Fire and Reign
|"Fire and Reign"|
|American Horror Story episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Directed by||Jennifer Arnold|
|Written by||Asha Michelle Wilson|
|Original air date||November 7, 2018|
|Running time||39 minutes|
"Fire and Reign" is the ninth episode of the eighth season of the anthology television series American Horror Story. It aired on November 7, 2018, on the cable network FX. The episode was written by Asha Michelle Wilson, and directed by Jennifer Arnold.
Jeff (Evan Peters) and Mutt (Billy Eichner) begin plans to construct outposts around America, for survivors of the impending apocalypse. Frustrated at her lack of control within the Cooperative, Ms. Venable (Sarah Paulson) quits her job, though Mutt and Jeff offer her a new one before she can leave - the head of Outpost 3. Here, they tell her she will be able to make her own rules and not answer to anybody.
Dinah (Adina Porter) breaks a protective spell that Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) has placed on the Coven, letting Langdon (Cody Fern) and Mead (Kathy Bates) in. Mead murders most of the witches, including Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Bubbles (Joan Collins). Frustrated that Cordelia has escaped, Langdon complains to Mead, unaware that Mutt and Jeff have programmed her in a way that means they can control everything that she says and does. Through Mead, the two convince Langdon to meet with them to further his plans. Here, they tell Langdon that the Cooperative is a new name for the Illuminati, an organization of elites who have sold their souls to the Devil in exchange for worldly gifts. They tell Langdon that the Illuminati will help him in his plan to end the world.
Cordelia, Myrtle (Frances Conroy), Madison (Emma Roberts), Coco (Leslie Grossman) and Mallory (Billie Lourd) flee to the swamps of Louisiana, taking refuge in a shack belonging to Misty Day (Lily Rabe). Here, they discover that Misty has gone on a trip with Stevie Nicks, leaving her house free for use. Cordelia tries and fails to resurrect Zoe and Queenie, and Madison reveals that Langdon has the capability to erase souls from existence. Myrtle reveals that there might be a way to bring Queenie, Zoe and Bubbles back in the form of a time-travel spell, though she also tells the girls that no witch has ever succeeded in performing it, and that every attempt has resulted in death. She goes on to say that she believes Mallory to be capable of performing the spell. Myrtle recounts the Execution of the Romanov family during the Bolshevik Revolution; the youngest daughter, Anastasia Romanov (Emilia Ares), was a witch, but her powers were not strong enough to save her or her family.
Mallory successfully travels back in time in the hopes of helping Anastasia, but is unable to save the Romanovs. Regardless, Myrtle reassures Cordelia that Mallory's attempt achieved far more than any witch before. Cordelia contemplates invoking the Sacred Taking, meaning she would have to die to let Mallory rise as Supreme and complete the spell. Myrtle discourages her, certain that she has some fight left. The witches travel to California to seek aid from Behold (Billy Porter) and John Henry (Cheyenne Jackson), only to find them and their students murdered and their bodies assembled in the form of a pentacle, most likely by Langdon and Mead.
Langdon meets with the Cooperative, informing them of his plan to end the world via nuclear war. He reveals the plan for the Outposts, and encourages the Cooperative to show loyalty to his father by helping him in his plan.
"Fire and Reign" was watched by 1.65 million people during its original broadcast, and gained a 0.8 ratings share among adults aged 18–49.
The episode received mixed reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, "Fire and Reign" holds a 56% approval rating, based on 16 reviews with an average rating of 7.24/10. The critical consensus reads, "Not even a pitch-perfect reference to Omen III could keep Apocalypse's penultimate episode from succumbing to the franchise's penchant for uneven pacing and meandering character arcs."
Ron Hogan of Den of Geek gave the episode a 3/5, saying, "Despite my issue with [the possibility of time travel], the episode itself is has a lot of positives. The scenes with Mutt (Billy Eichner) and Jeff (Evan Peters) are broad, but they're a funny exaggeration of tech bro culture. The two actors have a solid delivery of big comedy lines, and they're a good counterbalance to the more unpleasant aspects of the episode. Billie Lourd is exceptional this week, and her screaming fit after being dragged from Tsarist Russia back to the present is powerful. She's in a full-fledged shrieking panic, and it's a great cap on a very interesting flashback scene." He added, "Jennifer Arnold has a solid hand with the actors, but a better hand with the action sequences that take place this week."
Kat Rosenfield from Entertainment Weekly gave the episode an C+. As the episode is the penultimate of the season, she criticized the fact that it was "still mired in backstory", as it was giving the impression of an "endless scene-setting". She was also disappointed by many story elements like the reason why Dinah chose to help Michael and Mead; the easy explanation given for the apocalypse; and the fact that time travel might be the solution to stop the Antichrist. She disliked the cliffhanger of the episode, commenting that it was just "people in very silly hats flipping to Page 6 of their End of Days marketing binders." Finally, she was unimpressed by the Bolshevik revolution flashback, and the revelation that Anastasia Romanova was a witch.
Vulture's Ziwe Fumudoh gave the episode a 5 out of 5. Much like Rosenfield, she was disappointed by Dinah and the reason she helped Michael and Mead, calling it "underwhelming". She also criticized Michael for being "as directionless as a boat with no sails, rudder, or Sperrys.", and was left unimpressed by the Bolshevik revolution flashback. However, she enjoyed Robot Mead and her role in the killing of witches, commenting she has "a fancy design feature that is both functional and terrifying". She was also a fan of the scenes between Mutt (Eichner), Jeff (Peters) and Venable (Paulson). Overall, she appreciated the episode, thinking that it covered a lot of ground and that "this season of American Horror Story is coming together".
- "(#809) "Fire and Reign"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- Metcalf, Mitch (November 8, 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Wednesday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.7.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- "American Horror Story: Apocalypse - "Fire and Reign"". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- Hogan, Ron (November 8, 2018). "American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9 Review: Fire and Reign". Den of Geek. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Rosenfield, Kat (November 8, 2018). "American Horror Story: Apocalypse recap: Need some help bringing on the Apocalypse?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Fumudoh, Ziwe (November 8, 2018). "American Horror Story: Apocalypse Recap: All My Friends Are Dead". Vulture.com. Retrieved November 8, 2018.