Kurt Iswarienko/FX
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September 20, 2018 at 12:22 AM EDT
We gave it a B

A grisly death? A latex sex romp? A horrifying final shot that leaves you screaming “WHAAAAT?” at the television as the end credits begin to roll? It’s all par for the course on American Horror Story as we return to the end of the world as we know it.

We start off this week with an establishing shot of the fog-enshrouded compound, and then we’re inside, where Emily is stripping down to her corset by candlelight. (Why… are we wearing Victorian underwear in the apocalypse? Is everyone wearing it? What daring provocateur put “corsets and pantalettes, all sizes” on the Cooperative’s supply list for the end of the world without raising eyebrows with the higher-ups? Discuss.)

She’s down to her skivvies when the lights blow out and the door to her wardrobe creaks open. What’s inside? A snake! No, wait: several snakes!!! Emily screams, but Mead is thrilled: finally, some fresh protein. Shortly, the snakes are chopped, cooked, and served for dinner. There’s just one problem: these snakes arrived in tandem with the compound’s new guest, Langdon, which means there’s something special about them. The bowl is uncovered and out slithers a whole entire living snake. It’s alive! And the survivors are so, so screwed.

Roll the title credits, and then we’re in the library where Langdon is telling the assembled Purples the bad news: all other compounds have been overrun. Only one remains, a sanctuary to which they may or may not be admitted after a grueling application process. (Those rejected get a consolation prize in the form of a suicide pill.)

But will anyone be alive to kill themselves, let alone to move on to utopia? And is Langdon here to cull the survivors, or to sow so many murderous impulses within the group that they do it themselves? For now, all signs point to the latter. It starts with Gallant’s questioning session, where he admits to loathing his grandma, who never accepted him for the leather-loving naughty gay boy he is. Having admitted his own orientation, Gallant asks if Langdon is gay, too, and there’s definitely a vibe — which seems to come full circle just hours later when there’s a tap-tap-tap on Gallant’s bedroom door. Gird your loins for a cameo, kids: it’s the Rubber Man! (So did Langdon put the latex zentai suit from Murder House on his end-of-the-world keepsake list? Because in that case, the Victorian underwear stores are starting to make a lot more sense.)

Keeping in mind that the compound has chastity rules, Gallant’s choice to have the world’s loudest sex with a latex-clad stranger seems downright suicidal — even if his grandma didn’t happen to be right outside the door, watching in horror as her grandson gets rear-ended by the Rubber Man. But she is, and she rats him out immediately, running to Mead in the hopes that she might improve her chances of being a Sanctuary selectee.

From here, several things happen at once: Emily and Timothy raid Langdon’s room and find his laptop, which includes recent email correspondence (how?) revealing that Venable’s no-copulation rule was never Cooperative standard. The Rubber Man, who is just as gravity-defying in the apocalypse as he was in the Murder House, watches them silently from a perch on the ceiling. And Langdon, in Venable’s room, confronts her about having gone rogue. She’s all sass at first, accusing him (or at least, men like him) of having destroyed the world by swinging their dicks around (side note: is anyone else picturing a gargantuan wiener blasting the world apart like a wrecking ball? No? Just me? Okay, then.) But when he starts to question her, telling her a terrifying story about having seen a tumor-riddled mother and children on the road, begging for death, she wavers — and eventually allows him to unzip her dress, revealing the misshapen spine that causes her endless pain and shame. And in the library, Coco and Mallory complain that the apocalypse has been hardest on millennials, whose lives used to be defined by a plethora of choices. “We had at least four Chrises that could star in a movie,” Mallory snarks at the older women. “How many did YOU have?”

But right, about that no-copulation rule: Venable’s meeting with Langdon is interrupted by the news of Gallant’s naughty latex interlude, leading Venable to assume that Gallant and Langdon know each other and are conspiring to unsettle the compound. Gallant is whipped and left chained up, leading to a visit from Langdon, who reveals two upsetting truths: number one, Gallants grandma betrayed him. And number two, that wasn’t him in the rubber suit. “I wouldn’t f— you if you were the last man on earth,” he croons, as Gallant stares in shock. “And you almost are!”

All this manipulation has to end somewhere, and in this case, it comes to a bloody conclusion that suggests Langdon is endowed with some not-quite-human gifts. After a confrontation with Evie, who boldly declares that she deserves to live while he most explicitly does not, Gallant finds himself alone in the library — when the radio’s song suddenly changes, and the Rubber Man reappears. He leads Gallant on a seductive slow-motion chase through the Escherian halls of the compound and then back to the bedroom, where Gallant pushes him down on the bed… and reaches for his scissors. “Not if I were the last man on earth?” he sneers and plunges the blade over and over into the man’s latex-covered belly.

Then he looks up and sees Langdon in the doorway. And the dead body underneath him? It’s his grandmother’s. And she is most decidedly not wearing a rubber suit, which means that somebody in this compound, and we’re not naming names or anything, seems to be packing the power to cause murderous hallucinations in the other guests.

And yet, that’s not even the weirdest thing to happen on tonight’s AHS. Because having discovered that the no-boning edict was a bunch of baloney, Emily and Timothy get bizzaaaaay… apparently forgetting that they’re still trapped underground with the evil schoolmarm and her army of androgyne trolls who enforce the rules whether they’re legit or not. Discovered in a post-coital cuddle, they’re dragged before Venable, sentenced to death, and then dragged into the shower room where Timothy manages in the last moment to grab the gun that Mead’s henchman is aiming at his head. He aims, fires, and hits Mead — who stumbles back into a hallway and peels away her torn jacket to examine the wound.

And that’s when things get weird. Mead is frantic and hyperventilating as she claws at her chest, possibly because she’s just been shot, but also possibly because she’s just discovered (as have we!) that she’s either A) a droid from Ridley Scott’s Alien, or B) a golem made of chopped up chicken parts, because whatever she is, she ain’t human. Instead of a wound, there’s a bloodless hole in her chest with some kind of white liquid spurting around inside, and even for a show where freaky moments are a dime a dozen, this one is weird as hell — and for now, without an explanation.

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