The boundaries of morality are tested and the expectations of motherhood explored in tonight's episode of American Horror Story: Coven
In 1833 New Orleans, on All Hallows Eve, Madame LaLaurie and her daughters open tonight's episode of American Horror Story: Coven
. Turns out, LaLaurie was a terrible mother in addition to just being a terrible person.
After her daughters make vague comments about their mother "mysteriously" dying, LaLaurie has some of her slaves drag them to her Chamber of Horrors, where she vows to keep them for a year. This is after entertaining her guests by having them touch real body parts that they at first believe to be harmless substitutes, and after having one slave break one of her daughter's legs. Mother of the Year award needed over here, am I right?
In the present-day Coven timeline, LaLaurie's daughters, along with plenty more denizens of Marie's legion of the dead, are at the Academy's doorstep. And each of the characters has a different reaction to the attack.
Luke and Nan
Luke, the super cute neighbor visiting during the undead invasion, believes the entire thing is a prank and goes outside to tell the intruders off. Obviously, this does not end well. Some random dudes wander onto the scene and the zombies go ahead and murder one right in front of Luke before turning on him.
Nan rushes out to save Luke and manages to drag him to a nearby car, but only after he's been hacked in the back by one of the zombies. But the safety of their refuge is soon compromised, and it looks like they're done for. Just then, Zoe rushes out and bangs some pots together to distract the attackers, and they chase after her instead.
Zoe Takes Charge
I have to say, Zoe is pretty badass this entire episode. Finally! The girl gets a backbone and some great scenes! This is all long overdue if you ask me, but I digress. After she leads the zombies away from Luke and Nan, Zoe runs to some sort of shed and hides. But she quickly finds a better way to protect herself than simply hiding in a car: namely, a chainsaw.
Nan drops Luke as she's attempting to drag him back to the house, and Zoe shows up just in time with the chainsaw and cuts off the nearest zombie attacker's head, saving the day.
Then Zoe goes on a massive zombie killin' spree and it's all very epic and gory and wow, were the writers saving up all of Zoe's oomph for this moment? To top it off, when the chainsaw dies and a last zombie comes at her (sidenote: isn't the chainsaw still sharp? couldn't she still inflict some serious damage? anyway...), Zoe taps into a previously undisplayed power and causes the zombie to drop and...die, I guess.
Elsewhere, Marie, who has been orchestrating the entire assault, drops to the floor from her levitated position. She now knows that there is some serious magic going on at the Academy. Does this mean Zoe is in fact the new Supreme?
Queenie and LaLaurie
Queenie is out of bed initially during the attack, but LaLaurie leads her back to it when it's clear that she's in pain. When LaLaurie goes to the kitchen to get her ice, Spalding is left to watch Queenie. Which doesn't work out for him when LaLaurie is gone for awhile and Queenie demands that he go find her, only for him to be attacked in the hallway by one of LaLaurie's daughters.
The daughter, Borquita, was outside the window of the kitchen when LaLaurie looked out and saw her, and the remorseful new LaLaurie opens the door for her. "Come back to me, child," she says, as she reaches out. Of course Zombie!Borquita is having none of that, and she chokes her mother.
But apparently she does not kill her, because after Zombie!Borquita attacks Spalding upstairs, and after Queenie attempts to hold her off by harming her using her voodoo doll power, LaLaurie shows up in the room as well. She stabs the girl in the back, I'm guessing through her spinal cord, and the dead girl drops. LaLaurie later proclaims that the girl had a monster for a mother, and cries on Queenie.
Again with the kinder, gentler side to Madame LaLaurie that I'm not totally comfortable with. Are we meant to believe that all that time in her coffin somehow warped her personality?
Mothers and Daughters
The other big storyline this episode involves the bonds between mothers and daughters; Fiona and Cordelia, LaLaurie and her daughters, and even a random patient and her daughter in the hospital Cordelia is in following the attack on her at the bar.
Fiona rushed to Cordelia's aid right after the incident, and she is extremely upset when a doctor at the hospital informs her that Cordelia is now blind. Her eyes were burned with what appeared to be sulphuric acid, and the damage has been done. But who carried out the assault?
Fiona is unable to cope with the news, and she goes looking for meds in the hospital after her own stash has run dry. She magically breaks into a medicine room (are they really that easy to find in a hospital? I wouldn't know), steals a ton of pills, takes them, then seems to hallucinate? Or at least walk around in an extremely corrupted state of mind.
In what might be a hallucination, she comes upon a mother in one of the rooms, and her stillborn baby lies nearby. I like to think a doctor wouldn't leave a distraught mother and her dead baby in the same room, so I'm making the assumption that this is indeed a hallucination. But what happens next makes me hope that it isn't.
Fiona brings the dead baby girl to the mother, and has her tell the child that she loves her and that she's beautiful, among other things. She has her repeat some of the phrases, and seems to wrangle her witchy ways into bringing the baby back to life. The whole thing is sorta sweet and yet extremely bizarre.
Later, Cordelia's a-hole of a husband shows up, and he and Fiona argue a bit before she leaves. He promises that he won't ever go away, and when he touches his wife, Cordelia suddenly "sees" his infidelity and the murder he committed. Looks like Cordelia has given up one form of sight for another.
You Don't Mess With a Supreme
After burning the bodies of the zombies with some of the girls (how did none of their neighbors think something strange was going on in their backyard? seriously??), Fiona again faces trial by coven council. They demand her immediate abdication due to the series of incidents that have occurred at the school since her arrival, and the coven will be under their control until the reveal of a new Supreme.
But of course, Fiona is not about to take that lying down. She accuses Myrtle of stealing the coven, then demands that they listen to her before offering evidence that the enemy of the academy is, in fact, Myrtle herself.
In what may or may not have been a hallucination, she claims to have seen Myrtle in a black robe at the hospital; the same black-clad figure was seen at the bar that attacked Cordelia. She accuses Myrtle of both attacking Cordelia and murdering Madison, and tells the council that she figured out Myrtle's alias at a local hotel and was able to go into the room booked under that name. In the room, a wall adorned with a ton of photos of Fiona with various x's and other marks was found.
In addition, Fiona rips the glove off of Myrtle's hand, and it's disfigured the way skin touched by acid would be. This, along with Myrtle's long dislike of Fiona, damns the red-haired witch. The council decides to burn Myrtle at the stake, and she resigns herself to this fate.
The whole coven attends the burning, which is apparently located somewhere remote because otherwise I don't know how it wouldn't attract some attention. Aside from, well, magic I suppose.
Myrtle is dressed in white and the witnesses in black, and she is tied to a stake and covered in gasoline. Fiona throws a lit cigarette at Myrtle, and she burns in front of them all.
The Next Supreme?
After Myrtle's burning death, Queenie goes to Fiona and asks whether she helped frame a guilty woman or an innocent one. Turns out, the burns on Myrtle's hand were thanks to Queenie standing in a nearby room and sticking her own hand in a cup of acid.
Queenie is understandably upset by the outcome of her agreeing to help Fiona, but Fiona distracts her by convincing her that her mind is getting stronger, and that under her mentorship she could do great things. Including, she claims, become the next Supreme. Queenie likes the sound of that, and Fiona tells her that as long as she follows her instructions, the girl will be well on her way.
Living Dead Girls
At the end of the episode, we see Spalding being creepy in his room again. He tries to take Madison out of a toy box, and manages to rip off her arm in the process. What exactly did he think was going to happen if he kept a dead body for an extended period of time?!
Oh, and Misty goes to the site of Myrtle's burning and touches the charred remains there. The eyes popping open is a bit of a predictable outcome, but it's still an eerie ending shot for the episode.
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 PM on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)