There would be no American Horror Story without that latex fetish suit that started it all during Murder House — and the unsettling garment made a shocking return to the franchise on this week’s episode of Apocalypse.
While American Horror Story: Apocalypse is set to reintroduce a number of familiar character from both Murder House and Coven, the show been taking its time to bring them back in favour of establishing a new cast of miscreants.
Set in an apocalyptic near future (2019, to be exact) where World War III has decimated humanity and left much of the surface world in ruins, Apocalypse opens on a group of survivors living in an underground bunker under the watchful eyes of two sadistic mistresses: Wilhelmina Venable (Sarah Paulson) and Miriam Mead (Kathy Bates).
In addition to strictly controlling their fellow survivors’ social lives and daily habits, Wilhelmina and Miriam enforce a brutal code forbidding anyone from any sort of sexual conduct — which, if broken, results in the involved parties being expelled from the bunker out onto the toxic surface, where they’ll die of exposure to nuclear radiation.
This presents something of a problem for Mr Gallant (Evan Peters), a former hairstylist to the rich and famous who now finds himself trapped in the bunker alongside his grandmother Evie (Joan Collins) and the literal Antichrist Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the latter of whom made his first appearance as a baby in Murder House.
Like any once sexually-active adult living in the end times, Mr Gallant’s situation is far from ideal, seeing as how there’s a solid chance he’ll never have sex again — especially considering that he’s one of the last gay men alive.
But, in this week’s episode, Gallant is taken aback when someone shows up at his bedroom door wearing a full-body latex suit and makes quick work of pinning him to the bed in order to get down to business.
Of course, this is a direct violation of Wilhelmina and Miriam’s rules, but Gallant enthusiastically goes against them, assuming that it’s Michael beneath the latex mask.
But this is American Horror Story and things are never what they appear. Unbeknownst to Gallant, his grandmother witnesses his late night rendezvous through a crack in his door; reasoning that his expulsion from the bunker ups the odds of her surviving the bunker and being chosen to leave for a long-rumoured safe zone, she decides to snitch to the powers that be.
After Gallant is whipped and tortured for his indiscretion — something he finds pleasurable — he’s, curiously, allowed to stay in the bunker. When he informs Michael that he refused to snitch on him, Michael turns the tables and tells Gallant that he wasn’t the person wearing the suit.
This follows the American Horror Story tradition of using people in latex suits to misdirect characters and audiences about who’s boning who, but Apocalypse ups the ante in the most distressing of ways by bringing Gallant and his friend with benefits back together one last time.
Just as it seems as though Gallant and the suit-wearer are about to smash once more, Gallant pulls out a pair of scissors and vengefully stabs the other person before learning their identity. It’s... not Michael, exactly, but rather it’s Gallant’s grandmother, because of course it is.
The implication is that Michael is somehow projecting the image of the person in latex into Gallant’s mind and using the illusion to compel him to murder his dear old nana which, to be fair, is the sort of thing the Antichrist would do.
There were any number of ways that Apocalypse could have begun to tie itself back to the already convoluted story Murder House started seven years ago. But this... well, it’s definitely a move out of left field, and a promising hint that this season might just be the franchise’s most messed up yet.