Nope! No thanks! If you were wondering how far into ghastly obscenity viewers would follow American Horror Story, the answer would be: up to but not including the lynching of a black teenager in the 1960s. This week’s Coven episode opens in New Orleans in 1961, where Henry, son of Marie Laveau‘s friend Cora, is being hunted down by a gang of fedora-wearing white men and murdered for attempting to attend an integrated high school. That is not fun and campy gore, Ryan Murphy! That is just really, really sad.
In a similar vile vein as Kyle‘s sexual abuse at the hands of his predatory mother, Henry’s death is a queasily realistic subplot of violence toward children in a show that frankly does not need one more drop of realism. Sure, the murder of a friend’s child is a good reason for Laveau to resurrect a horde of homicidal zombies, but so is practically anything. AHS is not a show that needs to have realistic reasons for violence. There is a minotaur, for crissakes! More to the point, there is a stark difference between a mother weeping over her lynched son and an undead Confederate soldier rising from the tomb and disemboweling a racist. One of those things is an artless callback to one of the darkest undercurrent in American history. The other has literally never happened, because zombies are not real.
All of which I gueeeeess is meant to contextualize the uneasy truce between the Academy’s white decendents of Salem and Laveau’s coven of voodoo witches, a truce that has been unsettled by the arrival of Madame LaLaurie and Fiona‘s baldfaced disrespect. I gueeeeeess. Speaking of LaLaurie, the murderous immortal slave mutilator sure did a 180 on black people after Queenie gets gored by Bastian the Minotaur! LaLaurie’s constant timidity and newfound self-reflection is kind of perplexing, considering how powerful and evil she once was. Fiona, on the other hand, is getting bolder and crazier by the day. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Spalding the butler helped Fiona clean up the murder of her Supreme predecessor Annalee, even going so far as to cut out his own tongue to prevent himself from spilling Fiona’s beans. Spalding also, um, has a room filled with horrible creepy dolls with whom he has tea parties. Cool, dude. Whatever you need to get past that horrible thing you did to your tongue.
Speaking of horrible things, Zoe is only just now realizing there might be repercussions to bringing back crushes from the dead. After watching Kyle slam his head against the bathtub for hours, Zoe decides to make him some tuna salad mixed with rat poison to put him out of his misery. When she returns to feed him the tuna out of the bowl like some kind of animal, Kyle has dashed off into the night. Cordelia is also having some man problems, seeing as how her husband Hank has himself an Internet girlfriend named Kaley, whom he murders for no perceptible reason. Oh, how I pray Kaley will become their zombie surrogate! She probably will, right?
Back at the ranch, the Witches Council arrives to investigate Madison‘s disappearance, having been called by Nan after she no longer “hears” Madison’s “voice.” The Council is comprised of the flame-haired Myrtle Snow, fabulous author Quentin and some lady named Pembrook who seems fine. The thing about the Council is, they pretty much know Fiona killed Madison. At least Myrtle knows, and the others should be suspicious, considering Fiona was also closely linked to both Annalee’s death and Spalding’s mutilation. The Council even goes so far as to ask Spalding to write down the name of his attacker 40 years after the fact, which apparently never occurred to them before? How utterly insane! Needless to say, Spalding refuses to rat Fiona out. Cordelia eventually deflects blame from her mother by pointing out that, duh, Madison was not the new Supreme. For her loyalty (or for some completely unrelated reason we don’t know about yet) Cordelia is rewarded with a face full of acid from a shadowy stranger. For his loyalty, Spalding is rewarded with, um, Madison’s corpse, which he dresses up as a living doll in his room. Good career choice, Spalding. Great life you got there.
After receiving the still-blinking head of Bastian, her minotaur love, in a box, Laveau calls off the truce and unleashes a horde of zombies onto the Academy, a mob of shambling dead that includes LaLaurie’s deceased daughters. So if Bastian’s head was still alive and blinking after being dismembered, are immortals immortal even after being dismembered? Could Marie ask Misty Day to patch her boyfriend back together? If so, will Bastian be himself or something other, like Kyle? Can anybody really die anymore? Does that affect the stakes, or does it just make things more interesting? It’s the latter, right?
Previous recap: Bury Her Deep