American Horror Story: Apocalypse Review: Could It Be … Satan? (Season 8 Episode 4)

American Horror Story, Reviews

Finally, some answers!

American Horror Story: Apocalypse Season 8 Episode 4, “Could It Be … Satan?,” takes the form of an extended flashback (for the most part). Following the arrival of Madison, Myrtle, and Cordelia at the end of American Horror Story: Apocalypse Season 8 Episode 3, there’s a brief face-off with Michael before the show rewinds to three years before the bombs destroyed the world.

American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 4 (Credit: FX)
American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 4 (Credit: FX)

This is plainly one of the best episodes of American Horror Story in years. It balances the scales perfectly between celebrating past characters and storylines while forwarding the current season’s arc. It’s also genuinely surprising and brilliantly plotted in the way it all unfolds.

Can anyone say they were expecting a return to the Hotel Cortez? We knew ahead of time that Season 8 would be the Murder House and Coven crossover we’d all been waiting for. Little did we know they’d throw in some Season 5 Hotel for good measure!

Could It Be … Satan?” doesn’t show us exactly how the apocalypse comes to be, but it does contextualize the events leading up to it. In particular, it shows part of Langdon’s origin story, as he infiltrates Hawthorne Academy, the warlock school that formerly inhabited what is now Outpost 3.

I say “infiltrates” because, though it’s not explicitly said, the writers telegraph pretty hard that Michael is not a warlock — and that he knows it. Or at least that he’s feigning ignorance about the depth of his powers.

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American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 4 (Credit: FX)
American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 4 (Credit: FX)

I mean, the dude strolls into the Hotel Cortez and walks Queenie right out, resurrecting her and intimidating the ghoulish James Patrick March in the process. Then, he strolls right on into hell, bringing Madison back with him.

It’s effortlessly badass, and therefore mystifying why the quartet of warlocks in charge of Hawthorne (brilliantly played by Billy Porter, Jon Jon Briones, BD Wong, and a gloriously goateed Cheyenne Jackson) doesn’t clue in sooner that this guy is a bit more sinister than your garden variety warlock.

What actually happens is that the warlocks (or at least three of them) are so eager to gain dominance over the witches that they’re willing to look past all of the glaring red flags in an attempt to replace Cordelia, the rightful Supreme, with the literal Antichrist.

Oops? And also, ugh, men.

I love the very clear metaphor about men being intimidated by powerful women and going to any (however ill-advised) lengths to supplant her. Without getting into it too much, let’s just say it’s pointing very clearly towards our current political climate.

Cordelia firmly and clearly tells the warlocks that no man will ever be more powerful than the female Supreme, simply because women are more biologically attuned to the “ethereal realm” thanks to their lack of testosterone.

This is a great bit, and Sarah Paulson delivers this scene flawlessly. I seriously love it.

The hour ends with Langdon, resurrected Madison and Queenie in tow, arriving back at Hawthorne to confront Cordelia — and presumably challenge her leadership. It’s easily one of the show’s best cliffhangers ever, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds and leads into the end of the world as we know it.

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Stray Thoughts and Observations:

  • Death check: Mallory, Coco, Dinah, Madison, and Queenie have been resurrected, while Venable, Gallant, Evie, Andre, Timothy, and Emily remain dead. For now, anyway. It seems that Apocalypse is playing all willy-nilly with death, and it’s more impermanent than ever.
  • I’d previously hypothesized that Miriam Mead was modeled on Constance Langdon. Could It Be … Satan?” clarifies that that’s not the case — Miriam Mead was, in fact, her own separate person. How Langdon came to be in her custody and what befell that Satan-worshipping psycho remain to be seen.
  • Again, where is Brock during all this? Did he kill Coco and then bounce, heading back out into the nuclear wasteland?
  • So far, Evan Peters is confirmed to play at least three characters this season. First was the late Gallant, then (unexpectedly!) James Patrick March, and Tate Langdon is to come. It’s particularly interesting, then, that nobody mentions Kyle, his Season 3 Coven character. He was the new house butler, the last time we saw him.
  • Flashback Michael looks so much like Tate. I guess that was before he fully embraced the luscious locks he’d inherited from Mama Vivien (Connie Britton).
  • I like how they’ve developed Zoe, from the little we see of her. She already feels like a more grown-up, confident, and self-assured version of the earlier character.
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What did you think of this episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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Caralynn Lippo

Caralynn is a freelance writer and editor, but most importantly, she is a diehard TV addict. A few of her current favorites are Mr. Robot, You're the Worst, iZombie, and The Vampire Diaries. She also writes about TV for Romper, The TV Junkies, and TV Fanatic.

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