Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: American Horror Story: Coven "Burn, Witch, Burn!"

Non Spoiler Review:
Burn, Witch, Burn! is a tense and wildly entertaining conclusion to the Halloween arc. A flashback to Delphine's earlier evil ways show that her daughters have much to be aggrieved about when they reappear as part of Marie's undead army. With the school under attack, the girls are left to their own devices while Fiona sees to a severely wounded Delia and the council returns demanding answers.

There's plenty of plot development among the carnage, as well as some interesting twists and turns. While a few plot points were glazed over relatively quickly, Burn, Witch, Burn! was easily the best episode to date. 

Spoilers Now!
New Orleans, 1833. Delphine's Halloween party has her eldest daughter flirting with a new gentleman. To spite her, Delphine invites him to tour her chamber of horrors. The bowl of eyeballs contains actual blood and eyeballs, torn from her slaves. He's not man enough for her chamber of horrors, she laughs. Her daughters later commiserate how they will never have a husband unless they rid themselves of their mother. Delphine learns of this and that night has the three of them dragged from their beds and thrown into the cages in the attic. They protest they were never going to go through with it, but Delphine warns they still only draw breath because she loves their faces. She'll set them free in a year.

In the present, Delphine looks upon the animated corpses of her daughters and slams the door shut, declaring it's too late for all them now. As they bang on the door, Queenie comes down to warn that something's going on outside.

Fiona hears Delia's screams and rushes to her side. She spies the hooded figure leaving. At the hospital the doctor explains sulphuric acid has burned through her optic nerves. They couldn't save her eyesight. After sitting at Delia's bedside, Fiona wanders the hospital until she comes upon the medication room. She finds some pills and washes them down with her flask, and in a fugue spies the hooded figure down the hall. One of the patients tells her she might have well thrown the acid herself. She then finds a woman in her room whose baby was stillborn. Fiona tells her it was a girl and brings it to the mother to hold, despite her protests. She needs to feel safe, Fiona says, urging her to talk to her. Then Fiona lays hands on it and the baby starts breathing. 

Nan explains the undead are surrounding the house—she can't hear them in her head. Zoe closes the drapes and secures the house as Luke chides them that it's just a prank. He goes out to handle them. The zombies remain motionless for the moment, until Marie levitates and utters begin. A few trick or treaters who have been complimenting the figures on their prosthetics are abruptly torn to shreds as the zombies become active. Luke is wounded as he tries to flee, but Nan rushes out to rescue him, taking refuge in a car.

Spalding takes Delphine and the still weak Queenie upstairs. Delphine puts Queenie to bed and goes to get ice for her, leaving Spalding to care for her. In the kitchen Delphine finds one of her daughters peering through the window. She unlocks the door and lets her in, declaring how sorry she is for all she did to her, wondering if there is something still inside her that remembers her mother. Delphine promises to make amends. The creature grabs her throat and lifts her off her feet.

Queenie sends Spalding to find out what's keeping Delphine. She hears a commotion in the hall and goes out to find him crawling away from Delphine's zombie daughter. It goes after Queenie, but she stabs her shoulder, inflicting the same wound on the creature. Queenie slashes her throat, but it keeps coming. Finally Delphine appears and impales it with a poker, which seems to kill it. She had a monster for a mother, Delphine confesses. This was the only kindness she ever did for her. She sobs against Queenie's shoulder.

The undead begin to break through the car windows until Zoe distracts them by banging pots, leading them away. She hides in the garden as they pile up against the door in pursuit. Zoe retreats into the greenhouse and finds a chainsaw.

Nan helps Luke out of the car, drawing the attention of the zombies again, who follow them back to the house. Zoe appears with the chainsaw and starts severing heads and bodies, dispatching with all of them, except for one. Cornered, Zoe holds up her hand, utters a word and the creature falls back. Back at the salon, Maria collapses to the floor, declaring there's some real power in that witch house.

Hank shows up in Delia's room after driving all night, finding an angry Fiona waiting. Fiona leaves, vowing that he needs to disappear. Hank promises his wife he'll never go away. As he touches her Delia suddenly wakes up with a vision of him and the red haired woman.

Come morning, Fiona oversees the burning of the undead as Zoe and Nan gather the bodies. Luke is sleeping but isn't well enough to leave. Fiona tells them he can stay until he recovers, and his mother will only call the cops anyhow. Fiona is pleased with Zoe's service to the coven and won't forget it. Delphine joins Fiona at the fire, languishing at the end of her daughters. They deserved a better mother. Fiona knows the feeling. Delphine suggests their shared tragedies can bring them closer together, but Fiona doubts that.

The council shows up, charging Fiona with gross neglect of the coven. The house is under attack by outside forces and her own daughter is in the hospital. They demand her abdication. The council shall oversee the coven until the supreme shows herself. Fiona curses Myrtle for trying to seize power and demands they sit and listen. 

Fiona explains the coven is under attack from inside. She saw the woman in the cloak and it was Myrtle Snow. Myrtle is outraged at the accusation. She loved Cordelia. Fiona implies she murdered Madison, as well. Pembrooke and Quentin are intrigued and want to hear more. Fiona reveals that Myrtle used an alias and has been in town all these weeks planning the coup—and she shows her pictures from Myrtle's hotel room which show a wall of photos of Fiona. Myrtle breaks down, declaring Fiona had to be stopped. But Fiona demands justice and tears off Myrtle's glove, showing an acid scarred hand. The others have no choice—burn her. Myrtle refuses to resist. She's used to being an outcast and will go proudly to the flame.

In the countryside Myrtle is led to her pyre. Zoe can't believe this is actually happening as Myrtle is tied to the stake and doused with gasoline. They watch her go up in flames. 

Fiona continues downing her pills and gets a visit from Queenie, who asks if she helped her frame a guilty woman or an innocent one. During the inquiry it was Queenie who dipped her own hand in acid to cause the wound on Myrtle. No one is innocent, Fiona says. Queenie doesn't know if she can live with it. Fiona teases that her mind is getting stronger and Queenie can rise to heights she can't yet imagine, even the supreme. Queenie likes the idea of that. Fiona asks for her trust and to follow her instruction, and Queenie, tempted with power, promises. 

Meanwhile Spalding sprays copious amounts of air freshener around his room and around the chest holding Madison's body. He tries to lift her out but tears her arm off.

Misty arrives at the site of the burning where feral dogs are eating the body. She lays her hands on the charred remains and Myrtle opens her eyes.

The Verdict:
Burn, Witch, Burn! was lots of fun, right down to the chainsaws cutting a swath through the undead. Myrtle's arc has taken a significant twist, and it appears she and Misty will be conspiring together. Could Myrtle find a kindred spirit in Misty, someone she could groom to be the supreme? Something tells me that Kyle may be making his way back to Misty, as well.

For that matter, how much of Fiona's framing of Myrtle was true and fabricated? Fiona's sudden revelation that she'd been investigating Myrtle's appearance in town all this time seems a bit contrived, so I don't know if the writers will delve further into this or we'll just be left to accept it at face value. Regardless, the council appears to be completely blind and impotent to everything going on.

Zoe still appears to be the too obvious choice for the supreme. Her new spell casting during the zombie attack could be a red herring (she and Madison did swear allegiance to the Devil in their resurrection spell for Kyle, so that definitely has to figure in to what's going on). Is the Devil going to be making an appearance at the school, given Marie detected some heavy duty witchcraft at hand?

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