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'American Horror Story: Coven' recap, 'Go to Hell'

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"Eventually, everybody pays, everybody suffers." -- Papa Legba

In the last episode before its season finale, "American Horror Story: Coven" tightened its plot, while seemingly writing out three major players.

For all of my complaints about its meandering storytelling and brutal violence, this is a show that knows how to tell a lean, sharp story when it needs to, and that was the case with "Go to Hell." The brutal violence was still on display, but this was a fast-moving hour that set up the finale nicely.

We open with Fiona explaining the seven wonders to Queenie; telekinesis, concilium, transmutation, divination, vitalum vitalis, descensum and, the most dangerous wonder, pyrokinesis. Fiona plans to have Queenie attempt the wonders in a few days, with the hope of discovering the next supreme. Or, as she tells Queenie, they will die trying.

That seems like a terrible deal. Why not just go on living life as a moderately powerful witch? Why would you even want to be the next supreme? It seems like an awful job. Queenie also casually mentions that Marie has gone missing. Fiona theorizes that perhaps Marie is cavorting through the underworld with Papa Legba.

Cordelia pays Madison a visit. She's searched Misty's room for clues as to her whereabouts, and come up empty. She suspects that Madison might know something about her disappearance; she wants to touch her, in hopes that her ability has returned now that she has gouged her own eyes out. Madison gives Cordelia a hard time, teleporting around the room a bit, before she finally consents. Cordelia lays hands on her, only to find that her ability has not returned. So, she gouged her own eyes out for nothing? That's a bad afternoon.

Queenie is searching for Marie. She finds a pool of blood in the greenhouse and hears Marie's voice, swearing revenge on the "buttermilk biscuit" that did something to her. Queenie retires to her room, where she performs a ritual that sends her to Hell, where she hopes to find Marie.

She is transported to her own personal hell, which happens to be her earlier life as an employee of Chubbie's Chicken Shack. Papa Legba is there to explain that for immortals, their hell is on earth. He warns Queenie that most immortals would not have done what she has done, for fear that they would never be able to return to the other realm. Papa warns her that she needs to snap herself back to reality quickly, because time works differently in hell. Queenie does so, and finds herself back in her room, with The Papa. "Now that I've proven my power, you're going to give me some answers," she tells Legba.

Those answers came in the form of an especially brutal flashback, where we see Delphine killing Marie, Dexter-style. Queenie wants Delphine killed, but Legba tells her that as long as Marie keeps up her end of their immortality bargain, both Marie and Delphine will live. Queenie thinks she might be able to find Marie in breach of her contract with Legba. "You are one crafty witch," Legba tells her.

We find Delphine working as a tour guide at her former residence, telling visitors of Madame LaLaurie's great equestrian ability and incredible charitable work. "It says here she was a serial killer," offers one of the guests. "That's a misprint," counters Delphine. She continues on with her revisionist history, stating that the torture chamber in the house was nothing of the sort, and that LaLaurie was a visionary, ahead of her time.

Queenie arrives at the house to confront Delphine, and finds that Delphine has the former tour guide held captive in her old torture chamber. Queenie offers to let Delphine go if she volunteers at the local Urban League. "It's your only chance for redemption," she tells her.

"I know how redemption works in this century," Delphine says. "I seen it all on the magic box. Agree to be publicly humiliated, all is forgiven," she says, while we are treated to a montage of Paula Dean, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer footage. "They're nothing but a pack of sniveling hypocrites as far as I can see," says Delphine, refuting Queenie's assertion that the people in question were sincerely repenting. This was some pretty bizarre social commentary, I thought. The show was making a point that few would argue with, but it chose Delphine to deliver the message? Very strange.

Queenie makes one last appeal to Delphine, telling her that she had reached her before. Delphine denies that, and so Queenie stabs her to death. "But I'm immortal!" Delphine protests. "Not any more," Queenie says. Wait, did a character actually just die?

Fiona is sitting for a portrait, painted by Claude, an artist who has "...done everyone; Margaret Thatcher, Sting," according to Myrtle. Fiona has a nosebleed and tells us that she fears she only has two weeks left to live. She retires to her room, where Cordelia visits her. Fiona is being nice to her daughter again, this week. She gives her a piece of jewelry that belonged to her mother. When Cordelia puts it on, she has a vision of Fiona killing the entire coven.

Cordelia visits The Axeman, warning him that her mother plans to leave him behind after she kills the coven. "You feel that? That empty, heartbroken feeling? That's what it feels like to get close to Fiona," Cordelia tells him, after detailing how Fiona plans to skip town in two days. Cordelia continues to run wild with her visions. She drags Queenie to the graveyard, where they find Misty's resting place. They exhume her, and bring her back from the dead.

As Myrtle and Madison are engaging in some verbal jousting Zoe and Kyle return to the school. Myrtle is aghast that Zoe would return. "You've forsaken your destiny," she tells her. "No, Myrtle, I've embraced it," says Zoe. Well, that, and maybe they had to return, because they're fleeing, because Kyle killed a homeless man? "I came back because there's no escaping what I am. I came back because I'm clearly the next supreme," Zoe says, revealing that she brought the homeless man back to life.
 
Misty returns to the house and punches Madison in the face, twice, for killing her. "Girls, stop these vulgar fisticuffs at once," Myrtle implores them. Misty doesn't listen and tosses Madison with a modified judo throw. "This is awesome!" Queenie says. In pro-wrestling terms, Madison got a brief "hope spot," scoring a double-leg takedown on Misty, but Misty recovered and threw her again.

As the fight continues, The Axeman barges in, swinging his weapon. "Boy, did you walk into the wrong house," Madison says. The witches send The Axeman flying into a staircase, but find that he is tracking blood around with him. It's not his blood, though. Cordelia uses her second sight to determine that it's Fiona's.

We flash back to earlier that day, when Fiona went to The Axeman's place. Fiona tries to seduce him, but he tells her about Cordelia's visit. He tells her that he knows she plans to ditch him. Fiona tells him that once the next supreme is dead, she'll have 30 years of vitality, that palace doors will open for her, and that she really couldn't be bothered with him.

He begs her to love him, but she declines, and so after some bad music puns, The Axeman lives up to his name and buries his ax in Fiona.

Cordelia sees that The Axeman dumped Fiona's body in the swamp, where she is now food for alligators. Queenie says that someone needs to kill The Axeman. Myrtle wants none of that, and asks why there has to be more blood spilled. "He's a psycho mass murderer," Madison offers. "Is there anyone here of whom that cannot be said?" counters Myrtle.  The witches are not deterred by Myrtle's words, however, and Zoe, Madison, Misty and Queenie do away with The Axeman, in brutal fashion, with knives and his own ax.

Next, we're transported to Delphine and Marie's personal hell. For Delphine, this means being locked in her own torture chamber, with her victims and one of her own daughters locked up nearby. For Marie, it means being tasked with operating the chamber of horror, inflicting pain on Delphine's daughter and many others that brought her no harm.

Back at the school, the coven is eulogizing Fiona. "She was a force to be reckoned with, but she was a horrible supreme," Cordelia says. "She shirked all of her responsibility, including the most important, identifying her successor. So it will be up to us to find our new leader, and the only way is through the test of the seven wonders. And since it could be any one of you, you will all be tested. The seven wonders. Sunday at dawn, it begins. Everyone participates."

"And by next week, we will have a new supreme."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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