8:25pm PT by Jackie Strause
'American Horror Story': Breaking Down the 'Murder House' Episode
[This story contains spoilers from the sixth episode of FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse, "Return to Murder House."]
What happens when a witch and a warlock walk into Murder House? American Horror Story: Apocalypse answered that question during the FX horror anthology's highly anticipated season one crossover event Wednesday.
"I'm Constance Langdon, and this is my fucking house," beamed returning star Jessica Lange as she reprised her Murder House role in the first act of the 78-minute episode, titled "Return to Murder House." As promised, the episode was a gift for the fans that delivered on character nostalgia, throwback show mythology and even tied up some loose ends while pushing the mysterious Apocalypse plot forward.
The witch, Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), and the warlock, Behold Chablis (Billy Porter), were the vessels for which co-creator and showrunner Ryan Murphy connected season eight's Apocalypse with the mythology of season one's Murder House. The sixth episode was directed by series star Sarah Paulson, in her directorial debut, and the extended hour effectively brought AHS full circle by officially announcing Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) as the Antichrist.
Michael has long been believed to be the Antichrist ever since he was conceived and born inside Murder House, the haunted Hollywood mansion that served as the backdrop for season one. The house traps all the ghosts of the living who are killed on the premises — 36 to date when Madison and Behold purchase the home — and Wednesday's episode gave a handful of former AHS stars a chance to revisit the characters they left behind so they could help fill in the gaps to Michael's story and receive updated endings since the season wrapped back in 2011.
As was promised, Constance, the Harmon family (Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Taissa Farmiga), Tate Langdon (Evan Peters), BIllie Dean Howard (Paulson) and Moira O'Hara (Frances Conroy) all returned to help unravel the mystery of Michael's demonic powers to Madison and Behold. There were also a few surprises from other house ghosts, including Hollywood star Elizabeth Short (Mena Suvari), and a nod to Madison's likely relatives, original homeowners surgeon Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) and wife Nora (Lily Rabe). The visit to the past also took a moment to address the burning question of Constance's missing fourth child, but more on that later.
In the previous episode, the reigning Supreme witch Cordelia Foxx (also played by Paulson) sent Madison and Behold on the Murder House mission in hopes they could return with information about Michael's upbringing that the witches could use against him. Apocalypse has set up a supernatural gender war between the witches of season three's Coven and the season eight warlocks, who believe Michael is their "Alpha" and the one who deserves to be the next Supreme. Cordelia, aware of Michael's inner darkness, has predicted the impending apocalyptic event that kicked off the season and, believing Michael is the cause, is trying to retain her power and defeat Michael, who now calls himself Langdon.
In addition to filling in the blanks about Michael's Satanic uprising, the trip back to Murder House also settled some season one scores. Moira, the housekeeper tormented for eternity by Constance for sleeping with her husband, was finally buried and sent off into the next afterlife with her mother. And tortured lovers Violet Harmon (Farmiga) and Tate were finally reunited, thanks to a major revelation shared by Michael's biological mother, Vivien Harmon (Britton).
Billie Dean, the "medium to the stars," was the only returning character who is among the living. Since the spirits of the house can only be seen if they choose to be seen, she filled Madison and Behold in on the house rules. When Constance arrived, she revealed that she killed herself after realizing the true nature of her grandson, Michael. After Michael's mother, Vivien, died in childbirth, Constance had the spirits kill Ben so she could take custody of baby Michael, who she believed was her biological grandson since Tate had raped Vivien while wearing the Rubber Man outfit back in season one.
Constance, who is no stranger to evil and tragedy, saw Michael as her chance for a "do-over" after son Tate ended up so badly. But Michael and his murderous tendencies quickly made her realize that she was "put on this earth to raise monsters."
Flashing back to the final scene of season one, when 3-year-old Michael had murdered the nanny, Constance told Madison and Behold, "Up until that point, I thought I was raising a garden-variety serial killer." But then Michael aged an entire decade overnight — explaining how the child, who was born in 2011 when Murder House took place, could be a man in the 2022-set current timeline of Apocalypse. In addition to being prophesied as the Antichrist by Billie Dean in season one, the doctors also referred to him as the "alpha twin," since he ate his sibling in the womb.
Shortly after, Michael made an attempt on Constance's life and she realized it was only a matter of time before he killed her. She wasn't going to give him "or any man" the satisfaction and instead went out on her own terms: overdosing on whiskey and pills and joining her friends as a spirit inside Murder House. She never chose to see her son again, but she did reunite with her other children, who had also been killed inside the home: Tate, Beau and the mysterious little girl who had never before been introduced. The fourth child was a young girl with bloody eyes who escorted her away at the end of the anticipated visit. Of her one still-missing child, Addie (Jamie Brewer), who did not die on the house grounds, Constance simply said, "God rest her soul."
Ben, still plagued by his sexual urges, then reappeared to regale Madison and Behold with a twisted father-son tale. Though Ben knew Michael was not his biological son, he pitied him once Constance abandoned him and decided to nurture him as a father would. "I wanted to give him everything," Ben said of fostering Michael. But when Michael came across Tate inside the house, Tate refused to accept him as his son, calling him a "monster" and "evil." That, Ben said, is when Michael turned himself over the darkness that was "always on the edges." Not only did Michael murder inhabitants of the house, he burned their spirits and effectively destroyed their souls.
"Fuck. So basically, our new Supreme is pretty much pure evil," Madison sums up.
That's when Vivien arrives to shade the Michael tale even darker. Her appearance is a surprise to Ben, as the two have been estranged. Vivien hated Ben for needing to have a relationship with Michael, someone she says is more than "just evil." Accepting that she and their biological twin (who was a stillborn baby) are enough, they too reunite.
Quoting from the Book of Revelation, Vivien likened Michael to the biblical prophecy of The Beast, recalling how the house was sweltering hot and encircled by a murder of crows once Michael leaned into his dark side. Answering a burning Apocalypse question, Vivien explained how Ms. Mead (Kathy Bates) the Satan-worshipping foster mother to Langon, arrived with two others from the Church of Satan to tell Michael that he is the chosen one.
Calling Murder House "a home built over the portal to hell," Ms. Mead and the others announce that the time has come to show Michael his true power. In an offering to Michael, they sacrifice an innocent girl and feed him her heart. As he eats it, his true father, the devil, reveals himself in the shadows. "Hail, Satan," they say as rocks of hail and blood rain fall from the sky.
After that night, Vivien decided she had to kill Michael. When she stood beside his bed, she saw 666 burned behind his ear. Sensing she was coming, he tried to burn her soul, but Tate saved her. She never saw Michael again.
Convinced that neither Ben nor Tate was Michael's true father, Vivien said, "He was born of the evil from this house. The source of darkness is his true father and he is here to destroy the world."
Heading back to Cordelia, now armed with this information, Madison tells Behold, "The guy you put your hopes into turned out to be the Antichrist."
As her last task before leaving Murder House, Madison finds an eternally crying Violet and shows her the truth: Tate wasn't the real evil, "this house used him as a vessel to create something way worse." She tells Violet that any evil inside Tate likely left with Michael. As the lovers reunite, Madison quips, "At least someone's going to get a happy ever after."
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