American Horror Story recap: A Very Aggressive Form of Treatment

Old threats and new ones torment the Salem witches, while Zoe tries to discover what happened to Madison
Ep. 06 | Aired Nov 13, 2013

SPEAK TO US, SPIRITS Queenie communes with the higher powers. Said higher powers really ought not to be communed with.

Michele K. Short/FX

Such a revelation required not just a single flashback but a double flashback. See, Hank fancies himself as a genuine double agent. Using Delia's role as the headmistress of Miss Robichaux's, he's tracked down several Salem descendants...and killed them all. The first flashback revealed that Kaylee, the redhead he murdered on Halloween, had visited Miss Robichaux's. The nested flashback revealed that she was pyrokinetic: When her boyfriend left her yelling about how weird she was, she set his hands on fire. Delia offered to help her realize her gifts, to become special.

But Kaylee, it turns out, just wanted to be normal. "I don't want to be powerful," she explained. "I want a husband and three kids." And Kaylee figured she had a good chance to make that dream come true: "I work out, I play Fantasy Football." In American Horror Story, that simple domesticity is always far out of reach. All of the lead characters from one fractured households of one kind or another -- with the exception of Delphine LaLaurie, who in the mid-1800s had a husband and three daughters who lived with her in a hellish parody of the domestic ideal. We saw in this flashback how Hank the Witch-Hunting Husband played into Kaylee's hopes, planning to give her the boyfriend experience before he blew her brains out.

Marie was not happy with him, though, not at all. So he brought her nine Salem descendants in three years? She didn't ask for that. She wanted her enemies gone. And lately, things had only been getting worse. They killed her Minotaur man. They brought Delphine back up from her grave. And, in the single best-delivered line of dialogue in the episode, Marie sternly told Hank: "When I plant a fatass cracker bitch, I expect her to stay planted." (ASIDE: Note that this line came in the same episode that saw Misty "planting" Myrtle in her garden. Death and rebirth, conjoined again. END OF ASIDE.)

And Marie thought she had figured out the problem. Hank was actually in love with Delia. Oh, what a tangled web we weave! So Marie had a simpler directive for her man on the inside: "Bring me their heads. All of them. Then you burn that place to the ground. Then I let you live."

Back at Miss Robichaux's, the young witches were making their own plans. No one would tell Fiona about Madison, or about Kyle. They offered to let Misty stay, but the swamp witch begged off. This wasn't the tribe she was looking for; she was getting bad vibes. (Will Misty start her own tribe? Or is she doomed to walk alone?) The sister witches asked Madison what she remembered. The actress knew her quote ($7 million a picture) and her accolades (two Teen Choice Awards, coincidentally tied with longtime nemesis Hayden Panettiere). They asked her what was the last thing she remembered. "Red." They asked her if there was light on the other side, and in the second best-delivered line of the episode, she said:

"There's nothing on the other side. Just black. Forever."

Now, it's looking more and more as if every single character on this season of American Horror Story will die and then come back to life. This could just be evidence that Ryan Murphy and his merry band are upping the ante on contemporary soap-opera theatrics: "Oh hey, Scandal! You think you're crazy? I'LL SHOW YOU CRAZY!" But I'm starting to wonder if the show is building up a deeper idea around all the resurrection. On season one of American Horror Story, death was a metaphor for stasis. People moved into the Murder House, got killed, and had to live the rest of eternity with the people they were supposed to love: It could be hell, unless you could figure out how to make your family functional again. Last season, Frances Conroy's Angel of Death offered something different: Peace. In that iteration, death was an end to the suffering that was existence. There were implications of contentment -- in particular, the final exit of Kit Walker felt a bit like Frodo going to the Grey Havens.

This season began with characters terrified of their own mortality: the Delphine wiping blood on her cheeks to eradicate wrinkles, Fiona struggling to cheat death, Marie hovering along the sidelines as an apparent vision of life everlasting. And Madison's statement initially seems to bear out their fears. There is nothing waiting for you on the other side. You should be afraid. Recall Grace Gummer at the beginning of the episode, turning over the Tarot Card: Death.

Of course, as anyone who has ever visited a fortune teller knows, the Tarot Card for Death doesn't really mean death. It generally refers to a time of radical transformation: The end of one part of your life, the beginning of another. Fear of death is really just a fear of change. In that sense, perhaps Coven is building up to a radical change in its world of witchery: A new era or some kind. Or maybe there is just nothing on the other side, and everyone who gets to live twice on Coven will appreciate their second life more than their first.

Yet another possible test case for this hypothesis quickly presented himself. Upstairs, the Axeman appeared to Delia. Seems he'd been trapped inside of that room for close to a century, ever since the witches killed him. I wasn't quite clear on the mechanics, but from what I could understand, the witches specifically imprisoned his spirit there. (Or maybe Miss Robichaux's works on the same principle as the Murder House -- though that means there's a Ghost Minotaur about somewhere.) He attacked Delia, and her screams brought the younger witches to her aid. They freed the Axeman, who walked out of the mansion, leaving Zoe behind to ponder how she keeps on setting resurrected murderers free in New Orleans.

At a local tavern, we found Fiona at a rough moment. She pulled out some of her hair: Evidence that her very aggressive form of treatment would be very aggressive indeed. We were back to that moment from a few episodes ago, when Fiona sat at the bar waiting for a man and watching all the boys chase girls half her age. Not this time, though. A man -- tall, dark, handsome, with that booming Huston voice and those dangerous Huston eyes -- set his hat down next to her. "Well hello, pretty lady," he said. She smiled.

Is the Axeman planning another murder? Or is this precisely the kind of bizarro love affair that Fiona was asking for? And will any episode of Coven not feature at least two resurrections?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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