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Women Inherit the Earth in the Finale of American Horror Story: Apocalypse

Season eight ends as all things should: with Jessica Lange and vehicular manslaughter.

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**SPOILER ALERT: We’re talking about everything that went down in the AHS finale.**

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If there’s an overarching theme to FX’s anthology series American Horror Story, it’s this statement delivered succinctly in season two’s Asylum by the one and only Jessica Lange, as Sister Jude:

ahs: asylum

(image: FX)

Apocalypse introduces the ultimate male threat in Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the shiny-haired Antichrist birthed in the finale of season one’s Murder House. Michael is a compelling addition to the AHS canon, as we watch him grow from boyish and insecure sociopath to full-fledged son of Satan over the course of the season. Michael battles against Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson) and the witches of Coven as they struggle to stop the impending apocalypse.

Michael is aided in his quest to end the world by powerful male allies: a coven of warlocks and two tech billionaires who sold their souls to the devil. The warlocks rally behind Michael, hoping he could be the first male Supreme and challenge the female supremacy of the witch world. The warlocks’ hunger for power leads to their doom, as Michael wipes out their entire coven once he gains his full powers.

The tech bros, played by Billy Eichner and Evan Peters (in matching bowl cuts and SoCal bro voices), are ready and willing to halt their busy schedules of building sex robots and snorting mountains of cocaine to help Michael end the world with nuclear war, and set up a system of fallout shelter outposts to protect the wealthy few who can afford it.

While the witches are unable to stop the apocalypse, they survive it by burying themselves in the ground and hiding their rising Supreme Mallory (Billie Lourd) in a fallout shelter under an identity spell to conceal her powers. Once Mallory regains her memories, she performs a time traveling spell that takes her back to Michael’s teen years, and runs his ass over with an SUV. It’s not exactly magic, but I guess even the son of Satan isn’t immune to vehicular manslaughter.

As Michael lays dying in the street, he begs his grandmother Constance (Jessica Lange in an all-too-brief return to the franchise) to drag him to the murder house, where his ghost can live on forever. She tells him to go to hell and leaves him to die in the street. The apocalypse is retconned, and the coven continues to thrive—at least until a few years later, when a new Antichrist is born (but that’s a problem for another season).

For most of its eight-season run, American Horror Story has pitted complex, powerful women against men and the systemic patriarchy threatening to dismantle the world. Murder House dealt with the domestic sphere and the family unit, while Asylum pointed a finger at the crooked patriarchy of the Catholic church and modern medicine. Season three’s Coven featured a cast that was almost exclusively female, and centered on a school of witches engaged in a centuries-old battle against male witch hunters.

While some seasons deviate from the theme, American Horror Story works best when the show pits its formidable roster of female talent against petulant, power hungry men like Evan Peters’ Kai in AHS: Cult, or Finn Wittrock’s Dandy Mott in AHS: Freak Show.

The finale sees fan favorite witches Cordelia, Madison (Emma Roberts), Mallory, Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) and even a surprise cameo from Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) come together to save the world. As Cordelia says to Michael, “Satan has one son but my sisters are legion, motherfucker.”

What did you think of Apocalypse?

(image: FX)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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