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Penultimate episode sets stage for ‘Apocalypse’

Penultimate episode sets stage for ‘Apocalypse’

“American Horror Story,” currently in its eighth season titled “Apocalypse,” aired yet another spine-chilling installment last week, upping the series’ unique brand of horror, which so far this season has featured witches, nuclear wastelands, robots, magic and even the Antichrist.

The episode, titled “Fire and Reign,” continues the season’s flashbacks set before the post-apocalyptic three episodes. Like the ones before it, it focuses on Michael Langdon (Cody Fern). Langdon continues on his quest to fulfill his destiny as the Antichrist and bring about said end of the world. A coven of witches face him, desperately attempting to find a way to defeat him before he wipes them all out. An almost crushing blow is dealt to the coven when Langdon, teaming up with voodooist Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), breaks through their defenses and murders almost all of them. While this may seem gruesome, it quickly becomes darkly awesome when the dispenser of the killing is literally Kathy Bates with a gun for an arm. 

A good bit of explanation is needed. Bates’ character, Miriam Mead, was established as Langdon’s caregiver, introducing him to the Church of Satan and welcoming his acceptance into the School for Warlocks. She and several of the warlocks conspired shortly thereafter to make him the next Supreme, the leader of witches and warlocks alike, only for his path to power to be cut short upon the discovery of his true identity. Mead and the conspirators around Langdon are thereby burned to death by the witches, fueling his inner angst and despair. Langdon is eventually led to a duo of computer programmers, Mutt (Billy Eichner) and Jeff (Evan Peters), who perfectly recreate Mead with a robotic double.

During Mead’s arm-gun attack on the witches, some members of the coven escape, including headmistress and current Supreme Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson) and instructor Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy). This angers Langdon, as they were his real targets, and steers him off the path toward Armageddon and instead toward revenge. This, in turn, angers Jeff, who was banking on Langdon’s destiny to “burn this sucker down.” Taking control of the robotic Mead, he and Mutt direct Langdon’s attention toward the mysterious group “the Cooperative” (formerly called the Illuminati and, humorously enough, changed for “branding reasons”), who control the world and coincidentally pledged all their souls to the devil, Langdon’s father.

Back on the witches’ side of things, the survivors attempt a risky plan involving time travel, testing it by going back in time to October Revolution-era Russia, where Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov was apparently a witch (big surprise, right?) and attempted to save her family with a protection spell before being assassinated by the Bolsheviks. She failed, but young witch Mallory (Billie Lourd) goes back to try to save her. This, too, fails, and the witches plunge into further despair, heightened by the mass slaughter of the warlocks by Langdon (who is so extra he apparently has to leave their corpses in a pentagram formation). Cordelia, believing Mallory to be the next Supreme, suggests that she commit suicide, as her power would then be transferred completely to the younger.

The pieces are then put in place for where the characters were at beginning of the season (set in the future, after the apocalypse); Langdon’s plan for Armageddon is right on track, the Outposts are created by the Cooperative for rich members to ride out the end of the world, Jeff and Mutt’s secretary Wilhemina Venable (also played by Paulson) is chosen to lead an Outpost of her choice and the witches plan to watch the world burn “in order to save it,” as is said in the promo for the finale, titled “Apocalypse Then.”

The finale to “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” is set to air Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 10 p.m., ending the eighth season with what is sure to be a bang.

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