The season finale of American Horror Story: Apocalypse saw the few surviving witches from Coven band together to save Earth’s population from a fiery nuclear apocalypse. The solution: a cryptic time-travel spell that none of them really know how to execute.
But as was the case with almost all previous seasons of American Horror Story, the theoretical battle between the son of Satan and the coven of witches didn’t culminate in a way that one might describe as “epic.” Instead, to quote the words of T.S. Eliot as he spoke of the world’s end, Apocalypse’s finale ended “not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
[Ed. note: The rest of this article contains spoilers for the entire season of American Horror Story: Apocalypse, including the finale.]
The promise of a multi-season crossover set expectations high for Apocalypse. Ryan Murphy told fans that their favorite witches would return to battle the spawn of Murder House. The first few episodes delivered, starting right away with the fiery blast to end it all. Slowly, the show teased its connections to previous seasons, until finally at the end of the third episode, the witches returned and the season flipped into backstory mode.
The first few episodes of flashback time were indulgent, reviving some of the most beloved characters in a high-stakes manner: with each one brought back, Michael’s (Cody Fern) power grew, showing what a formidable foe he would become. Finally, they returned to the one place everyone was waiting for: the Murder House. The extended episode brought back Jessica Lange’s Constance Langdon and the Harmon family. It reunited the fandom’s biggest OTP. It did everything fans wanted and more.
Michael eventually teamed up with the Illuminati, killed almost all the witches and ushered in the apocalypse. Which brought us to the finale, and the remaining witches realizing that, in order to send Mallory (Billie Lourd) back in time, they must wait until the apocalypse unfolds. So finally, we’re back to where it all began, the showdown in Outpost Three. The witches reveal that they’ve brought back yet another fan favorite character: Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), who appears from the shadows to stab Voodoo Queen Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter).
There’s a brief but bloody showdown as the witches move Mallory to a secure place to perform the time-travel spell. Michael brutally murders Madison (Emma Roberts), followed by Marie, then Coco. But before Mallory can conjure the spell, she’s stabbed by a furious Brock (Billy Eichner), who was just lurking around in the shadows, as one does. With Mallory dying, there’s no way they can fix everything!
Except, of course, Mallory is the next Supreme. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) realizes that if she sacrifices herself, Mallory can rise to true power. So after an emotional speech about hope, where she essentially tells Michael to shove it, she stabs herself and Mallory travels back in time!
Where she’d travel back to was a big question answered in the finale. Mallory winds up in a scene from Michael’s childhood (giving eager fans more Jessica Lange): the moment Constance kicks him out. When he runs into the street, Mallory hits him with a car. Then she hits him again. And again. And then when she’s almost sure he’s dead, she drives off. Constance cradles her dying grandson and he begs her to let him die in the Murder House, but she tells him to go to Hell (ha) and leaves him for dead.
The all-powerful Antichrist, son of Satan, child of spirit and flesh, was killed by a car.
And then everything’s back to normal. As in, none of the events of this season actually happened and Mallory is currently the only person who remembers anything. But since this is the fan-indulgent season, all-powerful Mallory manages to bring back Misty Day (Lily Rabe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) to say what’s up for a hot second, and talks Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) out of going to the Hotel Cortez and knows she can bring Madison back from the afterlife whenever, but is just waiting it out a little.
The only happy endings we don’t get are Myrtle Snow’s resurrection (Cordelia has no reason to bring her back without the threat of the apocalypse) and another appearance by Tate (Evan Peters) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga), who are presumably eternally pissed at each other since Madison never went to the Murder House to find more about Michael.
But mostly, happy endings all around.
Remember that young couple from the first three episodes of the season? Yeah, neither did we. But in the last few moments they bump into each other serendipitously. Flash forward a year, and the woman’s giving birth. Flash forward three years, as they return to their home to find their child eerily rocking in a chair having just murdered the babysitter. The image echoes Michael from the first season.
The reason most will cite Asylum as the best season of American Horror Story is its bleak ending; by the end of the season, every character but one was dead. Some in more brutal ways than others, but still, the actions had consequences. Because the show brought all the witches back, some of the most pivotal scenes from season three — Cordelia clutching Misty’s body as it slowly dissipates into ash as the sun comes up, for instance — have no emotional impact. It’s a happy ending, sure. Indulgent.
This tease to yet another Antichrist works, but will the show follow up on it? AHS might be better served letting this one go. This whole season has been seven seasons in the works and ending on a parallel (forced and breaking the established rules of the world — remember how the Antichrist is supposed to be born of ghost and flesh?) would be a fitting end for this thread of the series.
Still, knowing Ryan Murphy, we doubt this will happen. Gear up for Apocalypse Part 2 a few years from now. Maybe this time, they’ll actually leave people dead.