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American Horror Story: Coven Recap/Review: "The Axeman Cometh"

James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

With a nod to the murder house, this weeks episode of American Horror Story  introduces another deranged psychopath in the witch’s lives. Director Michael Uppendahl starts the episode in the year 1919,  and in a  film noir version of The Exorcist, we follow the shadowy figure of The Axeman (Danny Huston) walking to the sound of the smooth jazz that fills the air. He’s called the Axeman because he kills his victims with, you guessed it, an axe. In this opening he threatens the state of New Orleans, saying whoever isn’t playing jazz music in their homes will get a fatal visit from him. The witches of the coven will not take this threat lightly and decide to play classical music instead. The Axeman is not fond of this and breaks into the Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies only to be stabbed to death numerous times by the young witches that inhabit the house at the time.

The teamwork of the opening foreshadows the bond that Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) wants to have with Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) as she searches for Madison, who is still dead in the attic. After finding a ouija board in an ominous secret room, the young witches use it in hopes of contacting Madison. Much to their surprise thy come in contact with the spirit of The Axeman who still is contained inside the house. Throwback to the days of the murder house, when you die in there you never leave.

Taissa Farmiga in the American Horror Story: Coven episode "The Axeman Cometh." Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.
Taissa Farmiga in the American Horror Story: Coven episode “The Axeman Cometh.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

Meanwhile much to her dismay Fiona (Jessica Lange) begins to try chemotherapy to please her newly blind daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson). As she waits there with death lingering through the air, the thoughts of other’s fears and regrets also stray off into Fiona’s head. The anxiety of losing her hair and hearing the troubles of everyone around her makes her want to leave, until she restrains herself. Fiona’s trying to change her ways and shows here, she’s not putting on a show for anyone she genuinely wants to make Cordelia happy and even gives hope to a fellow chemo patient. Perhaps redemption is on the horizon as she enters the final stage of her reign.

Back in the coven, Zoe simply can’t help herself from knowing where Madison is and converses with The Axeman through the ouija board. She promises to release him from this house if he tells her where Madison is. The Axeman spells out the word “Attic”, where Spalding (Denis O’Hare) is keeping the dead Madison. Zoe goes up there to find a tea party that would make the Mad Hatter envious and a deceased Madison.  Spalding tries to detain Zoe, but is knocked out very easily by some glass. Zoe, Queenie and Nan tie Spalding up, acknowledging that he looks like Riff Raff from Rocky Horror, and they torture him very shortly until he tells Nan through his thoughts that he did kill Madison for sex. Of course the audience knows that this is a lie and Zoe suspects the same. It’ll probably be revealed that Fiona killed Madison when she finally redeems herself.

Speaking of Fiona redeeming herself, she tries to help out Cordelia as she makes her way through the coven. It’s a sweet moment seeing Cordelia’s husband and mother trying to be there for her but it’s soon interrupted by Cordelia’s new ability to see the past through other’s eyes. After she grabs onto her husband she witnesses him having an affair with another woman. She orders him to leave, showing signs of rage that Fiona usually has. Then she touches Fiona and finds out that Fiona burned Myrtle (Frances Conroy) at the stake for blinding Cordelia.

Josh Hamilton in the American Horror Story: Coven episode "The Axeman Cometh." Photo Credit:  Michele K. Short/FX.
Josh Hamilton in the American Horror Story: Coven episode “The Axeman Cometh.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

As we hear Stevie Nicks playing who else comes on but Misty (Lily Rabe), who’s still in charge of blonde Frankenstein Kyle (Evan Peters). She tries to give him a bath, but flashbacks of Kyle’s mother keeps enraging the teen as he destroy’s Misty’s way of listening to Stevie Nicks. Kyle becomes more Frankenstein in this episode because he’s tortured by just the sight of his creator, both his mother and Misty and goes on a tantrum any time he thinks of them. His mother has become his version of fire that only Zoe can extinguish. Zoe comes to Mistys and takes Kyle off her hands, but has Misty help her out. Misty brings back Madison who must have been dead for more then a week now, and she’s completely conscious and speaking in full English when she’s resurrected. Which is a little confusing seeing as though Kyle wasn’t dead as long and can’t form a full sentence, let alone walk. Maybe it’s because he was completely decapitated.

The biggest twist this week was that Cordelia’s husband is secretly a witch hunter and has been working undercover for Marie (Angela Bassett). The two have been conspiring for years to take down the Salem witches, who Cordelia’s husband has revealed to Marie. However, that’s not enough Marie demands that he kill all the witches, including his wife, who he clearly has been drawn to.

Lily Rabe in the American Horror Story: Coven episode "The Axeman Cometh." Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.
Lily Rabe in the American Horror Story: Coven episode “The Axeman Cometh.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

We then see Cordelia in her most vulnerable, she’s half dressed, blind and is in the same room with the spirit of The Axeman. The episode is called “The Axeman Cometh”, so it was safe to assume that he’d return. He’s annoyed that Zoe never released him and is prepared to take his furry out on Cordelia until Zoe does so. With the help of Nan and Queenie, Zoe summons a spell that will release the Axeman out into the world. A nice closer to an episode that shows how much more successful these ladies are when they work together instead of belittle each other. Sadly their bondage has released Axeman out into the modern world, filled with rap music playing in cars that pass him by.

The episode concludes with Fiona having a drink at the bar, as her hair falls out. But it’s okay, because the charming Axeman makes his way next to her and flirts with the unassuming supreme over a drink.

This episode was just okay; it felt kind of like a ploy bringing The Axeman into the mix, in order to distract the viewer from the current problems that the characters should be dealing with. It’s the same thing as bringing Eric Stonestreet on the show in season 1 and the ghost of Anne Frank in season 2. It always feels like it’s a little unnecessary and just wants to show the viewers which stars they can get their hands on. Also Kathy Bates’ wonderfully despicable Madame Delphine was missing from this episode, and she’s quickly become the character you so love to hate.

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