Over the course of its eight seasons, FX’s American Horror Story has brought us a cavalcade of horrific, nightmare-inducing villains and monsters that embody some of our deepest, darkest fears—but during this week’s episode of Apocalypse, the series really outdid itself.
Witches, demons, and murderous clowns are plenty spooky all on their own, sure. But American Horror Story: Apocalypse understands that the things that scare us most—the things that keep us up at night—are the monsters we know and interact with on a regular basis. Like, you know, Silicon Valley tech bros.
One of American Horror Story: Apocalypse’s most shocking surprises came a few episodes back when it was suddenly revealed that not only is Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates), the authoritarian mistress of one of the world’s last bunkers capable of keeping humans alive after global nuclear war, in cahoots with the Antichrist (Cody Fern), she’s also an android who incorrectly believed herself to be a human.
Since then, it was something of a mystery as to how Michael (the Antichrist’s given name) came to be working with Miriam and what the exact nature of their relationship is and/or was before the end of the world. Last night’s episode, “Sojourn,” is set mainly in the past before Michael’s rise to power and it explains how, after the show’s witches burned the original Miriam to death at the stake, Michael sinks into something of a mild depression. Michael knows he’s the Antichrist, but try as he might to contact and implore his father to avenge Miriam’s death, Satan refuses to heed his pleas.
And so, somber and alone, Michael seeks company with a local group of Satanists, reasoning that being in the presence of the Devil’s followers might better his chance to actually make contact. The church (led by guest star Sandra Bernhard) is less The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and more...well, mundane. When called upon to list the kinds of sins they’ve recently committed in Satan’s name, one person admits that they’ve stolen from the register at their job, and another confesses to committing adultery—things Michael understandably finds banal. But Madeline (Harriet Sansom Harris), one of the church’s more devout followers, senses that Michael’s in need of support and a place to stay, and so she invites to take him home with her—where he reveals to her who his father is.
Armed with her new knowledge, Madeline rushes Michael back to the Satanic church to announce to its congregants that their “savior” has arisen and interrupts a Black Mass that was meant to revolve around Phil, a man who confesses that his deepest, darkest sin was being Gawker’s (RIP) accountant. Though the church readily welcomes Michael as their new chosen one after he reveals his mark of the beast, Michael himself is still somewhat lost and unaware of how he’s actually supposed to bring about the apocalypse because, for as long as he can remember, it was Miriam who acted as his trusted advisor and confidant.
Upon hearing this, though, Madeline realizes that she does actually have a role to play in the apocalypse other than feeding the Antichrist potluck lasagna—she has connections that can bring Miriam back even though the witches’ spell has made it impossible to resurrect her soul. Rather than using good, old-fashioned magic to bring Miriam back, Madeline reasons that Michael would be much better served by technology rather than the arcane arts. She spirits him away to a nearby, Google-esque tech company’s campus, where he meets Mutt (Billy Eichner) and Jeff (Evan Peters), two mortals who’ve sold their souls to Satan in exchange for success in the industry.
While the two are mostly preoccupied with creating sex robots, Michael’s arrival gives them a reason to use the sum of their technological abilities to create a full-on, sentient android to become the Antichrist’s right hand woman—a facsimile of Miriam. And so, in the larger scheme of American Horror Story’s plot, it’s ultimately tech bros who help usher in the end of days which, on-the-nose as it might seem at first, actually tracks with our reality.
God help us all.