Filled with beloved characters, fantastic guest stars, and witty writing, “Could it be… Satan?” is a treat for American Horror Story fans.
Picking up right where we left off last week, everyone is pretty much dead, save Michael and his robo-surrogate mom Miriam, and the witches. My guess last week that Miriam was a revamp of Constance turns out to be wrong–somehow younger Michael, sporting a creepy Tate-esque haircut, ended up with Miriam, a Satanist who also happens to be the closest person to a mother Michael claims he’s ever had. Nevermind that she’s killed her first three husbands. She’s a Devil Mama and proud. No wonder he decided to remake her in robot form to help him rebuild the world. Of course, there is the pesky problem of Cordelia and company. Not only are they reviving dead witches, but they are also prepared to battle Michael. It’s witches versus warlocks in “Could it be… Satan?”, game on.
The bulk of “Could it be… Satan?” takes place in flashback, three years before the bomb. At the Hawthorne School, the warlock version of Miss Robichaux’s Academy, a group of GQ chic men including AHS regular Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Porter, and B.D. Wong is teaching young men how to wield wands. I might have fangirled out a little too much over Porter and Wong. Porter also ties with Frances Conroy’s Myrtle for best one-liners: it’s a toss-up between her insult of Michael’s dinner jacket and Porter’s “I see you, Ms Supreme.”
A video of teenaged Michael being interrogated by a police detective has been brought to the warlocks’ attention. The footage ends with the detective’s head exploding, supposedly through Michael’s uncontrolled powers. Could this, the warlocks wonder, be the Alpha? In this world, warlocks are secondary to the female power of witches. However, there is a prophecy of the Alpha, a warlock so powerful he can complete the Seven Wonders and become the Supreme.
Quicker than you can toss on a stylish cape, Michael is under the tutelage of the warlocks, with Miriam’s blessing. Her promise to him as he drives away with Ariel is very “It’s all for you, Damian,” for The Omen fans. Michael’s powers are indeed exceptional; we see him only a short time later complete the Four Levels, the warlock version of the Seven Wonders. Tip to you, gentlemen: if you want to show you can run with the witches, maybe make your tests a little harder.
Although Michael passes the levels with relative ease, during the fourth level, when he makes it snow (again, witches have to go to Hell and back–you just made weather), he loses control of his powers. Though the panel is impressed, the question is raised if they can control him. This is some Anakin Skywalker stuff. When you fear the kid’s powers and you aren’t the strongest guy in the room, that’s trouble.
Regardless of the potential danger, the Warlocks send for the Coven council, now made up of Zoe, Myrtle, and Supreme Cordelia. Before the summons, we briefly see Zoe teaching a much-expanded coven, including a powerful, pre-identity spell Mallory. For those who don’t remember, although Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) was originally on the council, she was killed in Hotel. How Myrtle came back from her second burning at the stake, we don’t know. I guess there isn’t an expiration date on that reviving the dead stuff.
Upon arrival at Hawthorne, the warlocks demand Cordelia administer the Seven Wonders to their wonder boy. Cordelia refuses, partly because boys can’t be Supremes and partly because she doesn’t want to risk the boy’s life for a task she believes impossible. She shares how she tried to save Queenie from Hotel Cortez, realizing that the hotel is a gateway to Hell where her powers are dimmed. Queenie is left behind to keep playing cards with Mott (Evan Peters).
Elsewhere, Michael goes into some sort of trance, drawing frantically the Hotel Cortez. He arrives, in his skinny tie, to retrieve Queenie. Before heading back to rub it in Cordelia’s face, he makes another stop: Madison’s personal Hell, which looks an awful like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
The revived witches, rocking some much-improved fashion, come face to face with the coven council, causing Cordelia to faint. Is Michael the Alpha? Or Satan? Or both?
This was an amusing episode, particularly because of smart casting and the fun of seeing beloved characters again. The men as second-class citizens is an entertaining spin on sexual politics. Michael’s thirst for power does have a Tom Riddle vibe to it, but that seems intentional. Ryan Murphy and team are nothing if not pop culture savvy. Something tells me this will play out in a very different way.
Amber is a doctoral candidate in Language, Diversity, and Literacy at Texas Tech. She holds an MA in Literature and History and a BFA in Theatre. A Texas-based mother of two, she is an Associate Professor of English and History at Howard College.