AHS Apocalypse ~ The End is Meh

American Horror Story: Apocalypse (Season 8) wrapped up this week, and once again, it was a great concept thoroughly squandered by Ryan Murphy’s team of inept writers. The show looks great, has a great cast, but the time-jumping story was ultimately full of missed opportunities and a tone that abruptly veered from campy comedy to deadly witch wars to a guileless origin story about a whiny teen antichrist. It leaves viewers rooting for the missiles to destroy it all.

The advanced buzz was good – a direct sequel to Murder House (S1) and Coven (S3) from the heyday of AHS. Would it be possible to recapture the magic of those early seasons? The artwork showcased the very devil in our midst. Would this season return AHS from the absurd excess of the more recent seasons to a more scary, satanic showdown?

The first 20 minutes of the season induce palpable terror as missiles descend upon LA. It plays on our fear of having a cheetohead as commander in chief with access to The Button. But then, ridiculous and campy shenanigans ensue at Outpost 3. There's no electricity or food but plenty of gaudy Hunger Games-style costumes, overly theatrical stunt casting (Joan Collins), a pointless gaggle of characters, laudable cannibalism, poison apples, and robots – yes, ROBOTS! When the witches from Coven show up there’s a glimmer of hope, but the screen is quickly overrun with warlock fops in the dandiest garments and absurd hair and makeup. There’s a distinct struggle between the seriousness of the cast and the distracting and overindulgent art direction (gorgeous as it is) that is now the imposed brand of the show (a.k.a. Ryan Murphy’s personal brand). I imagine that with a different show runner, this would have been grittier, more realistic, and scarier season that would have amped up the horror instead of diffusing it with utter silliness.

Everything in this show feels like poo flung to the wall to see if it sticks. The timeline jumps around with flashbacks and flash forwards (also part of the AHS brand) that do not add to the muddled plot but serve to distract viewers from the amateurish pony tricks and overwrought revelations the writers haphazardly cook up. Is there a Ryan Murphy Law that insists on a contrived moment every 20 minutes or so?

The biggest atrocity is bringing back the grand dame of the series, Jessica Lange as Constance, and give her absolutely NOTHING interesting to do. WHAT THE HELL RYAN! You’re seriously going to have her sit at a table and tell us how the antichrist was a bad child? That’s all you got? Why not have the time traveling witch go back to convince Constance and maybe his parents that Michael must be stopped. Give those Murder House characters a real purpose and make them integral to the story. Instead you just have more pointless walk on roles for the prestigious alumni. As a result, American Horror Story: Apocalypse features the most anticlimactic ending to an antichrist in the history of horror.

With two more seasons of AHS to come, it’s likely unrealistic to expect the series to ever return to the heights of the first few years. I’m once again embarrassed for the amazing Sarah Paulson and the rest of the cast who deserve so much better. If the horror gods can hear me, please cast Ms. Paulson in the second season of The Haunting of Hill House or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She needs a bonafide win on a good show.