American Horror Story recap: Burn or Boil

Zombies come a-knocking on Halloween night. Warning: Bloodshed and maternal anxiety may ensue
Ep. 05 | Aired Nov 6, 2013

BURNING LOVE Zoe watches in horror as the Coven executes one of its own.

Back at Miss Robichaux's, the ladies were responding to the impending zombie threat. Things became complicated when Neighbor Boy decided to take matters into his own hands. Thinking the reanimated corpses were just pranksters pretending to be reanimated corpses, he walked outside to give them a piece of his mind. At that moment, a prankster dressed like a zombie walked up to the real zombies and said, "Your prosthetics look awesome!" (Which is how the background extras flirt on the set of The Walking Dead.) At that moment, across town, a levitating Marie Laveau sent out an order to her undead regiment: "BEGIN." The zombies came to life and took a piece of the prankster's mind. They also stuck an axe in his side and pulled off his head. Then they started after the Neighbor Boy.

Inside, Zoe tried to take control. She told Spalding to hide everyone in his room. Spalding shook his head. (You'll recall that last week's episode ended with a tea party attended by several freaky dolls and The Metaphorically Decomposing Corpse of Emma Roberts. Which is just not a sentence I'll ever write about New Girl.) Zoe demanded Spalding watch Queenie and LaLaurie. Behind her, Nan slipped out, picking up the injured Neighbor Boy and carrying him to a car.

To rescue them, Zoe clanged some pots and pans together and led them to the greenhouse. I'm toying with the idea that Coven's greenhouse is meant to be some kind of bizarro-inversion of the Garden of Eden; in the last few episodes, it's been the sight of a pagan fertility ritual and has hosted a Minotaur and a fleet of Zombies. (I'm envisioning an entire episode inside of the greenhouse, where you see the garden's entire history in one hour. It would be like the Apartment scene from City of God crossed with "The Garden of Earthly Delights.")

In the house, the Madame went downstairs to get some ice. Naturally, she saw her daughter, the one named Corquita or Torkeekwa or Brunhilda. She opened the door for the zombie, which is just not something one ought to do for zombies. "What has she done to you?" asked the Madame. And then -- in a epiphany-leaping realization moment -- she asked the real question: "What have I done to you?" By way of response, Borquita (I checked the credits!) started strangling her.

Upstairs, the daughter-husk knocked out Spalding with a candlestick and made a move on Queenie. Queenie used her totally awesome power to fight back. (I'm not sure what to call Queenie's abilities, so I'm gonna go with "Weaponized Pain." Or maybe "Lateralized Self-Inflicted Aggression.") The zombie was stunned, but didn't stop. Not until the Madame stabbed a fireplace poker through her midsection.

The she-zombie slumped over, re-dead. This was interesting, since it seemed to violate the commonly-accepted rule of mainstream zombiedom that you have to take out the head. Also, why would Marie send the zombie daughters to kill the Madame, when she herself cast LaLaurie's immortality spell? Probably to torment her: To force LaLaurie to strike against her own flesh and blood. Whatever the reason, LaLaurie's evening of epiphanies continued: "She had a monster for a mother. This last act was the only kindness I ever did for her." Mere minutes after Fiona brought one dead daughter to life, LaLaurie sent her own dead daughter back into the abyss. The two events were in conversation with each other: Hope for the future shading into despair at the uncompromising void, cycling back towards hope for every new generation. With serious competition from the Lange division, Kathy Bates wins this week's American Horror Story Grande Dame Diva-Off, just because I'm not sure any other actress could've made me believe the moment when -- mere inches from her dead daughter's corpse -- the historically evil racist sociopath cried into Queenie's arms.

This was about the moment when Zoe found the chainsaw.

NEXT: Groovy.

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