I love how we all just pretend not to notice that the same actors are playing different characters in the same season of American Horror Story, that we are three episodes into an extended flashback, and that we have more or less forgotten about the original premise of this season. Remember? Everyone is dead, because of the whole apocalypse thing?
All the same, “Return to Murder House” is the best episode of the season, so far, and that’s not often something we say about an AHS episode this late into the season’s run. But before we get to back to the Murder House, let me just briefly remind you why we are here. It’s because in the future, everyone dies in a nuclear war, except for a few who manage to find safety in a bunker. That bunker, however, is invaded by Michael Langdon, who kills everyone inside of it, except for his foster mother, who is now a robot. However, Cordelia The Supreme shows up with her witchly cohorts and resurrects a few others and gets the Coven band back together. In last week’s flashback episode, we learn how Cordelia tricks Michael Langdon into fetching Queenie, Madison, and Misty, and in this week’s flashback episode, Madison and Chablis return to Murder House to gain some intel on Langdon.
Here’s what they learn: Michael Langdon is the Antichrist.
It’s a strange detour to take to essentially learn what everyone already knew, but it gives Chablis the opportunity to make a tearjerker joke at Ben’s expense. It’s totally worth it.
So! Madison and Chablis return to to the Murder House, buy it, and move in, where the ghosts of those who died in the house (37 people, to be exact) allow themselves to be seen (Sarah Paulson, who plays a medium, informs Madison and Chablis that they will only see those ghosts that allow themselves to be seen. In addition to playing a medium in this episode, Cordelia in the last two episodes, and Wilhemina Venable in the first three episodes, Sarah Paulson also directed this episode).
First up: Constance Langdon (and the return of Jessica Lange at her boozy Jessica Langeiest). Constance is bickering with the maid Moira (Frances Conroy, who also plays Myrtle this season) about all the dust in the house. She loathes Moira, who is a lousy maid, and Constance ultimately only agrees to impart her knowledge of Michael to Madison and Chablis if they remove Moira’s ghost from the house. Madison does exactly that, reuniting Moira with her dead mother in the afterlife in what is actually a very touching sequence.
After that, Constance unloads. Here we learn that Vivienne died in childbirth with Michael, that Constance had Ben killed, and that she took full custody of Michael because being a mother is her true calling (her other dead children are also in the house, including her daughter Rose, who has no eyes, although we learn nothing else about her). Things go well with Michael for a while, until he starts killing rodents … babysitters … and a priest, which is when Constance realizes that Motherhood may not be what it’s cracked up to be. After Michael ages 10 years overnight, Constance realizes that she’s dealing with the Antichrist here, so she does what anyone might do after finding out she’s raising the God’s arch nemesis: She pours a triple, takes a lot of pills, and dances herself into oblivion.
Goodbye Constance! Next up, Ben (Dylan McDermott) — who is still a chronic cry-sturbator (hence the tearjerker dig) — fills Madison and Chablis in on the next part. After Constance leaves, Ben raises Michael as his own (though he believes Tate to the be father), and everything goes great for a while. They are a real loving father and son duo, that is until Tate gets all pissy with Michael, who decides to take his angst out on two new homeowners, who he kills and destroys their souls. It’s a great party trick but will win you no favors from your surrogate father.
Vivienne (Connie Britton) makes the last stop and explains how Michael connected up with his foster mother, Ms. Mead. She found a hitchhiker. Mead and some occult pals killed her, ripped out her heart, and gifted it to Michael, who ate it like a snow cone and sprouted some shadow wings.
It was then that Vivienne decides to kill Michael, but Michael sees her out of the burning pustules in the back of his ears and thwarts her attempt with some soul fire. The next morning, Michael leaves. Vivienne also lets Madison and Chablis know that Michael’s father is neither Tate nor Ben. “He was born from the evil of this house. The source of darkness is his true father, and he is here to destroy the world.” Hello Darkness, my old friend. Guess what? You’re a Dad!
Has anyone thought to maybe destroy the house and see what happens?
Anyway, that’s all Madison needs to know. She’s out, but before she leaves, she matchmakers Tate and Violet back together and now they can spend the rest of eternity together in the Murder House listening to an old Police song. Madison really is a marshmallow.
Next week, it looks like we’ll spend some more time in the extended flashback, as Cordelia continues preparing for the eventual war with the Antichrist.
Header Image Source: FX