“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” brought about the highly anticipated “Murder House” and “Coven” crossover, giving leading lady Sarah Paulson three roles to play: Billie Dean Howard (“Murder House”), Cordelia Foxx (“Coven”) and new character Wilhemina Venable. But Paulson also had a fourth role on the show: director. Having made her directorial debut with the sixth episode, “Return to Murder House,” the seven-time Emmy nominee and one-time winner could now add a directing nomination to her Emmy ledger.
In “Return to Murder House,” Madison (Emma Roberts) and Behold (Billy Porter) are sent to Murder House by Cordelia to dig deeper into Michael Langdon’s (Cody Fern) past. The episode unveils a horrifying truth about the future Supreme, features Michael transforming into the Antichrist, and gives some “Murder House” characters ultimate closure.
Weaving the season that put this show on the map into the current “Apocalypse” storyline is an immensely difficult task, but Paulson pulled it off seamlessly. Recreating the vibe of “Murder House” with certain camera angles and movements is praise-worthy as is, but Paulson’s character work is what truly shines in this episode. Bringing back characters unseen for nearly seven years comes with the responsibility of making viewers feel as if time passed for them, which Paulson achieves successfully.
Arguably the episode’s biggest highlight is the return of former series regular Jessica Lange, who left after the fourth season, and thus the return of her “Murder House” character Constance Langdon. Her iconic entrance, “I’m Constance Langdon and this is my f—ing house,” would not have been as satisfying as it was had it not been for Paulson’s effort to slowly build up to that scene.
But for the first time in franchise history, “Horror Story” is competing in as a drama instead of as a limited series this year due to “Apocalypse”‘s continuing arcs and returning characters. Still, Emmy voters may be impressed by Paulson’s volume of work, considering she also reprised her role of Billie Dean in this episode (she’s currently in 10th place in our Best Drama Actress odds). Other checks in the “pro” column: directors’ names are listed on the ballot, and Lange, a safe bet for a Best Drama Guest Actress nomination, will presumably submit this episode, giving it more visibility and buzz.
On top of that, with 89 nominations and 16 wins, “Horror Story” has a good track record at the Emmys. And even though it’s lost some ground, it’s still holding on and has yet to be shut out entirely. In fact, the show increased in nominations last year, from four for “Roanoke” (2017) to seven for “Cult” (2018), including acting bids for Paulson and Adina Porter. Of course, these were in the limited series categories, but the power of creator Ryan Murphy could keep the show afloat in its new category.
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