Review – AHS: Apocalypse “Return to Murder House”

Wow, it really didn’t take me long to fall off the regular review wagon. I missed a couple of episodes, and everything just sort of fell apart. But I’m back! We’ll see how long it lasts this time.

I haven’t posted anything about “Could It Be … Satan?” and “Boy Wonder,” but both were enjoyable episodes. The witches and warlocks are certainly more fun than the bunker bunch, so these flashback episodes have been the highpoint of the season so far. “Could It Be … Satan?” is a great episode title, and I’m honestly a little disappointed that Cheyenne Jackson’s moody warlock didn’t hiss it while dramatically lighting a cigarette. That would have been perfect. Hopefully, John Henry will be brought back to help fight Michael. If not, Jackson will give Evan Peters’ Roanoke appearance a run for its money for shortest screen time of a main cast member.  

Those two episodes did interesting things with gender dynamics. It was cool to be given an established social order with women inherently on top. The warlocks’ blind determination to one-up their female counterparts and establish a male supreme no matter the cost highlights the dangers of disenfranchisement, while also examining something very akin to toxic masculinity.

But, in a way, the gender stuff is limited because the witches are in power and right. Cordelia may worry that her reluctance to test Michael comes from a place of prejudice, but we all know that he’s bad news. It can’t really serve as a critique of gender-based hierarchies because if this particular hierarchy had remained intact, the world very well may not have ended. Therefore, these interactions primarily serve as a commentary on masculinity, but honestly, pointing out the foibles of men is less interesting.  

Speculation time: Mallory is the rising supreme, right? I mean, she’s got all this nifty power, and Cordelia is declining, but Michael is not the alpha (oh yeah, there’s another example of on-the-nose commentary on masculine bullshit). Someone has to be the new HWIC, and Mallory makes the most sense. It would explain why she was hidden away with Coco, who can literally sense danger. Well, gluten, but what’s the difference? Also, Mallory’s healing abilities could be super useful since, you know, the apocalypse happened.

Now, onto the murder house. Jessica Lange is back, and she’s still the greatest. Dylan McDermott is back, and he’s masterbating while crying in front of a window. Connie Britton is back, and she isn’t given much to do except quote some bible verses and get set on fire.

The most striking thing about the episode isn’t really the Michael backstory; it’s how all the ghosts are given a happy ending. Moira gets to leave the house and be reunited with her mother. The Harmons repair their marriage. Constance gets to be a mother to her children forever. Violet and Tate get over their teen ghost angst and become a couple again. It’s pretty much everyone’s ideal outcome. I guess it’s refreshingly nice since this show can be pretty bleak, but it also feels a little too easy for me. Especially for Tate, one of the show’s best, most complicated characters. His dark side is essentially dismissed as being the result of the bigger evil that inhabits the house. His agency is stripped away, and it makes him a little boring.

The Michael backstory is pretty expected, and there were no really exciting reveals. I did wonder about the timeline since it seemed like Michael shouldn’t be an adult in the present day of the show, and that was explained. Apparently, he just aged like a decade over night. Side note, how great was the shot of joyful Michael, cleary a kid in a grown-up’s body, sitting by the body of the priest he gruesomely murdered?

I liked seeing the failure of Michael’s father figures. Tate, forever a petulanet teenger, angrily tells Michael he’s not his father and to stay out of his stuff—a hilarious flip of the traditional “you’re not my real dad” script. But Ben Harmon really is the worst person and a terrible father. He tries to heal Michael with a game of catch (he’s really putting that psychiatry degree to use), and then completely disowns the kid and calls him unsavable when he murders some people, which really shouldn’t have surprised him. I mean, the kid’s been casually killing people since he was like four. No wonder Michael embraced Satan as his father. His alternatives were just not that great.

Cake Rating: Michael getting his Khaleesi on and eating a raw heart was the food highlight of the episode. I’m not sure how that translates to cake. Hmmm … maybe, red velvet? Let’s go with a nice slice of red velvet with Crown Royal to wash it down.

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Or watch J-Hope dance to Red Velvet’s “Ice Cream Cake” as an alternative. (Source)

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