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American Horror Story - Return to Murder House - Review

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Welcome home, Murder House and all 36 of its inhabitants. You've been missed. Well, most of you. Hayden was pretty awful, but at least she's not in this episode so we don't have to watch her pretending-to-microwave-dogs antics again.

This specially extended episode was jam-packed with all sorts of characters, action, and throwbacks to season one, all leading to the revelation of Michael's origins. We also got updates on the current situations of the Harmon and Langdon families (spoiler alert: they're all miserable), but fairy godwitches Madison and Behold came to their rescue, granting them all their happy endings (no, not that kind).

Coco's father must have given the coven a lot of money to spend because before they enter Murder House, Behold and Madison, pretending to be a married couple, buy the cursed house. Madison mentions having babies to the realtor, and Behold gives her this "Girl, please" look. Madison and Behold are none too happy to be doing this. Madison thinks she's being sent there because she's expendable, and Behold is not happy to be in khakis.

Entering the house, Behold immediately senses the danger and darkness. It's almost like the start of a horror movie, or the Harmon's story, where a new family buys a home and discovers it's haunted. But, these two know what they're up against and will not be messed with. The only problem is none of the ghosts want to actually show themselves, so Madison and Behold have to force them out.

When they do, they get much more than they bargained for. Tate and Ben are still having therapy sessions, and it turns out Tate is as obsessed with Violet as ever, but Violet won't give him the time of day. Behold and Madison interrupt their therapy session and introduce themselves as powerful beings who want some information on Michael Langdon, but these two aren't playing that game. No, Tearjerker Ben has to go cry and masturbate.

They move on from Tate and Ben to Constance's son, the one she kept in the attic. And then Billie Dean! She shows up to explain everything. Wait, is she dead too? Nope, it's okay, she's alive, she's just welcome in the house. You know who else is welcome? CONSTANCE. CONSTANCE IS HERE TOO. Queen Jessica Lange has returned! And she slips back into the role of Constance as smoothly as Constance's silky Southern accent.

Constance is oddly in a good mood for a ghost. Then Moira shows up! She and Constance fight as if they've never stopped. Because they haven't. Lange and Conroy wonderfully pick up their banter from season one like no time has passed. Their chemistry is off the charts. One of the last things Moira digs at Constance about is the fact that Constance killed herself. Whoa. Hoping to get an answer from someone else, Madison asks Billie Dean and Constance about Michael. Billie Dean doesn't want to talk, but Constance is willing to talk if they get rid of Moira.

So Madison and Behold go digging in the backyard for Moira's remains. They find some, but they can't find Moira's. There are just too many bodies. Madison and Behold inform Moira of Constance's hatred of her as if she didn't already know. They show her they have her remains, and Moira is more than happy to let them let her go. She's so grateful she hugs Madison, and Madison is actually receptive. Madison shows a lot of growth in this episode, which excites me and worries me at the same time that something is going to happen to her, whether it be she goes out a hero or she denies her changed attitude and goes out a traitor.

With Moira's permission, they bury her body in a cemetery next to her mother. She is free and with her mother. We get some closure on Moira pulling the plug on her when she went to visit her on Halloween to release her from her misery. She apologizes, thinking her mother would be angry, but Moira's mother was glad because she was miserable. They go off into the night together, giving us happy ending number one.

Constance is even happier now that Moira is gone, but now she has to talk about Michael. This next section of the episode is monologued by Lange, who does a brilliant job. She takes us through Constance's pride, to worry, to sadness, to depression, to suicide so simply and movingly. Constance tells Madison and Behold the story of the Harmon family, how Vivien died giving birth to Michael, that Tate is the father, and that Constance, as the only living being, took over raising Michael. She thought it would be her last chance to be a good mother. She talks about motherhood and how she was meant for it. She says Michael was always adorable and sweet as a child, even as he was murdering animals and then people. She tried to guide Michael in the right direction, but you can't save the antichrist.

She thought she was just raising a simple serial killer, but then Michael aged a decade overnight, to her surprise. Then to her horror, he turned on her. He used his newfound adultness to overpower and strangle her. But what's strange in this scene is that Michael seems to be in a dazed state as he strangles her, then a light seems to turn on, and starts crying because he doesn't know what's going on. It's like he's possessed. Interesting. So, Constance called a priest in for holy help but Michael killed him. His and Constance relationship changed in that she started to not matter much to him at all. So she decided she wasn't going to be treated like that, especially if it means she ends up dead. So she went to Murder House, danced, drank, and overdosed on pills. She woke up to find herself surrounded by her children (except Addy), one of which is the previously unseen fourth child. It's a girl with no eyes. Happy ending number two, kind of?

With all they're going to get out of Constance, they move back over to Ben, who is ready to talk about what happened to Michael after Constance's suicide. Michael went to the murder house to find his grandma. Instead, he found her dead body and he was devastated. Ben appeared to him and told him Constance doesn't want to talk to him. Ben said he'll help him because he thinks of him as his son, even though he's 100% not. Michael told him he's a monster. He wants to be good but something's pulling him in a different direction. Ben took him by the hand and started spending time with him. They developed a father/son relationship.

It's going well until Tate catches Michael with his stuff. He acts more like an angry, bullying older brother than a father. Michael started to slip into evil mode while Ben tried to save him. But Michael is too busy operating on the Black Dahlia and then putting on the Rubber Man suit to kill a new couple that moved into the house. So that the couple doesn't stay in the house forever, Michael burns their souls to a crisp, erasing them from existence entirely. It as it this time Ben decides to back far, far away from Michael and I don't blame him.

After hearing all this, Madison and Behold realize he's more than just an evil warlock. They get more confirmation on that when Vivian shows up! She and Ben have been fighting and not talking. She had some issues with him spending so much time with Michael. Vivian knows what's up. Vivian was watching him from the sidelines, and noticed strange things about Michael outside of the murder stuff. When Michael moved into the house to be closer to Constance, all sorts of biblical warning signs showed up with him around. Then three not so wise people (One of which is Naomi Grossman, AKA Pepper!) showed up for Michael, one of them being Human Mead. They spout off biblical stuff and bow down to Michael, who has no idea what they're doing there. He's just a kid at this point, not the post-apocalypse long-haired demonic God we know him to be today. And Cody Fern does such a great job of playing him this way, as the innocent young killer, completely unaware of his destiny.

But these people, members of The Church of Satan, remedy that quickly. They turn him into a strong, confident son of Satan. But before he can get his powers completely, he has to be what I guess is their version of being baptized, eating the heart of a young girl. As if we didn't have enough The Omen touches on the season, we get a direct reference when Not Pepper says, "It's all for you, Michael." After eating the heart, his transformation into the full-on antichrist is complete. Vivian sees all this and decides to end him. She brought him into the world, it's only fitting she be the one to take him out of it. But Michael went all hellfire on her to destroy her soul, but Tate saved her. After relaying all this, Vivian and Ben kind of make up. Happy ending number three?

Now fully armed with all the knowledge she needed, Madison is ready to report back to Cordelia. But Behold is all scared they won't be able to stop him. In what was honestly shoe-horned into the episode, Madison runs into a crying Violet. Madison talks to this complete stranger for some reason. Violet is upset because she's still in love with Tate, who she knows is a monster. But Madison encourages Violet to give Tate a second chance because it's not his fault he's the way he is, it's the house's and all that evil energy got sucked up into Michael and left with him, apparently. Violet finds out he saved her mom, and they reconcile. Happy ending number four, I guess.

That's a wrap on murder house. If the renewal of more seasons hadn't already been announced, I would guess just by the way the season has gone that this was its last season. So many storylines from the very beginning are coming full circle and characters and actors we haven't seen in a long time are back. This is usually done as a farewell to a show, but nope, we've got more seasons to look forward to after this. But I have no idea how they will top this one, or what they'll do for their final season, but I don't see how they can do much better than this. While there were some story and pacing issues with the episode, this was still a nice walk down memory lane, and at least we got some closures for our fan favorite characters.

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