The hour-long premiere episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse introduced viewers to the end of the world, and the arguably unfortunate characters who survive it. What's best: being decimated in a nuclear blast, dying slowly in a nuclear winter, or scraping by under the oppressive thumb of a mysterious, cult-like organization called The Cooperative? We likely won't have that answer for a while, but in the meantime at least we get one major connection between Apocalypse and a previous season of American Horror Story: Michael Langdon.
Apocalypse, the show's eighth season, promises to cross Seasons 1 and 3--Murder House and Coven, respectively--while telling a new story. Sarah Paulson is playing three different roles, for example, including her characters from Murder House and Coven, plus a new one, Wilhemina Venable, who we met in the premiere.
But we didn't reunite with any of Paulson's past characters, or any other actor's, in the premiere. Confusingly, the one existing character who appeared in American Horror Story: Apocalypse so far was played by a different actor. That's because the last time we saw the character, he was a child.
At the end of the episode--called, appropriately, "The End"--a mysterious, vampiric man by the name of Michael Langdon (played by Cody Fern) arrived to dangle a hint of salvation toward the Cooperative's beleaguered houseguests. The sharpest and most dedicated AHS fans in the audience may have recognized him right away, but for the rest of us, Langdon's appearance was as much a mystery as the rest of this episode.
Michael Langdon was actually the name given to the child born at the end of American Horror Story's first season (which you may recall was only retroactively named "Murder House"). Michael was conceived when Even Peters' Murder House character, Tate Langdon, raped Connie Britton's character, Vivien Harmon, in the guise of the Rubber Man. Toward the season's end, Sarah Paulson, in the role of the spirit medium Billie Dean Howard, declared that he was the Antichrist. He's “a child born of human and spirit [who] will usher in the end of times," as remembered over at Vulture, where they've definitely watched Murder House more recently than I have.
To make things even more confusing, Paulson and Peters both played prominent roles in Apocalypse's premiere, though neither appeared as their Murder House counterparts. That will likely change, as a cameo (at least) from ghostly school shooter Tate is all but guaranteed now that his son is calling shots at the end of the world. And yes, it's definitely the same Michael Langdon--in case you had any doubts, AHS creator Ryan Murphy confirmed as much on Twitter in a message that's since been deleted:
Not to mention that when Langdon arrives, we hear the song "Tonight You Belong To Me"--a cover by the singing sisters Patience and Prudence, in fact, that was featured prominently in the first and final episodes of Murder House.
What Langdon is offering the Cooperative's prisoners seems too good to be true: an impregnable, radiation-sealed fortress with ten years' worth of rations? And given what we know of Langdon, there's no doubt something more sinister going on here. After all, the last time we saw the character, he was three years old and had just slit his babysitter's throat.
The biggest question Michael Langdon's reappearance raises is just how this pale weirdo managed to "usher in the end of times," as Paulson's Murder House character put it all the way back in 2011. That, and whether his return means AHS fan favorite actress Jessica Lange--whose Murder House character is Michael's paternal grandmother--will make a return in Apocalypse after all.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesday nights on FX.