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'American Horror Story: Coven' recap, 'Protect the Coven'

"As the great Keats would say, 'More happy love! More happy, happy love!'" -- Myrtle Snow

If you love Myrtle Snow, bad people looking out for their own interests, good people sacrificing for a greater good, and if you hate consistent story arcs, this is the episode of "American Horror Story: Coven" for you.

We begin in 1830 New Orleans, to Delphine moving back to New Orleans after a stint in Paris. Madame seems to be concerned that she will be bored in New Orleans, with only her slaves and her daughter for company.

Short on kitchen help, Delphine has to kill a chicken with a cleaver while preparing dinner. After some taunting from one of her daughters, Delphine kills the bird and looks a little bit too pleased at the sight of blood. Later that day, one of her slaves suffers an injury to his leg while moving some furniture. Again, Delphine is fascinated at the sight of blood. She renders the man unconscious, then ties him up.

My takeaway from this is that if you get bored, whatever you do, don't kill a chicken. That could send you down the path to opening your own torture chamber.

Back in the present day, the coven is at Nan's graveside, mourning. Oh, the hats in this scene. Is there a Tumblr dedicated to the fashion of "American Horror Story?" Can I start one? Have I already started one? "And so, it is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Nan, who fell in the tub," Fiona says, giving one of the more hilariously insincere eulogies you'll ever hear.

Who should appear in this somber moment? Why, Queenie and Delphine, of course! They're not dead! No one is ever actually dead on this show, are they? I'd like to pitch a Kathy Bates/Gabourey Sidibe buddy comedy to FX, by the way. Queenie has Delphine on a leash, of course. The newly undead Delphine exchanges some unpleasantries with Marie, but their beef is quickly squashed, as Fiona reminds the group that they have to join forces to take down the evil Delphi Trust.

Hank's dad, Harrison Renard, Delphi's leader, asks his lieutenant to set up a meeting with the witches. He needs them to call off their spell so that he can get out from under the government investigation it brought on. He'll kill them all later, he says, but right now, he needs to cut a deal.

Delphine is back working as the coven's housekeeper, but she is not pleased about it. "'How the mighty have fallen' does not begin to describe my torment," she says.  Myrtle, however, is thrilled at Delphine's cooking and just about everything else.

But Delphine has an emptiness inside of her, one that can only be filled by the sight of blood and the pleasure she derives from torturing people. So, when a gardener named James enters the house with a bloody hand, Delphine offers to take care of it for him.

As she has James tied up, she explains to him that cries of agony bring her comfort and details her "scientific fascination" with body parts. She promises to take care of his hand later, but first, she sets about breaking his toes with a pair of pliers.

As Kyle looks on, Zoe casts a spell and discovers that Fiona and Marie were responsible for Nan's death. Madison enters and wants to talk about the arrangement that the three of them have. Zoe insists that Madison shouldn't be jealous, because she hasn't fallen in love with Kyle.

Madison says if that is the case, Zoe won't mind if she performs a sex act on Kyle in front of her. Kyle pushes her away and declares his love for Zoe. Madison doesn't take this well and begins tossing things around the room with her abilities, drawing Myrtle's attention.

"Oh, Madison, you are the worst kind of Hollywood cliche," Myrtle offers, in a line that might as well have been delivered with a nod and a wink to the camera. Madison and Myrtle trade barbs, none of which are fit to print here, and Madison storms off, promising to tear Kyle apart when she rules the coven.

Fiona and The Axeman are reclining together at his place. He prattles on about how he used to go to a farm when he was a kid, and how that was "the only ray of light in his dark world." Did you see Don Draper's Hershey's pitch in that amazing scene in the most recent "Mad Men" season finale? This was sort of like that, only really, really bad.

The Axeman wants to take Fiona back to that farm. They'll fix it up and live out the rest of their lives there, he says. Fiona agrees to this absurd plan, but only if The Axeman does her a favor first. I'm guessing she wants him to kill some people with an axe.
 
Undead Spalding appears to Delphine in her new torture chamber, which used to be his bedroom. Spalding rallies Delphine, telling her that they need to kill Marie and they'll need to use magic to do the deed. Spalding claims to have the means to kill Marie; he offers to tell Delphine how, if she'll only retrieve something for him.

Cordelia pays Queenie a visit. Queenie is upset that Cordelia had given Misty her room. "You left us," she reminds her, "and went across town to our swornenemy."

"Who is, right now, in your guest room, smoking a hookah," Queenie counters. Oh, the dialogue on this show. Queenie reveals that she survived one of Hank's silver bullets, and that she has developed new powers.

Cordelia tries to smooth things over with Queenie, but Queenie calls her weak and suggests that she let someone else run the coven. Desperate to prove her worth and regain her purpose, as well as her powers, Cordelia takes a set of pruning shears to her own eyes and plucks them out of her head. "Because your daughter has become something you'll never understand, Fiona. She's a hero," Myrtle tells Fiona when she asks why her daughter would do such a thing.

"You are an enemy to this coven and will be so long as you live," Myrtle says to Fiona. She taunts her and tells her to go and see her daughter, if she isn't afraid of what Cordelia might learn when she touches her. "Cordelia has your number, Slim," she says. Fiona balks, then leaves.

We learn that the item Spalding asked Delphine to retrieve for him was a rare doll to add to his collection. In return, he offers Delphine Benadryl, which he claims will kill Marie. Oh, Delphine.

Myrtle visits with Zoe in the greenhouse, where she gives her a rare piece of jewelry to sell in case of an emergency. Myrtle explains that she is sending Zoe away, for her own safety, and that she should take Kyle with her. Zoe refuses her at first, but Myrtle convinces her to leave before Fiona kills her.

Marie and Fiona meet with Harrison and the Delphi Trust leadership group. Harrison proposes a 100-year truce between witches and witch hunters. Fiona and Marie counter with a series of increasingly absurd demands, revealing that the meeting was a setup. The Axeman, dressed as a waiter, kills the Delphi Trust, and allows Fiona to deliver the finishing blow to Harrison.

Later that night, back at the school, Delphine is serving Marie celebratory drinks. She slips her the Benadryl and stabs her, but soon discovers that she has been had. Spalding appears and knocks Marie down a flight of steps. He tells Delphine that Marie is immortal, but that maybe she could be rid of her if she buried her in such a way that she couldn't escape. "Finally, a living doll, all my own," Spalding says, as he rocks Marie's kidnapped hospital baby, while the two of them wear matching bonnets.

Zoe and Kyle are packing to leave, but Kyle gets cold feet. He tells Zoe that he's afraid that he might hurt her, or someone else, if he leaves. Zoe whispers Myrtle's Keats wisdom to him, which is enough to convince him to leave with her.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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