Note to self: don't live in a house built directly over the portal to hell.
Still, American Horror Story Season 1 was iconic for a reason, and even all these years later it continues to prove why it brought about so much success with it.
Taking a walk down memory lane never felt so fun, and it never managed to envoke as much emotion as checking in with all our favorite characters did.
There is clear strength in good characterization that doesn't get overwhelmed by the plot, something from which the current season might be pulling inspiration.
During American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 6, Madison and Behold Chablis arrived at the Murder House where they got to hear all about Michael's childhood.
With the help of some fan favorites, they got all the information they needed about who Michael truly was, and so did we.
"Return to Murder House" was written by Crystal Liu and directed by Sarah Paulson and was a standout. It was effective because it centered around strong character and appeased the sense of longing fans have had for Murder House ever since it ended.
The framing and direction aided emotional scenes and gave them another leg up.
But even more than that, it felt like coming back home. American Horror Story loves to twist and turn things around, so being allowed to stay put and just reminisce with characters you trust was a wonderful bonus.
Chill Out Satan
It probably wouldn't have been that hard to figure out how Michael got to where he is in present time and yet watching him claw his way there was worth the wait.
It was so easy to want to see Michael and Tate meet because in a way he was a new version of that dark guy that won many over when the show first premiered. But that turned into more clarification about Tate's true nature, that at his core he is not evil at all, and it was the house that led him there.
I'm not sure about that. If anything, it felt like a way to clear Tate's long list of indiscretions because the characters were returning and his relationship with Violet was so popular.
I’m a monster. Why would you want to help me?Michael
So from a writing perspective, it made sense to want to give the favorite couple a happy ending, one that would have to be achieved by allowing Tate to slide on his indescretions.
But he did so much damage that it was not going to happen offscreen, especially when Violet was rightfully upset about their past.
Still, there wasn't enough time to dig into all that drama again which turned into some canon information getting shifted to fit the current narrative.
It is a small concern, but it weighs heavily on who Tate really is and what that means for Michael who doesn't even pull much from his "father."
Originally, Michael being as evil as he was could be explained away as a mix of Satan and Tate, who showed signs of that dark side.
Now Michael is on his own. He is a product of the darkness that embodies that murder house, and he doesn't belong to anyone except maybe the devil.
It adds to what led him to that point, yet in a way, he was always destined to become exactly who he is right now.
He fits the mold of a perfect villain because his past is fascinating, but he is still the bad guy.
There are moments to sympathize with him until you remember the chaos he caused and the people he hurt in the process. There is no good to be found in Michael, and that is completely okay.
A quality villain is one that fits that description without forcing the idea of a redemption arc. Some people are just pure evil, and embracing that only adds to the stakes for the heroes instead of making things boring.
Not even I can create something as monstrous, as evil, as you.Tate
What would truly be boring is if Michael forgiven in an attempt to humanize someone who was evil to begin with. Vivian was right when she said he was doomed from the very beginning; there was never going to be anything hopeful to come from a child conceived in that murder house.
Nothing about Vivian bringing Michael into this world was smooth or without its problems, a sign that it would get even worse when he was actually out in the world.
And that is exactly what happened when Michael not only destroyed everything around him during his childhood, but he allowed the planet to get destroyed as well.
Although, there is still that curiosity about him growing so quickly. Was that a witch thing or a satan thing or a Michael thing?
Murder House Memories
For a show that doesn't survive on happy endings, the return back to the beloved meant getting some resolution.
Moira got it first, and it was emotional. Her scene with her mother was gut-wrenching because it was so relatable. It was a simple way that Moira wanted to spend the rest of her days, and now she gets to.
Walking off was structured wonderfully because it expressed everything that couldn't be said in an hour. Looking back, Moira went through enough to earn it, she was the one who walked away with a promising future beyond the screen.
Constance was a different story because instinct depends on the audience feeling bad for her. Nothing in which she found happiness ever seemed to end up in her favor, until now.
The idea of Constance looking for perfection getting solved by valuing the children that she had all along was lovely.
Raising children who sometimes became just vicious monsters, specifically Tate and Michael, couldn't have been easy on her. It was clear that it didn't come from neglect; in fact, Constance gave all of herself to them.
They were just destined not to have a chance, and she was destined to end up in the middle of all the chaos from there.
Tate: I'm so sorry for everything.
Violet: I know.
It was unfortunate that even her promise at a new life with her grandson ended with her belief she had to kill herself before Michael killed her. There is no doubt there, mostly discomfort that it got to the point that she couldn't even trust him not to kill her in her sleep.
She did learn a lesson, though, about treasuring what she didn't realize she had all along.
It was a tiny puzzle that solved those open-ended questions about where the ghosts ended up in that house.
It isn't clear if, with the end of the world, the house ended as well, or if being the portal to hell guarantees survival in the limited sense that you have already.
There is the idea of the sanctuary, a promise made by Michael that might actually exist.
If there was a place where the others could survive, this is their best bet. It has survived just about everything else, and Michael would be familiar with it by now, even if he isn't excited to return that.
That we know of.
Still, even if this house met its end after creating the person who would destroy it at some point, it was reassuring that there was still some happiness for those stuck in there and that the cycle can't stop spinning.
Engaging with American Horror Story means embracing the concept of being doomed, often by the fault of the people involved. Nothing just happens, but when it does, it can be unsustainable.
So it is promising to have small hints of people doing better even if they don't have to as spirits, and from there they allow themselves to find happiness even if it is limited.
The possibilities are there; they might need time to accomplish something.
Useless Hope For the Future
Still exploring the past means there is even less time being dedicated to the present, specifically the post-apocalypse life everyone is living with Michael.
The good news is that Cody Fern embodies Michael Langdon so well that it doesn't make the storytelling feel like it is wasting time, far from it actually.
And even though a combination of the iconic American Horror Story Season 1 returned with a combination of all the Michael background information, it, unfortunately, isn't what this current season is centered on.
Maybe that isn't true and the apocalypse portion of this season isn't as important, but that is what most the characters are driving at us.
Through all these flashbacks and retellings of everyone's time with Michael, everyone is still focused on the end of the world and what presumably comes after since he is still alive and thriving.
This episode does a perfect job of proving what truly works for American Horror Story right now: a fascinating villain and pure nostalgia.
But what happens now?
Our time is not yet finished when it comes to the characters attempting to stop Michael. We will see the task through with them, even if it is obvious that it couldn't have done any good if he is still in reign now.
There is promise in possible scenes that return to the Outpost as it is now, with a few faces that seemingly weren't meant to return but now will.
There is also some more connections with the American Horror Story Coven portion of the series, and even Dinah makes an appearance with Cordelia that looks like it could be worth the wait.
This one shattered me beyond recovery. Michael made me believe that my presence here meant something. That I mattered.Constance
The interesting additions to the journey usually outweigh the worry about the timeline we were first introduced to not getting the attention it deserves.
The only reason there is even something to worry about is related back to more seasons being picked up for American Horror Story. If there are more of them coming up then there needs to be a place for them to be set, right?
That does sound more hopeful than it needs to be, but the assumption is that Michael will be confronted once again in this Outpost and that the Cooperative will reveal themselves to the others soon.
For now, though, the tension is building and even if the answer to the question is answered already, there is still a war that is about to happen, and it becomes more and more intense by the second.
What did you think of the episode? Was it everything you were hoping for and more? Did you like how stories were wrapped up with our favorite characters at the Murder House?
Did this make you care about Michael more? Which Murder House ghost were you most excited to see?
Where do you see things going from here? What do you want to see now that everyone is caught up with Michael's intentions?
What are some of your theories about what this season might still have planned for us?
Let us know what you think below.
And don't forget that you can watch American Horror Story online, right here on TV Fanatic!
Yana Grebenyuk was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in April 2021.