Spoilers from Episode 2, “The Morning After” to follow…
Serpents, Seduction, Shame: Rubberman Returns…
You know the idiom, “the devils in the details” well that about sums up the events transpired in “The Morning After.” (I love that the episode is titled after the Maureen McGovern ballad that was left on repeat for eighteen months straight in the season opener! This is the brilliance of “American Horror Story,” and its creators: everything is connected, and everything has a meaning! Remember that!) We begin with Emily undressing in her room, which suddenly goes dark and her closet opening on its own. Several snakes emerge from it, and after Bates’ Miriam chops off their heads, she can’t help but gloat at the prospect of “fresh protein” which will be “good eatin’” for dinner. As the main course is served, the viewer witnesses chopped up pieces of snake in broth, emerge from their lids very much alive and slithering across the table!
Snakes run rampant throughout the opening credits, which makes you wonder what it symbolizes for our story’s sake. Every culture has their own ideation on how the serpent correlates to life: some believe them to represent tricksters; others see the shedding of the snake’s skin as a rebirth; and Biblically, we know the slithering scaley one represents the devil himself from the days of apples, innocence, and Eden’s garden. Like the vampire who can transmogrify and manipulate various forms of bats, dogs, and vermin, perhaps Langdon too has a knack for such theatrics.
Following dinner, Langdon formally introduces himself to the rest of Outpost Three and explains his plight. He tells them of the Sanctuary, and how he will go about selecting those that will return with him to help keep humanity going. He proceeds to explain the unique questioning process called “cooperating,” which he will be utilizing and should only take a few days. If you choose not to participate, or don’t pass, you will be left behind, and if the cannibals come there will be vials you can consume that will place you in a slumber from which you will never awaken.
Gallant is the first to volunteer in the interview process, and so begins the devil’s dance Langdon has mastered to perfection. Fern’s performance is reminiscent of that of creepy shopkeeper, Leland Gaunt, from Stephen King’s Needful Things. Maybe it’s the candlelight, but Langdon’s sultry seduction and close space proximity desk sitting is enough to make the toughest nut crack. Gallant proposes to Langdon if he wants a “confession,” and ironically, Langdon dismisses such a notion stating he’s no preacher, and he’s not even sure God exists considering the aftermath of the apocalypse. The discourse between the two is interesting to note when Langdon inquiries about Gallant’s grandmother and associates his anger with her. “Why would you put those two things together?” Gallant asks. Is Michael scraping the pot of his own grandmommy issues? Does he loathe Constance as much as Gallant does Evie? Did Constance shame him as Gallant was shamed? It’s no coincidence that Ryan Murphy also shared first look images of Constance’s return this week on his Instagram before “The Morning After” aired, which takes this whole mind-fuck even further.
The viewer must begin to wonder if this anti-Christ, Michael Langdon, derives his power from fear and shame on some level. From Gallant to how he defeminizes poor Venable, forcing her to walk out and reveal her scars on her back, which are her greatest shame. Its so cruel, and yet last week she was at the other end of such mercy with very little grace.
It’s interesting to note that Collins’ Evie mentioned Natalie Wood, who described Grandmother Gallant as a “survivor.” Apocalypse picks up where Murder House left off in adding in those old layers of tragic Hollywood. In the third episode of the first season, “Murder House,” we see the death of Natalie Wood’s co-star from Rebel Without a Cause, Sal Mineo. Later in the episode, after Evie sells out Gallant for “breaking the rules” and fornicating, Collins reassures her Outpost Three bunk mates that she has every right to go to the Sanctuary as any of them do. I loved when she said she could be a “bridge to the past” for the next generation. How quickly do we dispose of our elders once they are no longer “functional?” Elders are teachers and they are an important staple in any culture or continued crumbling society.
The next big character to return from the previous seasons makes his steamy resintroduction when he tops the ever-submissive Gallant: Rubberman! Remember the big mystery of who Rubberman really was in season one? So many wore the mask, but it could only be Peters’ sociopathic Tate that truly fit the leather. The day after this episode aired, an Internet article claimed that Rubberman was Evie Gallant this time around, which I do not believe for one second. I do not believe Rubberman to be Langdon himself, but like the reptiles, Michael is the marionette pulling the strings. I was waiting for Rubberman to take off his mask after being on top of Gallant, and I was hoping it would have been Tate! How cool would that have been to have the same actor face to face with himself. When Emily and Tim break into Langdon’s room, and they are reading the laptop with Rubberman watching above the ceiling, it gave me the impression that although yes, Rubberman is Tate and Tate is his father, perhaps the Rubberman acts like an emissary of the anti-Christ. I think the laptop is bogus by the way, and just another way to feed Tim and Emily’s own delusions to escape the compound.
Another delicious nugget of the crossover occurred when Gallant no longer was subjected to Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” and instead shifted gears to Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” which was a fitting swan song for the episode and life of “survivor” Evie. The magical musical delights of Stevie Nicks danced across Coven, and super fans were treated to a two-episode guest appearance. We know Stevie will be returning later in the season with the other witches, but how ironic that we got our first Stevie song of the crossover season in episode two, just like in season three’s episode two, “Boy Parts,” in which Misty Day unleashes the alligators upon the hunters with “Edge of Seventeen” empowering them in the background.
I wasn’t sad about Evie dying, and in fact, I am ready to see Coco go-go next! She irritates me to no end. Also, keep your eye on Adina Porter’s self-help guru of a character because I think she is getting ready to show her ass. How about that cliffhanger of an ending with Miriam? In a nod to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, are we to believe that Bates’ character is an android or robot of some kind?
Next week’s “Forbidden Fruit” will serve as the Halloween episode, which is always a highlight of every season. If my eyes deceived me, a door did burst open in the preview revealing three witchy-like figures so we shall see. I find myself now watching fan theory videos on YouTube, which I will share below. My two favorites are how Queenie could have survived being murdered at the Hotel Cortez, and the other claiming that Constance may in fact be a witch as well! My own personal theory is that Misty Day’s power of resurgence may be the key in salvaging the Earth and starting anew. What are your fan theories?
“American Horror Story: Apocalypse”
Season 8, Episode 2 “The Morning After”
Written By James Wong
Directed By Jennifer Lynch