American Horror Story: Coven
December 11, 2013
Chattahoochee National Forest, 1991
Down here in the South, camping and hunting is a way of life. What man doesn’t remember his first hunting trip with his father: waking up at dawn, (sorta) enjoying his very first taste of coffee, heading out with his rifle, all nervous while waiting for his dad to help him flush out his first human lady to shoot in the face? PRECIOUS MEMORIES.
Darren and Darren Sr. (You’ll always be Spangler to me, Darren Sr.) enjoy this rite of passage together, but once it comes time for Darren Jr. to shoot the human (witch) lady in the face, she begs for her life. The boy hesitates just long enough for her to blow a fireball at himself and his father. Darren Sr.’s arm catches aflame, but it doesn’t prevent him from shooting her in the face, killing her. NO MERCY, DARREN JR. NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY ARE, DARREN JR. (Human ladies.)
Fiona swings by Marie Laveau’s salon with a present for her: a box full of immortal racist head, she heard Marie Laveau had started a collection. Marie Laveau isn’t interested, though, thanks, was there something else Fiona needed? Fiona reveals her real reason for being there: a truce. It seems there are witch hunters running out there and Marie Laveau and her people are in as much danger as the rest of them, so why don’t they join forces? LOL, NOPE, says Marie Laveau. A bunch of dead white witches sounds like a Fiona problem not a Marie Laveau problem. Furthermore, Marie Laveau is not about to go out of her way to help Fiona just because she’s got The Cancer and is too weak to protect her own coven. OK, AU REVOIR. And with that, Marie Laveau shoos Fiona away, and orders Queenie to take Mme. Lalaurie’s head out back and burn it. “SWEET RELEASE!” exclaims Mme. Lalaurie’s head even though the physical act of talking requires lungs, which she most certainly does not have.
Back at the school, Delia, Little Miss Independence, tries to make herself some eggs, but just manages to make a bunch of raw scrambled eggs on the floor. Hey, Delia, we know you want to do it for yourself, but how about you start with something less breaky like a ham sandwich? Myrtle swoops in to help her clean up the egg mess, and to clean up any misunderstandings regarding her involvement with the acid tossing. Delia knows that Myrtle had nothing to do with that, right? Are they cool here? They are, indeed, cool, as Delia knows that Myrtle, the most maternal figure in her life, would never hurt her. In fact, Myrtle adds, she’d pluck her own eyes out and give them to Delia if she cou– WHY, THAT GIVES MYRTLE AN IDEA! Now where’s that melon baller …
Over Sunday dinner, Myrtle presents Pembroke and Quentin with a truce offering consisting of a pile of palate-cleansing melon balls. They were thrilled to hear from her, and are like really, really sorry for the whole setting her on fire thing. By the way, Myrtle’s skin looks better than ever — is it that Swamp Witch’s mud? Could she get some for them? Myrtle blah blahs about Misty Day’s superpowers, long enough for the paralytic effect of poison she put on the melon balls to set in, freezing Pemberton and Quentin in place. HAHA, Did Myrtle say all was forgiven? J/K! Nothing is forgiven! And now, while they sit there conscious of everything she’s doing and unable to stop her, she’s going to use this here melon ball to scoop out their eyeballs and give them to Delia. KTHNX.
And then Myrtle gives Delia one of each of their eyeballs because magic. TEAM MYRTLE!
Fiona returns home to find her daughter’s sight restored by her Once and Always Enemy, and Myrtle has only Fiona to thank: Being burned at the stake proved to be enlightening, and Myrtle is now more powerful than ever. Fiona dismisses Myrtle restoring Delia’s eyesight as merely an attempt to relieve her of her guilty conscience for throwing the acid on Delia in the first place. The two bicker back and forth about who deserves to be put to the stake more: Myrtle for being convicted of killing Madison Montgomery or Fiona for actually committing the crime. Fiona threatens to call an emergency Council meeting, and Myrtle is all, DO IT, I hear they aren’t seeing anyone right now.
Delia yells at her two mommies to stop fighting, insisting that they should be focusing on the real enemy: the witch hunters. Delia excuses herself to go have a lie down, stopping to hug her mother first, and that’s when she realizes a side effect of her new eyeballs: she’s lost her visions. Oh well! You win some, you lose some! Sure the ability to see people’s darkest secrets by touching them won’t be needed in the future; plus, hard boiled eggs will be easier to make now!
Meanwhile in Atlanta, Darren Jr. meets with his father at The Delphi Trust, the family’s corporate headquarters, although it’s unclear what, exactly, the corporation does? Something something banking and witch hunting? Step 1: Hunt witches; Step 2: ???; Step 3: Profit!
Darren Sr. has called this meeting to berate his son for a number of disappointments: his low witch-hunting productivity, aligning with Marie Laveau and getting himself thrown out of the witch house. Darren Jr. is like, “But Baton Rouge!” Yeah, Sr. is not impressed with Baton Rouge. Darren Jr. might have killed a witch, but he did so in a hotel on the company credit card, and Delphi had to go in, clean up the joint and kill a housekeeper and desk clerk to keep that whole thing on the DL. NOT COOL. Now Darren Jr. needs to get himself back into that witch house and get back to work. Darren Jr. explains that getting back into his wife’s good graces is going to be harder now because someone threw acid on Delia’s face and things got … weird. Darren Sr.’s right hand guy is like, “Yeah, we did that so she’d become more dependent on you.” Darren Jr. is OUTRAGED! that they disfigured his wife, and his father is OUTRAGED! that his son seems to have developed feelings for a witch. Darren Sr. is all, REMEMBER YOUR PRIORITIES, YO before making him recite some pledge about a brotherhood, and the pestilence of witchery, and patriarchy, etc. Now get out there and kill Daddy some witches!
And so Darren Jr. is torn: On the one hand, he wants to make Daddy proud, on the other, he kinda loves his wife and has a slight bit of moral crisis with the whole, “KILL THEM ALL” thing. And that’s when Marie Laveau uses some of that voodoo magic of hers to encourage him to get back to work. A slit wrist here, a stabbed belly there, and a henchman delivering a message: The white witches die tonight or the next hole will be in his heart.
Over at the school, Delia and Misty Day have some magic horticultural funtimes together, only to be interrupted by Darren Jr. who would like to move back in, pls. NOPE, says Delia. YOUR JUNK’S IN A BOX UPSTAIRS, says Delia. GET IT AND GET OUT, says Delia. AND NOW THAT I CAN SEE IT AGAIN, GO SHAVE YOUR STUPID BEARD, says Delia.
So Darren Jr. goes upstairs and fetches his box only to come out into the hallway to face a snarling Fiona and her new guard dog. She explains that the house needs protection, and she got herself a female attack dog because females are more loyal, more aggressive in protecting their families, and bitches
be crazy stick together. And now that Fiona’s soliloquy is over, Darren Jr. is dismissed.
Fiona then opens a bedroom door Dog is scratching at, revealing FrankenKyle. FrankenKyle love Dog! FrankenKyle is going to hug her and squeeze her and call her George and accidentally snap her neck!
But Fiona’s cool. She wasn’t that attached to Dog anyway. And, in fact, when Nan, Zoe and Madison Montgomery return home from the hospital (hospital? yes, hospital, hang on …) they find Fiona playing gin rummy with a largely restored FrankenKyle. They needed a guard dog; who better than a teenaged Frankenstein who is sleeping with two of the residents? What could go wrong?
So, yes, the baby witches were at the hospital visiting a comatose Shirtless, and getting yelled at by his momma, Patti LuPone. ACK! WITCHES! says Patti LuPone. And they’re like, “Yeah, but witches that can read your unconscious son’s mind, so.” And at first she doesn’t believe them, but then she does, and at Nan’s suggestion, Patti LuPone sings “Just a Closer Walk to Thee” to her son. And for a minute there, she’s grateful that Nan can communicate with Shirtless, and calls Nan a “miracle.” But then Nan’s like, “Uh, Shirtless is saying something about God judging you for killing his dad with bees? Yeah, I’m seeing a car full of bees and anaphylactic shock and something about his dad receiving some oral business from a lady that is definitely not you, so.” Understandably, Patti LuPone is less than thrilled with this “miracle,” and shoos Nan away because maybe there are some things that you should just keep to yourself, Nan.
And that’s why when Shirtless finally wakes up, his mother instructs him to go back to sleep and then smothers him with a pillow. SIGH. Someone go call Misty Day and tell her to bring the mud.
Back at Marie Laveau’s, Queenie has defied Marie’s order to burn Mme. Lalaurie’s head, and, instead, has taken it upon herself to educate her bodiless racist friend. Queenie plops Mme. Lalaurie’s head onto a TV tray and begins a “My People” film festival, starting with all 8 hours of Roots, a little Mandingo and finishing with some The Color Purple. Because if Kunta Kinte can’t show Mme. Lalaurie the error of her ways, who can? “OH LORD,” cries out Mme. Lalaurie’s head, “I WANT TO DIIIIIE!” Because, Mandingo? Seriously?
When Queenie checks in on her later, Mme. Lalaurie proudly exclaims that she kept her eyes shut the whole time, NO ONE CAN ENLIGHTEN HER! So Queenie puts on another video of the civil rights struggles, which is overlaid with heartbreaking spirituals. Mme. Lalaurie doesn’t have to watch, but she can’t close her ears. One way or another, Mme. Lalaurie is going to learn — or at the very least feel — something.
Queenie then returns downstairs to her job where Marie Laveau gives her guff for being late. Soon after, Darren Jr. Witch Hunter bursts in the door, guns a’blazing, shooting up the place. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WITCHES.
Shooting shooting shooting, and OH NO! HE SHOT QUEENIE! THE BASTARD! It’s just a gut wound, and so she’s still alive enough to grab a handgun and, using her voodoo powers, turn it on herself to kill him just as he’s about to shoot Marie Laveau.
And that’s how Marie Laveau ends up on Fiona’s doorstep, bags packed, ready to move in.
Meanwhile back at Marie Laveau’s apartment, Mme. Lalaurie’s head cries because gospel. Is anyone going to go retrieve her head? Anyone? Someone? Hello?
So, Ryan Murphy kinda did my job for me in this interview with Entertainment Weekly:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve said “Head” is your favorite episode so far this season. Why is that?
RYAN MURPHY: So far it’s my favorite one of the year because I really love the tone of it, the acting in it, the direction of it. I like how everything is really connected to a really bizarre idea. You have Kathy Bates’ head. Luke’s head being able to communicate to Nan. I think there are two classic scenes in it: One is Myrtle with a melon-baller. And I love Kathy Bates watching Roots. We knew we were going to have Kathy Bates’ head so the whole thing came from ‘Let’s look at other ways we can talk about the head’ theme. Also, literally giving head at one point — so we really made it all work!
I guess we’re all done here! See you in January!
Haha, just kidding, I’d never let you off that easily, not where there’s so much to overthink! First of all, I’m sure the Delphi Trust’s name and logo was just intended to suggest “Big Evil Corporation with Illuminati-esque Connections.” That said, “Delphi” is actually the location in Ancient Greece of the famous Delphic oracles. According to mythology, Zeus sent two eagles to find the center of the world, one flying east, the other west. The place where they crossed paths was determined to be the location of the navel of Gaia, the great Earth Mother Goddess. Apollo slew Python, a female dragon who guarded the navel, or omphalos (a word that should be familiar to my Lostie friends, in regards to what made the Island special), and claimed the site as his very own super, special, sacred precinct. MINE. The oracles of Delphi were established here, and the priestesses whom Apollo spoke through were known as the “Pythia,” in honor of the serpent Python whom Apollo slayed.
Symbolically speaking, it’s interesting, then, that these male witch hunters would appropriate the name of this particular location, where two male gods (father and son, specifically) sought out the source of great female power that was guarded by a female supernatural creature, and co-opted it for their own purposes. We may never know why the Delphi Trust dudes are so bent out of shape about witches — this is a Ryan Murphy show, after all, and he’s probably already forgotten the name he’s given the Baddies — but symbolically speaking, the writers could have come up with worse names.
It’s also worth quickly noting that the Trust’s symbol appears to be a triangle with a circle in the middle:
I don’t know enough (anything) about the Greek language to know if there is any relationship between the words “Delphi” and “Delta” (anyone out there know off-hand?) but the Greek letter Delta is a triangle, and in mathematic and scientific symbology, Delta represents change. As far as the triangle with a circle inside of it, it most resembles the “Eye of Providence” symbol.
The Eye of Providence was a symbol that was adapted from the Ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus, a symbol that represents an all-seeing eye of God looking down upon humanity. Christians appropriated it as a symbol of the father God, as did the Freemasons, which, in turn, linked it in a number of conspiracy-minded folks’ heads with the Illuminati, the secret anti-religious society that has (according to legend and the crazier outposts of the internet) been ruling the world since the Enlightenment Era. Thus, the all-seeing eye, which had long been associated with a Christian God, develops a secondary purpose as a Satanic symbol. It just depends on your perspective.
All of this is a long way to go to basically say that the Delphi Trust logo is shorthand for the Illuminati, or an Illuminati-esque secret society. (Interestingly, there is an organization called the “Lucis Trust” founded in 1922 [and I think the Delphi logo says that it was founded sometime in the 1920s — but I couldn’t get a clear enough shot of it to be sure] by occult writer Alice Bailey and her husband “to fund and administer activities concerned with the establishment of ‘right human relations.'” Alice Bailey reportedly said — although I can’t seem to confirm this outside of the dark realm of tinfoil hat-wearing websites — the “coming New World Order” is best symbolised by a triangle within a circle, with a dot inside the triangle. Bailey described the dot as representing the ruler of the spirit world, Sanat. Make of that what you will.)
And while we’re talking about eyes — the return of Delia’s eyesight and the loss of her vision is obviously an important development in the episode. However, more important is the transformation of Myrtle which precipitates Delia’s new eyeballs happening in the first place. When she was burnt on the stake, Myrtle journeyed into the belly of the whale. She was consumed, destroyed, reduced to ash and char, before being brought back, changed. The flames burnt away her misconceptions and fantasies about what the coven is and who her allies are, and made Myrtle, as she herself said, more powerful, and more importantly, unafraid. As we have noted before, flames are a transformative and purifying symbol, which is why when Myrtle went to the stake, she wore all white — and why in the scene in this episode when she seeks retribution against Pembroke and Quentin she wears a similar white gown — she is the transformed Myrtle, the truth-bearing Myrtle.
It’s also worth noting that fire plays another, different role in this episode. In the opening flashback scene, Darren Sr. is burned by the witch he and his son are hunting in the woods. Unlike Myrtle, however, Darren Sr. is not transformed by his brush with the flame, but instead merely scarred, left with an ugly reminder of his hate and cruelty. He wasn’t wholly consumed by the fire and stripped of his prejudices, but instead made more hideous and left broken.
AS FOR THOSE DEATHS. Is Shirtless really dead? Really really dead? How about Queenie? She can’t really be gone, can she? Considering we have Misty Day running around with her scarves and magic mud, who can say. There are no guarantees that anyone will stay dead, obviously — which is one of the biggest weaknesses of this particular season. If death isn’t permanent, if one can just come back as a zombie or a ghost, then why should we care when someone appears to be killed? It’s just a transition into another, different state of being. No one is really ever gone.
What I will note about Queenie’s “death” is how it relates to my notes from last week about who will be the next Supreme. I eventually ruled her out of contention, but not before I insisted that she would act as the bridge between the two witch sects, the white witches and the black witches. And, ultimately, that was her purpose. She will not be Supreme, but through her act of self-sacrifice, she will make both groups of witches more powerful.
The question remains, though, will she return in some fashion? On the one hand, I hope not if only because a true death would make Queenie’s departure that much more meaningful and heartbreaking. On the other, I’m inclined to think she must return so as to give the Mme. Lalaurie story some resolution. Her relationship to Queenie is key to Mme. Lalaurie’s entire purpose on the show, and I can’t imagine the writers won’t give both of them some kind of real closure before all is said and done.
As for what Gabourey Sidibe had to say about it, I’m going to spoiler font part of a recent interview that I think was unintentionally telling:
So, are you dead? Nobody stays dead on this show, though. There are ghosts and what not.
Yeah, I mean at the very least I can confirm that I definitely got shot in two different places. [Laughs.] The way they treat death on this show, it’s so odd. I could be dead, I could not be dead. It’s one of those things.
Right, it’s like “Wow, a big death! … Or was it?”
Or was it? And then there’s a huge dun, dun DUNNNNNNN at the end of every episode.
We hope there will be bloopers when the DVD comes out because some of the lines you guys say are so great, and it must be hard to keep a straight face sometimes.
We did a scene the other night that we’re all way too immature to be doing. I can’t say what it is yet because I don’t think it comes up until episode 11, but it’s such a stupid scene and it was so funny that we couldn’t even look at each other during the making of it. We’re all just way too immature for it; we’re just way too immature.
Catch that? “We did a scene” that won’t come up until episode 11. It could be a flashback, but come on.
AND SO. Taking in everything we learned this week, I’ll ask again, who do you think will be the next Supreme? (I’ve added some more options, including one suggested by Monique on Twitter. Thanks, Monique!)
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.