Note: Do not read on unless you've seen "American Horror Story: Coven," Episode 9, titled "Head."
For this midseason/holiday finale of "American Horror Story: Coven," we've come full circle. While we've spent most of the season examining some pretty messed up mother-daughter relationships (ugh, and some disturbing mother-son relationships as well), tonight we get to see some father influence. Not much of it, but it's there, and yes, the fathers aren't really much better. At least we don't have to see more hints of a bleach enema.
The episode starts off in 1991, with a young Hank and his father huntin' witches in Chattahoochee National Park. The point of this vignette is to illustrate how weak Hank is; ultimately, at the point where he has a clear shot of a swamp witch, he can't pull the trigger. His father is clearly disappointed in him, and that's evident even in adulthood when Hank goes to see him. Turns out his father has promoted someone else to be his right-hand man in the witchhunting business, which hurts Hank. Interesting that witchhunting, just like voodoo and witchery, is something that has existed for generations. Yep, looks like we have another group to deal with -- and they're probably going to turn out to be the main enemy (excluding Fiona, who's definitely scheming something).
Speaking of Fiona, she makes a rather ballsy move and heads to Marie's salon with LaLaurie's head in the box (which is just ... hilarious. "What'd she say? I can't hear!"). Fiona talks about the witchhunters and says they're all in danger, but of course Marie couldn't care less, since she's the one who made a deal with Hank in the first place. She rejects Fiona's offer of an alliance and sends her on her way, and orders Queenie to burn LaLaurie's head in the backyard. Queenie disobeys, and instead plans on educating LaLaurie on modern race relations. What better way than to show a slave torturer the entire eight hours of "Roots"? I absolutely loved LaLaurie's head propped up on a TV dinner table tray, eyes closed. I actually might make it my computer wallpaper.
Back at Robichaux, Cordelia is making a mess of her own by trying to blind-cook. That cannot be easy. Myrtle witnesses her feeble attempt at cooking, and becomes emotional about their history together. It's actually very genuine, and quite touching to see how much of a surrogate mother Myrtle was to Cordelia. Myrtle is pissed, and you can tell she wants to seek revenge, both for herself and for Cordelia.
And boy, does she. In one of the best scenes of "Coven" so far, she plies the other two members of the Council with melon balls, lobster and cocktails. She, of course, poisons the melon balls with monkshood, which paralyzes Quentin and Pembrooke. While both of them are immobile (and fully conscious), Myrtle pops out an eye from each of their heads with a melon-baller, in what was a genuinely shocking moment for me. I don't know why I didn't see it coming (I should have), but I loved that I didn't. It's been a while since I've been happily disarmed by something on "AHS," so color me pleased. Myrtle puts the eyes in Cordelia's sockets and she gets her sight back, but in the process loses her "sight." Which would you prefer? She seems kind of let down at the loss.
The teen triad (Zoe, Madison and Nan), meanwhile, are at the hospital trying to get insane Joan to let Nan stay with a bedridden Luke. Nan taps into Luke's thoughts and translates to Joan, which at first touches her, but then turns ugly as she recounts how Joan killed her philandering husband after she caught him cheating. Truth hurts, eh Joan? And really, can you blame her husband? This woman is a wackjob. She orders Nan out of the room and Luke wakes up shortly thereafter, but starts accusing her of killing his father. His eyes close and he falls back to sleep -- or does he? Joan puts a pillow over his face, and that's all we see, but I bet he's not dead/going to die. He'll live. Luke's role hasn't been explained yet, and what would be the point if he died now?
At the very least, Misty could always resurrect Luke if necessary. If you stop and think about it, the coven is actually getting quite strong with the addition of Misty, Myrtle and a rejuvenated Fiona to the ranks. Kyle (no longer FrankenKyle, it seems) has also become useful as a brute-force guard, who can apparently kill a dog with his bare hands. I enjoyed Kyle and Fiona playing gin like nothing was out of place. ("Your turn.") It was also a pleasure to witness Cordelia and Misty flirting it up in the greenhouse. Don't kill the buzz, Hank! They're bringing plants back to life!
After getting voodoo-dolled by Marie (ouch, ouch, ouch), Hank has until the end of the night to bring the witches' heads to her. He gets his Rambo garb together, loads his guns, and instead of heading to Robichaux, he goes to Marie's salon and shoots up the place. Queenie saves Marie's life by shooting off a gun in her mouth, which kills (I think) both her and Hank. I always wondered if Queenie could die, and here we are. Marie is the only one left standing, and she shamefully goes to Fiona at the end of the episode, perhaps to form that alliance. Fiona's smirk as she closes the door behind Marie indicates that it's not going to be that simple.
Witch, Please: (every week I'm going to award the witchiest witch of them all) For the first time ever, I'm awarding Myrtle with this. She claims that she has more power now that she's been burned and resurrected, and it definitely shows. She paralyzes, de-eyes, and then butchers her former friends and colleagues, then gives Cordelia back her sight. I'd say that's all in a day's work for a kick-ass witch.
- So the HQ for witchhunters is located in a financial building? Makes me wonder what illegitimate/supernatural/ancient businesses are running behind closed bank doors.
- Where did the Axeman go? Tonight I got a flash in my brain of he and Fiona, walking into the ghost sunset at the end of "Coven."
- Sarah Paulson with two differently coloured eyes is kind of awesome.
- "What the head said!"
- Angela Bassett's laugh is just ... the greatest thing of all.
- Did anyone else notice how much taller Lily Rabe is than Sarah Paulson? Either Rabe is a giant or Paulson is teeny.
- Damn, Joan. Locking your husband in a car with a bunch of bees, knowing he's allergic? That's a pretty creative way to kill someone. Points for that.