Sympathy for the Antichrist: How Michael Langdon Won Over Legions of Fans

ahs michael langdon

In the end, Constance extracts herself from this messy situation on her own terms, succumbing to suicide. The following scene where Michael finds her body and tries to rouse her is tough to watch, as he sobs and realizes that even in ghost form, she doesn’t want anything to do with him. I love a good angsty scene as much as the next person, but this one is especially heart-wrenching. How many times did I feel like I got my heart ripped out of my chest by Michael’s tearful breakdowns this season? I lost count. On a related note, I actually love how emotional and sensitive he is throughout his journey. It’s relatable.

And therein lies the central framework of Michael’s entire character arc: making an audience feel sympathy toward a boy who’s born to be the Antichrist. In Apocalypse, the Antichrist is more than just a symbol or an entity; he’s an actual person who has human emotions and needs and wants. And they’re human needs and wants that we can relate to: the desire to be accepted and loved; the plea for love and guidance.

ahs michael langdon

Feeling abandoned and unloved, it’s Michael that finally concludes that he’s a monster. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), in his brief attempt at stepping in as Michael’s father figure, acknowledges Michael’s strong desire to be good. He tries to nurture that light, and for a while it works. Until, of course, Michael is told by Tate (hello, super awkward family reunion) that he’s evil and monstrous, and soon he’s spiraling out of control, out of reach of that light. This results in him giving in to his impulses for violence and murder, lashing out because he’s hurt and angry with a power he doesn’t yet fully understand for all the wrong reasons.

Once everyone else abandons him—including his biological mother Vivien (Connie Britton), who tries to kill him—Michael is left with nothing but the darkness. He embraces it because there’s no one to tell him otherwise. Michael believes and accepts that he’s a monster because it became the mantra of everyone around him. Would he have been able to resist the evil in him if someone had kept vehemently steering him away from it? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know for sure. What’s fascinating is that Michael begins his arc with more heroic traits than villainous ones, even if he was born with that evil woven into his existence. And because of that, there’s always this lingering possibility that things could’ve turned out much different had he been loved and guided by someone who refused to give up on him.

After the Black Mass where Michael accepts that he’s Satan’s son (and…eats a heart), he’s then bounced around between people who use him and manipulate him for their own gain. The Satanists—save for Ms. Mead (Kathy Bates), who at least tries to offer a little normalcy and loves him like a son—see him as a symbol. While he continues to show some reluctance about his purpose, they keep forcing it on him with high expectations. And they all want something from him. Worse still, his impulse to overreact to situations with murder continues to go unchecked and is even encouraged.

ahs michael langdon

The warlocks take him in because of his power, making Michael a pawn in their petty war with the witches because they believe he’s the prophesized Alpha. Michael uses them to his advantage, too; he matures and gains confidence in himself and his powers, weaseling his way into their war so that he can topple both sides. At least he gets a fashionable new wardrobe out of the deal. Replete with sharp black suits and stylish capes, he spends a couple of episodes parading around like a dark Disney prince. The whole plan backfires, though. Ms. Mead ends up as one of the casualties, and once again, Michael is left broken and alone.

Cody Fern gave an interview to Out where he describes Michael’s emotional state the best: “Michael, this young boy who was cast from the kingdom of Heaven, who was cast out of the normal rigors of society, out of what people find acceptable, and then is used and abused and abandoned and broken, and what happens when you have no love in your life, where does that energy go?”

The back half of Apocalypse explores the ripple effect of that, with an added level of danger now that Michael has more power at his disposal. His anger and need for vengeance is stronger than Cordelia Goode’s attempt to offer him redemption. You consider for a moment that maybe…maybe, he might just take her hand, sitting there heartbroken and out of options. A part of you wants him to even though you know he doesn’t, because that’s not who he is in the future. He could’ve taken the offer, sure, but it’s asking a lot to make peace with the same people who killed his mother figure. Even though that punishment was entirely justified, from Michael’s perspective—as someone who clings desperately to people who show him basic human decency—that arrangement isn’t going to work.

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