An apocalyptic twist for 'AHS' season 8
“American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” the show’s eighth season, delivered a jam-packed season premiere last week. Although it had previously been billed as a crossover between the first season, “Murder House,” and the third season, “Coven,” the first episode only features one character from either of these seasons. This episode, aptly titled “The End,” begins in the midst of a nuclear holocaust and introduces most of the new characters as they reach an underground bunker. Some have used their wealth and status to buy their survival; others are selected to survive based on their “superior genetic makeup” that has been collected through ancestry mapping service submissions.
Eighteen months later, Michael Langdon, who fans will remember as the Antichrist baby from the first season, arrives and informs the characters that their bunker is due to run out of supplies. He reveals that there is a safer, more heavily stocked bunker – and that he is in charge of evaluating who is worthy of going.
Several elements of this episode point to the setting being supernatural rather than subterranean. First, there’s the scene in the beginning of the episode in which four characters are attempting to escape the impending nuclear missiles on an airplane en route to the bunker. Somehow, they don’t realize there is no one piloting the plane until they are in the air, and as soon as they make this discovery, the plane begins to malfunction and fall toward the mushroom cloud outside the window. The next time these four characters are shown, they are safe and intact inside the bunker. Based on the chaos established in this episode, it seems highly unlikely that not only did these four survive the plane crash, but they landed unscathed and somehow managed to find the bunker, presumably on foot.
The character motivations and development seem rather nonlinear. In the first two weeks, things escalate to such a degree that Ms. Venable (Sarah Paulson), the leader inside the bunker, gruesomely murders one of its inhabitants and psychologically tortures the rest. Immediately after this scene, the show flashes forward in time to 18 months after the nuclear blasts, showing the remaining characters in relatively the same condition as they were before. The timing here is odd, as it seems unlikely that a character willing to commit murder after two weeks would then stop for the following 17 months.
This uneven pacing and escalation add to the overall surreal, disjointed feeling of this season. It feels more like a weird dream than a post-apocalyptic survival scenario. All these signs seem to make it highly likely that these characters are, in fact, dead, but believe they are in a bunker trying to survive the apocalypse. It would certainly explain the conditions in the bunker despite its $100 million price tag – living by candlelight in cramped quarters, listening to the same song on repeat and eating the same “nutrition cube” for three meals a week.
If this is a twist that the show will throw at its viewers, then it would make sense that Langdon, a demon himself, used these elements of the bunker and the characters themselves to torture each other. It would also pave the way for the crossover which had been teased before the season first aired, given that so many characters from “Murder House” and “Coven” are also dead. While this idea may be a little far-fetched, it doesn’t seem impossible that show creators would create a twist like this to keep fans guessing.