American Horror Story recap: Not your mother's Hogwarts
The final moments of last week’s American Horror Story might have been all about the YASS KWEEN appearance of the coven, but this week, there’s a new kind of sorcery on the menu — at an elite boarding school for gifted young men who yearn to reign supreme in the world of witches. Now we know why Cordelia Goode and her sisters showed up to save the day.
At the start, we pick up where we left off, immediately post-reanimation.
“To be raised up and released from an identity spell at the same moment!” Myrtle Snow clucks, sympathetically, and that’s how we learn that both Mallory and Coco were former students at Miss Robichaux’s, enchanted pre-apocalypse so that they wouldn’t remember their dabblings in witchcraft. (Dinah is the exception here, apparently, but she’s totally sidelined apart from a quickie appearance in the cold open.) The women have been revived to battle Michael Langdon for dominion over the new world. But is Langdon a witch? Or — to ask the obvious question that is also the episode’s title — Could It Be… Satan?
Real talk, I don’t know why we’re asking this question, because Langdon is very clearly Satan or at least Satan-adjacent by a maximum of one degree. But whatever, roll those title credits.
And then let’s flashback to a time before the world ended, at the underground school which was once an institution for aspiring warlocks. (The Harry Potter comparisons are unavoidable, but this is clearly a school for, uh, not the greatest of wizards. The one time we see these guys do magic, they’re standing in a chanting circle around a pile of green CGI shards that they manage, through the power of their combined abilities, to levitate and transform into… a ball. Wow. Slow clap, fellas. Super impressed.)
The teachers in charge are a group of black-clad and variously bitchy warlocks, an all-star cast of Ryan Murphy faves including Billy Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, and B.D. Wong (all of whom I have personally cast in this universe as stars of their own niche Netflix series, Queer Eye for the Snape Guy. Waiting for your call, Hollywood.) The men have a busy job training up wizards, but they’re also awaiting the arrival of a prophecied “alpha,” who will finally break the glass ceiling that bars male witches from reigning Supreme. (Side note: is it still a glass ceiling if it’s men being kept out? Or is the ceiling made of something else, like hamburger, or back hair?)
To that end, the warlocks have found something promising: a video of a police interrogation that ends, abruptly, with the questioning cop levitating and then breaking all his bones before his head explodes, Scanners-style. And the boy who was under interrogation? A young, fresh-faced Langdon — who until recently was being raised by Mead 1.0, a human lady with a trio of dead husbands in her rearview, a shrine to the Dark Lord in her breakfast nook, and big plans for her demonic foster son. (FYI: Still no sign of Constance Langdon, but I hear she’s coming in episode 6.) When the warlock’s Grand Chancellor Ariel finds and springs Langdon from his jail cell, Mead watches joyfully — was this part of a plan? — and a month later, the newest student warlock is before the school’s panel, having his skills tested. Divination, teleportation, and controlling the weather are all a cinch for him. Clearly, he’s an excellent witch!
Or — all together, now! — Could It Be Satan?
Unfortunately, the warlocks aren’t asking that question; they’re just excited that their talented boi might pass the test of the seven wonders and oust Cordelia Goode as Supreme. So, they summon the witches from New Orleans (keep your eyes peeled for Flashback Mallory, shown demonstrating some remarkable powers in a floral sorcery class). What follows is a snarly meeting between the warlocks and the coven, who refuse to take the men’s claims seriously. (The money quote: “Testosterone is a known inhibitor! It impedes access to the ethereal realm!”) The warlocks accuse Cordelia of being a bigot, ouch, and of abandoning Queenie to a lifetime in purgatory at the Hotel Cortez, double ouch; Cordelia, wounded, explains that she tried to rescue Queenie but couldn’t, because the hotel is under the control of the literal ding-dang devil and her powers were useless inside. And if this seems like a setup for Langdon, who is also the literal ding-dang devil, to whisk himself away to Hell to dramatically rescue the coven’s missing sisters?
Well, yeah, of course, it is.
While the witches and warlocks bicker, Langdon collects Queenie from the Cortez (everyone wave hello to Evan Peters looking like an evil Clark Gable!), and for good measure, also grabs Madison Montgomery from her personal Hell as a stock girl in the K-Mart of the Afterlife. And when the witches of Miss Robichaux’s stride out into the sunlight, they find the trio waiting: Queenie and Madison alive and looking beautiful in black, and Michael Langdon looking smug as hell. Cordelia sees them and faints. It could be the heat. It could be the shock. Or it could be… well, you know.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse