By Meryl Gottlieb| email@example.com| @buzzlightmeryl
American Horror Story airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
Last week’s American Horror Story: Coven was during Halloween week, but this week’s episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!” was this season’s official Halloween episode. As I observed last week, AHS’ Halloween episodes are always, well, perfect. It’s a dark psychological thriller, and what holiday pairs with that genre better than Halloween?
My favorite part of tonight’s episode was the exploration of how Fiona (Jessica Lange) and LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) come to terms with their failures as mothers. They are two completely different storylines and characters, but their grief and shame is similar and striking and amazing to watch.
LaLaurie has some repenting to do after it’s shown that she decided to lock her daughters away in the Chamber of Horrors after they discussed plotting to kill her. After all, she did put one of the suitors through her very own kind of “scary kitchen” in which he stuck his hand in a pot of real eyeballs and guts. This was shocking. We know LaLaurie is a monster who tortured her slaves to no end, but I never expected that she would do something similar to her own family. Also, I don’t understand how putting a potential suitor through that process is going to help her marry off her daughters, which was a main goal of the time. That seems counterproductive.
Now, she has to face her daughters once again since Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) has raised an army of the dead to attack the school. “Oh my daughter, my baby,” LaLaurie laments as she becomes inclined to let her zombie daughters into the house, even though they’re hell-bent on killing everyone. At first you may think LaLaurie does appeal to the daughter inside the monster, but then the zombie tries to strangle her. Can you blame her? She wasn’t really a great mother.
Fiona must deal with her demons when facing the aftermath of what happened to Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) in the bar bathroom. The hooded figure threw sulfuric acid in her face, burning through the optic nerves, and meaning she is now blind.
And so we get a scene in which I would like to throw all of the awards at Lange. The pain and guilt she exhibited and the attempts to physically attack the doctor made the scene so powerful and emotional. I am always in awe of Lange’s sheer talent. If she doesn’t win an Emmy for this season, I will boycott because that will be unacceptable.
In a pilled stupor — for she is constantly throwing back her “cancer” medication — Fiona walks the halls of the hospital and goes into the room of a woman who gave birth to a stillborn child. She forces the young woman to take the dead child in her arms and say that she will always be its mothers and care for it until it dies. Then, Fiona brings the baby back to life.
Pow. Right in the feels. Lange’s performance was better than perfect tonight and the writing for Fiona’s arc tonight was brilliant.
Back at the school, Luke (Alexander Dreymon) believes the zombies are simply jokes and ends up getting caught in the middle when Marie unleashes them. Nan (Jamie Brewer) runs out to save her love. Meanwhile, after some running and hiding, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) steps up and goes all Zoe the Zombie Slayer. Chainsaw in hand, she splices and dices the unwanted guests. The chainsaw breaks just when she only has one zombie left. Cornered, she falls to the ground and then suddenly uses her powers to not only kill the final zombie but wake up Marie, who had been floating in a stupor as she controlled the undead. When she wakes, Marie states, “They have real power in that witch house now.”
Many are probably saying that Zoe is to become the next Supreme, but if I know anything, it’s that I can never guess AHS properly. There’s no way the new Supreme would be as obvious a choice as Zoe. However, it’s cool that she can now do more than screw people to death.
Turmoil continued in the house as LaLaurie was forced to kill her zombie daughter who attacked Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). Let’s just say how cool it was when Queenie was trying to defend herself from the zombie. Because of her voodoo powers, instead of attacking the zombie, she attacked herself. It was like a horror film but in reverse. And again, I love Queenie and LaLaurie’s dynamic. I’m really excited to see that relationship grow.
Hank (Josh Hamilton) comes to Cordelia’s side in the hospital. After a quarrel with Fiona, he leans down by Cordelia’s side and takes her hand. Big mistake. New power alert! Cordelia flashes and has a vision of Hank’s sexual encounter with the girl he met online. Oh boy.
I cannot wait to see Cordelia’s arc. This is going to be an interesting ride.
The Council returns and orders Fiona to abdicate as Supreme — which would mean the Council would rule the coven until the new Supreme surfaces — but obviously that’s not going to work for her. Fiona then accuses Myrtle (Frances Conroy) of plotting against her the entire time after she revealed that Myrtle had been secretly living in New Orleans during the time of Madison’s (Emma Roberts) death and is set on taking Fiona’s power. Fiona also accuses her of being the one to attack Cordelia, which Myrtle denies saying she was more of a mother to Cordelia than Fiona. Then, Fiona rips off Myrtle’s glove and shows there are acid burns on her hand…
The Council decides: Burn the witch.
Myrtle’s last monologue is poignant: “You’re all a bunch of little toads in a pot Fiona is slowly bringing to boil. You won’t even feel it until it’s too late. I’d rather burn than boil.” I love Frances Conroy.
Set to Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” — a funky song that is quite inappropriate considering what’s happening — Myrtle’s burning is framed beautifully. The stark contrast of the coven in black to Myrtle in Puritan-style clothing and the simplicity of the setting made for a great shot. I don’t know who’s working the cameras over there, but even I’m noticing how well things are framed so they’re doing a really good job.
Queenie goes to Fiona saying she is uncomfortable lying about what they did: Queenie used her voodoo powers to make Myrtle’s hand be burned from acid!! Oh my stars. I can’t take the twists. I never see them coming. Fiona qualms her nerves by leading her to believe that she may be the next Supreme and that if she doesn’t fuss, Fiona will teach her everything she needs to know.
I don’t think it’s Queenie either.
Spalding (Denis O’Hare) is creepy as ever and dressed in doll drag again, except now he’s full blown mental. It’s gotten to the point where he needs to Lysol the room in order to mask the smell of Madison’s decaying corpse, of which he accidentally broke her arm in half as he tried to play real tea time with her. Oh that man needs serious therapy.
Back at the burn site, Misty (Lily Rabe) revives Myrtle, her blue eyes open in shock against a scorched black body. That was just one twist after another and I can’t handle it.
As always, the acting was top notch and the twists are getting better and better. Coven truly is turning out to be the best installment of AHS yet. The only thing I can say is that I’m not OK with not having Kyle (Evan Peters) in the episode. Peters needs to be seen every week, no exceptions. Also, what is honestly happening with him?! He escaped into the trick-or-treaters and Zoe just said “peace out?!” He better be in the next episode.