American Horror Story: Apocalypse – “Forbidden Fruit” (S8E3)

“Forbidden Fruit” (written by Manny Coto and directed by Loni Peristere) was an action-packed Ryan Murphy Halloween episode that included poisoned apples, a Victorian masquerade, witches, and even a little Satan. Since, on Halloween, spirits can leave the spot they’re normally chained to, I was hoping we’d see Murder House’s Harmon family visiting our cozy Outpost Three, but we didn’t get any additional Murder House visitors this week. Rubber Man didn’t make an appearance in this episode but then I’m sure he feels that Halloween is for amateurs. At this point, Rubber Man seems to be Langdon transmuted into another form when it’s useful for him. However, we did get some All Hallows’ Eve visitors from Coven, though not until the last few minutes of the episode.

In the usual AHS tradition of Halloween freedom—where spirits get a one-day pass to walk among the living and kids get that night to roam the streets—I’m dying to get us out of Outpost Three, fascinating place though it is. However, I’d prefer not to venture out into the cannibalistic radioactive hellscape that this season now lives in. We do get a glimpse of that world in “Forbidden Fruit,” and it appears my apocalypse-as-hoax theory is a nonstarter because it looks really bleak out there. But for now, back to the claustrophobic but well-dressed world of Outpost Three.

Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) continues his in-person interviews. He pardons the young man in love, Timothy (Kyle Allen), for his lusty infraction, and he also pardons Mr. Gallant (Evan Peters) for violently killing his Nana. Langdon tells Gallant, “Nonsense, she died peacefully in her sleep,” even though they both know that’s not true. Langdon continues questioning other people about who they really are, attempting to use his “night vision of the soul” to identify prospects with traits he can use in the new world he intends to build. Michael is looking for people who will not only “take a bite out of a tree of knowledge but burn it down.”

Coco (Leslie Grossman) is too shallow to have the kind of darkness that interests Langdon. Andre (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman)—who we now know is Dinah’s son—lets Langdon know that Dinah (Adina Porter) is evil, and he sounds a little more heartfelt about it than run-of-the-mill family issues would inspire. We learn that Langdon and Dinah know each other. After confirming she’s not powerful enough and doesn’t have any intention to challenge his plans, Langdon assures Dinah she has a place in the Sanctuary.

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More interesting than the other interviews is Langdon’s fiery exchange with Coco’s subservient personal assistant Mallory (Billie Lourd). He tries to get her to express her hidden aggression but she claims to “have no dark places.” He won’t let this line of questioning go so when she’s had enough she escapes by pushing him backwards onto the floor with the power of her mind. We don’t see Langdon shaken often, but he looks truly surprised and more than a little bit scared. He shows his true demon face when Mallory inadvertently uses her power against him. Stunned, he asks who she really is. Mallory doesn’t know but says it sometimes feels like “someone’s trying to claw her way out.” She asks the same question of him, but he’s not giving out his true name just yet.

Langdon is shaken to learn that a power equal to or greater than his own still exists, right here in Outpost Three. He earnestly prays to Satan for guidance in a blood ritual over a pentagram (as one does). In fairness, what else can you do on Halloween in a post-apocalyptic world when trick-or-treating is out of the question? You could always bob for apples but that’s really not his thing—though the other guests of Outpost Three will try it later that night. Langdon cries out that he thought he’d “destroyed them all but he’s found one” and begs for wisdom. His blood turns to black and definitely poisonous snakes that slither out of the pentagram; his eyes have gone black.

Things don’t look promising for Mallory but she seems to have a power that is a match for Langdon’s and will likely have a larger role as this season progresses. Theories abound that she may be stronger than the average witch (and may even be the next Supreme), which may help her fight him if he turns out to be an errant warlock with a few Seven Wonders skills and delusions of grandeur. Mallory may actually be a Seraph: one of the fiery burning angels who worship God continually and who bring purifying fire—something that will be needed if Langdon is the Antichrist. If so, things are setting up for some kind of ultimate battle between these two beings once they both come into their own, a battle between between the holy and the unholy.

In a parallel to Frankenstein, Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates) may be an android but she is the most human of the bunch. She is struggling to figure out who she is, where her memories come from, and whether her memories can really be her own. As she describes her Halloween memories to Ms. Venable (Sarah Paulson), we see important moments from her life, though it’s a bit of a fake out because at first it appears that she’s telling them to Langdon as part of his interviews.

In a tongue-in-cheek reveal, we learn that on Halloween evening 1962, a nine-year-old Miriam goes meta in a homemade costume: Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. She vividly remembers the embarrassment of being laughed at by a woman and given an apple instead of candy.

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On Halloween 1968, she goes on her first date to see the film Rosemary’s Baby (a bit on the nose for the Antichrist season!) where she and her date Bobby look uncomfortable. Miriam discovers she likes being scared, that it makes her feel alive. Bobby makes her feel dirty and she slaps him when he gets handsy. This slap leads into her Halloween 1988 memory: her first kill as an agent for Mossad against a terrorist. She remembers a choreographed fight to the death as “violent, but romantic like a waltz.” Miriam knows she’s been programmed but struggles with her memories of caring for a beautiful blond boy whom she loved; in these memories, the boy’s face is a blur.

Meanwhile, Coco’s bitter ex-boyfriend Brock (Billy Eichner), who was left behind when LA traffic prevented him from getting to Coco’s jet in time, is looking worse for radioactive wear. He’s lost some fingers and hair and his cuts won’t heal. Brock wanders the apocalyptic wasteland, desperately searching for Coco and Outpost Three, and meets a group including a nice Top Chef finalist who is (over)cooking a human arm. Brock is invited to join them but he opts to shoot them instead. He hitches a ride under the driver-less horse-drawn wagon that just so happens to come by, headed straight to Outpost Three. Luck or another of Langdon’s machinations?

The intruder alarm rings as the carriage containing beautiful untouched apples (and an unseen, hidden Brock) arrives. Miriam and Venable are delighted when the apples prove to be radiation free and the woman they call The Fist (Erika Ervin) shares that she knows a ton about nutrition as she used to run a nutrition blog before the war. Venable and Miriam send The Fist outside to care for the horses, and Brock stabs her to death, takes her ID, and enters the building. Who will run The Fist’s nutrition blog now? Oh, that’s right—only Langdon still has the internet.

Venable and Miriam devise a plan: poison all of the apples and have everyone devour them during the Halloween masquerade party festivities, then kill Langdon and find the Sanctuary on his computer. By doing so, they will eliminate the competition and secure their places once and for all. Venable calls an emergency meeting and announces—as a gesture of goodwill after such harsh rules and punishments—a Halloween soirée in the style of a Victorian masquerade ball. Mr. Gallant does up Coco’s hair in an exaggerated Marie Antoinette style and they reminisce about Halloweens past and disparage Mallory. Mallory is having her dark night of the soul, but she recounts her conversation with Langdon while staring at the fire. She tries to explain what happened to her with Langdon (“I think I made fire with my mind”) but is unable to recreate her pyrokinesis in front of Gallant and Coco.

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The Halloween masquerade party begins with a dramatic announcement from Ms. Venable’: “Tonight is All Hallows’ Eve. Everyone should savor this night as if it were their last.” And they really should, because Miriam and Venable have injected poison from Langdon’s black snakes into each apple.

Everyone dances to a Bread song, “Baby I’m-a Want You,” which is possibly a nod to the new, looser rules that Venable has promised. Some have pointed out that the lyrics—“like a guiding light to help me through my darkest hour”—include a nod to possible help on the way. Coco dances with (and tries to seduce) the costumed man who she thinks is Langdon, but once the Goth black raven mask comes off, she sees that it is Brock. Her ex confronts her and stabs her in the forehead: our second Halloween death.

For some unknown reason, everyone trusts Venable and Miriam enough to eat the apples even after being served people stew in Episode 1. I guess anything beats those nutrition gel cubes. They all bob for apples as Venable and Miriam look on. Everyone revels in eating their treat. There’s an Adam-and-Eve moment as the young lovers Timothy and Emily (Ash Santos) give each other bites of the apple poisoned by a snake. After everyone partakes in apples, it becomes a vomitorium and they all die foaming at the mouth. Purples with their extra special DNA and rich folk and even possible angel savior Mallory have all passed on. And with that, all of the humans except Venable are dead. Just another Halloween on American Horror Story.

Miriam reports to Venable that The Fist and Coco are missing and is worried about witnesses to the mass murder they’ve just committed. Venable is not worried and proceeds with their plan, commanding Miriam to shoot Langdon, but we find out that Langdon has actually had Miriam created and programmed to his specifications by the Cooperative; she has to follow his commands. In another moment that calls to mind the novel Frankenstein, Miriam seems the most human. She shows remorse and confusion for killing her friend and struggles with the realization that her memories and feelings are programmed. Langdon reveals that he’s been behind everything that has happened, revealing to Miriam that the poison apple plan was actually his. He tells her that he “doesn’t like to get his hands dirty,” which he learned from his father, and shares his belief that, “if left to their own devices, men and women are evil fuckers.”

Langdon also reveals that Miriam was modeled after the only woman who ever understood and loved him, and that he wanted to go to the Sanctuary with her by his side. She now understands that Langdon is her beautiful blond boy. He reveals that he had blocked part of that memory—which is why his face was always blurred to her—in order to protect her so that her cover as loyal sidekick to Venable would not be compromised. She now remembers her love for him.

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The song on Outpost Three’s radio changes to “She’s a Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones (incidentally from an album called Their Satanic Majesties Request). We see Coven Supreme Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), as well as apparently resurrected coven members Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) make their triumphant return through the mist into Outpost Three. Cordelia commands them to “find our sisters” and resurrects the bodies of Coco, Mallory, and Dinah.

We now know they are witches but which witches are they? Are they witches we’ve met before (like Misty, Marie, Zoe, or Fiona) in new bodies, or are they newer members of the coven? We close on Madison getting in Mallory’s face and saying her iconic line: “Surprise, bitch. I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me!” We don’t know if Mallory was once Madison’s assistant—in Coven, Madison mentioned that an assistant had an intervention on her that got her sent to witch school—or if it was just a Scream Queens crossover. It may be something else entirely, but it will be fun to find out! Post-resurrection Mallory can see perfectly without her glasses so we don’t know if she’s the next Supreme or if resurrection just really agrees with her. We do know that Mallory will be important as the episode 4 preview shows Cordelia asking for her help.

I’m looking forward to next week’s episode which is sure to be Coven-heavy and will likely continue their Halloween night!

Favorite Quotes from Episode 3:

  • I’ve been charged with finding the seeds from which the future of mankind will blossom.
  • But I killed my Nana.
  • Call it a kind of night vision of the soul.
  • I have no dark places.
  • The devil you know.
  • Not a bad apple in the bunch.
  • Tonight is All Hallows’ Eve. Everyone should savor this night as if it were their last.
  • I love Halloween. It’s the one night where the rest of the world makes an effort to be fabulous. You know, how I am every other night of the year.
  • I think I made fire with my mind.
  • Maybe it was the blast, the radiation did something and now I am like the Dark Phoenix.
  • You have your treat and here’s the trick.
  • Surprise, bitch!

Unanswered Questions from Episode 3:

  • If Timothy and Emily had such special DNA needed to repopulate the earth, why did Langdon allow them to die?
  • Is the Cooperative even in existence still? It seems to be all Langdon.
  • How do the newly resurrected coven sisters fit in?
  • Are they newer members of the coven or are they Misty, Marie, Zoe, or Fiona in new bodies?
  • Is Mallory more than a witch? Is she Fiona or a new Supreme? Is she an angel or seraph?
  • How did the witches survive?
  • Were Madison and Myrtle resurrected or were they Halloween spirits visiting?
  • How will the witches and whatever Mallory is defeat the Antichrist?
  • Is Miriam programmed with the memories of Langdon’s grandmother Constance or those of his nanny?
  • Where is Brock and what will he do next?
  • Will any of the other Outpost Three guests be resurrected?

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