Dead, That’s Something We Can Work Around: American Horror Story, ‘Sojourn’

***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for American Horror Story through Season 8, Episode 8 follow. Spoilers***

As AHS Halloween episodes go, this hour was — Sandra Bernhard, and Mutt and Jeff aside — a little on the dull side; something was missing. Something a little dark and fun …

Yes, Twisty, we still miss your terrifying grin, and sometimes playful spirit. For all its interesting tidbits, there’s something too by-the-numbers about Michael Langdon’s finding-his-inner-evil journey. Still, the hour had a couple of high points, and Cody Fern continues to mesmerize with his commanding onscreen presence. Whether broken over his discovery of Miriam and the warlocks’ incinerations (and Cordelia’s spell locking away Mead’s soul), desperate for a sign from Daddy Dearest, or all in on letting out his inner *cough* demon, Fern’s emotions make it impossible to write off some of the show’s sillier aspects. For an Antichrist, Michael’s awfully sensitive (and all too easily manipulated), but considering how the season started, I’m guessing things are about to take a very dark turn.

After turning away Cordelia’s hand and offer to explore his inner humanity, Michael heads out to a nearby forest where he can easily draw himself a pentagram circle, throw a hissy fit and demand his father tell him what to do (“… or you let me die here”), and generally, hallucinate himself into a tizzy. As temper tantrums go, his toddlerish fit doesn’t last long and next thing we know, Michael’s walking around a city, finds a handy-dandy Satanic church and plops down in a chair to watch Sandra Bernhard enthusiastically chew all the scenery.

Mr. Murphy being Mr. Murphy, Hannah (Bernhard) gets most of the hour’s hilarious lines …

“People, listen the fuck up. Just because we have a president who’s a total douchenozzle, and global warming is getting worse, that doesn’t mean you can sit here on your lazy asses and holler out a few ‘Hail Satans’.

You think end times is going to show up like a herpes sore?

I  robbed a nursing home, and I gave all the money to the NRA. I need to see some evil. I need to be repulsed.

Let’s speak in tongues for a hot second. Show some respect.

They really know how to raise some hell, don’t they kids?

Why does it rain every time they sing? Because god is pissing in his pants.”

… but it’s Madeline’s (Harriet Sansom Harris) kindness and offer of food that really cinches Michael’s membership. Quid pro quo-like, he shares his revelatory beast-marking (666) and it’s back to the church they go, so Langdon can be properly revealed. With a flash of his tattoo and a goofy double-sacrifice, Michael’s welcomed to the Wednesday potluck and expected to direct events on the global annihilations front — though as viewers know, this Antichrist has yet to reach his full potential (“Nobody gave me a fucking instruction manual”).

As it happens — the universe gives us what we need — Madeline has a workaround for Miriam’s unexpected departure; a secret network (“If you think about this network like a hotel, then I am taking you to the penthouse”) run by Mutt (Billy Eichner) and Jeff (Evan Peters), who bear more than a slight resemblance to a couple of real-life techies.

Lo and behold, the modern facility also houses another familiar face; “I am HR, bitch“, Ms. Wilhemina — “Don’t ever call me ‘Babe‘” — Venable, administrator extraordinaire and personal cocaine urn deliverer. Michael arrives, and though witnessing his tattoo isn’t as convincing as frying their office mate alive, the boys assure Michael he’s come to the right place to resurrect his precious Miriam — “Our AI tech makes HAL9000 look like a fucking abacus”. With only Langdon’s memories and a bit of Skynet finagling, a man’s an Antichrist’s bestie is miraculously recreated and with a “How I’ve missed you Michael”, we’re back on track for the coming apocalypse (though there are a few witches who may have something to say about that).

Deep Thoughts:

Sandra Bernhard was a great line-reader here, but when such an aside is the true episode standout, I’m going to have to call “Sojourn” one of the season’s weakest. It felt like disjointed filler.

“Mutt and Jeff” are of course famously named characters in Bud Fisher’s long-running comic strip. Though Peters and Eichner clearly had a blast with their roles here, again, the whole thing just wasn’t enough to be compelling.

I’m still confused as to how Miriam means more to Michael than Constance; that Mead is his life-guide after only a relatively short period of his adulthood (though he claimed she was someone from his childhood). I really preferred the idea that she was Constance recreated, but that’s clearly not the case. And, it seems Michael had little to do with bringing back Miriam, at all.

Where exactly (somewhere in California, I believe) is all this taking place, that Michael can walk from the forest to that deserted area where the witches burned Miriam and the boys, then back to the forest, and to a city? Shouldn’t the Antichrist at least have a driver at his disposal?

Next week looks to finally kick off end times, and I’m curious to see if there is any way to bring all the disparate threads together in any sensical way. If not, we’ll just throw up our hands (again) and say, “Got us again, Murphy!”

Songs This Hour:

Carmine Burana’s O Fortuna

Maureen McGovern, The Morning After

Best Lines (not uttered by Sandra Bernhard):

I see a lot of young people like you, five stars on Yelp, and a free doughnut at check in.

We are degenerate human beings, every last one of us.

I sold my soul to the devil and he gave me everything I ever wanted.

I made a deal at a Black Mass, as one does.

Prayer and killing people — it works.

Every Wednesday night, Brad Pitt comes over and fucks me ’till the sun comes up.

Well I was the chief accountant of Gawker, before, you know, that whole thing.

Dead — that’s something we can work around.

Well, 5000 of our clients just got their dicks ripped off.

Light rock is soothing for me. Other than cocaine, it is my cocaine.

No offense, but I thought you’d be more jacked (Like the Rock …)

Thursday, we get Ryan Reynolds.

She’s gonna be identical down to her last pube.

We need to make her Mossad.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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