American Horror Story: Apocalypse’s second episode is filled with promise. After an uncertain season premiere, marked by the conflict between the show’s new impulse for political commentary and its standard ghoulish flair, Apocalypse’s follow-up is a high drama treat.
Michael Langdon (Cody Fern)’s arrival to Outpost 3, the last vestige of the human race, has successfully turned the bunker into a psychological battleground.
As part of his stated mission to determine who amongst these last survivors is worthy of salvation, and a place in the Sanctuary, Langdon has begun to manipulate his subjects to uncover their greatest insecurities, namely sexual in nature.
Ms Venable (Sarah Paulson)’s scoliosis is revealed as the reason behind her intolerance of sexual contact in the Outpost, as it’s caused her to feel ashamed of her own body.
Meanwhile, Langdon exploits Mr Gallant (Evan Peters)’s sense of rage, directed against his grandmother (Joan Collins), who’s fixated on controlling his identity as gay man, and pushes him to outright murder. However, so much of Langdon’s presence has been left unexplained here – time to dive into five biggest unanswered questions of episode 2.
What is Michael Langdon’s plan?
It’s a fair bet to say that Michael Langdon, Antichrist, isn’t a man worth trusting. Which is, admittedly, frustrating when attempting to figure out what on earth is going on this season, considering Langdon is the only one doing any of the explaining, while everyone else is so preoccupied with either (a) getting laid or (b) boasting about their luncheons with Natalie Wood.
What is especially tough to determine is how much faith we can place in the e-mails Timothy ((Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos) find on Langdon’s laptop, conveniently left out for them to stumble across.
A working laptop over 18 months into the apocalypse does suggest there is a kind of sophisticated society out there; it’s certainly plausible that he’s connected to a satellite signal and, unless he’s charging his laptop purely through satanic power, there presumably is a working plug socket somewhere on the planet.
That adds a solid basis to the theory that the Co-Operative is still a functioning body. Furthermore, if the e-mails were a ruse, why would they be so revelatory in their content? Take the message reading: “I've marked Venable and Gallant "red" - - I plan on executing them as soon as I complete my interviews. Thus far there are only two promising candidates, but I have my doubts even about them…” It’s obvious the two candidates referred to here are Timothy and Emily (come on, everyone else is dreadful), so why would Langdon clue them in to his plans for them?
Is the Sanctuary real?
Beyond Langdon’s interest in the “two promising candidates”, there’s an even more suggestive message hidden here. We only see the beginning of the e-mail, but it starts: “All attempts at carrying a fetus have failed. We are altering the DNA of the fetus to potentially....” This appears to directly reference Langdon’s own comments to Gallant, that the Co-Operative may be able to repopulate the planet without “female incubation” in the future. All, presumably, within the confines of the Sanctuary.
Now, are we really to believe the Sanctuary exists as a “last resort”? If the technology required to keep the radiation-ravaged hordes at bay existed, why would it not have simply been used at all the Outposts? That is, if the Co-Operative were truly concerned with the salvation of mankind, and not driven by ulterior motives. There’s a good chance the other Outposts weren’t overrun and wiped out, but that their inhabitants were simply deemed unfit for the Co-Operative’s new vision and disposed of.
So, who exactly is running the show here? Who is the head of the Co-Operative? And frame it this way: if Langdon is the Antichrist, isn’t it his destiny on earth to bring about the apocalypse? Hasn’t that mission been achieved? And, after the apocalypse, what else would he be driven to do, other than to recreate the world in his image?
Who is in the Rubber Man suit?
It appears Langdon is not the lone visitor to Outpost 3, with Apocalypse’s second episode welcoming back Murder House’s infamous Rubber Man. First purchased by one of the house’s residents, Chad (Zachary Quinto), it was later adopted by Tate (Evan Peters), who wore the suit to rape Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) while pretending to be her husband.
This, as we know, is how Michael Langdon was conceived. Now, it’s already clear that Langdon himself isn’t in the suit during the Rubber Man’s hook-up with Gallant. As he said: “I wouldn’t f*** you if you were the last man on earth. And you practically are.” And there’s no reason for him to lie here.
The Rubber Man could be Langdon’s papa, Tate, here to oversee his son’s destructive legacy. Or, more likely, the Rubber Man could have mutated into its own demonic entity, much like the Addiction Demon from Hotel. There are two flashes of a naked Langdon, surrounded by a bloody pentagram, moments before Gallant has his first encounter with the Rubber Man.
Considering Gallant’s confession that he liked leather, during his interview, the Rubber Man must then have been summoned as a tease. It clearly worked, allowing Langdon to channel the rage he sought from Gallant, tricking him into stabbing his grandmother to death.
So, when is the coven showing up?
After all, this is what the fans have all been waiting for in season eight. Luckily, there were two premonitions of the coven’s arrival in episode 2: the first, the snakes, which formed such a pivotal aspect of Coven’s marketing campaign, and the second, Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” coming through the bunker’s radio.
The latter, specifically, heralds either the arrival of Misty Day (Lily Rabe), who had an obsession with all things Fleetwood Mac, or the band’s own Stevie Nicks, who appeared as herself in season 3.
Showrunner Ryan Murphy hasn’t been shy about the upcoming reveal either, having already posted several shots of the coven to Instagram. One is of particular interest. In it, we can see the expected Cordelia (Paulson), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Myrtle (Frances Conroy) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), alongside the coven’s henchmen, who we saw lending a hand when Myrtle was burned at the stake.
However, there are two new additions: actors Cheyenne Jackson, dressed like a cowboy warlock, and Leslie Grossman, who we’ve already seen in the role of Coco St. Pierre in Apocalypse. Is Coco a witch? Or this an entirely new character?
And did this show just go all Westworld on us?
Mead (Kathy Bates) is an android. Yes, American Horror Story is doing robots now. Buckle in. Although, there’s one serious note to be made here: Mead’s look of shock indicates she may not have been aware of the fact she’s not human. She’d also previously mentioned her father having served in Vietnam.
Does this indicate a kind of Blade Runner situation, where Mead had the memories of someone else’s life implanted into her head? And who else in the bunker is also an android? Mead has another warden who works beside her, played by Erika Ervin, who seems a likely candidate, since she didn’t flinch when one the invading snakes stuck its fangs into her finger.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse continues in the US on FX at 10/9c, every Wednesday. In the UK, the season will premiere on Wednesday, 27 September at 10pm on FOX