'AHS: Apocalypse's Return to the Murder House Delivered on Promises of a Wild 5th Episode

ahs apocalypse episode 5

This story contains spoilers for American Horror Story: Apocalypse through episode 5. 

We knew from day one that it was coming, but American Horror Story: Apocalypse finally showed us that it's headed straight to the Murder House! This week's episode, "Boy Wonder," ended with a shot of the famous haunted mansion, teasing what's sure to be an epic return to the familiar in its next outing. Murder House was the setting and subtitle of the show's very first season, about a cursed Los Angeles manor and the spirits trapped in its walls. It's also the house where the antagonist of our current season was born: Michael Langdon, the Antichrist, and son of Murder House matriarch Vivian Harmon (Connie Britton) and resident ghost boy Tate (Evan Peters).

But why, exactly, are we returning to the house, and what secrets might it hold? Here's a refresher course on what led to this point, and some theories about what, exactly, we'll find in the Murder House.

Michael was conceived in the house back in Season 1.

If your memory is a bit foggy about the events of Murder House, we don't blame you; it's been seven seasons since we first set foot in the infamous horror palace. The bulk of American Horror Story's first outing was set there, and the events were about as erratic as you've come to expect for this show. In short, the Harmon family moved from Boston to Los Angeles and into the house to escape past demons: Psychologist Ben (Dylan McDermott) had an affair his wife discovered, and the couple also suffered a miscarriage. Along with daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga), they made a new home in the house... but quickly learned they weren't alone. The Murder House, they eventually learned, was the site of several high-profile murders and suicides, and the ghosts of its past still lived there.

In the pilot episode, as the Harmons nestled into their new home, Vivian had sex with a man in a rubber suit, whom she assumed was her husband. It was actually the ghost of Tate Langdon, a school shooter who was killed by the police in the house decades earlier. Tate was hoping to conceive a child for his fellow ghost Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe), who died in the 1920s and whose son was kidnapped and murdered. Tate was successful in his quest, and Vivian became pregnant with twins. One of them was a stillborn, but the other -- the "alpha" -- was a powerful baby born with incredible talents. The rest of the Harmons died in the house, preserved forever as ghosts, so the surviving baby -- Michael -- was raised by his grandmother, Constance (Jessica Lange). When we leave Constance and Michael at the end of Murder House, Michael is a toddler who's just murdered his nanny. Constance, on the advice of psychic friend Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson), has grown aware that Michael is the Antichrist, as he was conceived from human and spirit. The ambiguously ominous looks they exchange in that finale were left unaddressed -- until now.

Cordelia sends Madison to Murder House to get dirt on Michael.

Flash-forward to Apocalypse, when Michael is now an adult with superpowers. He's attracted the interest of our Coven witches, and the committee at the warlock school he attends wants to test him for Supreme, the title given to the strongest possessor of magic. In Coven, that title was given to Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson), who reappears in Apocalypse, and who's aware of Michael's strength. At first, she refuses to let him perform the Seven Wonders -- a series of tests that, if completed properly, confirm the next Supreme. But after experiencing a vision of impending doom, with Michael its white-faced perpetrator, she agrees to test him and let him win, so that she can keep a close eye on the man who will destroy the world.

This plan is kept secret, of course. First, she has Michael descend into Hell and resurrect her last original witch, Misty Day (Lily Rabe). (Jamie Brewer's Nan was also in the original, but her soul was handed over to voodoo king Papa Legba, so she's probably irretrievable.) With Misty's life restored, Cordelia has tremendous power on her side. But it's not quite enough. She needs to know more about Michael so that she and her coven might vanquish him.

So, as "White Witch" Stevie Nicks serenades a distraught Misty, Cordelia telepathically summons fellow witch Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) to another room. She tells her that she needs her to go on a mission for her, to the house where "it all began."

Michael's warlock counselor Behold Chablis (Billy Porter) eavesdrops on their conversation and insists he head with Madison to the Murder House, too. It turns out that despite conditioning Michael for Supreme status, Behold is also worried about the boy. It looks like both a witch and warlock are headed there together.

Madison might be a relative of some Murder House ghosts.

For a long time now, fans have speculated that Madison's last name -- Montgomery -- is no coincidence, and that she is probably a relative of Nora and Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross), two of Murder Houses's most famous ghosts. Charles was a doctor known as the "surgeon to the stars" who in his basement performed illegal abortions to up-and-coming celebrities, and Nora helped him organize his patients. One of the girls who received an abortion told her boyfriend, who, in his anger, kidnapped and murdered the Montgomery's son, Thaddeus. Charles later went mad, and brought the dead and dismembered Thaddeus -- whose body was returned to him by police -- back to life, Frankenstein-style. This new version of Thaddeus was less a boy and more of a demonic creature, a monster called the Infantata. A distraught Nora, overwhelmed with what had become of her family, shot Charles to death and then turned the gun on herself. She, Charles, and the Infantata all became resident Murder House ghosts.

If Madison really is a relative of these Montgomerys, we can expect a rather awkward family reunion next week. But it might also be an enlightening one. We know that Tate conceived Michael and his twin for Nora, and that information might prove vital for his downfall.

Constance Langdon will be back.

Sarah Paulson is directing episode 6, "Return to Murder House," and we've known for a while that it would see the return of several old favorites: the Harmons, Tate, and also Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon. The promo teases encounters with these characters, but we're not exactly sure what state they'll be in.

Constance was alive at the end of Murder House, but there's reason to believe she'll be a ghost this time around. Michael has repeatedly insisted throughout Apocalypse that Meade (Kathy Bates) is the only person in his life who's never betrayed him. That means darling Grandma Constance must have turned her back on the boy at some point. It would make sense that he killed her and trapped her soul in the Murder House, where the ghosts of her sons Tate and Beau reside. But what events led to that, and how might her presence help Madison and Behold prevent the coming doom?

We don't know just yet, but we can't wait to find out when American Horror Story: Apocalypse returns to the Murder House next week.

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Lindsey Romain is a writer and editor living in Austin. She covers politics for Teen Vogue and has also appeared in Vulture, Birth.Movies.Death, and more. Follow her on Twitter @lindseyromain.