AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Recap – “The Axeman Cometh”

     November 13, 2013


While a strength of American Horror Story: Coven is its use of supernatural elements that allow characters to die and be resurrected at will, sometimes that mechanism can also act as a crutch.  Tonight’s episode, “The Axeman Cometh”, not only introduced a new character to the at-times-unwieldy cast, but brought two (okay, one and a half) back.  When an hour-long drama can’t even give ample screen time to members of the principal cast, then the story has already become too bloated without compounding matters by introducing more sub-plots half-way through the season.  Unfortunately, that’s what we got tonight.  Hit the jump for my recap and review, and for why jazz may be making a comeback.

american-horror-story-coven-the-axeman-cometh-gabourey-sidibeCoven is off to a more restrained start than Asylum was, as far as plotting and supernatural inclusions are concerned.  Last season featured Nazis, demons, serial killers, and aliens to name a few; so far this year we’ve left the Nazis and the aliens out of the picture, but have included zombies, witches and voodoo priestesses.  With “The Axeman Cometh”, we now have an unnecessary serial killer added to the mix.  I’ve got nothing against Danny Huston, who plays the title killer, but at this stage of the game the show has enough going on without muddying the waters. Perhaps he served as some sort of catalyzing character to get Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) working together, but the mystery surrounding the death of Madison (Emma Roberts) should have been more than enough for that.

Ah, Madison; Spalding’s favorite plaything.  (How creepy was Denis O’Hare in this one?)  The game of “Ten Little Indians” between the young witches and Fiona (Jessica Lange) was gaining tension after the deaths of Madison and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) at the hands of the Supreme, but now that they’re both back, most of that conflict has fizzled out.  Then there’s Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) another resurrection-without-a-reason and a major player who wasn’t even seen on screen this week.  The season started off with Fiona – now undergoing chemo treatment in earnest – reviving LaLaurie in order to suss out her secret of eternal youth.  Now that word is out that Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) was behind LaLaurie’s longevity, the latter has been reduced to little more than an ambling maidservant.

There were a couple of steps forward in the plot this week, however, most notably concerning Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) being in league with Laveau as a hired hit-man of witches.  That explains his seemingly unnecessary murder of Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge) who briefly appears this week in a flashback.  Hank’s got his hands full if he thinks he can bring Laveau the remaining witches’ heads, however.  Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is on to his tricks thanks to her new powers; sadly, Cordelia went from showing some new-found strength as a character to cowering before the ghost of the Axeman, offering up another reason why his sub-plot did more harm than good.

american-horror-story-coven-the-axeman-cometh-lily-rabeAs for Misty Day (Lily Rabe), I’m not entirely sure where her story is going to go from here, since she’s mostly been a panacea for anything that confounds the protagonists to this point.  What are her plans for Myrtle once she’s nursed back to health?  Now that she’s done with FrankenKyle (Evan Peters), what’s to be done with him and his naked post-bath rages?  Will we see her cross paths against Goode in the future, or will the witches form an alliance against the voodoo priestess Laveau?  No idea, and if we get many more episodes like “The Axeman Cometh”, we’ll be left with more questions than answers for a long time.

Rating: C-

Quotes & Miscellanea:

The Axeman: “I am not a human being, but a spirit. A foul demon from hottest Hell.”

The serial killer promising not to kill anyone who had a jazz band playing in their homes was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen on TV ever (and I say that as a fan of jazz).

Cordelia: “I had to go blind to see things about you I couldn’t see before.”

Fiona: “I’d get out while you still can, Jughead.”

For an academy, there sure isn’t a lot of instruction going on.

Zoe: “Alright you twisted, tea-serving necrophiliac, what’d you do to Madison?”

Spalding: “I’m a man of uniquely developed appetites.”

Misty to Kyle: “Where you been? You look like you been rode hard and put up wet. My dad used to say that.”

american-horror-story-coven-denis-ohareMisty: “Get him outta here! He broke Stevie.”

Madison, just revived and had the “death pushed out of her”: “I need a cigarette.”

Laveau: “I look like the Taliban to you?”

Kaylee: “I just want to find a good husband and have three kids. I think I have a good shot. I work out and play fantasy football.”

Laveau: “When I plant a fat-ass cracker bitch, I expect her to stay planted, not spring up like that damn ragweed.”

Madison: “I’m Madison Montgomery. I make $7 million a picture. I have two Teen Choice awards.”

Axeman: “Well hello, pretty lady. Whatcha drinking?”

  • scheebles

    Don’t mean to call you out Dave, but the Axeman of New Orleans was a real person. And “the dumbest thing you’ve seen on TV ever”? That really happened. The Axeman wrote a paper and made that promise. That night the whole of New Orleans turned into a massive jazz party and nobody was killed. Again, not calling you out, just a little research to be done before blasting the writers.

    • joy

      It’s Historical Fiction, that’;s the fun in it.

      • scheebles

        I wasn’t commenting on the nature of the show. I know it’s historical fiction, and yes, I find it fun. But I was saying that the thing he found stupid really happened.

    • Dave Trumbore

      I knew I should have dug into this one a little deeper. The writers usually do a good job of weaving historical fact into their fiction. However, just because something happened doesn’t mean it necessarily adds to the show (or, as in this case, isn’t still dumb). If I “blasted” them on anything, it’s for trying to cram too much in at the sake of the story. Thanks for the info drop though!

  • Pingback: American Horror Story: Coven’s Shocking Return, An Affair to Remember on … – E! Online()

  • joy

    Wow! Great episode..but how come Madison doesn’t get a day-spa at the Stevie Nicks camp? lol

    • joy

      FX; Please post full episodes of this season on your site. Thnx! :-)

  • ItsnothorrorOrGlee

    I’m sorry but I think you choose your favorite characters and then lament when they dont appear every episode rather than buying into the season for what it is: a social commentary on feminism and racism. You didn’t get it this time and that’s fine but maybe you should stop picking your favorite story arcs and see how each story arc builds the story. just a suggestion,

    • Dave Trumbore

      If an arc doesn’t advance the story than it’s not a worthwhile addition; it has nothing to do with favorites. An arc can be added for fun, but still be progressive. The social commentaries of AHS aren’t exactly subtle, so don’t worry, I haven’t missed them. The overall effectiveness of each storyline can only be judged when it’s all said and done, but that’s not possible in an episode review, is it? And it’s less about favorite characters than it is about not adding new characters when there’s not enough time to advance ones who’ve already been introduced. Thanks for your two cents though!

  • 80sRobot

    This is my favorite season so far. Because its overall premise is so cool and fun that I don’t want it to end in one season — unlike the first two season premises, Coven could stand on its own as a series that runs for 5 seasons. I’m going to miss it. This is probably why the CW is considering bringing back Charmed as a reboot — I bet it will be similar to AHS: Coven but not anywhere near as good and risque.

  • 80sRobot

    I hope the early word/industry rumors turn out to be true for next season: They are considering a premise centered on Lovecraftian horror, and not only that, they are looking to bring back Zach Quinto to lead Season 4 — playing HP Lovecraft himself! So keep an eye out for Episode 10 this season, when they will hint at what Season 4 will be about.

    • Faptain America

      I would love nothing more than Cthulhu itself to appear and swallow the entire cast whole.

      • Dave Trumbore

        Sign me up for all of the above.

    • AHS obsessed

      Actually, the clues are everywhere in the show, down to the slightest throw-away sentence. Like Constance asking Miora “why is it always the old whore who becomes the moralistic prude?” … which is precisely what Jude’s character was in S02. and thats just one of a couple dozen that were sprinkled throughout that season. Same with Asylum, though Ive not done enough episode recitation with that one as the first. Based on what Ive seen so far, Im seeing addiction, so maybe a twisted junkie tale with who knows what else. Its too early to tell. But madness was the recurring theme in season one and the next season was in a bug house.

  • 80sRobot

    Dave: Misty may have been hired by Myrtle to revive her should she had been burned at the stake. It would explain why Myrtle appeared to go fearlessly to her death. We know that Myrtle has been in New Orleans for weeks on her own, stalking/spying on Fiona. It stands to reason Myrtle may have investigated Misty’s situation and sought her out, and helped Misty to recover from her own burning when she was lynched.

    • Dave Trumbore

      I like the theory, and the writers have done a good job of using flashbacks to tie ever-twistier plot strings, so it’s certainly possible. Didn’t Misty say that Zoe more or less conjured her back into existence though? Is this a red herring?

  • katja

    The jazz music promise is an actual part of history–read up before you post such ignorance.

    • Dave Trumbore

      As I posted above, just because something actually happened doesn’t mean it wasn’t pretty dumb, especially when it doesn’t add to the story. Could I have done a bit more research? Absolutely. Could you be a little less pretentious? There’s always hope!

  • Tenisha Mills

    such an excellent show i love how they mix history in with the story la vue was a real figure la lurie was a real person and the axeman was a real story for new orleans they used these people because no one knows what happened in the disappearance of these people however angela basset kills her great acting all around

  • scheebles


  • scheebles