Back in 2013, American Horror Story: Coven gave viewers a sprawling supernatural matriarchy with its titular group of witches. There was the old guard — including the fashionable, commanding likes of Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) — and up-and-comers like Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), and, of course, newly-named Supreme Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson). While all of these women have different powers and personalities and levels of malevolence, they were all women. Men only appeared in Coven to serve (see: Kyle and Spalding), stay silent (remember those two weird guys who only appeared to march a badly behaved witch to the stake?), or die (Myrtle murdered the one man seen on the Witches’ Council).
Much of “Satan” takes place in three-years-ago flashback, and the bulk of those flashbacks are centered around the Hawthorne School, an underground academy dedicated to training warlock boys in the magical arts. The pre-apocalypse Hawthorne just so happens to be the location of what will one day be Outpost 3. The school is presided over by a coterie of older warlocks, played by BD Wong and Ryan Murphy Universe players Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Porter, and Jon Jon Briones.
These warlocks are bitter.
As we come to find out through the Hawthorne School’s leadership, men are “second class citizens” in the magical realm. While Miss Robichaux’s Academy, the homebase for the Coven coven, is all light, love, and rose petals, the men of Hawthorne have been driven into the actual dirt and the darkness. It’s widely expected warlocks can never be as magically successful or powerful as their women counterparts. And, witches have no problem reminding warlocks of such assumptions. As Supreme Cordelia tells the Hawthorne men when they claim Michael Langdon’s (Cody Fern) powers rival hers, “Men are simply not equal when it comes to magical ability. Testosterone is a known inhibitor — it impedes access to the ethereal realm.”
Or, as Myrtle dismissively adds, “There will never be a male Supreme. It will simply never happen.”
While in the real world women face sexist hurdles in every corner of their lives, it’s the complete opposite in the American Horror Story universe. Here, women rule with an iron fist and refuse to let go of that power. This is a subversive world where men fight to simply get a seat at the table.
The desperation of the Hawthorne warlocks dovetails with one of AHS: Cult’s biggest themes last year: what exactly occurs when men believe they’ve lost their grip on power? In Cult, that fear was imagined and exploited by Kai Anderson (Evan Peters, handing in some of his best work). In Coven, that anxiety is understandable. In season 8, the warlocks genuinely feel ignored and disrespected after centuries of being ignored and disrespected. That is why the group even puts their faith in Michael Langdon, who they believe has powers that rival that of a Supreme, in the first place.
The Hawthorne group is so hungry for the newly-mentioned Alpha prophecy — which foretells of a warlock who will supplant the Supreme and put Warlocks at the top of the witchy food chain — to come true, they ignore the signs that Langdon’s power is dangerously dark. After all, Langdon is only brought to their attention because he murdered a man and nearly killed the genuinely very abusive detective questioning him. Langdon’s darkness only becomes more pronounced as the Hawthorne warlocks assess his powers; he nearly kills them during a test of his ability to control the weather. Even when John Henry Moore (Cheyenne Jackson) points out how volatile Langdon’s power obviously is, everyone ignores him. The promise of the Alpha prophecy is simply too strong to ignore for these magical men.
Unfortunately, the Hawthorne faction's thirst for power may be precisely what leads the world towards season 8’s titular apocalypse. Now that the men have made Michael aware of his boundless powers, therefore allowing the young man to commune with the satanic depths hiding inside of him, he is poised to become the antichrist figure viewers have met in the present day timeline. You know, the guy who, it’s heavily hinted, caused the very apocalypse our characters are now trudging through.
So, warlocks were powerless in the witch world, until it came time to end it.
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