SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Fire and Reign,” the ninth episode of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse.”
As “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” continued to work its way back to the actual apocalypse that kicked off the season, the penultimate episode, “Fire and Reign,” revealed why there only seemed to be six witches at the bunker in present day and also how the apocalypse came to be in the first place.
The show picked right back up with the two billionaire twits, Mutt and Jeff (Billy Eichner and Evan Peters, respectively) — and yes, those really are their names. Jeff was so sick of how awful the world is that he wanted to just burn it all down and start over. As luck would have it, he and Mutt were meeting with the Cooperative shortly. Ms. Venable (Sarah Paulson) asked to play a more important role in their company by meeting with the Cooperative too, but was rudely rebuffed (at first) and told them she quit.
Meanwhile, at the Coven in New Orleans, Mallory (Billie Lourd) was struggling with her powers and she started freaking out about Michael (Cody Fern) coming for them. Cordelia (Paulson) assured her that all witches would be safe under her aura shield, but Dinah (Adina Porter) broke the spell for Michael and Mir-bot (Kathy Bates), who then mercilessly gunned down all the witches with her shotgun arm. Cordelia, Mallory and Myrtle (Frances Conroy), who were upstairs at the time, survived, but Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) weren’t so lucky. Dinah surveyed the carnage, too, with a nauseated look on her face — but hey, Satan’s “thank you” for her helping his son was to give her a talk show, so she didn’t feel too badly.
In a really fun twist, it turned out that Mutt and Jeff planted a camera in Mir-bot and were using it to spy on Michael. They also could control Miriam’s speech and suggested to him that he burn the world down and use Mutt and Jeff to help him.
Michael called on the two coke fiends, who revealed the Cooperative to him and convinced him they could start a nuclear war — because the Cooperative was actually the Illuminati, a group that conspiracy theorists believe is a shadowy cabal that controls the entire world and has been around for centuries. In the “AHS” universe, members include Vladimir Putin, Warren Buffett, Bill Clinton and General Kim of North Korea. Michael was intrigued by the idea of basically ending the world to usher in his reign, so he gave Mutt and Jeff a big thumbs up.
As all this was happening, the surviving witches — which also included Madison (Emma Roberts) and Coco (Leslie Grossman), who maybe weren’t at the Academy when Michael attacked — all holed up in Misty’s cabin. Misty, incidentally, was off gallivanting around with Stevie Nicks, which was wonderful to learn. The remaining coven members wanted Mallory to execute a spell to go back in time to help set things right. No previous witch ever survived the spell, but Mallory was game anyway.
Cordelia and Myrtle wanted Mallory to take a dry run first, so they could test her power without alerting Michael to it. In doing so, the show pulled a page from Matt Weiner’s current playbook and dove into the Russian assassination of the imperial Romanov family in 1918. In Ryan Murphy’s version of that royal family, the youngest girl, Anastasia, was a witch, but her power wasn’t strong enough to save her family — hence why Mallory was sent back in time, to help.
During the first attempt Mallory lost her focus, the family was killed, and Mallory almost died, too. Cordelia acknowledged that Mallory wouldn’t come into her full powers until she (Cordelia) was dead, but Myrtle wouldn’t let her do anything drastic, offering up an alternative idea — ask the warlocks for help. Which is drastic in its own way but hopefully wouldn’t prove fatal. Unfortunately, though, Michael got there first and literally tore the warlocks apart.
Back at Mutt and Jeff HQ, Venable was serious about quitting, so the billionaire bros let her in on the plan to start World War III and kill most of the world’s population. They offered her a position as an outpost administrator for when the world ends and she immediately got pretty power hungry at the thought. Michael, meanwhile, revealed the apocalypse plan to the Cooperative (aka The Illuminati) and assured them of their and their families’ survival as he outlined the plan for building the outposts.
Yet again, the episode felt like it ended rather abruptly. It seems insane that there is only one episode left because there is a lot of ground to cover in the season finale, from getting the outposts set up, to seeing what will become of the resurrected coven members in present day and, based on the preview for next week, getting even more flashbacks into Michael’s early life.
“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.