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The Strongest Paranormal Entity In American Horror Story According To Fans

In the decade since the premiere of its inaugural season, "American Horror Story" has ushered in a new approach to cable TV and given fans a seemingly incalculable inventory of powerful characters. While some are powerful in the literal sense of having supernatural powers (Fiona Goode or Marie Laveau in "Coven"), others are considered powerful for their perseverance (Lana Winters in "Asylum"), while still others are powerful for absolutely owning the moral gray area. But in addition to the various witches, ghosts, demons, spirits, and vampires that are capable of tapping into more than mere mortal muscle, a few seasons have treated fans to a whole new echelon of entity — one dripping with agency, invincibility, and eternal power. 

These "paranormal" entities, as a recent Reddit poll categorized them, first materialized in Season 2, "AHS: Asylum," and Season 4, "AHS: Freak Show." The former, Shachath (Frances Conroy), also goes by the delicious title of "Angel of Death," while the latter, Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) is based on a 19th-century urban legend

Both beings have extensive experience "assisting" souls in their passage to the other side. But while Mordrake and his posse of lost souls show up just once a year, on Halloween, to find a new "freak" to join them in hell, Shachath simply comes whenever she is summoned by a soul crying out for death. "I come when I'm called..." she says to Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), who's just been contemplating suicide: "It's what I do. I don't judge. I never judge." 

Conversely, it is Mordrake's job to judge the darkness in the various souls he meets, all in an effort to find "the one" desperate, hopeless, and vile enough to join him and his followers. These distinctions are important and likely played a role in how fans answered u/MustacheBoi444's question on the AHS subreddit. The poll, which asked fans to vote on "Which paranormal entity in AHS is stronger Shachath or Edward Mordrake?" garnered 452 votes, the overwhelming majority of which were in favor of Conroy's haute couture harbinger of death. 

What makes Shachath so strong?

In a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ryan Murphy spoke at length about Shachath's debut in Season 2, Episode 7, "Dark Cousin." "We took sort of like 1940s, hard-boiled noir women," he said of the inspiration for Conroy's look, "and mixed it with a sort of Comme des Garçons meets Japanese thing. I was very proud of that look and I thought Franny was very yummy. You could see why people would want her to kiss them." 

It's safe to say at least a portion of the Angel of Death's power over viewers comes from her signature black satin, red-lipped, '40s-does-The-Raven aesthetic. But when it comes to "supernatural entities" and strength, Shachath has something else going for her that Mordrake doesn't: She was never, at any point, human. Strictly speaking, she's a servant of death, and one who recognizes the devil (in Lily Rabe's possessed Sister Mary Eunice) as her "cousin." "One like me," she says, referring to Satan, "but fallen." It's hard to compete with an entity that's on the same level as the devil himself.

What's more, Conroy's grim reaper is a benevolent force. Although she comes when she's "called" (by mortals close to or seeking death), she doesn't ultimately decide their fate. For instance, although Lana summons her, as soon as the tortured reporter changes her mind, Shachath says, "Not yet," and leaves. There's a kind of strength in not feeling the need to force one's will on someone else. Unlike Mordrake, the Angel of Death has no agenda of her own. She comes for all souls, be they good, evil, or a mixture of both. 

That said, there could be one more reason almost 73% of voters saw the Angel of Death as the supreme supernatural entity — and it has more to do with mistaken identity than her role in the AHS universe.  

What's in a name?

"I thought you meant Scáthach, the first supreme," said u/LuckyClover3: "That's why I voted for her." It's understandable— the two names (Shachath and Scáthach) are nearly identical visually, and the latter almost reads like it could be a reference to the former. In fact, fans have speculated on the similarity in the past, wondering if there's some meaning behind the confusing resemblance. 

Scáthach (Lady Gaga) initially shows up in Season 6, "AHS: Roanoke," and is ultimately revealed to be the first supreme (contrary to what we learn of the origin of the witches' powers in Season 3, "AHS: Coven"). That would put her in the running for one of the strongest supernatural entities in the series, but it's worth remembering that Scáthach, unlike Shachath, was originally a mortal being. But if the two don't have any hidden connection, why would Ryan Murphy give them such confusingly similar names?  

Is there a connection between the original supreme and the Angel of Death?

As it turns out, he didn't have a choice: Neither Scáthach nor Shachath are Murphy's creations. The former (a Gaelic name, meaning "The Shadowy One") has her roots deeply imbedded in Celtic mythology and lore, while the latter first crops up in ancient Aramaic texts and the Old Testament as a word that means (among other things) "to be marred, be spoiled, be corrupted ... be ruined, be rotted." While both characters possess quite a bit of strength, one wonders if the poll might have come out differently were it not for the confusion over the characters' names. While Mordrake pulled in 86 votes (and 39 voters saw Mordrake and Shachath as equally powerful), more than a few users were confused by who, exactly, "Shachath" was.

It's even possible Mordrake reeled in more than his fair share of votes as a result: "Shachath just seems to spend her time wandering around in the woods, looking like she needs to go take a bath and brush her hair," wrote u/ClockworkDreamz — "I mean, she might be powerful, but, girl's ambitions are pretty low." Clearly, this voter was referring to Scáthach, not Shachath — whose hair is perfectly coiffed for all eternity.