Wednesday, October 31, 2018

REVIEW: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse' - Michael Goes on an Existential Journey to Find His Purpose Once More in 'Sojourn'

FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse - Episode 8.08 "Sojourn"

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.

"Sojourn" was written by Josh Green and directed by Bradley Buecker

American Horror Story is certainly taking its time getting back to the story from the start of the season. It seems like the story is getting closer to that point. And yet, it's also abundantly clear that there is still so much backstory that needs to be established before the show can return to the apocalypse and that fateful confrontation in the bunker. This episode establishes how Michael was able to bring Mead back as a robot and how Venable possibly ties into all of this. It's an episode entirely about Michael as well. So, there still isn't an explanation for how Mallory and Coco came to be living under different identities when the apocalypse broke out. Moreover, it's now just time to accept that many of the actors are just casually appearing in multiple roles without all of them being connected in some way. That connection is important for Mallory and Coco. Their identities at the coven and in the bunker are completely different but they also function as the same people. But here, Evan Peters and Billy Eichner show up as complete strangers who are snorting a ton of cocaine while running a billion-dollar robotics company. They probably aren't the same people they were playing at the start of the season - unless the two sides of this world got even more twisted in trying to turn humanity against each other. But the core focus of this hour is on Michael's loss of faith. He has seemingly lost all of his allies in the world. Ariel, Baldwin and Mead were burned at the stake by the witches for their treachery. As such, he seemingly has lost his purpose. He's still so powerful. And yet, he doesn't know how to channel that himself. He doesn't present as some master villain who has his own overarching agenda for bringing about the apocalypse. Instead, he only has a foreboding prophecy about him. He knows he's the Antichrist who will bring about the end of days. But he doesn't know how to accomplish that. He certainly doesn't know how to do it by himself. As such, the show finds a convenient solution for him by introducing a Satanic cult. It truly delves into that mindset of someone who pledges their life to Satan. These people believe that humanity is completely deplorable and those enlightened to it must engage in as much sin as possible in order to welcome the end of days. They have been waiting for the arrival of the Antichrist. And now, he's here and he's not like anything they expected. They found a broken man who needs to be fed. They wish to serve him. They wish to have salvation in Hell with the kind of torture that only the devil can provide. They are sick and twisted individuals. But they are willing to do anything for Michael. So, he once again finds himself on the right track. However, it's difficult to see this as anything more than the narrative spinning its wheels a little bit to ensure that the story doesn't get to its climatic moments too quickly. Michael was delivered a significant blow. But he isn't defeated. It's understandable that the show wanted to delve into his psyche even more. Cordelia suggests that he has some good humanity inside of him that is worth exploring. He doesn't believe that though. That's what makes this episode a little emotionally detached. Sure, it's amusing to watch how ridiculously over-the-top the show is with Silicon Valley and the Satanic cults. But that has barely anything to do with the elements of the season that have actually been working. As such, it feels like the momentum of the season stalls significantly here which could be quite damning in the future if all of this buildup doesn't prove to be worth it in the end.