When American Horror Story: Apocalypse began, it was a self-contained story about a group of survivors waiting out the end of the world in an underground bunker. The arrival of stylish Antichrist Michael Langdon changed everything, setting off an avalanche of flashbacks that reintroduced the witches of Coven and revealed that they were the only ones standing in Michael's way. This AHS: Apocalypse theory explains how Cordelia could defeat Michael, but also figures out how the first three episodes connect to the rest of the season.
It's not unusual for a season of American Horror Story to switch gears in the middle and focus on something entirely new, but it does seem a little odd that Apocalypse introduced so many survivors only to kill off half of them. But perhaps they're not as divorced from the rest of the season as they may seem; in fact, those first three episodes could be integral in how Season 8 resolves if Reddit user Kookie_Kay's theory is to be believed.
"I kept wondering why Michael would go to Outpost 3, why not send a lackey to investigate?" the Redditor wrote. "Or just have Ms. Mead [Michael's robotic accomplice] report back. Thus, it came to me — Outpost 3 is a trap for Michael."
Though Outpost 3 may have sentimental value for Michael because he lived there before the apocalypse when it was a warlock academy, that might not be enough of a reason for him to trek back there after the Earth was decimated by bombs. As a leading figure in the Cooperative, he had several other outposts to look after; he couldn't possibly have personally checked in on all of them when he also has Satanic business to attend to.
Redditor Kookie_Kay believed that Michael went back to Outpost 3 because he was unhappy with how Ms. Venable was running it. She was preventing it from descending into anarchy, when that was Michael's very goal. He wanted the outposts to fall apart and give in to sin, but Venable was keeping everyone on too straight and narrow a path.
My theory is [Venable] did receive instructions, unknowingly... from the Coven. They specifically placed witches in the outpost that Michael had never met and a voodoo witch [Dinah Stevens] who could be pressured into siding with them. They knew Venable would rule with an iron fist, which would attract the attention of Michael — because why were things going so well for Outpost 3?? Obviously, something was happening. Something that would require him to go personally to investigate, because it was too good to be true.
Once Michael was there, it would leave him "outnumbered in an outpost with a bunch of witches, and the Supreme" herself. When the show returns to the present day, it will be Michael and Meade versus Cordelia, Madison, Myrtle, Dinah, Mallory, and Coco — a fight in which the women have a clear numbers advantage. Perhaps the witches set up the entire outpost to entrap Michael so that they could defeat him once and for all.
It would certainly be a twist for the witches to be behind everything, and it would tie into Cordelia's habit of tricking Michael; she lulled him into a false sense of security once before by allowing him to pass the test of the Seven Wonders even though she had no intention of letting him become the Supreme. Perhaps this entire season has been going according to Cordelia's plan from the beginning.