By Meryl Gottlieb| firstname.lastname@example.org| @buzzlightmeryl
American Horror Story airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
American Horror Story is adding a new villain to rank in league with The Rubber Man and Bloody Face. Let’s welcome The Axeman, played Danny Huston. This villain, however, is very different; he was real. The Axeman was a serial killer who terrorized New Orleans from May 1918 until October 1919. The show did a phenomenal job paralleling the true horror with the fictional terror.
It’s 1919 in New Orleans and the town is in a frantic as the Axeman continues his terror. Huston’s monologue is chilling as he reads a letter he wrote to the town saying how he will murder the occupants of homes who do not have a jazz band “in full swing” at 12:15 a.m. next Tuesday night. This takes having a music obsession to a whole new level. He even carries his axe in a saxophone case.
Fun fact: That letter the Axeman wrote in the episode was actually written by the real Axeman. This is what I mean by saying they mixed reality and fiction perfectly.
Just like in real life, the Axeman’s terror ends in October 1919, but in reality, no one knows why it ended so abruptly. In the AHS universe, it’s because the girls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy had enough and took matters into their own hands, led by Meryl Streep’s daughter of course (Grace Gummer for those of you who didn’t recognize her). Instead of jazz, they played opera and lured in the killer but instead, he was the one who was greeted with blades. The entire academy repeatedly stabbed him. I think he got the point a little earlier — pun most certainly intended.
Back in the present, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is rummaging and is led to a secret closet in which she finds several artifacts from the past, including an old Ouija board and photos of past classes of witches, including the group who killed the Axeman. As she looks through the photos, Zoe sees how the numbers have been dwindling and says they can’t afford to lose one more, meaning they need to find Madison (Emma Roberts). But first, they all take shots of absinthe. Because, you know, logic.
Zoe, Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) use the Ouija board and just so happen to come into contact with the Axeman’s spirit. Queenie is not about that, so she slaps the shot glass to the ground — yes they were using a shot glass on the Ouija board. Class.
Fiona (Jessica Lange) is having cancer treatments with an unlikely side effect: telepathy. She hears the thoughts of fellow patients, says she’s only doing the treatment for Cordelia’s (Sarah Paulson) sake and confesses all she wants is one more great love affair in her life.
There’s a surprising lack of Lange in this episode, which is a crime, but the very few moments she’s in the episode are — as one could expect — fantastic.
With Nan and Queenie out, Zoe turns to the Ouija board herself to get answers. She’s directed to the attic where she finds Madison’s body in Spalding’s (Denis O’Hare) room. How that man has kept his doll cave a secret for so long is unbelievable. Did no one ever see him transport hundreds of dolls upstairs? Anyone?
Zoe and Queenie interrogate Spalding as Nan hears his thoughts, which are creepy. He eloquently lies about killing Madison and plotting to have sexual relations with her corpse.
Cordelia returns and any time anyone touches her, she flashes on something scandalous from said person’s past. For Hank (Josh Hamilton), she sees his relation with the redhead again and finally kicks him out. Even when Fiona touches her, she sees Myrtle’s (Frances Conroy) burning and is not pleased to hear the news about “auntie Myrtle.”
“Anything else you want to tell me now because I will see it sooner or later. I had to go blind to see things about you I couldn’t see before. A bad cosmic joke,” Cordelia scoffs at Hank.
I’ve said this every week, but I cannot wait to keep seeing this storyline develop.
We finally see how Misty (Lily Rabe) revives the dead: she buries them in a flowerbed of sorts and waters them until they have healed. Resurgence: Extreme Mudbath Edition.
After triumphing over his abusive mother, Kyle ran to the first place he could probably remember where he felt safe. When he showed up in Misty’s garden, he looked so in need of help and a hug. I am AMAZED at Peters’ acting capabilities. He says nothing and simply grunts every now and then, yet his performance could certainly beat out others in a race for the Emmy. This is most evident in the way Kyle yearns for Zoe. Every time she comes into the room he turns to her and reaches out — in the case of tonight’s episode, he runs and hugs her — and it’s heart-wrenching. He’s in love with her, yet she has not reciprocated one feeling. Why does she not see it?!
Misty tries to help Kyle and wash him, since he’s still covered in blood, but when she is giving him a bath, he recalls moments of his abuse and has a meltdown and destroys just about everything in Misty’s home, including the radio and Stevie Nicks tapes.
“You broke Stevie,” Misty cried. That was the final straw.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that Peters was naked this entire time, and we often got glimpses of his wonderful tush and it was splendid. More please.
Zoe comes in the nick of time and takes them both to the Academy. She chains Kyle to the wall — oh the look on his face! Seriously, can Peters just take the Emmy now? Zoe enlists Misty to revive Madison. After pushing out the death inside of her — which apparently meant just getting the bugs out of her — Misty brings Madison back to life. And then we have the greatest welcome back line: “I need a cigarette.”
I cackled so loudly. Even after death, Madison is still Madison, and I love it. I’m glad she’s back. I’ve missed the hilarity and sass.
Madison doesn’t remember who killed her though; she can only remember seeing red.
In other mind-blowing news, Hank is a witch hunter who’s been working for Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett)!!!! His mission for the past six years has been to kill Salem descendants, and he was just using Cordelia to gain access. That redhead, Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge)? She was a girl who considered coming to Miss Robichaux’s but instead aspired for a normal life with romance, so he snuck his way in to kill her. However, Marie is not happy with Hank’s performance and with all that’s been going on lately. When she buries “a fat ass cracker,” she expects her to stay in the ground; the witches are just waltzing into her territory and he’s gone soft. So she gives him an ultimatum: She’ll let him live only if he brings her back the heads of everyone in the house and burns the house to ground. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.
If Bassett does not receive recognition for her work on this show, then I will write a strongly worded letter to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. That monologue was perfect and she is excellent as Marie.
As Cordelia undresses and attempts to find her way around her room, she meets the Axeman’s spirit who terrorizes her until she agrees to release him since Zoe backed out on the deal they had made — he told her where to find Madison and she would set his spirit free. Zoe and the girls hear Cordelia scream and race to find a spell to make him go away. They succeeded in getting him to leave Cordelia alone, however they didn’t squash his spirit, instead they released him.
Here I’ll mention the main reason why I consistently say I’m excited to see more from Cordelia: Sarah Paulson is a phenomenal actress. Though this scene did mostly consist of her falling into many a furniture piece, it was quite Wait Until Dark-esque and that’s a terrifying but great story. Also that scream of hers makes my spine shiver ever time.
He is now out on the town, and whom of all people does he run into at a bar where jazz music is played in the background? Fiona, who if you remember, mentioned earlier in the episode that she was looking for love. Oh, this is going to be interesting.
While it may not have been as much of an edge-of-your-seat type of episode, “The Axeman Cometh” certainly set up a ton of interesting plot points and still managed to be just as entertaining and intriguing as the next episode. Major kudos to the writers this season. I can’t explain how amazed I am each week that Coven simply gets better and better.