All things relative, the season finale of American Horror Story: Apocalypse concluded in fairly straightforward fashion. The writers essentially telegraphed the end last week when Mallory visited Anastasia Romanov in 1918, thus establishing that time travel was possible, making all but certain that Mallory would pull a similar trick to undo the Apocalypse.
In a way, however, it was the most Ryan Murphy of endings. Murphy is well-known, especially in the American Horror Story series, for being incapable of completely killing off characters. Not even The Walking Dead trick — if you don’t see the body, then you don’t know he’s dead — works here, because characters are often resurrected from the dead or pulled out of Hell or magically reassembled. “Nothing ever truly dies,” Mallory says near the end of the episode. “We are all made of energy and energy can neither be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred from one state to another.”
That’s Ryan Murphy basically justifying the last eight years of American Horror Story. Death is a temporary state in Murphy’s world, unless you get run over by an SUV and then backed over again, in which case the death is permanent but reincarnation is still a possibility. Obviously, the effect is to reduce the stakes, but at this point, it’s all baked into AHS’s DNA. We know that characters never die — they are simply removed from the equation from time to time and are re-inserted when needed.
Still, the finale fits under the Avengers 4 category of galling, which is to say: It undoes everything, going even against the lax Doctor Who standards for time travel (as an Apocalypse would certainly fit under a “fixed point in time” that cannot be undone).
The ending is fairly easy to suss out: In the apocalypse timeline, the coven assembles not necessarily to kill Michael Langdon, but to delay him long enough to get Mallory into a bathtub so that she can travel back in time to Michael Langdon’s teenage years. Angela Bassett’s Marie Laveau — the Voodoo Queen herself — also makes a return (Papa Legba grants her release in exchange for the soul of Dinah, which Laveau is happy to provide), but she is quickly dispatched by Langdon. In fact, the entire coven — save for Mallory (and Myrtle) — die trying to stop Langdon, with Cordelia being the last barrier between Satan’s son and the bathtub with a dying Mallory inside (she was stabbed by Brock, who also made a return). Cordelia kills herself, which both frustrates Michael and makes Mallory the Supreme. “Satan has one son, but my sisters are legion, motherfucker,” Cordelia says, delivering her (temporarily) dying words.
As Supreme, Mallory has enough power to travel back in time. She goes back to the Murder House and runs Michael Langdon over with an SUV, and then backs over his body for good measure. Langdon dies alone because not even his grandmother Constance Langdon will bring him back into the Murder House to die. RIP The Antichrist.
He’s done for, which means that nothing this season actually happened. Myrtle is still dead. Madison is still in her own personal hell (though Mallory vows to fetch her at some point), and Mallory even has time to stop Queenie from going to The Hotel. Mallory rejoins the Miss Robichaux’s Academy and Cordelia has only a vague sense that she somehow knows Mallory. There is really only one change brought upon by Mallory’s time travel: Papa Legba releases Misty Day as a thank you to Mallory. Otherwise, it’s as though Apocalypse and Hotel never happened.
However, there is a fun epilogue that finally makes sense of Emily and Timothy, the couple killed early on in Apocalypse for falling in love and acting upon it. Without the Apocalypse, Emily and Timothy still meet, and they still fall in love. They get married, and they have a baby, but their baby is apparently the reincarnated Prince of Darkness, who murders his babysitter when he’s three years old. So much for Satan having only one son.