizing his paternal potential as Rubber Man, the spiritual suit donned by his father Tate Langdon (who was played by Evan Peters) in season one.
AHS: Apocalypse has come to be known as the crossover season of first cycle Murder House and Coven, season three. After episode two, there is still no sign of the highly anticipated Coven witches, though scenes for next week seem to beckon their arrival. (More on that below.)
The premiere had revealed the early season backdrop to be Outpost Three, one of 10 underground safe havens for the lucky chosen ones — either rich or genetically selected — who survived a catastrophic ballistic missile attack. The outpost is run by the power-hungry duo of Ms. Wilhemina Venable (Sarah Paulson) and Ms. Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates), but their reign is upended by the arrival of Michael Langdon, the Antichrist baby from Murder House who is now all grown-up and a member of The Cooperative, the group in charge of the outposts and, effectively, all that is believed to be left of humanity.
Michael, who goes by his surname of Langdon, informs the guests of Outpost Three that all of the other outposts are overrun and the only way to survive the impending massacre is to pass his test — a questionnaire called Cooperating — that will determine who is "fit" to join him in the sanctuary, the only place that can save them as they attempt to rebuild humanity.
More signs hinted that "the end of the world" might not be what it seems. Despite being told that there is no life outside, healthy snakes infested Outpost Three. When Ms. Mead killed and cooked them, they regenerated. In perhaps a nod to Coven, resurrection is one of the Seven Wonders, an array of abilities that only the most powerful witch, the Supreme, can master. Purples Timothy Campbell (Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos) also discovered that Langdon has successfully been sending emails — despite a lack of infrastructure — targeted at the destruction of Ms. Venable.
During his interrogation process, Langdon proceeded to turn everyone against each other.
The two fiercest adversaries, Ms. Venable and Langdon, faced off about her leadership during their interview and Langdon forced her to show him her biggest shame: the scars on her spine that she says bring her the most pain. When Langdon accuses her of going rogue with her outpost, she tells him she is doing the best with the "mess men have made." Ms. Venable then turned her ire to Mr. Gallant, after she discovered that he and who she believes to be Langdon, were caught having sex by the conniving Nana Gallant, Evie (Joan Collins).
The intimate moment provided for a major Murder House Easter egg. After the Hollywood hairdresser shared his life story during his interview, Langdon's takeaway question was: "So, you like leather?" After the interview, a man dressed in the recognizable rubber suit from season one appeared and proceeded to have sex with Mr. Gallant.
In Murder House, Peters played Michael's father, Tate, the character who first donned the leather get-up and came to be known as Rubber Man. Rubber Man raped and impregnated Vivien Harmon (played by Connie Britton in season one) and is the spiritual father of the Langdon who has now arrived in Apocalypse. Assuming that Langdon was indeed under the suit, the moment was a major wink to AHS lore. If he wasn't, then it could be Tate under the suit, meaning that the character played by Peters was having sex with the Apocalypse character being played by Peters. (Peters is also reprising Tate, it has been confirmed.)
Throughout the episode, Rubber Man pops up wherever lovebirds Timothy and Emily are, spying on the pair as they break Ms. Venable's house abstinence rule. He also uses mind control over Mr. Gallant when he tricks him into killing his own grandmother. If Langdon is indeed the new Rubber Man, he proved that he possesses at least two powers of the Seven Wonders introduced in Coven — transmutation and concilium — and perhaps he is the one responsible for the snake's regeneration.
When Timothy and Emily decide to have sex, they are discovered and sent to their death. But Timothy fights back, shooting Ms. Mead in the process and when she tends to her wound, an odd, white milk-like substance pours out of her instead of blood.
The second episode effectively raises even more questions about how the season will connect with its past cycles, likely by design. Co-creator and showrunner Ryan Murphy has hinted that the plot will reveal itself mid-way, specifically referencing that a "huge thing" happens in episode five. Another big Murder House crossover is set to arrive in week six, when Paulson makes her directorial debut and the season one characters played by Jessica Lange, Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton, return.
In the meantime, scenes for the third episode see Ms. Venable announcing that Halloween is upon them. The night bares a significance in both Murder House and Coven, as the holiday is the one night of the year when spirits can walk among the living. Are those the witches arriving at the 12 second mark? Watch the third episode teaser here.
What did you think of week two? Sound off in the comments below and bookmark THR.com/AHS for weekly show coverage as American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesdays on FX.