Wednesday, October 17, 2018

REVIEW: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse' - Madison and Behold Learn About Michael's Past in 'Return to Murder House'

FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse - Episode 8.06 "Return to Murder House"

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. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

"Return to Murder House" was written by Crystal Liu and directed by Sarah Paulson

This is a tightly-focused hour of television. It's the best episode of the season so far. Part of that can be attributed to the returns of some big names who have previously starred in the series - Jessica Lange, Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott. However, it's also just as compelling because of the direction from Sarah Paulson. She was given one strong script to helm. It's one that is pivotal to the season so far. It updates the audience on everything that happened from the conclusion of Murder House to life with Michael Langdon being named the new Supreme. It's such an intense and intoxicating journey. Paulson is able to move the action through its various set pieces quite well while also being able to have some fun with some incredible visuals. The setup for this hour is simple. Madison and Behold are just sitting down with the spirits that currently reside in Murder House to hear their stories about Michael Langdon. They want the truth about where this boy came from and whether he should be trusted with his new title as their leader. The warlocks were so desperate to accept the shift in the power landscape that they were blind to his true nature. In fact, that defines so many stories about personal relationships with Michael. Lange makes one hell of a return here as Constance. She returns declaring the Murder House to be hers. It's shocking to see her as one of the spirits that resides here. Her feud with Moira is still ongoing. She is only willing to speak to the witches in exchange for a favor. But that also leads to that beautiful moment in the cemetery with Moira and her mother finding peace with the actions that they took in their respectful lives. Even though this is a series defined by horror and the ways it can torment its characters, this is a moment of pure humanity that shows that there is still good within these individuals. They are worth the audience investing in their outcomes. In fact, this hour is surprisingly hopeful. Madison and Behold are putting in the effort to understand the stories and relationships these spirits have. They are forever trapped in this environment. They can never escape. They are doomed to stay here for all of eternity. But they hold the power to only be seen by those they want. That's empowering and it's something that Madison and Behold rip away immediately. They came for answers and won't be playing into any of these games. It's because of their interactions that there are reunions amongst the key Murder House couples. Madison chooses to help Violet see Tate with love once more even though she can't provide any more useful information about Michael. She chose to avoid him completely. But she still deserved that peace and acceptance from knowing that Tate may not have been in control of his actions in life or death. He was simply doomed as a part of this family where the Devil had taken ahold for some grand plan to end all of humanity. The Devil is now seemingly getting that wish with Michael accepting his true identity. It's heartbreaking to listen to Constance and Ben talk about how they aspired to something better for Michael. And yet, he was incapable of change. He would still kill and torture people. He had the power to wipe them from existence completely. There was no redemption from that. He is the son of the Devil. Vivien has the right idea to kill him before he can destroy the world. But she doesn't have the power to do so. In fact, the season has already confirmed that no one may be able to stop him. That's absolutely terrifying and it's all thanks to the powerful performances on display here that bring everything into sharp focus.