Usually when I look at something for The Witching Hour it is something I have seen or played before. Tonight is going to be a little different as we are looking at a fairly recent episode of American Horror Story that I had literally just seen before writing this article. Check your radiation levels and don your purple attire because we are catching up with AHS: The End.
If you are unfamiliar with American Horror Story, it is a long running series on FX. Every season is treated as its own story arc and the the pilot episode of each new season begins a brand new arc (though it is common for some characters to appear in multiple seasons). I have seen this show come up a lot on my recommended videos feed on Amazon Prime but I had never had a chance to actually check out the show until now. The series is currently in its 9th season so I am choosing to start with season 8 which is titled American Horror Story: Apocalypse. The pilot episode is ironically called The End.
The episode begins with a woman named Coco (Leslie Grossman) who is getting her hair styled in anticipation of her rising status as an Instagram influencer and then… well, the world begins to end. Ballistic missile strikes are wiping out civilization all over the world. During the beginning Coco gets a message from her billionaire father who has arranged a spot for her in one of the few safe outposts on the planet. This episode does a remarkable job of capturing the tension and confusion of a major disaster – very difficult to do on a television production budget.
At the same time, a pair of mysterious suited agents arrive at a family home to collect one of their sons, a young man named Timothy. These agents represent a mysterious group known as The Cooperative and they have identified Timothy as having desirable DNA for their goals. They take Timothy to a remote outpost filled with people who either have the requisite DNA or who have paid $100 million for a spot at this safe refuge known as Outpost 3.
But life is not necessarily a utopia here in Outpost 3. The Cooperative believes that modern technology has brought the end of the world and wants to return to old values. Those with desirable DNA are known as “Purples” and are treated as the elite while those deemed of lesser value are called “Grays” and are treated as servants. Meals are typically a nondescript cube which survivors are told contains the nutrients they need to survive and there are strict rules in place. Violation of any of the rules brings swift death.
What struck me about this episode is just how well The Cooperative mentally beats down the survivors. The administrators of Outpost 3 are known to frame survivors for violating the rules which keeps everybody on edge and the dwindling food supplies force everyone to start skipping meals. I am reluctant to go into details here because if you have not seen the episode you should experience the shock for yourself. The episode ends with the arrival of a senior member named Michael Langdon. Nearly two years have gone by since the end of the world and the other outposts have collapsed. Langdon is here to determine which of the inhabitants at Outpost 3 are worthy of being taken to yet another mysterious outpost that is well stocked with supplies. Those who are not worthy will be slaughtered.
I think AHS: The End does a fine job of setting up the 8th of the show. The panic as the world ends was brutal and the cinematography afterwards is appropriately bleak and depressing. I have not seen enough to judge the entire season but if you are in the mood for an unsettling horror experience that relies more on atmosphere than jump scares, you should definitely check out AHS: The End.