American Horror Story: Coven' Recap: The Axeman Cometh - Rolling Stone
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‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Recap: The Axeman Cometh

The ladies unleash a killer on New Orleans. . . again

Taissa Farmiga as Zoe Benson on American Horror Story: CovenTaissa Farmiga as Zoe Benson on American Horror Story: Coven

Taissa Farmiga as Zoe Benson on 'American Horror Story: Coven'

Michele K. Short/FX

It’s so convenient when a historical serial killer’s real-life purple prose is just as over-the-top and divaish as everything else on American Horror Story: Coven. The Axeman‘s murder spree terrorized New Orleans from 1918 to 1919 – and when he first wrote, “I am not a human being, but a spirit. A demon,” I groaned. Not a ghost murderer! Haven’t we done this before? Plus, a ghost using a typewriter must be the most pretentious turd burglar I can imagine. Get over yourself, dude. Was Axe body spray named after this guy? I mean, really.

Of course, the Axeman was actually a human during 1919, a human who was taken down by a coven of homicidal suffragette witches. A sociopathic jazz saxophonist, drawn by the opera wafting from Miss Robicheaux‘s Academy, the Axeman was quickly stabbed to death in an orgy of blood and squealing. So now he’s a homicidal ghost hellbent on murdering more of New Orleans’ ladies. My bad.

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Seeing as how Cordelia has been blinded and Myrtle torched, Zöe, Nan and Queenie decide to take it upon themselves to find Madison. Rummaging through her stuff, Zöe discovers a flash, a pearl-handled gun, an empty bottle and one fabulous wardrobe. “I Do What I Want,” a tabloid declares about the missing actress. And lo, it was her hot body, and she did what she wanted. A suspicious breeze leads Zöe to a Spirit Board hidden in a crawlspace, and the ladies quickly realize the entity replying to them is none other than the Axeman. In direct defiance of Queenie and Nan’s extremely reasonable warnings not to, Zöe promises to release the Axeman in exchange for clues to Madison’s whereabouts. Zöe, why would the Axeman know where Madison is? Oh, he does. I retract the question.

You’d think someone would at least check the attic before lying to an undead serial killer, but that’s just me. You’s also think the whole house could smell Madison’s rotting corpse, but apparently not. Spalding discovers Zöe snooping but Queenie and Nan come to her rescue, and soon they have him tied up, ready to confess. Nan reads his thoughts (couldn’t read his thoughts at any other time, when he was thinking about buying more Glade to cover up the stench in his room? Okay) and Queenie burns herself with a red-hot spatula to torture him, and Spalding confesses to the murder. Because Zöe is smart smart smart smart smaaaaart, she does not believe him. Hmmm, so who could have done it? Maybe the only other person in the house who hasn’t been recently blinded or murdered? Come on, girls! Put those witch noggins together!

Speaking of the devil, Fiona‘s health has continued to decline. Either the sedatives or the chemo has given her the power to read others’ thoughts, as well as made her super romantic. “I want just one more great love affair,” she sighs to the doctor. Newly dedicated to Cordelia’s care, Fiona takes solace in her daughter’s newfound suspicion of her husband. Every time Hank touches her, Cordelia sees his affair. She doesn’t seem to see the murder he committed, however, which is concerning. Still, it’s enough for her to kick him out. “I’d get out while you still can, jughead,” Fiona snarls at her son-in-law. Unfortunately, Cordelia also sees Myrtle’s execution pyre the second her mother touches her. Aw jeez. Just as soon as she was close to making a connection, Fiona goes and ruins it by framing her daughter’s mother figure for murder and setting her on fire. Being a parent is hard!

When Hank later turns up at Marie Laveau‘s house, we realize that in addition to being a jughead, Hank is also. . . a professional witch hunter. His latest victim, Kaley, was in fact a pyrokinetic witch who had interviewed at the Academy. Just to be clear. . . Hank could have just killed her? He didn’t have to carry on an extramarital affair with her? Hank is the worst. During his six-year marriage to Cordelia, it turns out that Hank hunted down and exterminated nine white witches. Despite her venom, Laveau still isn’t the hooded figure who burned Cordelia. “You think I did that? I look like the Taliban to you?” she snorts. I’m fingering Leslie Jordan for that one, just because I want more of him in the future. Enraged by Fiona’s condescension and the beheading of her beloved minotaur FB Bastion, Laveau demands Hank step it up and, uh, murder every single one at Miss Robichaux’s.

I feel like this is slowly turning into a Lex Luthor/Superman situation. You are the most powerful villain, Laveau. Why would you send some handyman to do the master carpenter’s work? Is Hank more powerful than that army of zombies you raised from the dead? Good luck, Hank.

Meanwhile, Misty Day is living her best life in the swamp, watering Myrtle’s unyielding mound and bathing Kyle. I genuinely feel horrible for Kyle’s character. Left to wander confused through the wilderness, Misty’s attempts to scrub his wiener in the bathtub (and frankly, the fact she is sort of overbearing and possessive herself) triggers the memory of the abuse at the hands of his mother, and Kyle freaks out. He smashes her record player, sending Misty weeping to the floor. “Get him out of here. He broke Stevie,” she sobs as Zöe arrives at her door. Zöe instead takes Misty and Kyle back to the Academy, employing Misty’s powers to bring Madison back from the dead. “There’s too much death inside her. Put your hands on her stomach and push,” Misty instructs Zöe, and they physically shove Death from Zöe’s decayed body. Madison makes a pretty solid recovery, save for the blurry fish-eye vision and inability to drink ginger ale. Unfortunately Madison doesn’t yet remember her murder, though she does have some other useful information: “There’s nothing on the other side. Just black. Forever.” Hoo boy.

Everything seems to be going pretty well (except for the whole “Hank has to murder everyone now” thing) until the Axeman attacks Cordelia in her room. While she might be the only one who can see him, it seems that the havoc he is wreaking is very real. Guided by her powers, Zöe locates the correct spell book and the girls unleash the Axeman bodily onto New Orleans. Couldn’t he just immediately come back and try to murder them? He doesn’t, but he could! This seems like a terrible solution. Axe in tow, the Axeman saunters up to the nearest bar and introduces himself to (who else?) a love-starved, dejected Fiona. Stay tuned for next week’s episode, “Fiona Definitely Had Sex With an Undead Serial Killer Ghost.”

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