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In an uneven finale, American Horror Story says you can't outrun your fate

Illustration for article titled In an uneven finale, American Horror Story says you can't outrun your fate
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The apocalypse has finally come to an end. After nine episodes that seemed practically plodding after the overstuffed episodes of last year’s Cult, the season finale packed in everything, including so many clips from those last nine episodes you’d have to be forgiven for thinking an editor had been sleeping on the job and accidentally spliced the “previously on” in every five minutes.

The return of Angela Bassett was as welcome as it was wholly unnecessary. Marie Laveau barely has time to glare at Michael before he’s eating her heart. Her triumphant, blink and you miss it cameo captured the overall feel of the episode. There was a lot to smile about. Kathy Bates exploded! And her oozing head sang “Daisy Bell!” But what was it all for?

Likewise Cordelia’s sacrifice was so inevitable it seemed strange for it to play out like a surprising choice, to anyone involved. Since Mallory was first identified as the next Supreme, it was clear Cordelia would have to die so Mallory could rise and reach her full potential. Could Myrtle really be shocked by Cordelia’s suicide, especially when she offered an “I love you,” before walking very slowly and intentionally out of the room where their last hope seemed to be bleeding out in the bathtub? Billy Eichner’s jilted lover returning just long enough to stab Mallory was surprising. Where it ultimately brought the storyline was not.

Maybe the biggest problem the writers had to deal with was the fact the dots laid out in this season had, for the most part, been connected before the finale. If the audience understood Mallory and Coco must have been put under an identity spell for their protection if they were bumping around the bunker completely powerless, did we need to see it performed? If the pilot had already offered a peek into what their assistant/boss from hell dynamic looked like, did we need to see it play out under the watchful eyes of Madison? And while you don’t really need an excuse to watch Jessica Lange act, if we knew Michael eventually ended up in the loving arms of Ms Mead, desperate for a maternal figure, did we need to see his Grandma reject him completely then throw him out? It’s possible that scene even undercut, just a little, the moment when she leaves him to bleed out in the street after Mallory the time traveler hit him with her car. The moment just after he begs her to put him in the murder house does offer the night’s best moment of suspense. In a world where people often act against their own best interests in a spectacular fashion, it didn’t seem implausible that she might have preserved her grandson’s murderous spirit in the house with the rest of his family forever. But maybe she knew it was time for a new son of Satan to rise.

Getting past the terrifying new bit of world building that says you don’t need anything as specific as an evil ghost in the mix to give birth to the Antichrist, just two nice twenty-somethings who like coffee, going back to the season’s narrative beginnings (actually, to the series’ beginnings) could be seen as capturing an idea about the inescapable nature of fate. But while last season’s cyclical moment, the cult victim turned cult leader assassin turned cult leader at least captured an evolution, a second bouncing baby Antichrist, with the exact same MO as toddler Michael, just seems like a let down. The good guys won, and while it can be satisfying in a twisted way to see the people you’re rooting for realize their victory will be short lived, allowing only the audience to realize this bleak development felt hollow. Here’s hoping it’s all a set up for season nine—American Horror Story: Demonic Preschool. Maybe all Michael needed was some equally bloodthirsty kids to play with so he’d reach his full potential without so much angst.

That’s it for AHS: Apocalypse. Thanks for reading this season!

Stray Observations

  • It was obviously suppose to be a callback to the pilot when the top secret apocalypse police picked up Timothy because his 23andme kit proved he had desirable DNA, but there is no way Emily, protestor against child labor, would go on even an apology date with a dude who said with no trace of irony he was .07% Brazilian.
  • Even if you run over the Antichrist three times, you should probably just double check he actually died. Better safe than sorry when the literal fate of the world is in your hands.
  • It makes sense Mallory would want to keep the wholeknowing the future because she averted the apocalypse” thing a secret, but in a school for witches, would it really be a big deal to tell Queenie she’s heard of the hotel, and it traps your soul? It seems less dangerous than counting on her frustration with traffic to keep herself out of harm’s way.
  • So Coco, Mallory, Mr. Gallant and his Grandma were in the bunker because the witches set it up, Timothy and Emily were satanic plants, and Dinah and company got seats after she sold her soul. But Palo Alto tweedledee and tweedledum told Myrtle outpost three was full. So where were the rest of the celebrities? Surely they could have gotten some premium impersonators to round out the ensemble.
  • Nan is the best. That is all.