PHOTO: COURTESY MICHELE K. SHORT/FX.
Are you ready for your last taste of American Horror Story: Coven before a long, murder-less holiday break? Don't worry, because this episode packs in enough killings to satisfy even Elizabeth Báthory. Nothing and no one is spared this time around. Even île flottant takes a hit. But, hey, meringue kinda sucks anyway.
We open in flashback mode, and young Hank's father is taking him out on his first witch-murdering mission in the Chattahoochee National Forest. (Real murder fact: That's also where Gary Michael Hilton killed a Georgia hiker in 2008.) He loads up Hank's rifle with a silver bullet. (Since when are witches werewolves? Cancer can kill them, but regular ammunition can't?) A pitiful, bedraggled witch bursts through the forest, but, at the critical moment, Hank doesn't have the stones. The witch burps up some fire at him. Dad comes in to angrily finish the job. "No mercy!" he spits.
Ah, a true American Horror Story parent.
Back in the present, Fiona drops by Cornrow City with Delphine's dome in tow and requests a tête-à-tête (ha!) with Marie Laveau. Delphine's headless body swats away flies, because a headless body is a surefire source of comic relief. Fiona proposes an alliance between voodoo and witch. Delphine's head mutters something muffled by the box. "What da head said?" asks Marie. This is probably the funniest scene in three seasons of American Horror Story, except for that time Adam Levine was slowly murdered in Asylum.
Fiona tells Marie about the witch-hunt attack from the night before, about which Marie's none too concerned, seeing as she's the one who hired Hank to pull the trigger. Marie says, "Sheeeeeit, naw," literally. Queenie enters, and Marie orders her to take Delphine's head outside for a barbecue. (Like, to burn her to ashes, not to pack her racist mouth with brisket.)
It's breakfast time at Miss Robichaux's, and Cordelia blindly attempts to cook an omelette. Myrtle Snow watches in silence, as Cordelia drops the eggs and crumbles in despair. She comes in and asks whether Cordelia really believes that she splashed her eyes with acid. "I don't need magic to tell me what I already know," Cordelia says. That's a Hallmark card if there ever was one.
PHOTO: COURTESY MICHELE K. SHORT/FX.
Over in Atlanta, Hank's in the corporate waiting room of Witch Murderers Inc., a.k.a. Delphi Trust. He meets his father, now a very imperious man in a nice suit and an oak-panelled office, who is very concerned about his Q4 witch-killing numbers. Turns out that Hank was never supposed to ally with Marie Laveau, and that he's merely an intel ops guy, not a triggerman. Tell that to Ms. Kinkaid.
In fact, the Kinkaid superfan's killing was a messy one, which could've spelled problems for the company. "Your father's not only the head of the corporation, he's the CEO of a major financial institution," says one of Daddy Hank's handsome lackeys. "The liberals in Washington are just looking for an excuse to sic the FEC on companies like Delphi." (Did he mean SEC? Or maybe Delphi is funneling campaign contributions to candidates who are tough on black magic?)
Hank recites his witch-killer credo: "Part of a sacred order, a soldier in a shadow war, a war that has been raging since before the time of Salem. We are a brotherhood pledged in blood, dedicated to stamping out the pestilence of witchery on the North American continent." Weird, because the handsome lackey just came back from a murdering retreat in Northampton, England. Get a map!
Back at Miss Robichaux's, Myrtle marvels at the ingeniousness of melon ballers. She's cooked up dinner for the rest of the Council — Pimbrooke and the mincing Quentin — who she's apparently forgiven for errantly condemning her to burn to death. (Whoops!) Pimby and Quentin go on and on about how fab Myrtle's skin looks thanks to Misty's Magic Mud®, which they are keen to package and sell as such. (Pair it with Delphine's Rejuvenating Pancreatic Blood Mask® for optimal results.)
Pimby and Quentin quickly realize, however, that Myrtle has not forgiven their treason and has poisoned their melon balls, paralyzing them in place. "I'm not going to kill you!" Myrtle says, less encouragingly than they'd probably like. "Or, maybe after dessert? I put a lot of effort into the key lime pie. I do love a key lime pie, even more than an île flottant!" Who doesn't? Myrtle then uses her melon baller to scoop out their eyes, in order to transplant them to Cordelia.
The next morning, Fiona comes home to find a newly sighted Cordelia and Myrtle, who really did end up hacking the Council to pieces before tossing their limbs in vats of acid. (Why couldn't Cordelia get two matching eyes, then?) Fiona's happy for Cordelia, but still lukewarm on her foe. "I could have you banished, Myrtle. You know what that means? Paramus, New Jersey." The horror.
"Call the Council!" says Myrtle. "I hear they're not seeing anyone right now." Mercy! (If these puns get any sappier, I'll roll my eyes so hard that they'll pop right out, no melon baller required.) As Cordelia heads upstairs, she hugs Myrtle goodbye and realizes that she no longer has her gift of supernatural vision.
Elsewhere, Madison and Zoe are at the hospital with Nan, who's been patiently waiting to see the unconscious Luke. His mother, Joan, is still pissed about the witches bringing darkness to her house. Nan reveals her clairvoyant abilities, telling Joan that Luke just wants to hear a song she sang to him when he was a boy. Aaaaaaand that sets the stage for a Patti Lupone ditty. (Admittedly, it's a little somber and Jesus-y, but it's not un-pretty. She's a Tony Award-winner, after all.) Joan drops her Christian warrior militance and hugs Nan in thanks.
PHOTO: COURTESY MICHELE K. SHORT/FX.
On the other side of town, Queenie arrives home to her apartment, where she's been keeping Delphine's head as a pet. She forces her to watch Roots for a little racial-sensitivity training. Also on the schedule: Mandingo, The Color Purple, and even B.A.P.S.! "What fresh hell is this?" asks Delphine, in tears.
Over at Hank's apartment, our hapless witch hunter is tucking into some moo shu pork when Marie remotely drives a series of nails through his limbs, voodoo-style. She's miffed that Hank hasn't brought her any witch heads yet. He promises to do better.
He staggers over to the Robichaux greenhouse, where Cordelia's in high spirits, teaching Misty all about herbalism and mixing magic mud smoothies in a bar blender. Hank, drunk, asks to be taken back. Cordelia wants none of that, which will probably make it easier for Hank to put a silver bullet between her eyes.
He fares no better upstairs with Fiona when he goes to collect his stuff. She's acquired a new attack dog, who growls at Hank before sniffing her way to Zoe's room and discovering Kyle. Fiona tells Kyle to get out, and Kyle responds by eating her dog.
Back at the hospital, Joan's done a 180 and decided that Nan is a miracle. But, Nan isn't all good news: She tells Joan that Luke believes his father's death wasn't an accident. Apparently, after walking in on her book club friend cheating with her hubby, Joan engineered her husband's death via bees. (Yes, bees.) Joan's optimism melts, and she tells Nan to leave.
The next morning, the Robichaux girls arrive home to find Fiona playing gin rummy with Kyle, who has very quickly graduated from dog-eating and his "cow says 'moo'" game to offering witty ripostes after beating Fiona's hand. She announces that he will be their new guard dog — seeing as the other one is now in his lower intestine — and can attack on command.
Meanwhile, Delphine's learned nothing from her Roots and B.A.P.S marathon, no matter how hard Martin Landau tried to act with a straight face. (Two Oscar winners in that picture, folks. Two.) Queenie puts on some footage of the Selma to Montgomery marches, which finally warms Delphine's, cold, remotely located heart.
Queenie heads downstairs to Cornrow City. As a civil rights anthem swells, Hank enters with a variety of semi-automatic weapons. He mows down everyone in the salon slow-mo action-movie-style, and even Queenie takes a gut-shot. (This scene is intercut with footage of black protestors being blasted with water cannons in Montgomery. Does the racism metaphor still hold water when Hank is allegedly part of some mystical ancient order that murders all witches — white, black, Northamptonian — indiscriminately?) Just as Hank is about to blast Marie into magical oblivion, Queenie does her voodoo thing and sticks a handgun in her mouth, thus blowing Hank's brain out the back of his head.
Over at the hospital, Luke wakes up and says to Joan, "You murdered Dad." Ding-ding-ding! Right-o. Everyone on this show is a murderer! Joan tells Luke to go back to sleep, which seems like the last thing you should say to someone who just came out of a coma.
Oh, and then she smothers him with a pillow. Ding-ding-ding!
On January 8: AHS returns from a happy holiday break with yet more murder. The witches and the voodoos align against their common witch-hunting enemy, and hopefully share some melon balls, because they're delicious.