This post contains spoilers for American Horror Story Season 8, Episode 3, “Forbidden Fruit.”[hhmc]
Its all fun and games until everyone starts vomiting poisoned apples.
Although it feels redundant to point out how crazy any given American Horror Story episode is—I mean, arent they all?—Wednesdays installment is certainly a contender for the What the Hell Is Going On? award. Almost everyone living in the Apocalypse outpost had been murdered this week—by none other than the woman tasked with keeping them all safe, Sarah Paulsons delightfully wicked Ms. Venable. Meanwhile, it turns out that Ms. Mead (Kathy Bates) is a robot with feelings, programmed by Michael Langdon (played by a deliciously evil Cody Fern) to mimic the only woman he believes ever really loved him in his youth. Could that be Constance Langdon, a.k.a. the soon-to-return Jessica Lange? The odds look good.
As the episode came to a close and the witches of Coven—well, three of them, anyway—showed up at Outpost 3, there were a lot of questions left unanswered. Starting with this: what, exactly, is Mallory (Billie Lourd)? At the seasons outset, she seemed like an ordinary assistant to the insufferable Coco St. Pierre (Leslie Grossman). But it became clear this week that theres something supernatural going on with Mallory. During her interview to get into Michael Langdons sanctuary, Mallory revealed that she feels as though theres someone inside her trying to get out—although she claims theres not one shred of darkness in her. She was also able to set the room on fire and reveal, for a moment, Langdons terrifying real face. Then, when three witches—Cordelia Foxx (Paulson), Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy)—showed up at the fallen bunker, they resurrected three of their “sisters”: Coco, Mallory, and TV personality Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter). Naturally, as the three woke up, Madison took a moment to drop her most iconic line as a greeting to Mallory.
Does this mean all three women are witches? Possibly! But perhaps theres more going on here, at least when it comes to Mallory.
Michael was clearly unsettled by Mallorys presence at the bunker, telling his “father” (the Devil?) during a bloody private ritual that he thought hed destroyed all of Mallorys “kind,” but that he was mistaken. Its possible that he was referring to witches—but if he was, why are Cordelia, Madison, and Myrtle alive? Given this, some fans have theorized that Mallory might be more than just any witch. Perhaps Mallory is actually Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), hiding dormant in an ordinary girls body. That twist would free Taissa Farmiga from having to play both Zoe and Violent Langdon, who look alike and are pretty similar in mannerisms. We already know that Violet is coming back, so why not give the role of Zoe to another actress?
As for the other two resurrected women? Perhaps Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) is hiding in Dinah, while Misty Day is hiding inside Coco. (Queenie should technically be dead—but, hey, resurrections happen all the time on A.H.S.) Or, if that theory isnt wild enough, heres another: perhaps Mallory is an angel. Asylum already introduced the Angel of Death (Conroy), so it stands to reason that well learn about more heavenly creatures this year.
Whatever these three women are, its worth noting that one female bunker dweller, Emily (Ash Santos), was not resurrected. Perhaps Michael will bring her back to life, along with her boy toy Timothy (Kyle Allen), so that they can do his own bidding. Although presumably, hes got Ms. Mead for that. Speaking of which. . .
Ms. Mead is perhaps the most fascinating character Kathy Bates has ever played on this series. (And thats saying a lot for someone whos embodied a beheaded racist, a bearded lady, and a ghost called “The Butcher.”) Ms. Mead has memories—including one of dressing as a robot for Halloween—and emotions that make her, for all intents and purposes, seem pretty human. She thought she was programmed to be loyal to Ms. Venable, but it turns out shes even more loyal to Michael for obvious reasons. Shes modeled after someone important from Michaels past—a woman who loved and understood him. The most obvious choice would be his grandmother, Constance Langdon (Lange), who took him in as a toddler after his biological mother, Vivien (Connie Britton), died. (As fans know, Michaels father was never technically alive; he was Tate Langdon, dressed as the Rubber Man, who impregnated Vivien during a rape. The medium Billie Dean Howard (Paulson) predicted that he would be the Antichrist.) When Ms. Mead suggested the idea of the poisoned apples to Ms. Venable, she was not acting on her own inspiration; it was Michaels idea to poison everyone at the outpost. He just got someone else to do his dirty work.
Sadly, the final act of that foul play was having Ms. Mead shoot Ms. Venable. Given how many characters Paulson has on her plate this season, its certainly possible that Ms. Venable is gone for good. But given how things in the A.H.S. world work, I wouldnt count on anyone staying dead forever. Just look at Brock (Billy Eichner), Cocos lover—who is apparently not dead, despite having been in Santa Monica when the nuclear blast hit. Sure, hes full of cancer and infections that refuse to heal, and hes got an unfortunate balding head—but hes alive now, and at the outpost! After stabbing Coco to death, though, Brock seemed to disappear—so keep an eye out for him in all of Oupost 3s nooks and crannies next week.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.