Wednesday, September 19, 2018

REVIEW: FX's 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse' - 'The End' & 'The Morning After'

FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse - September 2018 Reviews

8.01 "The End"
8.02 "The Morning After"

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. As such, this post will offer some paragraph reviews of each individual episode that a show airs in a given month. It may not get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my reviews of the episodes that aired in September 2018 for FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

801. "The End"
Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk and directed by Bradley Buecker

Murder House, Asylum and Coven are the only seasons of American Horror Story that I have seen in their entirety. Since then, my viewing of the show has been much more sporadic. Some seasons I felt compelled to watch the first few episodes like Freak Show and Roanoke. But my viewing quickly tapered off. Then, there were other seasons I just felt zero urgency in watching like Hotel and Cult. And now, I was once again intrigued by the show simply because of the idea of a Murder House-Coven crossover season. That piqued my interest as a way for the show to provide greater continuity amongst its seasons - even though I know Sarah Paulson has been reprising a number of her roles over the years. Of course, that's what makes it so surprising when "The End" doesn't feature any of that. The show is choosing to be very careful and deliberate with its storytelling. It wants to establish a completely different world before inviting the characters from Murder House and Coven back in. That's understandable. The show thrives on being able to reinvent itself every year. It wouldn't be fun if this season was simply a repeat of what they did in seasons one and three. They just want to bring that same quality back in while pushing things to new limits with those characters. Sure, it requires the audience to remember what actually happened in those seasons. I certainly had to go back and reread some of the plot events because the show loves to go all over the place with its storytelling. This premiere is fine if nothing too stunning. It's all about establishing this new world. A group of characters are collected into this bunker after the apocalypse has occurred. It's such a powerful image to see the entire world covered in nuclear fallout. But the show doesn't really establish the characters well enough to know how this massive destruction affects their lives. It's destructive and heartbreaking only in the sense that the audience would also feel that way should this kind of attack ever occur. But it's mostly just enjoyable to watch Joan Collins deliver one-liners as the change of the world doesn't really seem to phase her. Elsewhere, the story is mostly just setting up Timothy and Emily as unrequited lovers while Venable and Miriam are probably just playing games on their guests for their own amusement. The only real crossover comes at the end with the introduction of Cody Fern as grown-up Michael Langdon, the anti-christ introduced at the end of Murder House. That's promising even though his arrival signals that everything is bound to change immediately after the show just got done setting up its premise and rules for the year. B-

802. "The Morning After"
Written by James Wong and directed by Jennifer Lynch

Michael Langdon makes his presence known here. Of course, it mostly just seems like he is trying to torture everyone inside the bunker. He's trying to get them to turn on each other by being able to see who they truly are. That may actually be what's going on. The audience should suspect something because we know him to be the anti-christ. We know he's more than he seems to be. Right now, the characters view him as a potential savior. Someone who can take them to a sanctuary where they can survive the apocalypse. He plans on interviewing everyone in the bunker in a few days to decide who is worthy. And yet, he only conducts two interviews here. So, he's only making slow progress so far. The story is mostly interested in Gallant and his inner rage towards his grandmother. He saved her from the end of the world. But he resents her as well because she could never accept his version of a gay man. Of course, she makes a point in saying that he was a massive disappointment who was continually abusing the world and its luxuries. That is a lot of depth for this family dynamic. However, it's still all building to the shocking moment where Gallant kills his grandmother. That's shocking only because it's a tragedy to lose Joan Collins so early in the season. That seemed inevitable the moment that she was revealed only to be a guest star. But she's been the most entertaining aspect of the new season so far. Moreover, her exit is tied to the audience's complicated feelings towards the Rubber Man. He is one of the most iconic villains from the series so far. It's a shocking moment when he first appears. In fact, it seems like the show is teasing a sex scene between Evan Peters as Gallant and Evan Peters as Tate. Rubber Man's appearance has to be mean something especially because of his own connection to Langdon. However, it's mostly just used for cheap thrills at the moment. Again, it's all about deceit because Langdon is pushing Gallant to kill his grandmother. Moreover, it seems pretty convenient that a functioning laptop is left open just so Tim and Emily can see that Venable and Miriam are just making up the rules. Of course, there's no real consequences to that accusation either. Langdon continues to allow them to do whatever they want. As such, the punishment is swiftly coming for Tim and Emily. But it's not all that exciting. Again, the intrigue of the new season mostly comes from the various teases the show is slowing delving out - like the snakes that appear and reassemble or the mysterious substance oozing out of Miriam after she is shot. C+