The title of the episode is “Return to Murder House,” and are you ready? Because a return to the house that started it all is exactly what you’re getting on AHS this week — IMMEDIATELY.
As the most anticipated episode of the season kicks off (raise your hand if you’re more excited for the second coming of Jessica Lange than of Jesus himself!), Madison and Chablis pull up in front of the iconic, gothic Los Angeles mansion of which they are the proud new owners. And all they had to do to get it was thoroughly debase themselves, posing as a married couple who are just dying to make a haunted house their forever home. Madison isn’t pleased by the charade, but Chablis has it so much worse, clearly.
“I had to put khakis on! So it’s been a hard day for all of us!” he shrieks. (Side note: If the return of Jessica Lange is the number one greatest thing about this season, having Billy Porter and Emma Roberts anchor an episode together is a very close second. Give these two their own spin-off, please.)
The title credits roll, and the door to Murder House swings open, with Chablis announcing that the place is full of spirits and bad vibes. Unpacking potions and knives and such, they cast a spell to reveal the ghosts. Chablis, despite being an accomplished warlock and generally smart dude, nevertheless pulls the dumb cinematic move of slicing his palm to seal the deal in blood (yes, it looks cool, but it would put your hand out of commission for WEEKS.) They chant, the blood bubbles, and out come the ghosts! Dead nurses! Burning children! Troubled teenagers and their masturbating therapists! Because yep, right away, we see some familiar faces: Ben Harmon, who is still giving therapy to Tate, who is still trying to get Violet back. (Plus ça change, eh folks?)
Madison tries to demand answers about Michael Langdon, but the ghosts are not intimidated.
“What are you gonna do, make us MORE dead?” Ben says, before making his excuses and departing — “I gotta look out the window and cry while I masturbate. It’s my daily thing” — prompting Chablis to refer to him as “the tearjerker,” at which point your friendly neighborhood recapper missed several additional lines of dialogue because I, too, was briefly deceased. Anyway, that (and the appearance of Sarah Paulson as Billie Dean Howard) is all just window dressing for this Big Moment:
“Who do you think you are, coming in here, swanning around, spewing vulgarities?” a voice croons. And when Madison demands to know the identity of the new arrival, there she is. Blonde bouffant, cigarette in hand, throaty voice on point.
“I’m Constance Langdon,” says Constance Langdon, “and this is my f—ing house.”
The show wisely cuts to commercial here lest the screams of YASSS KWEEN disturb the dead.
From here, the episode offers up choice info about Michael Langdon’s origins, but honestly, it’s all about the fan service. Constance says she’ll talk about Michael only if the witches banish Moira from the house — which is fine by Moira, who only wants to be with her mom again. Reunited as spirits in a shared cemetery plot, the two embrace and walk hand in hand into the mist, in a totally sweet and surprising happily-ever-after. (The writers, knowing that this is the last thing fans expect from American Horror Story, clearly took the opportunity to troll us here; witness Moira’s mother exclaiming, “I wanted to smother you… with kisses!” Well-played, show. Well-played.)
Nothing stands in the way now of Constance’s promised story, which is both an illuminating history for Michael as well as an epic monologue for Jessica Lange. Michael was always cheerful, she explains, even when he was committing murder, which he did pretty much incessantly from infancy on up — beginning with small animals, and ending with the unfortunate babysitter we last saw seven years ago in the first season finale. But that was all well and good; it wasn’t until Michael aged a decade overnight that Constance realized something was definitely wrong and tried calling a priest — who he also killed, leading her to the realization that he’d off her, too, eventually. Rather than wait around for that to happen, she popped over to Murder House and did the deed herself, reuniting with her various ghost kids (after making sure her lipstick was perfect, of course.)
“I was born to be a mother, why not die to be one too?” she concludes.
But Constance isn’t the only ghost in the house to have interacted with Michael, so there’s more to the story. Ben, for instance, tried to engage the demon kid in therapy (“He wanted to be good!”) but alas, it didn’t take. Michael started dismembering the ghosts, then moved on to the new tenants, a lesbian couple who didn’t get to unpack a single box before he put on the rubber suit and stabbed them to death. Weirder still: after he murdered the women, he burned their ghosts down to nothing. What! How!? Only one Murder House resident knows the answer: hellooooo, Vivien Harmon. (And helloooo, yet another well-timed commercial break so that the fans can yell, or faint, or masturbate while crying in front of a window; we all celebrate the return of Connie Britton in different ways, okay?)
And here’s the final verdict: Michael Langdon lived in the house until three Satanists, including Mead, came to help him fulfill his destiny. A black mass was held: presented with the still-beating heart of a sacrificial virgin, Michael ate it raw — and met his maker, as a horned, winged shadow bloomed on the wall behind him.
“Father,” he said. Vivien realized only then that she ought to kill him, but she couldn’t; he’s too evil and too powerful. In her words: “Ben is not his father, nor is Tate. The source of darkness is his true father, and he is here to destroy the world.”
Obviously, Vivien is not telling us anything we don’t already know — but Chablis and Madison needed to hear it. United in the realization that Michael Langdon is the Antichrist, they make their exit… oh, but not before Madison performs one last act of fan service. That’s right, kids: it took seven seasons, countless prayers, and thousands of pages of filthy ghost-on-ghost erotic fanfiction, but Tate Langdon and Violet Harmon are together, forever, at last. And with Madison and Chablis driving away toward an uncertain future, let the sight of those two crazy dead kids embracing in the window sustain you. They, at least, will still be living happily ever after, after the world ends.
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