AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN “The Axeman Cometh” Recap
This week doesn’t quite live up to last week’s thrilling episode, but it’s still a fun one and it lays out a lot of groundwork for some fun plot-lines down the road. We open in 1919 at the start of the Jazz Age, when a mysterious Axeman (played with a soft cool menace by Danny Huston) is going on a murderous spree throughout New Orleans, leaving everyone fearful. In case you were wondering, like both Marie Laveau and Madame LaLaurie the Axeman of New Orleans is based on a real person…look it up! In the most protracted prologue sequence we’ve yet had this season, we learn that the Axeman keeps his weapon of choice in his saxophone case, and has a penchant for jazz music. He leaves a note in the newspaper promising not to kill anyone who has a jazz band playing in their homes on the upcoming Tuesday night, but in the coven house (full of proud young suffragette witches!) the young ladies decide to defy the Axeman. They play opera music in one of the high rooms of their house, drawing the Axeman inside. Yet when he moves to kill one of the young witches (reading tarot cards), she springs the trap. As he moves to strike her she suddenly teleports behind him, stabbing him with a knife. As he falls down the rest of the witches appear out of the darkness and move in for the kill, slicing him to pieces. So long, Axeman…right?
In the modern day, Zoe sorts through Madison’s possessions, at one point startled to find a small handgun. A moment later she discovers a small alcohol bottle, which rolls across the floor and points to a hidden panel in a closet wall. Zoe investigates, finding photographs of the 1919 witches and an old Ouija board! Zoe shows the pictures to Nan and Queenie, explaining to them how witches’ numbers have been dwindling over the years, and it’s time to do something about it. She wants to use the Ouija board to find out what happened to Madison. Queenie is reluctant about all this, having had a bad experience with an escaped spirit from an Ouija board once before. However Zoe convinces her otherwise, and they begin to commune with the board. Of course they don’t make contact with Madison’s spirit, but the Axeman! As the glass begins moving by itself across the table, Queenie freaks out and knocks it over, shattering it.
In a hospital, Fiona undergoes cancer treatment. Perhaps it’s the drugs, but suddenly she finds herself able to understand the other patients around her, hearing all their sad thoughts. Fiona can’t take it, and she rips out the IV from her arm. The doctor calms her down, and Fiona admits she’s only undergoing the treatment to help Cordelia, not herself. Fiona wonders if she will lose her hair due to the treatment, but the doctor assures her that everyone reacts differently. As Fiona fades from the sedatives, she admits that she wants just one more love affair in her life, and “just to belong to somebody.” The doctor tells her how his own mother, about her age, just met someone on eHarmony, and they just went on vacation to Nova Scotia. Fiona smiles, comforted slightly.
Meanwhile, Zoe is convinced the spirit of the Axeman can tell her where Madison is, so she decides to play with the board on her own. She promises the spirit she will set him free, and almost immediately the spirit tells her Madison is in the attic. Zoe goes to the attic, and is repulsed by a foul smell. After investigating Spalding’s various dolls, she opens up the toy chest to find the body of Madison…right as Spalding shows up behind her!
Fiona makes Cordelia’s bed as she returns home with Hank, blind and using a cane. As Hank brushes her arm, she gets another flash of him having sex with Kaylee. Hank tries to deny it but she tells him how she will see every bit of truth in him from now on. She sends him out the door, Fiona helping with a flick of her wrist, causing the door to swing open. As Fiona helps Cordelia undress, Cordelia gets a flash of “Auntie Myrtle” burning at the stake. Fiona tells Cordelia she did this because Myrtle was the one who attacked her with the acid, but Cordelia doesn’t believe it, since she and Myrtle had such a strong relationship together.
Meanwhile it turns out Zoe had little trouble overwhelming Spalding, and they now sit down and question him, Queenie using her voodoo powers with a hot spatula against her flesh, and Nan reading his thoughts to get the truth. However Spalding is no dummy, and he is able to cloud his thoughts and make Nan think he is the one who killed Madison, covering for Fiona. Queenie is angry, and pushes the hot spatula against her own face, knocking Spalding unconscious. Zoe isn’t convinced Spalding is telling the truth (he has grown up around witches for decades), but there is no way to question him now.
Meanwhile in the swamp, Misty Day tends to her garden, including a large earthen mound that is actually the body of Myrtle Snow, reaching out and impatient to joint the real world. Misty placates the burned hand when she is startled by another hand behind her…that of Kyle. Listening to more Stevie Nicks from the radio, Misty bathes Kyle. Yet when she goes to dry him he gets flashes of his abusive mother, and freaks out. He wrecks her cabin, going so far as to destroy her radio and Nicks’ sultry voice. Misty bursts into tears just as Zoe arrives. Misty asks for her to take him away.
Zoe takes Kyle and Misty to the greenhouse, and shows Misty the body of Madison. Misty doesn’t think she can do it, considering how rotted Madison’s body is, but Zoe pleads and finally convinces the swamp woman. With much effort and a bit of help from Zoe, Misty is able to revive Madison, who sits up on the table exclaiming, “I need a cigarette.”
Meanwhile, Hank goes to meet with Marie Laveau…it turns out they have been working together! We learn that Laveau had nothing to do with Cordelia’s acid attack (meaning it probably was Myrtle), but also that Hank was hired by Laveau to be a professional witch hunter. He is the one who has been taking out the witches! In flashback we see that Kaylee was actually meeting with Cordelia to possibly join the coven, but declined (she was charged for arson for setting her boyfriend on fire due to her powers). Hank overhears the conversation, and later murders Kaylee. Hank has been trying to get Laveau what she needs, but Laveau thinks he as gone soft and fallen for Cordelia. Laveau demands that Hank go back to kill all the witches in the coven house, and if so she promises she’ll let him live.
At the coven Misty leaves (after raiding the fridge), realizing she doesn’t belong with the girls here. Zoe decides Madison needs to stay hidden, and Misty refuses to take Kyle back in after he destroyed her radio. Zoe asks Misty to stay, but Misty is prickled by the “bad vibes” in the house.
In her room, Cordelia comes face-to-face with those very same bad vibes. Her new powers allow her to “see” the Axeman, who is upset for not getting released as promised by Zoe. He terrorizes Cordelia, chasing her around the room.
Zoe, Queenie, and Nan try to get information out of Madison, but she doesn’t remember how she died…only the color red (the color of Fiona’s dress at the time of death). The girls’ interrogation of Madison is interrupted as they hear Cordelia’s screams. Zoe rushes to a room full of books, and uses her ever-growing ability to pick the correct book and read the right spell. As they read a spell candles light up and the Axeman disappears.
Or did he? Strolling down the street, away from the coven house, the Axeman once again returns to the streets of New Orleans. He wanders into a bar and approaches a woman there who drinks alone…Fiona. She smiles at him, perhaps finding that last love affair she has been looking for…we shall find out next week!