American Horror Story: Apocalypse E8 — “Sojourn” (Recap)

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Before Michael became the AntiChrist we see in this photo, he had to go through some trials and tribulations, like the son of God. Image courtesy of FX

Michael Langdon is left despondent upon discovery of Miriam Meade’s death. It’s not too long before he is put on the path towards his apocalyptic providence through some new friends he meets along the way.

Warning: Detailed American Horror Story spoilers ahead! Watch the episode first! 

“Sojourn” begins with Michael Langdon at the site of the horrifying burning of Ariel Augustus, Baldwin Pennypacker, and Miriam Meade. Through touching their burnt remains, he can see the torment they suffered through, or in the case of Ms. Meade, joy. He is incredibly upset and breaks down weeping. Cordelia Goode appears and tells him that there is humanity left in him and if he joins her she can help him go on the right path.

Obviously, through the first few episodes of the season, we know that is not the path Michael chose. Furthermore, he tells Cordelia he’ll kill her and every last one of her witches. After he leaves Cordelia, we see Michael wandering through a forest. He forms a ritual pentagram circle and announces to his father, Satan, that he won’t leave the spot until his dad tells him what he has to do.

The following scene is incredibly interesting to me. If you have a passing knowledge of the Bible, you might remember that Jesus goes through something that is referred to as “The Temptation of Christ in the Desert.” Jesus fasts and is tempted for 40 days by the devil. Similarly, Michael is tempted by…God while in the circle, by small children dressed in white offering him food and drink and also by an actual heavenly angel telling Michael “God loves you.” The subversion of this Biblical tale could certainly be seen as sacrilegious by hardcore Christians, but I found it very interesting.

There was no recourse in Michael’s bargaining with his father, so he leaves the circle. As if by some…malign providence, while wondering through an alley, he comes across a door with an upside down cross.  The doorman lets him in and there we are met with one of my favorite actresses, Sandra Bernhardt, as a priestess in the Church of Satan.

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Now, mostly anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with Ryan Murphy’s career, knows that the guy can sometimes have a tendency to be CAMPY AF. Take almost the entire Hotel season of AHS for example. I’m not complaining about this, I love it. John Waters is my personal hero and I wish everything were as ridiculous as the plots of his movies. So, this episode is great for all of us lovers of camp. It starts right from Sandra Bernhardt’s appearance. If any viewers were expecting an incredibly dark intense episode, this was not least not entirely.

Sandra Bernhardt is a great flip-side to an Evangelical Christian pastor, becoming angry that the members of the church have not been doing enough to spread sin and debauchery throughout the land. She asks one parishioner “What’s the worst thing you’ve done this week?”

“I slept with my wife’s sister,” The fellow Satanist meekly responded.

“I have seen bad face-lifts that are more evil than you!” She screams, continuing, “You wanna know what I did this week?…I robbed a nursing home and gave all the money to the NRA!”

During the service, Michael meets an older lady sitting next to him in the pew, who we later discover is named Madeline (Harriet Sansom Harris, Phantom Thread). She sees that he is starving and takes him to her house for food. While there, Madeline extolls the virtues, er, vices(?) of selling ones soul to the devil. Which include a premium cable package, the ability to do all the heroin she wants, sex with Brad Pitt and Ryan Reynolds, and more. See, I told you, CAMPY.