Even though FX has ordered a fourth season of American Horror Story, we still have quite a few episodes left to enjoy in this iteration, American Horror Story: Coven. Tonight’s episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!” felt more like the second half of last week’s episode (the two probably should have been a Halloween special), but that’s not to say that we didn’t get a lot of story progression along the way. This hour played heavily on the gore effects, which is to be expected when a horde of zombies descends on a witch coven’s manor home. We also learned that the voodoo practitioners might not be the most dangerous threat to the coven, but rather someone from within their own ranks. Hit the jump for my recap and review, plus reasons never to name your daughter “Borquita”.
Tonight’s episode started off with a flashback to All Hallows’ Eve in New Orleans 1833, during which Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) was seen hosting a party and showing off her daughters. Last week, I griped that Bates wasn’t being used to her full potential, but the cold open showed her reveling in the extraction of eyeballs and evisceration of slaves, so that’s a step in the right direction. We also found that whatever sympathy we had for LaLaurie at the loss of her daughters – currently reanimated by Laveau to attack the witches’ manor – went right out the window due to her cruel treatment of them in life. Unfortunately, contemporary LaLaurie lacks the joie de vivre of her 19th century counterpart, and is therefore resigned to putter about the manor.
Speaking of the manor, most of tonight’s episode focused on the attack by a relatively small horde of zombies (compared to The Walking Dead, at least). The writers had some fun with zombie movie tropes here, as Good-Hearted Neighbor Guy Luke (Alexander Dreymon) had to be rescued by Nan (Jamie Brewer) and the two took shelter in a nearby car. LaLaurie somehow managed to escape the clutches of her daughter Borquita, and was able to subdue the reanimated corpse before it could kill Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), whose voodoo doll powers were quite useless against the undead. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) had the most fun tonight as she not only channeled Army of Darkness’ Ash (Bruce Campbell) with her chainsaw dismemberment of the zombies, but revealed an impressive amount of witchy power by knocking Laveau (Angela Bassett) out of her trance.
Meanwhile, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is recovering from her run-in with a stranger who threw sulfuric acid in her face, blinding her. Fiona (Jessica Lange) is obviously distraught, no more so than when Cordelia’s cheating husband, Hank (Josh Hamilton) shows up to pick a fight. (Then Cordelia showed off a new power of her own. I’m sure those visions won’t come back to haunt Hank…) Fiona, ever the wise witch, used this incident to expose Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) as the obsessive and maniacal culprit behind it all. Once the Council turned on Myrtle, we got the witch burning we were promised in an earlier episode (and in this episode’s title). Of course, Fiona set the whole thing up herself, using Queenie to help frame Myrtle. (Watch out, Queenie. You’re next!) But Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is playing the wildcard, bringing a charred and slightly eaten Myrtle back to life for who knows what ends.
Lange really shines in the role of Fiona as she’s able to show ferocity as the powerful Supreme when its called for, tenderness in the case of bringing Queenie or the stillborn baby back to life, or deviousness when dealing with Myrtle or the previous Supreme. The jury is still out on who the new Supreme will be, though the obvious choice is Zoe. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nan came through as a dark horse Supreme candidate at the end of the day, however. We have a lot more to play out between the witches and the voodoo priestess, so Fiona better slow down the elimination of her entire coven or there won’t be anyone left!
Quotes & Miscellanea:
LaLaurie: “It’s too late to light the bonfires of protection. All Hell has opened up on our doorstep.”
Nan: “You shouldn’t be out of bed.” Queenie: “Tell it to the army of darkness.”
I loved Spalding’s (Denis O’Hare) reaction to Zoe’s suggestion that they hide in his room.
Interesting parallel between the flickering flames and lengthy shadows of LaLaurie’s 1833 sequence and the flickering lights and deep shadows of Fiona’s hospital wanderings.
Creepy hospital patient: “You didn’t throw that acid but you might as well have.” – Do we know who really threw it? Are we sure it wasn’t actually Fiona?
Fiona: “Hold her, she’s your daughter. You have to keep them close so they feel safe.”
Zoe banging pots and pans together to distract the zombies was this episode’s facepalm moment, second only to LaLaurie letting her daughter’s corpse stumble into the house.
LaLaurie: “Come back to me, child. I would make amends.”
LaLaurie: “She had a monster for a mother. This last act was the only kindness I ever did for her.”
Laveau: “I don’t know what that was, but they got some real power in that witch house now.”
Fiona to Hank: “You’re one step up from the men who stand in front of Home Depot.”
Fiona: “I like a witch who knows how to fight. You’ve done this coven a great service, Zoe. I won’t forget it.”
LaLaurie: “Perhaps our shared tragedy will bring us closer together.” Fiona: “I doubt it. After all, you are the maid.”
Council: “Burn the witch.” “Seconded.”
Myrtle’s conspiracy was both introduced and wrapped up a little too neatly and too quickly; it could have been played out a little longer. It was fun to watch Fiona manipulate Queenie into helping her, however.
Fiona: “Any last words?” Myrtle: “You’re all a bunch of little toads in a pot that Fiona is bringing to a boil. You won’t even know it until it’s too late. I’d rather burn than boil.”
Queenie: “I thought we were gonna oust her, not roast her.”
Meanwhile, back in Spalding’s dollhouse, he’s spraying down the room while in the nightgown and bonnet. He’s keeping Madison’s (Emma Roberts) corpse in a chest… I lol’d as her arm snapped off when he tried to lift her out. This is now my favorite/most disturbing side-story in the show.
No FrankenKyle (Evan Peters) this week. Probably out throwing little girls into ponds.