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'American Horror Story: Coven' recap, 'Head'

For The Baltimore Sun

The mid-season finale of "American Horror Story: Coven" aligned voodoo and witchcraft, closing with a grim sequence that reminded us that for all its campy goodness, this is indeed a horror story.

We start with a flashback to 1991, where young Hank is on his first witch-hunt, with his dad. "Never forget what they are," dad tells Hank as he comes face-to-face with a witch.

Young Hank points his rifle at the witch, who is stumbling through the brush towards him. Hank hesitates as the witch begs for mercy; his reticence to pull the trigger allows the witch to hurl a fireball in his direction, causing his dad to jump into action. Dad puts a bullet in her skull, then reminds his son to never show mercy.

After that rather chilling opening, we cut back to the present, where Fiona pays Marie a visit at her salon. Fiona hasn't exactly come alone, as she brings Delphine's head-in-a-box with her. "I've got six more heads waiting for me up front," Marie says to Fiona as they adjourn to a back room to talk business. "That one, you can keep."

Fiona asks Marie to align her tribe with the coven, to which Delphine's head asks, "Are you insane?" Fiona asks Marie to put aside their differences because they have bigger problems, telling her of the witch hunter hot on her trail. Little does she know, of course, that Hank the hunter is working for Marie. "You come down here 'cause you're weak, can't protect your own. You expect me to do it for you," Marie says.

Fiona tells Marie that once the witches are dead, the hunter will turn his sights on Marie, but Marie isn't swayed by her argument. She orders Queenie to take Delphine's head outside to burn it.

Back at the school, Cordelia stumbles around the kitchen, trying to make herself some food, knocking over an egg carton in the process. Myrtle looks on, then approaches Cordelia, telling her that she needs to realize that Myrtle isn't the one who caused her to lose her sight. Cordelia assures her that she knows that.

Hank is on a business trip to Atlanta to visit his dad, who is the head of a company that kills witches. Of course. Hank's dad isn't pleased that he's aligned himself with Marie. Hank assures his father that his ultimate goal is take down both the voodoos and the witches. Huh.

Fiona was right. I liked this story better when we were under the impression that Hank was Marie's hired gun, not a corporate witch assassin.

Hank is the cliched disappointing son who just wants to win his father's love. Hank's dad details how he had to send someone to clean up after his sloppy hotel room murder earlier this season. He tells Hank not to get his hands dirty any more and get back in Cordelia's good graces, in order to gather intelligence.

Hank tells him that ship has probably sailed now that Cordelia is blind. We learn that Delphi, Hank's father's company, authorized the attack on Cordelia that left her blind. When Hank bristles at that, his father reminds him to never form any kind of real emotional bond with the enemy, because one day, she will have to be killed.

Myrlte has invited her former council-mates over for a meal, and they are delighted to see her. They want to hear all about Misty Day and her magical mud. Myrtle tells them that the mud isn't magical, but that Misty has real gifts. "She's a sophisticated witch with extraordinary gifts, hiding out as a hippie swamp rat," she says of Misty.

But Myrtle hasn't called Quentin and Pemby over to talk business, but rather to use them. She uses a melon baller to take an eye from each of them, then puts the eyes in Cordelia's head, restoring her sight. Later, we see how she does away with Quentin and Pemby with a saw and some barrels of acid.

FIona and Myrtle spend some time verbally sniping at each other, until Cordelia plays peacemaker. "The real danger is outside these doors, not inside them," she reminds her two moms. As Cordelia hugs Myrtle, she realizes that she has lost her ability to see visions.

"Sick people really gross me out," says Madison, as she and Zoe walk through a hospital. They're on their way to see Nan, who is there to visit Luke. Luke's mother won't allow Nan to see him, though. Madison, by the way, is wearing a hilarious ushanka.

The witches barge in to Luke's hospital room anyway, much to Joan's dismay. She wants them to leave, but Nan uses her power to read Luke's mind. He wants his mom to sing "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" to him, he clairvoyantly tells Nan. Joan obliges, accepting Nan. To paraphrase "Rocky IV," if she can change, we all can change.

A dash of comedic relief comes when we see that Queenie hasn't burned Delphine's head yet. Instead, she has it locked in her bedroom, where she's forcing it to watch "Roots," "The Color Purple" and "B.A.P.S.," starring Halle Berry.

Hank is in his hotel room, enjoying some Chinese food, when he falls victim to an attack from Marie's voodoo. A man bursts into the room and facilitates a phone call from Marie, who orders Hank to finish off the witches tonight, or else.

Cordelia is schooling Misty in the greenhouse, helping her to develop her abilities. "You're such an awesome leader, Miss Cordelia," Misty says. "Fiona is the leader of this coven," Cordelia counters.

A drunk Hank stumbles in. "Can you see my heart? Can you see it's bleeding?" he asks his estranged wife. Cordelia tells him to go get his stuff and leave. As he's doing that, he encounters Fiona's snarling dog. He's surprised to learn that Fiona has a pet. "You hate animals, and all other living things," he says to his mother-in-law. Zing!

The dog goes to Zoe's door and whimpers. Fiona opens the door and sees Kyle inside. She rather nonchalantly tells Kyle to leave and turns to exit the room, but turns back when Kyle snaps the dog's neck off-camera.

Joan is thanking Nan for her work at the hospital, but Luke tells Nan that he has learned that Joan killed Luke's father. Luke's dad had a bee allergy, so Joan locked him in his car with a swarm of bees. Bees? Joan had discovered that he was having an affair with a member of her book club, and she killed him for it. Joan orders Nan out of the room.

Zoe, Madison and Nan return from their travels to find Fiona and Kyle playing cards at the kitchen table. Fiona used her powers to restore Kyle's ability to speak. "What we need is a guard dog," she says. She plans to use Kyle for his muscle.

Queenie returns to deal with Delphine's head. Delphine insists that she hadn't watched a minute of the cinematic education that Queenie had attempted to give her. Queenie insists that Delphine needs to learn something, and puts on a video of civil rights marches, set to "Oh, Freedom," before heading back to work downstairs.

As "Oh, Freedom" plays, we see Hank kick in the front door to Marie's salon. A bloodbath ensues, as Hank goes from room to room, emptying his weapons. Queenie is among the victims, but she uses her power to kill Hank, before she passes away herself.

Delphine cries while watching the footage. Hank's dad cries when he sees photographic evidence that his son is dead.

In the closing scene, Marie pays Fiona a visit. She's ready for that alliance, now

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