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AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN “Burn, Witch. Burn!” Recap

Wow, what an episode!  The best of the season so far?  I’d say so.

We open on All-Hallows Eve, 1833 at Madame LaLaurie’s home.   A young man at the party takes interest in LaLaurie’s daughter Boquita, so LaLaurie invites him to her “chamber of horrors.”  In a spin on those old goofy Halloween party games where guests are asked to feel supposedly “gross” things in hidden bowls, LaLaurie shows the man several unseen objects.  However here the horrors are real–the peeled grapes really ARE human eyeballs, and the cold wet sausages are really intestines, due to LaLaurie’s love of mutilating slaves.  Soon afterwards, LaLaurie’s three daughters plot to murder her, but mother overhears them and adds them to her slave torture chamber, promising only to bring them out very Halloween.

Back at the bar in the present, Fiona hears the screams of Cordelia from the bathroom, and rushes to her side to see her eyes burned with acid.  Soon later in the hospital Fiona learns from one of the doctors that Cordelia will be permanently blinded.

At the coven house the (living) girls try to hide inside from the zombie hoard, led by LaLaurie’s three now undead daughters.  Zoe tries to call Fiona, but of course she is occupied at the hospital.  The neighbor boy Luke thinks it’s just a neighborhood prank, and runs outside to put an end to it.  However a few other REAL trick-or-treaters dressed as far less-convincing zombies approach the house, wowed by the “realistic” prosthetics.  It’s only when the zombies come alive and tear the kids apart that Luke realizes these voodoo-risen zombies are far more sinister, though he gets an axe in the back as he tries to return to the house.  Nan rushes outside to rescue him, and Zoe rushes out to save her.

In the hospital, Fiona sits next to a sick Cordelia.  Realizing she’s out of medication she wanders through the halls, sneaking into the medication room using her own hand as a key card (the perks of witchcraft!).  However the drugs make her head fuzzy, and she wanders dazed through the sickly hospital halls in a sequence that makes me wonder if she hadn’t stumbled into Briarcliff from last season.  She sees a mysterious hooded figure (the same one who threw the acid on Cordelia), and is even confronted by an old man who whispers, “You didn’t throw that acid but you might as well have.”  Finally, in a touching scene, she wanders into a would-be mother’s room, except the daughter was stillborn.  The distraught mother is reluctant to hold her dead baby, but Fiona convinces her to do so, asking her to tell the dead baby how much she loves it.  Helped by a bit of witchcraft and mother love, Fiona is able to bring the infant back to life.  Motherhood is a big theme this episode, and though Fiona has never been a good mother herself, she is able to give life to another child who will likely have a far more caring mother than herself.

Back at the coven house, in a sequence that would be easily be at home on “The Walking Dead,” Zoe draw the zombies away from Nan and Luke by banging pots and pans.  As they pursue her she rushes into the garden shed to escape.  In the house, Madame LaLaurie (foolishly!) lets her undead daughter Boquita into the house in order to try and make amends, but the zombie only snarls and attacks.  Out of curiosity though, why is LaLaurie worried?  Isn’t she immortal?  In any case the zombie makes its way upstairs, attacking Queenie.  Queenie manages to use her self-inflicting voodoo to injure the zombie, but it does little good as the creatures is already dead.  Luckily LaLaurie manages to kill the zombie by stabbing it through the chest with a poker.  LaLaurie sits on the bed, lamenting to Queenie how Boquita had a monster for a mother.

YEAH!!!

Outside the zombies draw their attention back to Nan and Luke, when suddenly Zoe appears with a FREAKING CHAINSAW.  She slices the zombies to pieces in a sequence that would make Sam Raimi proud, but is eventually overwhelmed as the chainsaw (of course) stalls out.  It all seems over for Zoe, when she suddenly reaches out and whispers a few mysterious words.  The zombie falls dead, and levitating voodoo-queen Marie Laveau falls to the floor, shocked by this new terrible power she has not yet faced.  See, I told you Zoe was in line to be the supreme!

At the hospital, Hank finally arrives to look after his wife.  Fiona gets in a confrontation with Hank, telling him what she really thinks about him.  The confrontation escalates, and a nurse arrives, threatening to throw them out.  Fiona gets up, promising Hank only fifteen minutes before she returns.  Hank goes to his wife, holding her hand, and Cordelia LURCHES AWAKE IN BED.  She has a vision of Hank having sex with Kaylee.  Cordelia may have lost her eyesight, but appears she has gained a new gift of seeing the truth, and I have a pretty good idea who it might have given it to her.  Remember somebody we met last episode who was always trying to reveal the truth?

At the house, the witches burn the undead bodies.  We learn that Luke is recovering upstairs (something Fiona is OK with since she doesn’t want to attract the attention of his bible-thumping mother), and that Fiona is proud of Zoe for her hard work.  As LaLaurie and Fiona watch the flames, they both share thoughts about their daughters.  Suddenly the three Council members appear once more to question Fiona.

The Council demands that Fiona give up the title of Supreme, given all the recent problems the coven has had to deal with.  Since no new Supreme has appeared to take Fiona’s place, the Council will look after the coven, which means Myrtle Snow will be running the place.  Fiona explains to the other Council members that Myrtle has been plotting against them all along.  In flashback in the hospital, we see the hooded figure enter the elevator, and Fiona has just enough time to see Myrtle’s face under the hood in a reflection as the doors closed.  As far as Fiona is concerned, Myrtle is trying to steal away not only the Supremacy but also the love for her daughter as she never had one herself.  Fiona even blames Myrtle for killing Madison, having had Spalding track her down, discovering she had arrived in New Orleans weeks before the other Council members were aware.  In flashback, we see Fiona and Spalding enter a motel room and take pictures of Myrtle’s wall, which is peppered with a collage of photos of Fiona with her face crossed out with red ink.  Fiona shows these pictures to the Council members.  Myrtle grows hysterical, screaming, “She had to be stopped!” and Fiona rips off her red gloves to reveal Myrtle’s hands coated in acid…the same acid used on Cordelia.  The other Council members decide Myrtle is indeed to blame, and she must be burned.  Realizing she has nowhere to turn, Myrtle defiantly accepts, saying she has felt an outcast her entire life.

The witches walk out to an old quarry, and Myrtle is tied up and covered in gasoline.  Myrtle warns that Fiona is going to bring the coven down if they aren’t careful, but Fiona flips a cigarette, and POOF…up in flames she goes.  The end of the guilty Myrtle, right?

Even though it's probably hot out and that black must be killing them, Zoe's hat was also super-stylish.
Even though it’s probably hot out and that black must be killing them, Zoe’s hat was also super-stylish.

Back at the coven, we learn that perhaps Myrtle was not so innocent.  In flashback, we see that the acid burns appearing under Myrtle’s gloves were really the result of Queenie sticking her own voodoo hand in a glass of acid.  How much (if any?) of Fiona’s story was real?  Queenie feels guilty after having seen Myrtle go up in flames.  Fiona calms her down, reassuring her that perhaps she is the next Supreme.  Queenie likes this idea, and leaves Fiona’s room feeling much better.  Meanwhile in Spalding’s room we see he still has the body of Madison, though she is starting to rot.  When he pulls her out of a toy chest, her arm falls off.

And finally, back at the quarry, two hungry dogs are shooed away as they investigate a charred body.  My favorite witchy woman, Misty Day, reaches down to Myrtle’s body, and Myrtle’s eyes open.  Misty also has lamented about feeling like an outcast, and now she has found another lost soul.  It will be very exciting to see where this will lead.

Read last week’s recap here!

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The Author

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. Son of an archaeologist, he spent his childhood years developing a fondness of nature and the outdoors, which was rivaled only for his love of filmmaking and storytelling.
In 2008 he graduated from the University of Southern California's film program, and currently makes a living as an editor in addition to working on his own creative projects.
He has a weakness for redheads, seafood pasta, and dinosaurs.