Myrtle convened the Coven for a rite known as the Sacred Taking. In silent-film flashback, we saw the history of the Taking, which had only been invoked three times. The most famous incident came in Salem, 1692, when the witches decided to flee South to avoid persecution. The consumptive Supreme knew she was too weak to survive the trip. So she took her own life, bestowing her power immediately on the next Supreme. "Can you imagine the Salem witches traveling here in covered wagons, without a proper charcuterie platter or a bidet?" pondered Myrtle. (Big week for Frances Conroy!)
So that was the plan: Convince Fiona to off herself, and watch as one of their number ascends to Supremehood. Not that everyone was exactly hankering for that responsibility. The faces of past Supremes stared down at them from the walls: How many of those women had happy lives? Supreme power goes hand in hand with crushing responsibility. Fiona only survived, we were told, because she ran from that responsibility.
That was an interesting detail. We've come to know Fiona as a power-hungry figure: A woman who killed her own mentor to grasp power early, who decades later killed her own student to hold onto that same power. But this episode suggested that Fiona was also a very different kind of figure in the Coven's history: A woman who, amidst the liberated wave of mid-'60s ideology, tried to set her own path. (This was an episode where Fiona talked about her time at Woodstock -- and Woodstock is one of those things that always symbolizes some idea of the '60s, like JFK and Jim Morrison and everything Oliver Stone made movies about when Oliver Stone was still making good movies.)
Upstairs, Fiona was just finishing a bout of nausea when the Coven kickstarted their plan. She emerged into her bedroom to see Madison, dressed in red, dancing to "Season of the Witch" by Donovan. Madison announced that she had resurrected herself: She was the new Supreme, after all. And that meant Fiona was over and done. They would burn her at the stake. Or she could take the easier way out: Swallow a few pills and go to sleep. Madison left, but she was just the prologue for the equally-resurrected Myrtle. "Is everyone back from the dead?" asked Fiona.
Fiona had an exit strategy. She was leaving on a forever-vacation with the Axeman. "I have finally found someone I belong to, I truly love." He would take care of her. Wouldn't he? Myrtle preyed on Fiona's fears. We saw a sequence -- a fantasy? a premonition? the bleakest and best-acted episode of Red Shoe Diaries ever? -- where a withered Fiona lay on her deathbed, steadfastly not-quite-dead. The Axeman had to leave. The smells made him sick. We left dying Fiona falling off the bed: "I'll die soon! I promise!" Imagining that last bit pushed Fiona over the edge: The idea of herself -- alone, unmourned, and unloved -- was enough to send her to the pills.
NEXT: The next Supreme?