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.
Coven 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.
As 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.
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.”
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?”