American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9 Review: Fire and Reign

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Don't ask for answers unless you are truly ready for them.

Then again, when is anyone ready for the answer to be The Illuminati? Suddenly conspiracy theories are being pulled up by everyone again, looking for signs of how TV is actually mimicking reality. 

During American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9, Michael gets the guidance he needs to figure out what his purpose is now as the Anti Christ. This help comes from an unconventional place, leaving us to wonder if Michael is really that gullible or if he is playing the long game.

Meanwhile, Cordelia and the others attempt one last ditch effort to stop Michael. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, but they almost die trying to go back in time. Now they are stuck knowing the end is near, without any real options to stop it and at a loss of many of their witches. 

The Death of a Supreme? - American Horror Story

"Fire and Reign," was written by Asha Michelle Wilson and it finally gave us the answers we were looking for in the most absurd of ways. It proved the point that sometimes there is no intricate explanation. Sometimes white guys just truly ruin everything all by themselves. 

Michael allows himself to be manipulated, which is an entertaining take on the lead up to the end of the world. It feels fitting to have something so serious coming from the mind of a guy who just didn't like his coffee one morning.

Specifically, though, this episode got the season as a whole back on track almost seamlessly. Nothing felt out of place, with the plot flowing simply into the final chapter of this story. 

Related: American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 8 Review

It All Leads Back To The Illuminati

The Cooperative being The Illuminati is so ridiculous that it actually works really well for a reveal. 

After this entire season built up these questions in our minds, probably nothing could have lived up to the theories we had ourselves.

Bringing in something so absurd makes the apocalypse itself ring truer because of course, it would be something created by real idiots that have no idea what they set into motion.

Why would the world's wealthiest 0.1 percent wear so much flannel and Patagonia?


But also, it makes it almost more fascinating to see how the show tackles this topic when the conspiracy theories around it have mostly died down by now.

By playing into these scenarios where the most powerful people in the world are all part of some secret organization that controls just about everything in the world, it adds a more realistic view of what would bring about our downfall.

Michael was also given room to grow, or not grow when the end was nearing. 

During this whole journey to get here, he never once truly knew what he was meant to do. He allowed himself to be pushed around and influenced by those around him.

It begs the question whether there was ever a plan. Satan doesn't seem to be recruiting his son for anything, so why was there a plan to find in the first place?

Mead Talks Michael Down - American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9

Maybe Michael just needed to hang out until there was a burning need for him to get involved in something. Instead, he let humans from every side convince him that he needed to cause something, they were all waiting for it, and he had to deliver.

Which leads to the moment where he should have seen that those two guys were playing him through Mead. It felt like he recognized it, and yet he went along with their plan anyway.

He could be playing them, and yet the more accurate answer seems to be that he either didn't pick up on it or didn't care.

Sooner or later Michael will have to start making actual decisions for himself because he comes off as a boy just looking for direction. The first people that find him are the ones who then get to control him, which is extremely odd for a strong being like the Anti Christ, right?

Related: American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 1 Review

One Last Ditch Effort

The witches trying to find a way to destroy Michael was definitely the weaker arc of the episode. It came off as a useless attempt to try to mess with the inevitable, and the stakes didn't feel heavy when time travel was involved.

It makes sense for Cordelia to not want to give up, so giving her something to do is the next logical step. But by getting them all involved in something they claim from the beginning probably won't work, that just rings false.

It comes off as if there wasn't much for them to do before the inevitable memory spell that they are going to cast over everyone in the finale when they finally come to terms with the apocalypse. 

Satan just greenlit your talk show for 13 episodes.


So they had the witches distracted, with the deaths of their own serving as the last push they needed to try to destroy pure evil.

And somehow, the witches couldn't figure anything out but Jeff and Mutt could?

It is painfully funny commentary with the way that the women are trying their hardest to prevent utter chaos, and those two drugged up guys only have to bring up the end of the world once to set those plans in motion. 

This distraction also didn't explain if Cordelia is losing her powers or if Mallory isn't as special as she was spelled out to be.

Dinah Stevens - American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9

There is no realistic way that the finale will cover both the lead up to the end of the world and order being restored, so this attempt at time travel could have worked as confirmation that Mallory is starting to struggle under the weight of expectation.

American Horror Story Season 8 kept the focus on the past as if misleading us. For a while, it felt like there might have been a way out when there clearly couldn't have been since the beginning of the season was all about the aftermath.

Math is way more powerful than magic.


So once again, the question of why this much time was dedicated to exploring the multiple attempts to stop Michael when each time the audience already knew how it would all end.

The only reasonable explanation would have to be the witches themselves. American Horror Story Season 3 was an iconic season, so it is easy to buy that this season wanted to spend an unusual amount of time with them for that nostalgic feature.

The only issue is that when we inevitably return to the present day, how much of it will we even remember anymore? What will push us to be invested when we are aware that we don't have much time or that many options as observed by the season itself?

Related: American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 6 Review

Now What? 

The theory that has circulated around the internet about how American Horror Story Season 8 is the first part that then introduces American Horror Story Season 9 is beginning to sound more and more realistic. 

Based on the preview for the finale, the episode will focus on how Cordelia and Michael each get ready for the end of the world. 

Cordelia will obviously have to come to terms with the fact that to make everything better, she first has to let it all burn. This will push her to wipe everyone's memory, allowing them to think that they are different people to actually give them a shot at surviving. 

Mead: Michael, this sounds like the plot of Omen 3. Is this where you're getting your ideas?
Michael: Well I don't know where else to look.

Michael doesn't know Mallory or Coco, so having them in that Outpost, in the beginning, didn't set off any alarms. It also lets Mallory still have that option to end Michael, which is what he seemed to fear himself.

If this topic continues into the second season, then this was all the prologue on the way to the actual story about what happens once the apocalypse hits.

It is a big idea, way larger than anything this show has tackled before. 

Michael Kills The Witches - American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9

But if that is what happens, should it have been disclosed sooner? 

It would allow for the story to actually be explored without a rush, and yet us not knowing that this would happen made the present season more confusing and tiresome. 

Looking forward, there is plenty of stories still left to tell, but will it be intriguing enough to have the viewers tune in for the second time? Is the element surprise working well for the show this time around or did it work against the narrative?

Related: Enjoy UNLIMITED access to thousands of Movies and TV shows with Prime Video. WATCH ANYWHERE. CANCEL

 What did you think of the episode? Are the answers finally catching up with all of our questions? Is there finally a conclusion being set up just in time for the finale?

Did you think the pacing of this episode was a good idea or a bad idea? Are things finally starting to make sense or are you still curious? 

Was it a waste of time for Cordelia and all the witches to try to stop Michael? Was too much screen time devoted to that or just enough?

Did you like the plot twist that came with The Cooperative? Where do you see the story headed now?

Where do you see the story headed now? What are some theories of yours that you are hoping will get played out during the finale?

Let us know what you think below!

Don't forget that you can watch American Horror Story online, right here on TV Fanatic!

Fire and Reign Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
  • 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (17 Votes)

Yana Grebenyuk is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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American Horror Story Season 8 Episode 9 Quotes

Math is way more powerful than magic.


Mead: Michael, this sounds like the plot of Omen 3. Is this where you're getting your ideas?
Michael: Well I don't know where else to look.