Finales are always a difficult thing to get right as there’s always the issue of making sure the viewers get the answers to all of their questions, getting the pacing right and ensuring a satisfying conclusion. American Horror Story has always had issues when it comes to their finales in that they always seem rushed and whilst the ending to Apocalypse was satisfying for the most part, it probably had one of the most unsatisfying endings too. The majority of the episode gave us the answers to all the important questions we had but in the final moments new questions were posed–unnecessary questions that we simply didn’t need.
The first ten minutes are spent showing us Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), Myrtle (Frances Conroy), and Madison (Emma Roberts) making the final plan to fight Michael after the apocalypse has happened. Hiding out in Misty Days (Lily Rabe) swamp house from Season 3 they tell Mallory (Billie Lourd) and Coco (Leslie Grossman) that they’ll be placed under an identity spell to secure a place in Outpost 3. Coco’s family will buy her place in the Outpost but Cordelia tells her that they must die as they run the risk of exposing her to Michael (Cody Fern) before the plan can be executed. Way back in the first episode during the apocalypse we were given a close up of Coco’s eye, looking out of the plane window, as she shed a tear with the mushroom cloud being reflected in it. I think this finally explains that moment as at the time it felt so out-of-place considering Coco was the bitchy character we didn’t want to like. Subconsciously perhaps Coco remembered this conversation with Cordelia and knew that her family was perishing in the explosions but she wasn’t strong enough to remember her true identity. We’ve spent weeks enduring Coco’s new-found powers in which she can tell if there was gluten in food and how many calories were in a cake, but those powers went nowhere. With such a build-up and focus being placed on them we were kind of led to believe that these powers would grow and ultimately be a part of finally taking down Michael. Sadly these powers were completely irrelevant to anything and the only part she would play is ensuring Mallory’s safe passage into the Outpost with her. This scene was strangely touching as we saw just how much Coco and Mallory loved each other as previously we’d only ever seen Coco be nothing but evil to her; it showed just how strong the spell was to change their personalities.
In the first of many time jumps we see the new personalities of Coco and Mallory which is the version we met during the first few episodes of the season. Madison is now masquerading as an Uber driver just to ensure Coco has messy hair and will arrive at the salon of Mr. Gallant (Evan Peters). Remember Brock (Billy Eichner)? Yeah, don’t worry I’m struggling to remember him too. Basically, he was Coco’s boyfriend who she left in LA when the bombs went off but he somehow survived and began to deform. In the closing moments of Episode 3 he arrived at the Outpost and killed Coco and we haven’t seen him since with all episodes since that being flashbacks. The fact that the character was so brief and pointless to the plot makes it seem like the writers really wanted Eichner back but couldn’t think of a way to include him in the long-term. Both of his characters this season are so out-of-place and unnecessary to any of the plot but in this episode we are told how they met at the salon and became a couple I guess. Would the real Coco have been in a relationship with him or was it just her new personality? I’d have rather Coco just died from the poisoned apples like the rest of the Outpost residents to be totally honest; him returning in the finale was pointless. The only purpose Brock has, that I can think of, was to give us a glimpse at the outside world after the apocalypse has happened which wasn’t needed at all. With the first few episodes almost all completely taking place inside the bunker it wasn’t necessary for us to see the outside world in detail as I think that it being unknown and unseen would have created much more tension and mystery. There were other people alive outside the Outpost, other mutants, creatures lurking in the mist clouds waiting to put horses out of their misery, but unfortunately none of this was mentioned again. Those first scenes we had of creatures claws emerging from the fog to take the horse carcasses reminded me of Doctor Arden feeding his creations in Asylum so to not have these spoken of in any way again feels like a completely missed opportunity.
We don’t see the apocalypse happen which is disappointing; instead we again jump forward to years later right before the flashbacks of Episode 4 began. Another wasted opportunity is not showing us the full extent of the apocalypse especially considering it’s the whole theme of the season. We didn’t have to see every bomb going off around the globe but it would have had a pretty big impact to have seen some iconic locations from the show’s history either during or after the end of days. Would the murder house still be standing or would it have perished and released its trapped spirits? Would the ruins of Briarcliff Manor still be standing? Or would the spirits and afflicted beings of the Hotel Cortez still be checked in? Despite being ruined Misty Days swamp cabin still stands so we can only imagine that many of the other known locations are still there.
How did the witches survive the apocalypse? They buried themselves in the swamp and surfaced one (or is it two?) years later of course. Obviously the swamps of Louisiana possess high levels of healing properties so naturally that’s where they hid and had their powers restored to them. They appear to be awoken at the same time as Mallory’s powers begin to show when she fights with Michael; this is supported by Myrtle asking “Did you feel it?” As they resurface we’re brought full circle as they enter the Outpost and bring back their witch sisters from the dead which is the last modern-day scene we saw. Again, Cordelia has the strength to bring back the dead without any effort whatsoever but had to rely on Michael’s powers to bring back others for her earlier in the season as she wasn’t powerful enough. There are so many contradictions with the limits of Cordelia’s powers that it’s hard to keep track of what she can and can’t do. Her powers were weakening a few episodes ago because a new Supreme witch was around but now Cordelia is stronger than ever. I do like that Cordelia, Myrtle, and Madison all got cleaned up, did their hair and make-up before going to take on Michael in the final showdown though. Priorities!
Michael offers Cordelia a seat at his table which she quickly declines but Dinah (Adina Porter) announces that she already chose her side, not with the witches but with Satan. What she doesn’t count on is Madison already figuring out her betrayal and in another shock return Angela Bassett reprises her role as Marie Laveau from Coven. Angela had previously denied any involvement with this season and had always insisted that she was too busy with one of Ryan Murphy’s other shows, 9-1-1, so it was glorious to see her return to one of her best roles on the show no matter how brief it was. Kathy Bates also brought back her Coven character, Delphine LaLaurie, for a quick scene too. If you can remember back to the ending of Season 3 they were both put into their personal hells with Delphine locked in a cage watching Marie torture her children for all eternity. Whilst the daughters were nowhere to be seen in the revisit to the scene we did see Nan (Jamie Brewer) return to tell Marie that Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) is unhappy with her performance in hell so if she sends someone more evil in her place she’s free to leave with Cordelia. After learning that Dinah was the new voodoo Queen I always felt that she was a really cheap copycat character of Marie so to have her return and kill her felt perfect.
Dinah’s death begins something that has become a tradition for American Horror Story now: the mindless bloodbath that kills off pretty much every character going for no reason. Death doesn’t really matter in this show anymore as it is so frequent and very rarely means the end of a character. When Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) realised she was dead in Murder House it was such an emotional scene to watch. When we had to watch Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) change to become a better person before she died in Asylum it was heartbreaking. A lot of the deaths in Freak Show were equally upsetting because we knew that, were it not for the characters, they would be gone for good and we would have to say goodbye. Obviously, the deaths in Coven had an impact on us too; we’d followed the characters through the season and their deaths came as a shock to us. If I go back and watch Coven again tomorrow none of the deaths will matter as I know they’ll pretty much all be resurrected so easily. The same can be said for this season as people had already died and been brought back to life in the first three episodes alone so why is any death going to have an impact or tug at my emotions now? Death is more about adding extra gore and special effects these days than it is about adding something meaningful to the story. In a matter of minutes, we witness the deaths of Dinah, Miriam Mead (again), Madison, Marie (who’d been back for around 3 minutes), Brock, Coco and Cordelia. Seven deaths in less than five minutes; sigh. Granted Cordelia commits suicide in order to save a dying Mallory so she can become the next Supreme and travel back in time to defeat Michael. Delivering one of the best lines of the entire season right before she plunges a knife into her own chest Cordelia says “Satan has one son, but my sisters are legion motherfucker”, and with that she’s dead. Mallory’s full powers awaken and she picks her point in the past in which she can go back to change the entire future.
Personally, I’d have gone back and made sure he was never born but Mallory chooses 2015 and once again Jessica Lange returns to the show (I knew it!). We revisit the scene of a young Michael killing the priest that Constance has sent to help him, but this time the scene doesn’t end with her going next door to the murder house to commit suicide. Instead she retaliates and shouts at Michael, telling him exactly what she thinks of his murderous ways, making it clear that he isn’t her grandson and eventually kicking him out of the house. Jessica obviously gives an outstanding performance and proves once again how much she’s missed in the show. As he’s leaving he’s mowed down out of nowhere by a car and of course it’s Mallory at the wheel. She runs over him repeatedly before giving Constance a strange sort of look. I think with this look we have to assume that at some point prior to the scene Mallory tells Constance to kick Michael out of the house because how else would the timeline change this way? We know this moment triggers Constance killing herself so for the events to change Mallory has to have intervened. As Michael dies he begs Constance to take his body to the murder house so he can stay there as a spirit forever but she tells him to “Go to Hell” and there we have it, the end of the Anti-Christ. The saddest part of this is not Michael’s death, but the fact that this whole scene is a recreation of Constance’s daughter Adelaide’s death from Season 1. She was killed in a hit and run and the police stopped Constance from dragging her body to the house to save her spirit. As the camera pans out on a dying Michael he’s even laid in the same position Addy was after being hit. We were led to believe that Episode 5 was the end of Constance’s story, her being dead and choosing to be a mother again to the spirits of 3 of her 4 children, so what does this new ending mean for her? She’d found peace and a purpose in the afterlife; now we know nothing of what became of her again. The same can be said for Moira, Tate, and Zoe, do they no longer have their happy endings as the events that caused them have no longer happened.
With that the entire season is erased and a new timeline begins with Mallory first meeting Cordelia (alive and remembers nothing) at the school for witches; she’s the only one who remembers what happened. Papa Legba reckons he owes Mallory a favour since she killed the spawn of Satan so lets Nan take Misty Day back to Cordelia, another witch alive and well after dying. A few episodes back Nan was practically begging Cordelia to help her return to our world from Hell but now she’s been given the opportunity to she declines saying that Papa Legba lets her play. It’s strange as it was her that wanted to come back in the first place. Another strange outcome is that Mallory states she’s letting Madison sweat a bit longer in hell. Why exactly? If it wasn’t for Madison she probably wouldn’t have succeeded in defeating Michael so why isn’t she a priority now? The same can be said for Coco who is nowhere to be seen at all in the new timeline. In Season 5 Queenie (Gabourney Sidibe) turned up at the Hotel Cortez and was killed off and in the new timeline she’s stopped from going there. Will that alter the plot of Season 5 now? Ramona Royale needed Queenie’s blood to revitalise herself in order to be strong enough to try to kill The Countess (Lady Gaga). That doesn’t happen in this new timeline now so it’ll be interesting to hear if that story ever changes in someway as technically it should. Changing the timelines in a show is risky business especially in an anthology show that has crossover timelines. Now that it’s changed the timeline this season no longer exists at all, apart from the final ten minutes of this episode.
For me this is where the season should have ended as the next scenes were just bizarre. Remember Timothy (Kyle Allen) and Emily (Ash Santos) from the first three episodes? They were brought to the Outpost because they had “special DNA” so obviously we were expecting something very important to happen with these characters but they were killed off in Episode 3 and haven’t been given a single mention since. Well it turns out they were Satan’s contingency plan, which makes zero sense whatsoever, and in 2024 she gives birth to the next Anti-Christ. Erm what? Since when did a person need special DNA to birth the Anti-Christ? The whole point of Michael was that he was a baby conceived of both human and the spirit world and as neither Timothy or Emily are dead I’m failing to see how this works. Satan used the Murder House as a gateway to corrupt Tate and have him get Vivien pregnant so are we to assume the same has happened here? If we were given a flash forward of them living in the Murder House then yes, maybe we could believe it but it all seems so wrong and such an unnecessary addition to the ending. If AHS is allowed to continue for another six seasons will we have Apocalypse Two with the new Devil spawn? When I heard about the special DNA in Episode 1 I’d theorised that, based on their age and ethnicity, Timothy and Emily could be the descendants of Kit, Alma, and Grace from Asylum and that the reason they had special genetics was that they were part alien. I wish I was right. I think that would have been a nice set up to do a follow-on season for Asylum since it barely gets a mention now. But there it is: our ending.
What was the Sanctuary we heard so much about? Was the tall nameless woman played by Erika Ervin another android? Why didn’t they protect Misty and Stevie Nicks during the apocalypse? Rubber Man clearly wasn’t Tate or Michael, so who was it? Were Mutt and Jeff still alive and playing their playlist into the Outpost? How did Venable take over the Outpost and begin controlling Mead? What the hell were Coco’s powers all about? How does DNA suddenly determine who can carry the Anti-Christ? So many unanswered questions and probably a lot more than I’ve mentioned here.
I’ve loved the majority of this season, I really have, so it pains me that the last couple of episodes were filler and the ending was so unsatisfactory. We were promised that this season would be an “epic crossover” of Murder House & Coven and whilst it was a crossover, it wasn’t what was billed. The Return to Murder House episode was phenomenal but that’s pretty much all there was to it. It felt more like Coven Two more than anything else. Characters have crossed over from one season to another in the past so it was nothing new for stories to collide in the way that this one did although I did love having a continuation of older seasons as opposed to a completely new bunch of stories and characters. We already know that another two seasons (at least) have been ordered of the show and my hope is that Ryan Murphy takes what worked from this season and builds on what didn’t. Let’s have a really epic crossover without the filler, with better pacing and more of the characters we already love.