The American Horror Story anthology is known to almost everybody, and with its newest season titled AHS: 1984 set to come out later this year, it’s still going strong. What most people don’t know is that the latest season to air, Apocalypse, had 60% of its episodes directed by women. Amongst them, Sarah Paulson, one of the show’s main stars.
In my opinion, “Return to Murder House” is the most important episode in Apocalypse. Written by Crystal Liu and directed by Sarah Paulson, who also plays Billie Dean Howard in it, it shows how talented the AHS actress is as a director. She had never directed before and had only one week to prepare, but the series creator Ryan Murphy clearly had every confidence in her.
In this episode, Madison (Emma Roberts) and Behold (Billy Porter) travel back to the legendary Murder House to find out more about the mysterious Michael Langdon (Cody Fern). The viewers find out about Langdon’s past and his strong connection to the house and its inhabitants. A scene with him as a little boy in pajamas wasn’t scripted, but Paulson approached her episode wanting to give us the opportunity to look at the characters in new ways.
There’s a juxtaposition between what viewers already know of Michael Langdon and how he is depicted here, adding a startling complexity to the viewing experience. Paulson uses a lot of close-ups to emphasize true emotions on the characters’ faces as well and Dutch angles that draw us into their emotional states, making the watching experience an exhilarating ride. This is best shown when Moira (Frances Conroy), reunites with her mother after being stuck for many years in Murder House.
Paulson had a very difficult task as a first-time director, but didn’t disappoint. She perfectly distinguishes the atmosphere of the series but at the same time, doesn’t deny herself her own style. As I mentioned, “Return to Murder House” is one of the most important episodes of the whole season and Paulson certainly used all her know-how to make it a stand-out episode of the series.
Sarah Paulson admitted that it was a hard work, but she would do it again. Oh, please do!
Zofia Wijaszka is a pop culture writer that centers her work mostly on women in film and television. She graduated University of Wroclaw, Poland with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Social Communication. She’s a fan of Big Little Lies, American Horror Story and everything with strong female characters.