American Horror Story: Coven S03E05 Recap: "Burn, Witch. Burn!"

This week on AHS Coven, we pick up right where last week's cliff hanger left off. The academy is under siege by the undead, forcing each young witch to show their strength and survival skills, and Fiona is left reeling when Delia is attacked, leaving her badly burnt and blind. In amongst the chaos they still have the council to deal with, and they are getting pretty pyre-happy. By the end of it, lots of questions are answered, but even more are brought up.

The Plot

It is Old Hallows Eve in the house of LaLavier, and Delphine is really into it. She's having a big party and introducing her daughters to all the eligible bachelors. However, making a match proves difficult when she keeps scaring their suitors off by taking them through her house of horrors, where the traditional bowls of peeled grapes and sausage links are replaced by real eyeballs and intestines harvested from her victims. It is also revealed that her relationship with her daughters was a lot more strained than previously imagined, to say the least. After overhearing them planning her murder, Delphine has them taken to the torture chamber and locked up for a year to pay for their crimes. This would also explain how it is that her daughter would've gotten to know Bastien (the minotaur).

Flash forward to present day, we pick up directly where we left off last week, with LaLavier's zombie daughters at the door. However, what we didn't see last week is how they brought a lot of friends with them. The house is completely surrounded, though not everyone appreciates the danger that they're in. The hot neighbour Luke goes outside to try and reason with them, only to watch them tear apart some trick or treating teens. He almost meets a similar fate, but Nan (who has really got it bad in the crush department) swoops in to save him. This gets her in quite a position as well, driving Zoe into action. She finally grows a spine and fights off the zombies pretty much single handed, drawing them away from the others and then taking them apart with a chainsaw. As horror fans were probably able to predict, she runs out of juice just as the last zombie closes in on her. Just when you start thinking that she has met her end, she reaches out with her magic, telling the zombie "Be in your nature", causing him to return to being a normal corpse. This breaks the spell connection Marie Laveau had on her monsters, and she falls to the ground, shocked at the amount of power it took to shake her loose.

Fiona meanwhile is waiting for news of Delia at the hospital, and the prognosis is not good. It appears that she has had her optical nerve burnt out by sulphuric acid, meaning she'll most likely be permanently blinded. This sends Fiona into a guilt and drug fuelled tailspin, as she wanders the worlds creepiest, most dilapidated looking hospital ever. She enters the room of a women who just went through giving birth to a stillborn baby (whose body has been inexplicably left in the room with still-bloody mom who is all alone - the staff here aren't winning any prizes). Fiona gets the mother to hold her baby's body and promise to love it and be a good mother to it before bringing it back to life.

Hank has arrived fresh off his murder vacation to rush to his wife's bedside. After a pissing contest with Fiona, he is left alone with Delia and promises not to abandon her no matter what. However, his reassurances are made less comforting when he touches her, causing her to have a vision of everything that he's been up to in the past few days. It is left at that for this week, so we will have to wait and see exactly what Delia does about this revelation or if Hank can talk himself out of trouble.

They are cleaning up the zombie parts at the academy, discussing how Nan will have to keep Justin hidden away while he recovers (lucky girl), when The council shows up (having been no help, typical bureaucrats) to continue their little witch hunt from last week. It seems that Myrtle will finally get her revenge on her high school nemesis, having convinced the others that Fiona must be removed as Supreme. This all back fires however, as Fiona convinces the council that Myrtle is behind the attack on her daughter (which she maybe is) and possibly even Madison's disappearance. This leaves her in the clear and Myrtle on the pyre.

They decide to make a day of it, and all of the girls are brought to witness what happens when you mess with a Supreme. Myrtle gives a defiant speech about how she dies freely to avoid the fate of the rest of the coven, who she says are all toads in a pot of water that Fiona is bringing to a boil. She is dosed in gasoline, and Fiona lights her up with a careless flick of her cigarette. This is not the last we will hear of Myrtle Snow though. Misty shows up right at the end and brings her back to life, so some future revenge plot is most likely pending.

My Thoughts:

This week gets top marks from me so far because I finally got the chills I've been waiting for. It may just be me, but those zombies were truly horrifying. I tip my hat to their makeup department because hot damn, those were cool. Their designs were unique in amongst a sea of zombie shows and movies that one would assume would have the genre tapped out. Kathy Bates is also hugely terrifying in her role, and every flash back to the house of LaLaurie is fantastic.

However, with every new insight into her past, it is getting increasingly difficult to muster up any sympathy for LaLaurie (not that it was ever easy, given that she is a racist sadistic serial killer). Its one thing to be a bad mother, like we see with Fiona who was absent and neglectful. It's a whole other animal to lock your daughters in a torture chamber for a year. I know that they are really trying to make us feel for her, showing her regret and guilt, and growing her an adorable friendship with Queenie, but it isn't really enough to make up for all her grizzly past sins.

The main theme this week was again that of mother daughter relationships. It is rare to find examples of how terrible mothers can really be with their children as this goes against a larger societal narrative of mothers being nurturing, loving and kind. This show (as usual) shows the darker side of human relationships by showing that mothers can be neglectful, selfish, jealous, controlling and cruel. Another less common side of the motherhood theme here is that of daughters paying for the "sins of the mother" (as opposed to the sins of the father), with Delia being attacked because of who her mother has pissed off, and even Delphine's daughters being executed because of the monster that she is.

Zoe's new powers, or rather how her powers are developing, are very interesting to me. I'm not sure if she is just really connected to death (given how she did land in the academy after accidentally killing her boyfriend) or she exists as a bringer of balance, because of how she defeated the zombie by telling him to "be in [his] nature". Either way, her powers seem to be putting her in a direct opposite role to Misty, which may spell trouble for the relationship between the would-be tribesmen.

I know that all signs right now point to Zoe being the new supreme, especially with Laveau's comment about how powerful she was when she broke her zombie curse, but I'm kind of holding out hope that they aren't going to be that obvious. There are several other possible contenders for the job. For example, Delia, which would make a much more interesting twist given how Fiona has always been disappointed with her lack of power. She is also the one person that Fiona might not be able to kill off. Misty is another possibility. Given how clearly unbalanced she is it would be pretty bad for the coven if she suddenly developed every power. Hell, they could go with the twist of the century and make it Spalding and I'd still prefer it.

I should've caught this last week, but it surprises me that witches would use burning as an execution method for each other. Historically burning someone at the stake was a punishment reserved for those who commit heresy against the church. You would think that after the ugliness of the witch trials that they have experienced, the witches would shy away from such methods. Then again, fire might be a necessary means of execution because of its cleansing properties. According to some legends, burning a demon and scattering its ashes in a river is the only way to ensure that it stays dead. Then again, the simplest answer is usually the best - it looks pretty and feels very witchy, so the writers and directer went with it.

What I loved tonight:
-Zoe being a BAMF with a chainsaw and her growing powers. It's the first time this season I've given a damn about her character.

- Queenie's living voodoo doll power is the coolest thing I've ever seen and I'm glad we got to see her use it a hell of a lot more

- Fiona showing her soft, vulnerable side in the hospital with her concern for her daughter, and in the tearjerking scene where she brings the stillborn baby back to life

- Fiona dropping her soft vulnerable side like a stone, and going straight back to being a stone cold manipulative bitch.

- The beautiful shot of Myrtle burning in Zoe's eyes.

- Zoe's hat at the witch burning was bloody fabulous

Questions I can't help but ask:
- Why does the hospital look like something out of a post apocalyptic survival movie?

- Are we ever going to see the girls learn anything at the academy or will they just be subject to awful field trips where they pick up centuries old serial killers and witness gruesome executions? I wanna see some magic classes!

- Where has Kyle disappeared to, and shouldn't Zoe be more worried about her franken-boyfriend terrorizing the town folk?

- Why didn't Myrtle Snow scream blue murder when Queenie was burning her hand in acid?

- What will Delia do now that she knows that her husband is a philandering psychopath?

- Related to the above, does Delia now have the ability to read minds and see the truth now that she's been blinded, or is this a once off ability / something that just happens to witches?

- If Myrtle was innocent, then who is behind the acid attack?

Quote of the Night:
"I'd rather burn than boil" - Myrtle Snow's last words.

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Comments 2
George Prax's picture

Yup, that picture is going to give me nightmares.

Syranda Raffoul's picture

I feel you. But that has nothing on the rest of the show. You should see the inside of Delphine LaLaurie's torture chamber. Which apparently was a real thing? The character is based off of a real serial killer who tortured slaves in the 1800s. American history is six shades of messed up.