Welcome to "The End." American Horror Story: Apocalypse kicks off with, well, the apocalypse. Nuclear bombs are falling around the world. Interestingly, the news reporter says, "I can't believe we actually did it." This could just be him remarking that he can't believe humanity finally pushed the button to end human existence... or perhaps he knows of something much more sinister.
In any case, we meet our main characters. Coco, a wealthy heiress; Mallory, her devoted assistant; Mr. Gallant, Coco's hairdresser; and Evie, Mr. Gallant's grand dame grandmother. Coco's father had paid a huge amount of money to guarantee his family would get to hide somewhere safe, but they are unable to get back to Los Angeles. Coco and Mallory go ahead, with Mr. Gallant and Evie forcing their way aboard.
Elsewhere, teenager Timothy is abducted from his home just before the blast. After adding his DNA to an ancestry website, he was deemed to have "perfect DNA" and chosen to be "saved." He has no rights and is not allowed to know where he is being taken, but he is promised he will be safe. While in containment, he meets Emily, who is also there due to her "perfect DNA."
Two weeks later, Timothy and Emily are taken to Outpost 3, where they are rushed through the nuclear winter and taken to an underground bunker. There they meet Ms. Venable, who runs the outpost, and she gives them a brief overview of what is going on. The outpost used to be an elite boys' school, and Ms. Venable doesn't see the apocalypse as the end, but the beginning. The Cooperative is made up of "visionaries" who have no allegiance to a country. They are the ones who created the Outposts and set all this up. The outpost is divided into purples -- the "elites" -- and grays -- the "working class." Ms. Venable is neither. Dressed all in black, she is the "strong right arm of the Cooperative; the face of the Cooperative." House rules: They may never leave the building, and there is no unauthorized copulation. They dress for dinner, and there is no excuse for tardiness.
Timothy showers before dinner. When he gets out, 666 is drawn into the steam on the mirror, and a hissing voice warns him to "beware."
At dinner, we meet the rest of our cast. There is former TV star Dinah Stevens; Ms. Mead, who works with Ms. Venable (and who joins her in games of "let's dress like purples"); and Andre and Stu, who are quickly disposed of. (Stu and Mr. Gallant are read as dirty by a Geiger counter and scrubbed. Mr. Gallant is cleared; Stu is not and is shot. It is later revealed that Ms. Mead faked the test so she could kill him. Later, it is hinted that Stu was served as food -- "Stu is the stew!" -- and Andre just disappears.)
Eighteen months later, nothing has changed in the bunker. The survivors are getting restless. Nuclear winter has settled in outside. Everything is colder and deadlier. Timothy and Emily fall in love. They ration out the kisses to one per week, so they don't get in trouble. Ms. Venable announces that they need to ration their gelatinous cubes, and they are only getting one per day.
A perimeter breach breaks things up. A man in gothic radiation wear pulls up in a carriage drawn by two horses (both wearing gas masks). He leaves his horses with Ms. Mead, who shoots them and feeds them to the monsters that live in the brush. (So we have that to look forward to.)
The man is Michael Langdon, from the Cooperative. He is impressed with the job that Ms. Venable has done keeping this outpost thriving, as the only three remaining won't last the year. He is there to move the inhabitants to another facility, a sanctuary, with decades of supplies. He has been assigned to evaluate the people in Outpost 3. He could take all of them; he could take none of them.
So that is where we leave off. There is a lot to like about this season, and a lot to dislike -- so far. In the "like" column, we have the apocalypse. It seems like something we are facing with greater reality every day. But I am not sure about this gothic, Interview With the Vampire style of apocalypse that Ryan Murphy is going for. I guess this is the kind of community that the Cooperative is hoping to form, but it kind of feels like a Ryan Murphy wet dream. We will see where it goes. Maybe there is a reason for the Victorian-style clothing and the fact that there seems to be a radio (playing only one song) and a water heater, but no lights. Also, it seems like a poorly stocked bunker if they only have 18 months' worth of gelatinous cubes to eat.
Another "like" is Joan Collins, who plays Evie. She is just a delight. A moneyed, old-Hollywood type who is neither shocked nor impressed by anything, she doesn't care that she may or may not be eating another human being -- it's delicious. She is calm and collected, which is a nice change from the loud, obnoxious characters, like Coco and Mr. Gallant. Andre was annoying, but after Stu was killed, he seemed be of no more use, so he just literally does not show up in the rest of the episode.
Let's talk about Michael Langdon for a minute. He appears to be a vampire Lestat cosplayer who we know is the spawn of Vivien Harmon from Murder House. Michael was fathered by Tate Langdon, the ghost boyfriend of Vivien's daughter, so you know that kid is messed up. The long hair and the cravat don't help, either. Also, Murder House was set in 2011, and Apocalypse is set 18 months from today, so figure that Michael couldn't be more than 10 years old. Michael is definitely not 10 years old, so there is some supernatural goodness going on here.
I am eager to see where this season is headed. I like the apocalyptic aspect, but I worry it is going to shift into something completely different -- and soon. Whether or not that is a good shift remains to be seen.