American Horror Story: Apocalypse's time-travel ending explained

15 November 2018, 13:22

Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

The final episode of AHS: Apocalypse ('Apocalypse Then') featured time-travel and revealed that the universe now takes place in a brand new timeline, but what does it all mean and how will it affect the future of the show?

That's it. It's done. American Horror Story has officially closed the book on the most ambitious crossover event in history. After an intense ten episodes, packed with new characters, old characters, surprise cameo appearances, plot twists, references, Satanic rituals, explicit sex scenes and some very questionable wigs, AHS: Apocalypse came to a stunning end with the finale episode, titled 'Apocalypse Then.' But what the bloody hell happened? And what does it all mean for AHS going forward?

"American Horror Story" Season 9: News, Theme, Cast, Release Date And Everything You Need To Know

All season, the show has been building towards the eventual undoing of the apocalypse, set in motion by Cody Fern's Michael Langdon, the Antichrist with the good hair. His foil? A young witch called Mallory (Billie Lourd) who possessed the ability to go back in time and change the course of events.

The final episode explained exactly that - how the apocalypse was able to be stopped - and it even managed to explain away that massive plot hole regarding Billie Dean Howard's trip to Hotel Cortez in 2022 that has been looming over the show ever since it was revealed that the world was destroyed by nuclear war in 2019.

If you're still confused over what the hell went down in the final episode, here's the entire ending of Apocalypse explained, and what it means for the AHS universe going forward:

American Horror Story: Apocalypse's time-travel ending explained
American Horror Story: Apocalypse's time-travel ending explained. Picture: FX

Part one: Before the bomb

After Myrtle secures two spots in the bunker for Coco and Mallory, Cordelia places them under an identity spell which wipes their memories, but not their powers. Mallory's powers will continue to strengthen and will later show themselves when they're ready, although she will not know why. Coco and Mallory then start their new lives in LA until the bomb drops.

Part two: After the bomb

18 months after the bomb, Cordelia, Myrtle and Madison emerge from the healing swamp soil in Louisiana after burying themselves to stay safe. They are awakened when Mallory's powers start to show themselves. They arrive at the bunker and revive the witches.

In order to kill Michael's associate Dinah, Cordelia makes a trade with Papa Legba. Marie Laveau is brought back from hell and Dinah is killed in her place. Madison then 'kills' Michael so that Mallory can do her little bath spell without being in danger but Mallory is stabbed by Brock, who is still in the bunker. Myrtle kills him. Michael comes back to life and kills Madison. He then kills Marie and Coco.

Mallory cannot go back in time until she is at full strength so Cordelia sacrifices herself (!!) so Mallory can gain the full powers of the Supreme. Cordelia dies, Mallory becomes the Supreme and is able to go back in time.


Part three: Time-travel, babyyyyy.

Mallory goes back to 2015, at the exact moment Constance finds the dead priest in suddenly grown-up Michael's room. Instead of leaving and killing herself, Constance throws him out on the street and out of her life. As he's leaving the house, Mallory hits him with her car, reverses and drives over him again. He's dead. RIP. The apocalypse is cancelled. That exact course of events will never happen and the future has been changed (or has it...?)

Mallory from 2021 then arrives at Miss Robichaux's Academy, as she did back in 2015 (it's assumed that she's taken over her own 2015 body) and is welcomed by Cordelia, who doesn't recognise her despite Mallory knowing everything. Zoe is alive, Queenie is alive but Myrtle is still dead. Mallory brings back Misty from hell (but not Madison, yet) and the Coven go about their lives without worrying about the apocalypse. The end.


The ending means that the entire American Horror Story universe post-2015 is now a completely different timeline. Michael Langdon is never recognised as the Antichrist and the apocalypse never happens. Queenie is also warned against staying at Hotel Cortez, which means she never dies there. It also means that everything that happened during Madison and Behold's trip back to the Murder House now doesn't exist. Constance is not dead, Moira is still stuck and Tate and Violet never got their happy ending.

However, as we see in the final five minutes of the episode, the timeline eventually 'corrects' itself as a new Antichrist is born, to DNA jackpot bunker buddies Timothy and Emily no less. While Michael's 2015 death will have almost no direct impact on what happened in Roanoke and Cult, it remains to be seen if the events of those seasons will stay the same in the new timeline.

It was an action packed finale with as many questions as there were answers and still proved itself to be one of the strongest season finales to date but as always... there seems to be a bit of a discourse on Twitter over whether it was actually good or not.

Some people are absolutely losing it over the ending - calling it the best finale since Asylum.

Others, however, are expressing their disappointment at how rushed the final episode felt and calling it "fan-service for the locals." (To be fair, they're not wrong about the rushed ending... one more episode would have been nice.)

At the end of the day, there's absolutely no denying that Ryan Murphy, the writers and the entire cast pulled off a spectacular season. Slow in parts and confusing on a weekly basis (but when is AHS not?), but ultimately, an absolutely killer season from start to finish. Apocalypse will go down as one of the best seasons of the entire anthology - PERIODT!

And also, Cody Fern deserves to win an Emmy. Just speaking that into the universe. Bye.