‘American Horror Story: Coven’: Pains in the neck

American Horror Story: Coven
“Protect the Coven”
January 15, 2014


Mme. LaLaurie and one of her daughters, who cares which one, return to New Orleans with a case of full-blown irritation at being forced to leave Paris. Even more irritating, they’ve arrived before the kitchen slaves and the ladies are left to slaughter their own chickens. (Which sounds like a euphemism, but is not.) When Mlle. LaLaurie balks at the task because EW, GROSS, NO, Mme. LaLaurie shows her daughter how its done, and becomes mesmerized by the spurting blood on account of being a murderous psychopath.

Sometime later, a slave injures his leg in the attic, and to his great misfortune, Mme. LaLaurie is the one who discovers him. She offers him a tourniquet which she applies by using a brick upside his head before binding him and flaying his face. There! All better!

Present Day

Here lies Nan. Nan fell in the tub. R.I.P. Nan.

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Graveside, Myrtle laments that Misty Day isn’t around to bring Nan back, but hey! Good news! Nan might be dead, but Queenie isn’t! (Shock. Surprise.) Queenie arrives at the cemetery with a reconstituted Mme. LaLaurie on a leash and a chip on her shoulder for being left for dead after having saved Marie Laveau’s life. Which, you know, not cool. Mme. LaLaurie on a leash spits in Marie Laveau’s face, which earns her a slap to her reattached head. Marie Laveau is pretttty sure she ordered Queenie to bury Mme. LaLaurie’s head, but Queenie, she has other ideas. FrankenKyle marvels that Mme. LaLaurie is scarless, and Queenie informs him that had she put him back together, he wouldn’t look like he’d been put through a blender. Delia, meanwhile, is just happy that Queenie is safe, which earns her mother’s disdain: none of them are safe, dumb-dumb. Funeral over, let’s go. And as they file out of the cemetery, Delia hears … something. Was that someone … breathing? Behind her?

Over in Atlanta, Darrin Sr.’s right hand man explains that Darrin Jr. will be given a false identity to sever any ties to the Delphi Trust. Darrin Sr. has a brief sad before moving on to more pressing matters — making their business whole again. Hey! Here’s an idea! We offer the witches a pile of money to fix our company and then we kill them! Sounds solid. Can’t think of any holes in that plan.

Back at Miss Robichaux’s, Mme. LaLaurie returns to her old duties: refilling Marie Laveau’s champagne, giving Fiona manicures, serving as a nanny to Marie Laveau’s stolen baby, picking up underpants, patiently listening to Marie Laveau as she explains that she’s going to cut Mme. LaLaurie into little pieces and scatter her all over town and leave her head in a construction site toilet (WHO DAT?), flushing toilets, etc. And the whole thing leaves Mme. LaLaurie a little blue. But one day as she’s cooking up some of her light as a feather biscuits, a gardener comes into the kitchen with a cut to the hand, and the sight of his blood revives something deep inside her. So she offers to tend to the gardener’s wound, and by “tend to his wound” she means hit him upside the head with a brick, and take him up to the attic where she can bind him and flay him alive. There! All better!

Mme. LaLaurie tells our unfortunate gardener a little bit about her life: how she was an unhappy child who busied herself by torturing small animals. When she grew older, she managed to marry well and threw great parties, but it didn’t satisfy her deep in her soul. For that, she had to return to her “anatomical studies” like the one she’s performing on gardener right now. But gardener, he is not so interested in  Mme. LaLaurie’s backstory as much as he is invested in her NOT REMOVING HIS TOES WITH THE GARDENING SHEARS, PLEASE AND THANK YOU. Mme. LaLaurie does not oblige but instead plays a round of This Little Piggie that leaves the poor gardener crying “wee wee wee.” (Or perhaps it’s “oui oui oui,” considering it is a New Orleans cochon?)

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Zoe explores her suspicions that Nan’s death was a little bit more than an accident. To this end she performs a spell over the full bathtub and sure enough, Marie Laveau and Fiona’s reflections emerge. Well, now, why would they go and kill Nan? Zoe wonders to FrankenKyle, who most certainly does not have any answers. Undead Madison Montgomery enters, and she does not care about Zoe’s revelations about Nan, but she most definitely cares that Zoe and FrankenKyle seem to be getting closer. When Undead Madison Montgomery pouts that the arrangement was that they were to share him, Zoe insists that she’s not falling in love with FrankenKyle. So Undead Madison Montgomery puts this to the test only to have FrankenKyle refuse her oral favors, declaring that he’s in love with Zoe. Undead Madison Montgomery takes this development poorly, reminds FrankenKyle that she’s the one who made him, flings things off the wall, and bonks Zoe in the head with a flying lamp. Myrtle investigates the racket, and declares Undead Madison Montgomery a “bobblehead witch crotchless panties,” because Myrtle gets all the best lines. Undead Madison Montgomery stomps out of the scene, promising to be the next Supreme and to drive the coven out of the Dark Ages:

crotchless panties for everyone


Elsewhere, in their post-glow bliss, the Axeman suggests that he and Fiona kill all the baby witches and then go move out onto his grandfather’s ghost farm in Covington, which I am sure is still there 100 years later, good plan.

Back in the attic, Mme. LaLaurie regards the now-dead gardener when Rat’s Nest appears in the corner, startling her. Mme. LaLaurie offers to explain, but Rat’s Nest is all, “Nah, mang, it’s cool. In fact, you know what would be awesome? If you used some of these talents against that Marie Laveau who traipsing around downstairs acting like she belongs here, potentially destroying the Salem line, by … somehow, don’t worry about it. ANYWAY. You in?” Mme. LaLaurie would, in fact, very much like to kill Marie Laveau, but seeing as she’s immortal, that’s going to be tough. Ah, but Rat’s Nest has something for that — some magic that can kill her. But Mme. LaLaurie has to fetch something for him first …

Downstairs, Queenie, who is convinced that she might be the next Supreme now that she’s survived a silver bullet and has all these new superpowerz, is mad that Misty Day has moved into her room, tells Delia that she’s a losing loser.

So Delia goes out to the greenhouse, rubs some plant juice around her eyes and then stabs herself in the eyeballs with a pair of pruners, you know, like you do.

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Fiona rushes home to find Myrtle standing guard at Delia’s door, warning that Fiona can go inside to see her daughter, buuuuuut, Myrtle is pretty sure Delia popped out her own eyeballs because she was trying to regain her second sight so as to protect the coven. The point is, Fiona and whatever secrets she might be hiding might not want to go marching in there just yet. “Cool, cool, I’m going to go pour myself a glass of brown, okgoodbye,” says Fiona.

Later, Mme. LaLaurie returns to the attic with Rat’s Nest’s required item: an antique baby doll. And in exchange, he provides Mme. LaLaurie her magic Voodoo Queen murder potion: Benadryl. (HA!)

Myrtle is theremining in the greenhouse when Zoe finds her, having been summoned. Myrtle gives Zoe her only possession of value: a harvester ant brooch designed by Joel Rosenthal. Zoe is to take it, and these bus tickets to Orlando and escape with FranenKyle to Epcot because it’s a well-known fact that zombies love them some Utopian theme parks. That and love. Do it for love! Zoe protests that she’s not running away from the coven, especially not now that they are under attack. And who knows, maybe she’s the next Supreme! Even more reason for Zoe to GET. OUT. If the witch hunters don’t kill her, Undead Madison Montgomery and Fiona certainly will.

So Fiona and Marie Laveau meet with the Darrin Sr. and the Delphi Trust in some conference room somewhere, who knows, and after ordering themselves a martini and Diet Sprite from the conference room waiter — because that’s apparently a thing — the ladies get down to business.

endora martini

The ladies explain that they are meeting with Deplhi out of their own generosity, which is more than what Darrin Jr. showed to the innocents in Marie Laveau’s salon. “Collateral damage,” Darrin Sr. replies “Now, how about we make Marie Laveau whole for any damage to her salon, and you give us our business back? After all, thousands of jobs are at stake…” “Collateral damage,” Marie Laveau retorts. Darrin Sr. tries to explain that their war is a thing of the past, and wedges in some weird simile about communists and the State Department because that’s the clue for next season, before passing to them a contract that The Delphi Trust has signed. The witches laugh that it’s going to take a lot more than this for them to restore the Trust, like a promise that they won’t kill any more witches, ever again, and maybe Darrin’s house and a private jet.

Darrin Sr.’s right hand man declares this to be insanity while in the background, Conference Room Waiter slowly removes his jacket because, of course, he’s Fiona’s ax-murdering ghost boyfriend who gets to doing what he does best: axing people in the head. Axing axing axing, and finally only Darrin Sr. is left alive. He pours himself a cup of coffee and informs Fiona that killing him won’t stop the war. Fiona don’t care. And as he suggests that she go to hell, she takes the axe from her ax-murdering ghost boyfriend and whacks Darrin Sr. squarely in the throat. Marie Laveau takes plenty of pictures to add to her Instagram account.

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I doubt they will be getting their down payment on that conference space back.

That evening, Marie Laveau and Fiona celebrate their day over French 75s before Fiona heads out for a little ax-murdering ghost sex. As Marie Laveau heads to bed, Mme. LaLaurie follows her waiting to see if the magical Benadryl will take effect. Assuming that Marie Laveau is vulnerable, Mme. LaLaurie plunges a knife into her chest, but NOPE. Still immortal. Mme. LaLaurie warns Marie Laveau that the magic just hasn’t taken effect yet, showing her the Benadryl tablets and Marie Laveau is like, “Uh, dummy? Those are antihistamines which have no effect on immortals, other than to clear up our itchy eyes.”

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As the two women take their fight out to the hallway, Marie Laveau is bonked over the head with a doll by Rat’s Nest and falls down the stairs. Mme. LaLaurie asks if she’s dead now, and Rat’s Nest is like, “Well, no, obviously, she’s immortal. I just wanted her out of my hair and you were the most likely to cooperate.” Mme. LaLaurie is not amused, and wonders what she’s supposed to do with her. “Bury her! And make sure she can’t dig her way out!” encourages Rat’s Nest.

And then Rat’s Nest scurries up to his attic where has hidden Marie Laveau’s stolen baby because, of course he has taken Marie Laveau’s stolen baby. It’s like that Bill Cosby movie Ghost Dad but with more necrophilia and bonnets.

Finally, Zoe and FrankenKyle pack their bags for Orlando, and at first FrankenKyle is like, I don’t want to go! But then he’s like, let’s go! and they catch the bus and make their escape, the end.

I don’t have much to add to this episode; we are in full wrap-it-up mode now, and there just really isn’t that much to parse, frankly. So let’s keep it brief.

The title of the episode, “Protect the Coven,” refers to Fiona and Marie Laveau’s attack on the witch hunters and Delia’s self-mutilation. But I wonder if Myrtle’s doesn’t sense that there’s about to be a bloodbath and is sending Zoe away to Orlando as a means to defend the coven and its future by protecting the Supreme. Of course, Queenie is back, and I still like the idea of her being the next Supreme for a couple of reasons: her connection to both the Salem witches and the Voodoo Witches and the fact that she experienced something of an apotheosis after sacrificing herself to save Marie Laveau, which, in turn, made her more powerful than before. Still, when it finally shakes out, I think this story will begin and end with Zoe — she might not be the most interesting character in the coven, but she’s the closest thing we have to a character with whom we are supposed to identify, and the only one whose journey we’ve really followed from the start. I also keep coming back to the fact that the diminishment of Fiona’s powers appears to be linked to Zoe’s discovering of hers. And finally, of course, Zoe means “life,” which suggests to me that she is supposed to represent the continuing life of the coven and the Salem line.

The only other thing to add about this episode is that while they are clearly preparing for the finale and trying to wrap up storylines, I couldn’t help but feel the Delphi Trust story was concluded in a much too tidily. I don’t entirely blame the writers — there is only so much they can really do in 13 episodes — but the Delphi Trust was an intriguing story element that I wish we had more time to explore and develop, and for the first time with this show, I wish the season were longer. The conclusion of the entire subplot felt so rushed: oh no, these guys are trying to kill us! quick, do the magic! now kill them with axes! yay! we win! game over! now let’s hurry to the next pile of loose ends we have to tie up!

Now, of course, there was a small hint that this might not be the last we will see of the witch hunters: Darrin Sr. did warn that killing him wouldn’t end the war, leaving open the possibility that other witch hunters could enter the picture. But considering we only have two more episodes left, and we still have to sort out Fiona’s plan to murder the remaining baby witches and live happily ever after with ghost boyfriend; that Marie Laveau and Mme. LaLaurie and possibly Queenie have some unfinished business to attend to; Zoe’s off in Orlando with FrankenKyle; Misty Day is still locked in a tomb; Delia is about to go read everyone’s secrets; the Seven Wonders have to happen and Rat’s Nest is up in the attic playing with a baby that is most certainly NOT HIS, I am guessing there won’t be time in the remaining two hours of this season to squeeze in anything more about the Trust.

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Finally, I leave you with this question the internet posed. Here is the teaser poster for this season with everyone clearly marked. Note that there is one unidentified person circled:

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So who is that? Myrtle? The red-head Darrin killed in Baton Rouge? Patti LuPone? Or is it someone we haven’t met yet? Just curious as to what you think.

Until next week, witches!

American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FX.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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