Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: American Horror Story: Coven "Head"

Non Spoiler Review:
Head addresses Hank's backstory and the true nature of his mission with Marie and marriage to Delia. The head in question is Delphine, and Queenie opts to take her under her care and teach her a lesson. Meanwhile, Myrtle schemes to bring the coven back into order, starting with the council and Delia. Nan struggles to remain at Luke's bedside despite his mother.

Who knew that a decapitated Kathy Bates would be so much fun? Her scenes were the funniest of the season so far, and provided a great contrast to the darker elements of the episode. 

Head was one of the best, culminating in what was generally expected, but promising an exciting conclusion to the season when the story resumes in the new year.

Spoilers Now!
In 1991, a young Hank is taken into the woods by his witch hunter father. They've been hunters for generations, his dad explains as they load the rifle. They proceed deeper into the trees until his father flushes out a woman who falls in front of Hank. Hank is told to put her down, and as she begs for her life he can't bring himself to kill her, allowing her time to cast fire against his father before she collapses. As he puts out his burning jacket, the older man reminds his son never to forget what they are.

Fiona visits Marie's salon with the box, asking to talk. Marie reluctantly agrees, and in the back Fiona finds the decapitated body of Delphine standing in the cage. Marie chastises Fiona for using Delphine as a bargaining chip. Fiona wants to talk terms, but Marie laughs at the prospect they can mend the truce. Delphine pipes up from inside the box that Fiona is insane. Fiona wants to stop the petty quarrelling given the witch hunters that attacked the night before. Witch hunters are white women's worry, Marie counters. She also knows Fiona has cancer and can't protect her own. Fiona tells Queenie to go burn the box with Delphine's head, so she takes it away, and Fiona leaves.

Myrtle wants to ensure Delia has no doubts that she had anything to do with the acid attack. Delia never doubted her, she assures her.

In Atlanta, Hank visits the Delphi Trust, home of the witch hunters, to see his father. They're not happy with his progress in New Orleans and especially not that he allied himself with the voodoo queen. He should not take initiative, they remind him as he's only to gather intelligence. That's why he's married to Cordelia. Hank tells him he's more capable than he thinks. But his father already knows about the fire starter he killed, which they had to clean up after, and which ended the lives of a maid and desk clerk as a result. The hunt isn't only about the kill—they only strike when the time is right, and they need Hank back in the house. The acid attack on Delia was authorized by them to ensure she needed Hank. But someday she will need to be put down.

Myrtle entertains the council, who have returned after her surprising phone call and have regrets about the misunderstanding that led to her burning. And they want to hear all about Misty Day. Myrtle explains she has power, compassion and uniqueness. As Pembrooke toasts her she begins to choke on the meal, and she and Quentin are paralyzed. Myrtle chastises them for wanting to eliminate her so they could dominate the council. But she brought them there to help Cordelia—and proceeds to remove an eye from each with the melonballer. With that and her magic, Delia can see again.

Fiona arrives home shocked to find her daughter healed, and Myrtle thanks her for sending her to the flames to bring her clarity. She also cut up the bodies of the council and disposed of them. The two trade accusations of murder and Fiona threatens her with permanent exile. Delia reminds Myrtle she needs to treat her mother as the supreme and her mother needs to stop accusing Myrtle. The real danger is outside. She also realizes that her gift has vanished with the return of her sight.

At the hospital Zoe and Madison find Nan who has been sitting outside of Luke's room. His mother won't let her see him. Luke remains in a coma with Joan at his side. She's furious when the girls enter. However Nan can hear him in her mind. Luke tells Nan information to verify that he's communicating with her so Joan acquiesces and sings to her son with Nan at her side. 

Queenie keeps Delphine's head and brings her home, giving her Roots to watch. She vows to educate her about her people. 

In his hotel room Hank suddenly feels the torture of Marie's magic while her emissary arrives to demand the heads of the white witches. She wants them dead that night or he'll die. Hank is left alone and loads up his weapons.

Delia teaches Misty about herbs, including one that banishes evil that she should use only in extreme circumstances. After Misty leaves, Delia finds Hank behind her. He's astonished to see her sight is back. She won't have any of his affection despite his desire to get back in her good graces. Misty returns, and Hank remembers her—he's the one who tried to kill her at the cabin. He refuses to leave the house but Delia advises him she's filing for divorce. Upstairs Hank leaves with a box of his stuff, but is stopped by Fiona's new menacing guard dog. She explains they needed some protection. The dog leads Fiona to Zoe's room where she finds Kyle. She tells him to leave but Kyle just breaks the dog's neck.

At the hospital Joan suddenly sees Nan as a miracle for giving her a ray of hope. Nan then explains that Luke is telling her God is judging Joan for what she did to his father. His father's death was no accident. In a flashback, he was stung by a swarm of bees, put there by Joan who knew he was allergic. She killed him because he was leaving her. Joan turns on Nan and tells her it's all been a dark trick, sending her away. 

The girls come home to find a far more cogent Kyle playing gin with Fiona. She took the liberty of sprucing him up. He's not all there but he's okay. They need a new guard dog, one who will attack on command, Fiona explains. 

After watching all of Roots, Delphine gloats she kept her eyes shut the whole time. Queenie decides to play her civil rights music instead and joins Marie downstairs as Hank walks in and begins to shooting. He shoots Queenie in the stomach and proceeds into Marie's chamber. Queenie struggles to grab a gun and crawls after. Marie comes out and Hank shoots her in the arm, and is about to finish the job when Queenie puts the gun in her own mouth and shoots. Hank's head blows off. Upstairs Delphine finds herself touched by the images of the civil rights movement.

Hank's father gets the photos of his son's body. Luke wakes up from his coma with his mother at his side. But all he can say is she murdered his father. Joan tells him to go back to sleep and puts a pillow over his face. At the school, Fiona goes to answer the door and finds Marie Laveau. She welcomes her inside and shuts the door.

The Verdict:
Head was a great episode, balancing the ominous nature of the revelation of the witch hunter threat against some hilarious Kathy Bates moments. Meanwhile, Myrtle, Delia and Fiona all shone with some great scenes.

I doubt Queenie is dead, especially with the likes of Misty Day nearby to solve the problem. If she manages not to survive this, Ryan Murphy has some 'splainin' to do given all the resurrected characters currently running around.

The approach to returning Delia's eyesight was especially novel, but I wonder just what purpose the council serves if Myrtle can off them with no all seems very much like the True Blood Authority (meaning, it lacks any authority whatsoever aside from dramatic purpose).

Again, the Luke situation is feeling very tacked on. I have no idea how this will tie into the big storyline, unless his family turns out to have some sort of association with either party. Right now it's a distraction from the main action.

Next episode—Marie and Fiona working together against the witch hunters? Yes please.

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