For fans who've been with American Horror Story since the beginning, Apocalypse is shaping up to be the ultimate payoff. Not only has the series brought back an entire legion of beloved characters by making Cordelia Foxx's (Sarah Paulson) Coven part of the central mystery, but the entire season revolves around a very adult Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), aka Vivien Harmon's (Connie Britton) ghost baby from season one (but more on that in a moment).
From the moment the Apocalypse artwork was revealed to be an homage to the original AHS poster features Rubber Man hanging above a pregnant woman who very clearly resembles Vivien Harmon, it was clear that looking back on our first journey through the world of American Horror Story was going to be hugely important to Apocalypse. But now, as we embark on a crossover episode that literally returns us to Murder House — aptly titled "Return to Murder House” — it's imperative that we refresh what went down there.
But now, as we embark on a crossover episode that literally returns us to Murder House — aptly titled "Return to Murder House” — it's simply imperative that we remember what went down there. Here are a few key points to jog your memory:
The Murder House Has a Painful and Twisted Past
The house was built by “surgeon to the stars” Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross), for his wife back in 1922, and it didn't take long for it to become the site of something grisly. Dr. Montgomery's son Thaddeus (Ben Woolf) is kidnapped and dismembered, body parts returned to the family in a series of jars, which Dr. Montgomery then stitches back together to create a being now known as the Infantata in 1926 (though if this is the first you're hearing of this name, that's OK — it's never actually spoken on Murder House). Later that year, a young Army couple move in and the wife dies on her wedding day. In the '40s, a dentist rapes and kills a woman named Elizabeth Short (Mena Suvari) at the Murder House and in the '50s, Loraine Baxter (Rebecca Wisocky) kills her husband then dies with her head in the oven
In the '60s, the house becomes a nursing school and a series of murders take place—known as the R. Franklin murders. In the '70s, a boy kills his sister in the house and two twin troublemakers break in only to be killed by the Infantata. In the '80s, Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange, who is reprising her character in tonight's episode) kills her cheating husband and his mistress in the house, and later a couple are murdered during BSDM activity. The murders continue through the '90s with the couple who lived in the house before Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Vivien are killed at the hands of the Rubber Man. And then of course, there's everything that happens to the Harmons. As a result, the spirits of everyone killed in the house remain there, destined to torment whoever dares enter. See? We warned you. Nothing good has ever happened here.
What Exactly Happened To The Harmons?
Well, for starters, it's revealed during our Murder House journey that for much of the season, the Harmons' daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), has been dead — killed by an accidental overdose of pills earlier in the season. It also, quite horrifyingly, turns out that her boyfriend (and her father's psychiatry patient) Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) is a ghost who killed a lot of people when he lived. (There's more to dig into there, but let's handle the Harmons first.)
As for the parents, Ben and Vivien, things were not any more pleasant. Vivien is raped and impregnated by Tate, as the Rubber Man. This happened right after having sex with her husband, which led her to become pregnant with twins from two different men. She is later driven insane by two of the ghosts inhabiting the Murder House — both of whom want her babies — and dies during childbirth. Only one baby survived the birth, but more on that later.
In his attempt to escape the craziness of the house with Viv's single surviving baby, Ben is murdered by his ex-mistress' ghost, Hayden (Kate Mara). In the end, the Harmons remain in the house that killed them, where they put up Christmas decorations together — as a family of ghosts. So, Murder House is not a good time for this once bright-eyed family, but they sort of had a happy ending. Or as happy of an ending you can have after all that happened.
Let's Talk About Tate
Well, for starters, he's a ghost in Murder House because he was killed there. Tate has a bit of a troubled childhood because his mother is, let's just say, something else. Though she kills his father in a fit of jealous rage, Tate's mother killed his father in a fit of jealous rage and then tells her son that his father abandoned them. After coming up in this environment, Tate reaches a dark point in high school and becomes a mass shooter, killing 15 of his classmates. After he retreats to his bedroom — he once lived in the Murder House, just like the Harmons — he is killed there by a SWAT team.
And while Violet sees flashes of Tate's darkness — like when he suggests that she kill a bully at school or when a flock of teen ghosts torment him and accuse him of killing them — it's not until she learns that he raped her mother that she finally breaks their relationship. The only catch is that since they both died in the Murder House, they're forced to be around each other for eternity — which just so happens to be the amount of time Tate says he's willing to wait for Violet to forgive him.
Tate's Mother Constance Has a Dark Past, Too
After moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career in the late '60s, it didn't take long for Constance's dreams of fame to die and her acting career come to an end. Though she is no longer an actress, Constance spends most of her adult life being very concerned with her image, always appearing on the outside as a southern gentlewoman, while truly being a cruel and cunning human underneath it all. After all, one of the many murders that took place in the infamous Murder House was committed by Constance's own hand. When she later loses the house, she seduces the new owner — whose wife and children conveniently perish in a house fire around that time — and moves her whole family back in. Throughout Murder House, she's seen exacting her cruelty on everyone around her — including her daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer), for whom she buys a "pretty mask" for Halloween.
But Constance also has to deal with some strife of her own — even if some of it is directly her fault. She is present when her son, and later ghost-baby-maker Tate, is killed. She actually commissions the death of her son Beau, in hopes of keeping him from being put in an institution. She also witnesses her daughter's death at the hands of a hit-and-run and even tries to drag her body onto the grounds of the Murder House so that she can return in ghost form.
In the end, she winds up with the only Harmon to survive Murder House — the child birthed by Vivien and begat by Constance's ghost son. So at least she's got her grandson, right? Well, about that…
...Vivien's Baby Was Predicted to Be The Antichrist — And It's Pretty Clear That He Is
The first inkling we get of Tate's son's personality is in the flashforward in the final moments of Murder House at an undisclosed location, where Constance finds Michael covered in blood, having murdered his nanny. Constance seems to find this somehow amusing (she would). The truth of it, however, is down right cataclysmic.
Of course, little Michael Langdon (yes, the very same one that now lords over Apocalypse) was never going to be a normal child. We, the audience, knew something was up on account of him being the child of a literal ghost, but Sarah Paulson's medium character, Billie Dean Howard, drove those suspicions home. She declared that any child conceived via a human woman and a ghost father is destined to be the antichrist and the end of the world. She predicted that all the way back in season one. Now, he's the central character of a season called Apocalypse, so that math is really starting to add up.
Don't miss American Horror Story's "Return to Murder House" tonight at 10p on FX. And you can catch up on every episode Apocalypse without ads only on FX+