FX’s American Horror Story
Season 8, Episode 4: “Could It Be… Satan?”
Directed by Sheree Folkson
Written by Tim Minear
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Forbidden Fruit” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Boy Wonder” – click here
Flashback to Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) as a younger man, taken care of by Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates), who kept a nice Satanic shrine with a picture of Baphomet on the counter. They didn’t say regular grace at the dinner table: “Bless us, Dark Lord, for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy infernal bounty through the power of Lucifer eternal nima.” The last part – nima – refers to the name nima ch’umil, or great star given to Satan.
In current day, Michael assures Miriam of her place with him. Now they’ve got to move on past Ms. Venable and the others— together. They have visitors, considering Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), and Cordelia Fox (Sarah Paulson) have arrived to bring their women back from the dead. Mallory (Billie Lourd) is trying to get her grip on reality, while Coco (Leslie Grossman) is already back to her normal self. They were under an “identity spell” for protection. For her part, Dinah’s (Adina Porter) only concerned with survival. We’re starting to see Dinah is Queenie, and if Father Gore had to guess, Mallory is Zoe. So who’s Coco? Nan? Misty? At the moment, there’s a face-off of “witches and warlocks.”
Go back three years prior to the apocalypse.
The boys school was a male coven – the Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men – like the girls’ school in Coven. Mr. Chablis (Billy Porter) taught the lads how to turn liquid into a solid. Chablis is fetched by a colleague (B.D. Wong), and they went to meet their visitors: John Moore (Cheyenne Jackson) and Grand Chancellor Ariel (Jon Jon Briones).
The Chancellor was sent a video from the LAPD, showing an interrogation during which a violent cop was pinned to the ceiling and had his bones broken by an invisible force before his head exploded. The culprit? Langdon. The warlocks tried to figure out if this man could be “the Alpha“— a prophetic figure. They hoped Langdon could put the warlocks above the witches in their hierarchy. Chancellor Ariel went to see Michael in jail, revealing himself as a warlock. After a little chat, the young man joined Ariel as they leave without any fuss.
Ariel explained, after Ms. Fox revealed them all to the world, some people didn’t want a bunch of warlocks around, forcing them to build their next school underground. Michael was welcomed with open arms into the school, though Moore remained unimpressed.
After a month, the council had Michael in to test his knowledge. They explain the hierarchy a bit, how a “level 4” warlock would be as powerful as the witches’ supreme. The first test is “scrying,” as the young warlock stands before a mirror to try finding a hidden Hawthorne book. Pretty great reference to a scene from John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness here, too! Michael easily pulls the book from the mirror. Next is teleportation, and he passes this stage fast. After that he has to change the water molecules from the air “into snow,” so he puts them all in the midst of a winter’s day, dropping the temperature to below freezing. Clearly this warlock is very powerful. Ariel knows the kid’s special. The council’s never seen such power, but Moore feels “a malevolence to his magic” that’s dangerous.
Let’s visit the coven’s school in New Orleans, where Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) teaches new apprentice witches, among whom sits Mallory. Zoe shows them a trick turning a white rose into red. She and Cordelia watch Mallory, as Zoe believes she’s a special woman. Mallory turns her rose into a blue one that wilts, then she turns those wilted leaves to butterflies.
Cordelia, Zoe, and Myrtle were called to meet the warlocks at Hawthorne, where Ariel explained Michael’s situation. The women didn’t believe a man could “approach the level of Supreme.” Seems testosterone’s “an inhibitor” when it comes to the spiritual realm. The warlock council wished for the witches to test him with the Seven Wonders. Cordelia feels guilt for Misty’s death during the test. She also regrets losing Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), who went to the Hotel Cortez, which Cordelia considered “a hellmouth.” She found Queenie playing eternal cards with James March (Evan Peters). But she couldn’t take her past the front doors, leaving Queenie stuck. Due to all this, Cordelia refused to put Michael through the Seven Wonders.
All the while Langdon was listening. He proceeded to go to the Hotel Cortez with the intention of releasing Queenie. After that, he wanted to find somebody else. We see Madison working in a Walmart-like store with people bitching about any little thing they could imagine— her own personal Hell, away from the spotlight. Soon, Langdon arrived to take her away, using this as a way to prove himself to Cordelia, to show his power.
“Nothing is immutable when the will of a strong woman is applied”
Nice use of Portishead’s “Glory Box” at the end of the episode.
We see Madison and Queenie brought back to Hawthorne, where Cordelia and her two witches are surprisingly reunited. At the same time, the Supreme saw a true threat to her power, and the power of witches as a whole. When the reigning Supreme couldn’t spring them free it was a shock for Cordelia to see Michael achieved what she couldn’t.
Father Gore wonders if Michael wasn’t the one to bring on the apocalypse in the first place. If so, is there some way for the witches to reverse it? Or, is it vice versa? So many questions after this awesome episode. Cannot wait for more! Perfect eerie TV for October, leading into Halloween. “Boy Wonder” is next time.