American Horror Story: Apocalypse Episode 1, “The End,” introduces audiences to the Campbells, a nuclear family whose oldest son, Timothy (Kyle Allen), has just learned he’ll be attending UCLA come fall. In the middle of their celebration, they get a text alert telling them a nuclear missile is speeding toward Los Angeles.
**This story contains spoilers for American Horror Story: Apocalypse Episode 1, “The End.”**
But then salvation comes in the form of Kevlar-clad agents knocking on the Campbells’ door and informing Timothy he’s been flagged as a genetically superior person and chosen for protection by a mysterious collective of rich (most likely crazed) bunker dwellers. Timothy is whisked away and finds himself as one of the few remaining members of the human race.
In a series as self-referential as American Horror Story, it can feel a bit odd to focus on a new face. But Timothy, a genetically superior human being, is gearing up to be a familiar face in a season that’s promised a parade of long-familiar faces.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Allen in the wake of the Apocalypse premiere to talk about “The End,” that gag-worthy dinner scene, and working with AHS professionals.
What makes Timothy genetically superior and worthy of saving?
He's smart, he's really smart and really perceptive of his surroundings, I decided. At the beginning he gets into UCLA, which is not an easy school to get into. And he probably has good bones as well, an effective nervous system — that's just my projection. It's never really explained.
If the world ends you would pick the people who are genetically sound. I don't think you'd do that based on what anyone looks like. It would definitely be what they're capable of.
What would Timothy’s life have been like without nuclear winter? He would have gone to UCLA and then what?
I think he would have had a really good life. Relatively normal. He probably would have invented something important to the survival of the human race. Perhaps something that would have prevented such a thing, had he only been born sooner.
What's it like jumping in as a newbie surrounded by so many people who've been doing American Horror Story for so long?
I mean, you just watch and learn. It's really that simple. They have their own rhythm, their own vibe, their own way of working with each other. And you do your best not to step on it. Be aware, alert. Listen. You've got to learn the ropes.
Who do you think that you learned the most from while you were on set?
Oh, that's impossible. You take away little things from each and every one of them.
Evan Peters is completely free. He's an absolute clown in the artistic sense, not the kind of — I think he actually went to clown school, if I'm not mistaken. They let him improvise and stuff like that.
And Sarah [Paulson]'s very, very well trained and takes her craft very seriously. So she can just kind of be doing whatever and then turn on Ms. Venable and command the entire room with her voice and her demeanor. If I can grab a little bit of that'd be awesome, if I can grab a little bit of clown from Evan that'd be awesome.
And Kathy Bates is just so relaxed and still. And watching her, you just get it. Like she's just magic... It's kind of a difficult thing to articulate, but like if you watch her, she's doing nothing and everything at the same time...
Cody [Fern] memorizes, he's got a work ethic like no one else on that set.
It's amazing. We all come and they give us this huge amount of rewritten script — I don't know if I'm supposed to say that, but whatever — at the last minute, because that's the nature of television... And not everyone's off-book. You work with it on the day and that's the status quo — that's how it goes. But Cody comes in with the most things to say out of anyone, 10 times as much as anyone else, and has it all entirely off-book. I don't know when he sleeps. It's certainly not as often as the rest of us. He's got a brain that's bigger. Or something. I don't know how it works.
[But] he definitely has the best story this season.
Maybe he's superior.
Yeah, he's definitely genetically superior. A real-life genetically superior person.
And then I could go down the list of the rest of the cast, but we'd be here all day.
What more can you tell me about the dinner scene when everyone realizes they’re eating people? What was it like to film that?
That was hilarious.
I didn't have to eat the soup. Timothy and Emily look at each other and are like, “We're not eating this. This is weird.” Because he's got a genetically superior brain, so he's like, “I'm not just going to eat anything they put in front of me.”
Whereas everyone else was like "om nom nom nom nom."
What was hilarious is that a bunch of people liked the soup and then a bunch of people didn't. So there was a lot of bickering at that table… There's so many different people, so many different angles, so many different reactions. You have to get all of them. So that's all day. We spent well over six hours shooting that scene.
And we have dietary restrictions on the set, so it wasn't real meat in the soup. I think it was jackfruit soup. The funny part is that Andre [Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman] really liked it, but he finds the finger. Everyone else hated it. It smelled nice, kind of sour. Then the cubes that we all have to eat, it's like gelatin and it's vegan. It wasn't Jell-O, but it was this weird seaweed Jell-O thing. But again, no one liked it except Andre.
He's just down. He's just super — everything they put in front of him, he's like, “Great! I think these are fantastic!” It's funny.
Anything people should know heading into the rest of the season?
Brace yourselves. You probably don't know what's going on yet, but if you think you do, you're wrong.