Cody Fern’s character Michael Langdon has emerged as the main driving force on American Horror Story Apocalypse, which is pretty dang impressive, considering just how many talented actors and rich characters there are on this show. But it’s not surprising when you consider the character’s backstory–as an unholy spawn destined to be the Antichrist, Langdon has naturally taken center stage on American Horror Story. He’s even been anointed as TV’s sexiest Antichrist–even if he did (maybe, possibly) bring about the end of the world. But is Michael Langdon really the Antichrist? Is he really the show’s villain? Is he even evil to begin with? Fern has some surprising things to say about that.
Fern’s answer was definitive when we asked whether Langdon is a villain: “No! God, no,” although he understands why people see his character as villainous.
“I find that really interesting, because everybody talks about, you know, ‘Michael Langdon, the son of Satan, so evil, etc.’ and I would challenge people to look closer and ask themselves, ‘When have you seen Michael Langdon be villainous?'” He continued. “Like what has he actually done? Because in episodes 1, 2, and 3, obviously he’s done some horrible things, but by Langdon’s standards, he’s a catalyst. He doesn’t get his hands dirty–he tempts men and women to dirty deeds, and he brings out the darkest, most frightening, hidden desires in a human being.”
Unsurprisingly for a story about the Antichrist and the apocalypse, AHS Season 8 has been overtly Biblical so far. Fern sees Langdon as “the serpent in the garden,” alluding to the Old Testament story traditionally interpreted as Satan posing as a snake in the Garden of Eden and tempting Adam and Eve to betray God. Fern doesn’t see it that way, though.
“Before Christianity claimed the snake as this evil symbol, the snake has always been an image of regeneration and life,” he said. “The snake is the snake of infinity, it sheds its skin and becomes anew. And the snake in the Garden of Eden didn’t do anything wrong. It provided truth to Eve so that she could make a choice about what she wanted to do.”
Now that we’re talking about good and evil on a Biblical scale, we figured we might as well ask: Is Langdon evil at all?
“I don’t think that Langdon is evil. I think that Langdon is righteous,” Fern said. “He understands that people are lying about who they are, and that everybody is keeping up this facade of being good and wholesome, but deep down, they want to do dark things. And he just brings that out in them. So he’s the light that illuminates the dark. That’s how I see Langdon…He doesn’t see that he’s destroying the world. He sees his role as one of creation–of creating a new world.”
That’s all well and good, but from a practical standpoint, Michael Langdon hasn’t created much yet this season. In the “present,” he spent a few episodes toying with all the characters on the show before coercing Venable (Sarah Paulson) into murdering them all, and in the past couple of episodes’ flashbacks, he seems well on his way to destroying both the warlocks and most of the witches. And it’s unclear still whether most of what happened in the first few episodes–all the characters who are now dead, the strange little mysteries and teases and hints that now seem abandoned–will wind up important in the end, or if they were just one big misdirect to get us to Langdon’s story. Will any of it matter?
“I think what’s really important to note–this is a teaser, and something that I would encourage people to investigate–is, what makes a prophecy come to fruition?” Fern teased. “If the prophecy is that Michael will bring about the end times, and somebody goes about trying to stop that from happening, what they do may very well be the event that causes a chain reaction that actually leads to the thing that they were trying to stop. So is it his destiny to achieve what he’s achieving, and who along the way is shaping that destiny by trying to shape it in a different direction?
“And you’ll remember at the end of Episode 3, where he’s cutting himself and he’s asking Satan for answers, and he says, ‘I’ve found one witch–one survives. Help me, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.’ That’s a big clue.”
We had one final question for Fern: Was the Sanctuary one big lie? Was he simply messing with all the characters he “interviewed” and “tested” for salvation?
“I’ll tell you that the answer is no,” Fern admitted. “I think what’s really important is that Langdon can be deceitful in terms of how he goes about presenting information, but he doesn’t lie….When Venable comes into his room and says, you know, ‘We’re making the decisions now, Mr. Langdon, and you didn’t make the cut,’ and he says to her, ‘I didn’t think you had it in you, but I’m impressed, Miss Venable, you passed the test, you’re perfect for the sanctuary,’ he’s not lying. Venable has passed ‘the test.’ That’s a huge hint.”
But Venable screws it up again when she goes too far by trying to have Ms. Meade (Kathy Bates) kill him.
“He says, ‘I wouldn’t do that.’ You know? He’s giving her the opportunity to come to the sanctuary, and she fails,” Fern said. “So she’s passed the test, because she comes into Langdon’s room, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there, and he’s like, ‘You’re perfect for it. You are perfect for the Sanctuary.’ And then she f***s it up.”
Just how much did that mistake cost her? The only way we’re going to find out is by checking out American Horror Story Apocalypse when it airs Wednesdays on FX. If you want more from Cody Fern, check out how the actor feels about being anointed as a sex symbol.