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‘American Horror Story’ Recap: The Rubber Man Returns in ‘The Morning After’

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Morning After,” the second episode of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse.”

The arrival of a grown-up Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) at the end of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse’s” premiere thrust the eighth installment of Ryan Murphy’s twisted anthology series into action. The audience who knows Michael from the “Murder House” first season knows he was a devil-baby, born to Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) from the dearly departed Tate Langdon (Evan Peters). But the characters of “Apocalypse” don’t have such knowledge, so to them, his arrival appears to be one of a savior, choosing between the Outpost’s residents to see who might be worthy of taking to The Sanctuary.

Apparently, these $100-million-a-spot Outpost bunkers are so easily overthrown that most of them have fallen by now, so Langdon is there to save the day for a few lucky citizens. Promising an “acutal” sanctuary, for now, his position appears to simply be interviewing the houseguests — although his line of questioning certainly stirs up conflict.

Even the stoic leader Venable (Sarah Paulson) is not immune to Langdon, as he tries to get inside her mind and exposing her greatest weakness: some kind of deformity along her spine that is reminiscent of radiation mutations. Could it be that she was above ground after the initial blast, rather than safely tucked away in the Outpost? Her time with Langdon got cut short this week, so it’s a mystery to further unravel in a future episode.

The bulk of Langdon’s work was instead focused on Gallant (Peters), who revealed deep-rooted tension and resentment in his relationship with his grandmother Evie (Joan Collins).

It turns out Gallant was never quite the upstanding, “proper” gay man that his nana wanted him to be, and while he defied her openly when life was normal, now she is able to get the upper hand. After facing Langdon’s interrogation and finding a way to throw in some flirting, the Rubber Man aka the Gimp comes to Gallant’s room. Assuming it is Langdon himself, Gallant goes for it — and Nana Evie catches them in flagrante delicto and then rats her grandson out to Venable and Mead (Kathy Bates). Unauthorized fornication is punishable by death, so they chain Gallant up and try to find out what is really going on, suspecting that he and Langdon may have known each other before the end of the world and somehow coordinated efforts after.

What is the resident demon spawn up to, they wonder? By the looks of the small flashes of Langdon sitting naked on a pentagram, the answer is definitely “no good,” but the exact plan and motivations are unknown.

One thing Langdon is, however, is one step ahead of Gallant, seemingly sending the Gimp to again seduce Gallant. But it’s all a hallucination (or something) because when Gallant stabs the Gimp (thinking it’s Langdon and taking out his aggression that Langdon rebuffed him), he actually stabs Evie. RIP, Nana Evie. It wasn’t assumed Collins would be around that long, but it’s still a bummer.

It made it even more upsetting after she pointed out all she had to offer if she lived — namely being able to teach others about art and culture. It also was somewhat baffling that she would be the first to go, considering Langdon seems to want to reward ruthlessness, and she was ruthless enough to turn her own grandson in. “I want to live and the only way to achieve that is to get rid of these 10 little indians who stand between me and that golden ticket out of here,” she said. But alas, perhaps she just wasn’t ruthless enough. What the others may have to do to amuse Langdon is sure to get worse from here.

For any viewer who has intimate knowledge of the first season, in which Peters’ Tate was the one in the rubber man suit, the expectation may have been for the Gimp in “Apocalypse” to pull off his mask and reveal Tate underneath. After all, it has been confirmed that Peters is back in that role this season, in addition to Gallant. That idea certainly made the scenes in which Gallant has sex with the Gimp much more heavily-weighted, as if Peters was having sex with himself.

Speaking of unauthorized fornication, Emily (Ash Santos) and Tim (Kyle Allen) learn from snooping on Langdon’s computer that Venable has been making up her own rules, so they go ahead and get down with their bad selves now that they know the Cooperative doesn’t care if they have sex. But Venable and Mead still care — and set the two young lovers up for execution by episode’s end.

Something else is must be afoot, though, because the fact that Langdon has a working computer is deeply suspicious. It certainly seems like the computer was just waiting for them, with planted communication on it. The Gimp even spied on them from the ceiling as they read Langdon’s private emails. Both Venable and Mead looked confused when Venable was accused of going rogue.

And then there is the matter of the gun that just happens to be within arm’s length for Tim when he and Emily are hauled into the execution chamber. He manages to grab it before any harm can come to him or his girlfriend, and he ends up shooting Mead in the abdomen. But in an effort not to get the audience thinking too hard about how much of these events is all a part of Langdon’s test, there is a twist revealed with Mead: when she examines her wound, it is sparking and oozing some kind of white pus. Is she a robot of some kind? These violent delights definitely have violent ends on “American Horror Story.”

“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

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