Photo: Courtesy of Michele K. Short/FX.
Mother, tell your children not to walk this way. This episode of American Horror Story: Coven goes all Ya-Ya Sisterhood on us and dives deep into the complexity of the mom-daughter relationships that frame every family of witches and murderesses. Also, regular humans, probably. Anyway! On to the recap.
We've flashed back to antebellum Louisiana, and it's still All Hallows' Eve. Delphine is hosting yet another masquerade ball and sizing up suitors for her daughters. She invites one hapless chap into her Chamber of Horrors (a line that unavoidably recalls the "musty old claptrap" joke on Arrested Development). "I'd fairly swoon when I see the moment of terror register on a handsome face," she tells the suitor. Fellas, if your prospective mother-in-law invites you into any kind of horror chamber, this is a warning sign.
Our lad doesn't know that, though. For a laugh, Delphine has the young man stick his hand into a chafing dish full of eyeballs and intestines. He bolts to the bathroom to revisit his chaudin, and Delphine declares him too much of a wuss to date her precious Borquita. So, the frustrated daughters head upstairs and conspire for about three seconds to kill their mother, which Delphine overhears. That night, she enlists her slaves to drag the girls up to her torture attic and imprisons them there for a year. Imagine if one of them came home with a tattoo!
Back to the present: Over in The Only Bar in New Orleans, Cordelia has just been splashed with sulfuric acid. Fiona rushes her to a greenish emergency room full of flickering lights and wobbly camera angles. (Are New Orleans hospitals really this bleak? Remind me to never to take a gamble on shellfish during Mardi Gras.) Alas, Cordelia's blind.
Elsewhere, Delphine's undead daughters have come a-knockin', and they look good for 150-year-old corpses. The members of Chez Robichaux (plus the strapping Luke) incrementally begin to freak out when they realize their lawn is full of zombies. Queenie makes an Army of Darkness joke, which is a bit of spoiler on the screenwriter's part. Of course, it's Marie Laveau who's controlling the undead. She's just
chillin' levitatin' like a villain in her voodoo alcove, as you do.
Photo: Courtesy of Michele K. Short/FX.
Luke's not buying this whole "the dead shall walk the Earth" business, so he heads outside to reason with the reanimated corpses. A couple of guys in vaguely Heath Ledger-as-the-Joker-ish makeup show up on the private Robichaux premises for no other reason than to become this scene's sacrificial lambs. The zombies wake up and rend them limb from limb, of course. Poor Luke gets hit in the back with some kind of gardening implement, but he is neither killed nor made into a zombie snack. Odd.
The ever-logical Zoe takes charge and sends everyone upstairs while she forms a defense plan. (But, what's she going to do — shtup the zombies to death with her magic vagina? They're already dead, Zoe.) Spalding doesn't want the ladies crashing in his room, though, since it's currently occupied with Madison's dolled-up dead body. Nan runs outside to save Luke in a refreshing reversal of the damsel-in-distress trope, and they seek shelter inside a car. So cute!
Over at the hospital, Fiona's discovered her last remaining ounce of empathy, which, like one of those Magic Grow capsules, wondrously unfolds when you douse it with a glass full of maternal despair. She wanders around a hospital that's in desperate need of an electrician and charms the locks to the medication closet, which is apparently just as well supervised as the county morgue Kyle's various appendages formerly occupied. She loads up on pills to numb the pain. Later, in a seemingly interminable scene, Fiona forces a woman to cradle her dead, purple baby and then revives it. We don't need to dwell on the particulars of it. But, while one can't try to impose logic on a show like AHS, this does make me wonder: If Fiona can bring stillbirths back to life and suck the souls out of scientists, shouldn't she be able to do some reconstructive sorcery on Cordelia?
Back at Zombie Mansion, Zoe draws the horde away from Nan and Luke with a distraction. Delphine, however, is overwhelmed by these events; her long-absent motherly instincts kick in when she sees the rotting face of her poor Borquita, so she lets her into the house. Borquita then strangles Delphine, but just a little. Borquita heads upstairs and hits Spalding with a candlestick — the same that Delphine used on Queenie a couple of episodes back. Queenie tries to work some of her human-voodoo-doll magic on the zombie but fails. (Don't these people know to remove the head or destroy the brain?) Delphine bursts in and spears her dead daughter with a fireplace poker, killing her again.
Nan and Luke are still holed up in the car when he announces that he's bleeding out. They head to the house, but the zombie horde sees them. Just then, Zoe emerges and does a full-on Bruce Campbell impression with an Evil Dead chainsaw routine. This is nothing but slapstick. She even splits a zombie down the middle, which is both impractical and needlessly messy. When her chainsaw runs out of gas at the critical moment, she mumbles something about nature — I am not the only one confused by this — and ejects Marie's controlling consciousness from her zombie drone. Marie's all like, "What? Dang."
Photo: Courtesy of Michele K. Short/FX.
Over at Horror Hospital, Hank shows up reeking of sex and murder. Fiona smells it on him. "You're one step up from the men who stand in front of Home Depot," she tells him. (Huh? Does she loathe do-it-yourselfer dads or something?) Fiona begrudgingly gives him a few minutes alone with Cordelia. When Hank grabs his wife's hand, all of his sexy murder memories come flooding into her head. Busted!
The following day, the girls burn the zombie bodies. The Council arrives and grills Fiona on these many incidents that have happened under her watch. Fiona turns the tables on Myrtle Snow, however, and accuses her of attacking Cordelia with the acid. Turns out that Myrtle's been shacking up at a Motel 6 and hexing Fiona, amassing your standard obsessive-killer wall of photos and living under a pseudonym named after Veronica Lake's character in I Married a Witch (helpfully pointed out by gay caricature Quentin). Fiona removes Myrtle's glove and exposes a sulfuric-acid burn, solidifying her guilt. "Burn the witch," the rest agree.
Later, Myrtle, Fiona, and the young ladies are accompanied by a retinue of albino footmen to some witch-burning quarry. Dr. John's 1973 N'awlins funk classic "Right Place, Wrong Time" provides the soundtrack. The men tie Myrtle to a post and douse her with fuel, and Fiona sets her alight with the flick of a cigarette. But, don't worry, Snow fans: Misty Day makes a reappearance and works her reanimation powers on Myrtle's roasted body.
Back at Miss Robichaux's, we learn that Queenie helped Fiona frame Myrtle by burning her own voodoo-doll hand with acid. Having just watched a human get burned at the stake has given Queenie pause, however, and she worries that she's made a mistake. Fiona sets her mind at ease by enticing her with the prospect of one day becoming the Supreme. Is this Fiona using her Jedi mind tricks again? Queenie seems a little too headstrong to fall for this.
Spalding's upstairs back in his man-nightie and bonnet, Febreezing the hell out of his corpse-stinking room. He tries to pull Madison's rigor-mortised body out of a chest, but her arm snaps off instead. Awkward.
Next week: Who knows? FX didn't air a preview. We can venture to guess that it will involve Misty Day singing "Don't Stop" to Myrtle's crispy corpse and Zoe constantly looking like she's about to cry. Fiona will scheme, as is her wont.