The Murder House portion of the Murder House/Coven crossover comes into full view on American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Season 8 Episode 6, “Return to Murder House” — and boy is it worth the wait!
“Return to Murder House” manages to deepen the mythology of the titular house at the heart of American Horror Story‘s very first season while filling in Michael’s history, explaining his nature, and setting us up to finish out the back half of Season 8. All in all, it’s an extremely enjoyable ride and features tons of payoff for longtime fans of the horror anthology series. Honestly, it’s even a little bit fan service-y at points, but I don’t care because it’s all pretty damn satisfying.
Let’s dig in for an overview of some of the episode’s biggest moments! As expected, these moments mostly have to do with the crew from Murder House, since they all take center stage for the season’s sixth installment.
1. Moira finds peace
In the first of several genuinely heartwarming and unambiguously happy moments, Moira is finally reunited with her mom in the afterlife. Is anyone else still crying over this, or is it just me?
As other characters have stated, Moira is arguably the most tragic ghost to have ever resided in Murder House. The maid unplugging her mother’s respirator and being unable to join her in death is easily one of Season 1’s most heart-wrenching scenes. This makes it incredibly satisfying to finally see her get her wish.
Essentially all thanks to Madison, Moira’s body is uncovered and freed from the house’s grip. In an emotional scene, she reunites with her mom and they walk off into the mist together.
2. Ben Harmon finally stops cry-masturbating
Ben Harmon melodramatically crying while masturbating somehow became one of the iconic moments from Season 1. The writers likely didn’t mean for it to come off as funny, but it did. In bringing back the Harmons, the writers smartly steered right into that humor, having Ben’s compulsion to cry while jerking off be an actual plot point.
He and Vivien eventually reunite, thanks to Madison and Chablis’ Michael investigation. It’s a cute moment, though not as satisfying as the episode’s other reunions.
3. Constance kills herself
I’ll just say it: Jessica Lange’s long-awaited return is the moment we were all waiting for. The Golden Globe winner has been absent from the series since Season 4 wrapped, and her return here is everything I could’ve dreamed of.
The character’s signature sassiness is on full display, and Lange gets a meaty, epic monologue to dig into as Constance divulges information about her grandson, filling us all in on what went down between Michael’s birth and his adolescence. Her story also manages to clear up a confusing plot point: Michael’s age. According to Constance, he aged a decade overnight, which ended up proving that he was something beyond a “garden variety serial killer.”
It’s hilarious and completely in character to listen to Constance explain how she was totally okay with the idea that her grandson was a murderer — but inhuman Antichrist? That’s just a step too far for old Constance. Given this knowledge (and seeing Michael off a priest she found to help him), she kills herself in order to go out on her own terms.
While it’s not precisely a happy ending, it’s happy enough. Constance gets to hang out with three of her four children for all eternity, finally being the mom she always professed herself to be.
Side note: Who the heck is that other kid, the eyeless little girl? Ryan Murphy tweeted that this previously unseen fourth child is named Rose, but we’ve gotten no other info about her (like why she doesn’t have eyes). Weird random detail to add.
4. Michael eats a human heart
I need to take a minute to praise the incredible Cody Fern.
He’s been killing it (ha) all season as the alluring yet obviously evil Michael Langdon, but his “Return to Murder House” performance just may be the best yet. He goes from this…
Within the span of a single hour. And it’s utterly believable.
Fern plays the nuances of Langdon extremely well. While American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 5, “Boy Wonder,” established that he was faking innocence to ingratiate himself with the warlocks, “Return to Murder House” shows us that he actually was once torn between his dark side (the actual Devil) and his human side (Vivien).
Of course, as we see, the evil side wins out in the end, leading Langdon to become the dark figure he is in the present. That Dark Mass is easily one of the most viscerally disturbing scenes American Horror Story has ever done.
5. Violet and Tate find their happy ending
I really didn’t think the writers would do it, but they did. They really, really did. #Violate is endgame, y’all.
Let’s be real for a second. This ship has always been incredibly popular, but also incredibly problematic. Tate raped Violet’s mother, among countless other evil deeds during the course of Season 1. Despite his obviously genuine love for Violet, Tate was a very bad person (then ghost).
But in an unexpected side effect of the writers deepening Murder House’s mythology, they also manage to retcon all of Tate’s dark deeds. Not only is Tate not Michael’s dad, we’re now told that Tate was merely a vessel for the underlying demonic energy of the house to express itself and eventually to birth itself into the world (as Michael).
As far as explanations go, it’s a little bit too neat, convenient, and, again, fan service-y. But the writers take pains to weave into the narrative that Tate has (at least in the eyes of the other characters) redeemed himself.
Interestingly, Violet herself was the last hold-out against him.
Ben is seemingly okay enough with him to have agreed to give him therapy every single day for, presumably, years. Note, too, that he doesn’t refer to what Tate did to Vivien as rape when he recounts it, which I’m sure is a pointed choice. Tate also saves Vivien’s ghost from being destroyed by Michael, which is another point in his favor.
And of course, there’s also the little fact that Taissa Farmiga and Evan Peters have insane chemistry.
The entire final scene where Madison plays matchmaker and convinces Violet that Tate is no longer evil is beautifully scripted, shot, and performed. Even if you’re not a particular Violate fan, it’s hard to deny the power and beauty of the couple’s long-awaited reunion. That eye contact!
6. Madison grows a soul
She’s a fierce bitch with an epic fashion sense, but apparently her stint in hell results in Madison also becoming a better person?!
There’s a fine sense of karmic balance in the fact that Madison singlehandedly reunites Tate and Violet — who are of course played by Peters and Farmiga, two actors who also played Coven‘s Kyle and Zoe. Anyone who watched Coven recalls how much of Madison’s storyline revolved around her attempting to get between Kyle and Zoe. And of course, she also frees Moira from the house.
Now, Madison and Chablis have all the intel they need to confirm Michael is scary-powerful and definitely evil. It only remains to be seen how the witches fail to stop Michael from enacting the Apocalypse, and what they intend to do about it in the present.
- Did we know that the warlock’s name is Behold Chablis? Because I must’ve missed that before, and boy, did I laugh — in a great way! The name choice is clearly an homage to The Lady Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
- I was so happy to see Naomi Grossman (aka Pepper from Season 2’s Asylum and Season 4’s Freak Show) on this episode as one of the Church of Satan’s two cardinals. It’s her very first American Horror Story as a character besides Pepper.
- The structure of this season is really interesting in that the first three episodes of the season took place in the present and the following three have essentially been one enormous extended flashback pre-apocalypse.
- On that same note, Apocalypse is shaping up to be American Horror Story‘s most well-crafted and coherent season yet. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve loved the wild, outlandish, over-the-top seasons like Asylum and Freak Show. But there’s something to be said for a story that’s put together well, with a beginning, middle, and end in sight (despite the fact that the middle and beginning appear to have been swapped).
- “Return to Murder House” is Sarah Paulson’s directorial debut, and it’s a great one. The visuals and framing of certain shots are stellar. I mean, look at literally any of the screenshots above for just a handful of examples.
- Billy Porter and Emma Roberts work off of each other perfectly, and it was a great choice to have their two characters as the driving force of the episode.
What did you think of this episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.
Want more from Tell-Tale TV? Subscribe to our newsletter here!