"The End" – American Horror Story S08E01 Review

And... with "The End" we're back. It's season 8 of American Horror Story. We've had murder house, covens, sideshows, haunted hotels, and political cults among other scenarios. So now it's time for... the apocalypse.

Not the Biblical Apocalypse, with the Four Horsemen and plagues of locust and Hell soldiers. I suppose that could come. After all, one of the characters is Michael Langdon, presumably the son of ghost Tate Langdon was prophesied as the anti-Christ way back in season 1. Remember that? No. Well, that's part of why reviewers exist: to remember this kind of stuff. Either reviewers, or wikis.

Let's recap. It's an average day in LA, and spoiled Instagram influencer Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman) is at a hair salon with her assistant Mallory (Billy Lourd). Her salonist is Mr. Gallant (Evan Peters). Their phone alarms go off as the bombs start flying. Coco's father calls from Hong Kong to say their family has reservations at a place of safety, but he and his wife and son can't make it so Coco should go there. She takes Mallory along with her and they make their way through LA traffic jams.

Gallant goes to his home to pick up his nana, Evie (Joan Collins). He overheard the conversation between Coco and her father, and takes Evie to the airport. Mr. Vanderbilt paid for four seats, so with three Vanderbilts missing but Mallory along with Coco, there's room for two more. Gallant and Evie get aboard and in funny scene, Coco tells her boyfriend Brock (Billy Eichner) she's exercising their contract to see other people. She ta-tas him and hangs up. The ICBMs hit LA and that's the last of them we see for a while.

Cut to Campbell house in LA. Tim (Kyle Allen) has just learned he's been accepted into UCLA. He, his mother, and his younger brother are celebrating when the air raid sirens go off. Mr. Campbell arrives home, followed by agents of the Cooperative. They know from an ancestry DNA site that Tim's genetic structure is ideal for Cooperative purposes and drag him away. They take him to a shelter with a girl named Emily (Ash Santos). The missiles hit, and shortly thereafter they're taken to a Cooperative outpost.

The place is run by Wilhelmina Venable (Sarah Paulson), who informs them the elite are the Purples and the workers are the Greys. The whole place is so dimly lit it's hard to tell who is what color, because technology is eeevvviiilll. Wilhelmina informs them they have to follow the rules, including unauthorized copulation and no escape. You know, the usual.

Tim and Emily then have dinner with the other survivors: Gallant, Coco, Evie, Mallory (now a Gray), actress Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), unidentified guy Andre (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and his lover Stu. And maybe some other people lurking in the shadows. It's hard to tell with all the darkness.

As they sit down to eat their rations--Jello cubes with all the necessary nutrients--Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) comes in and informs them there's been a spike in radiation. She scans everyone and confirms Gallant and Stu are contaminated. They go through a painful decontamination and Stu is still contaminated so Miriam shoots him dead.

We then get Wilhelmina and Miriam together, giggling about how they're showing the Elites who are boss and terrorizing them. Miriam is nervous the Cooperative might find out what they're up to. They then have dinner with the Elites and serve stew. The guests find parts of Stu in the stew, and in what I can only assume was meant to be camp humor, Andre yells with a straight face, " Oh, the stew is Stu!" Wilhelmina rather cryptically denies that they're eating Stu, and Evie doesn't care and digs in.

The music, an incessantly playing Carpenter song, changes to "The Morning After". Gallant assumes it's a message from the Cooperative. Eighteen months later, everyone is sitting around glaring at each other and on reduced rations. Tim and Emily have fallen in love and steal kisses when no one is looking. Then a mysterious carriage shows up drawn by horses wearing gas masks. The man in the carriage tells the compound agents to dispose of the horses.

Inside the compound, the man reveals he's Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the aforementioned anti-Christ from season 1. Michael tells Wilhelmina he's there to assess the outpost and bring any guests he deems worthy to a new impenetrable sanctuary with plenty of good. The guests he doesn't choose will end up like his horses. Intercut with this is the agents shooting and burying the contaminated horses.

So is "Apocalypse" any good? There are moment of high camp like the "Stu's stew!" line mentioned earlier. There are surprisingly tender moments like a doomed newscaster on the air telling his family--if they hear him--that he loves them. There are moments of blunt realism, like when people jump to their deaths from tall buildings--and land on Coco's windshield—rather than face the apocalypse.

We've been promised the Langdon Murder House from season 1 will appear. Even if it didn't survive the bombs, we've seen in "The End" the usual playing-around-with-time flashbacks and flashforwards that are pretty standard for American Horror Story. So we could get flashbacks to when Vivian was impregnated by Ghost Tate back in season 1, or what happened when Constance (Jessica Lange) raised Michael as a child.

We've also been promised more of "Coven", and Emma Roberts is listed as a show star even though she doesn't appear in the first episode. Presumably she'll be back to play her character from that season Madison Montgomery. Although Coco seems a lot like Madison. So it's possible the girl's school for witches could have survived the ICBMs, either through witchcraft or because New Orleans wasn't that big a target.

It's the world of American Horror Story, and pretty much anything is possible. The season has been cut down to eight episodes, and they cover a lot of ground in "The End". It's hard to imagine they can fill eight episodes with story. But they've done multiple stories within seasons before, so it's quite possible after they deal with the fallout shelter and Wilhelmina and Gallant, they could jump to the witch school in Louisiana. Or take a jaunt back into the past to look at Jessica Lange pre-apocalypse.

As for "The End" itself, no one gets anything too outstanding. Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson do their by-now typical creepy acts. Evan Peters struts around and hams it up. Adina Porter has some cute bits as a TV actress who recites self-help slogans. We don't find out much about Andre, Tim, or Emily, and the actors playing them are listed as guest stars rather than show stars. Then again, so is Joan Collins. She doesn't even get a Special Guest Star credit. I'm not fan of Joan Collins, but sheesh. They credited Billy Eichner and Mare Winningham as SGSs among others throughout the seasons. Ms. Collins needs a better agent: Billy Eichner is "special" but Joan Collins isn't? I don't think so.

Overall, "The End" was pretty typical. It's another look at whatever the current fear is, which was big last year when they explored the fear of (to simplify things) Trump. Now we have fear of a nuclear apocalypse. And it's got Peters and Paulson and Bates and a lot of the typical Murphy/Falchuk actors, imagery, and tropes.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Sep 13, 2018

Comments

WayneInNYC posted 2 months ago

They didn’t bury the horses. They were shot at a cliff’s edge and they fell below.
Even creepier, we see one of the horses dragged into the bushes at the bottom of the cliff by unseen entities, and I swear we hear the crunching of bones.

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