American Horror Story Coven, S3E8: The Sacred Taking
Original Airdate: December 4, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Welcome back to the Coven, boys and girls. After a week off for Thanksgiving, we’re back again and in fine form. If you’ve been following the news lately, Ryan Murphy mentioned in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that a hint about Season 4 of AHS will drop soon, and the setting will either be non-contemporary New Orleans or Santa Fe. So keep your eyes peeled for foreshadowing….
Tonight’s episode starts out with Queenie walking under a freeway overpass at night. A man starts to heckle her, and before he can harm her, she impales her hand with a board covered in nails. When his hand starts to bleed, she takes the time to take him down the old-fashioned way—by hitting him with the board. Suddenly she’s interrupted by Zoe and Madison, who appear out of nowhere dressed head to toe in black. Queenie says she’s with Marie Laveau now, that the girls never liked who she was. Madison taunts her and says that Fiona slit her throat but she’s still with the coven. Zoe says that a new Supreme is rising, and they need to work together now more than ever. Queenie has heard the Supreme story before, from Fiona. She gets down on her knees and plunges a knife into the man’s stomach. Even Madison winces at the sight, while Zoe exclaims in outrage that she just murdered an innocent man. “Shows what you know,” Queenie scoffs. The man raped at least three girls. Marie Laveau asked for a dark heart for her potion that will give Queenie special powers (something Fiona never did, she adds) and she’s going to provide one. Queenie thrusts her hand into the man’s chest and pulls out his still-beating heart. “Voodoo. Witchcraft. This town ain’t big enough for the two of us. War is coming, and you’re going to lose,” Queenie says.
Fiona is in bed trying to eat. She is thinking about the cancer that is eating away at her, and has now spread to her spine. The food makes her sick. She laments having to tell her own daughter the sad news of her impending death, but she knows that being with loved ones is a balm. Cordelia’s response: She hopes Fiona dies before Thanksgiving so they can be spared the crap she calls stuffing. In bed with the Axeman, she says she doesn’t want to be around him when her hair and teeth fall out. He suggests that they run away to a far-off place. He asks if she ever considers ending everything, but she won’t give anyone the satisfaction. She tells Axeman about the rising Supreme, and as she talks we are back at the school, as she watches Nan and Zoe lead Cordelia around. The answer lies in killing the next Supreme.
Joan is cleaning her son Luke’s axe wound. She just knows that the girls next door are witches, as where else could they get their dark magic. Luke points out that the girls saved him. Joan slaps him. “Only Jesus can save you,” she says. Luke gives her a venomous look, but he doesn’t stand up to his mother. She says he’s “unclean, from the inside out, but we’re going to fix that.” She goes to a cupboard and fetches enema supplies, including an industrial cleaner. Joan orders her son to take off his pants, which he begrudgingly does, and he gets into the bathtub. This must be something that’s happened before, because he knows this drill. He adjusts the enema and she starts the flow.
Nan can hear Luke’s cries, and she rushes into the office, where Cordelia, Madison and Zoe have gathered. Cordelia tells Nan to shut out everything outside of the room they’re in. Cordelia sees Queenie’s loss as a personal failing, but as of now Queenie is dead to her. They need to focus on the task at hand. They need to kill Fiona, Zoe says. Madison wants to do it, but Cordelia says she must remain hidden until the right moment. The doorbell keeps ringing, prompting Cordelia to wonder what happened to Spalding and Delphine. Zoe quickly offers to answer it before that line of thought can go much farther.
When she opens the door, Misty Day pushes past Zoe, begging for protection. She had to leave her house and Stevie and her garden to flee. She recounts the story of being awakened the night before by an almost-healed Myrtle. Myrtle says that a man with a gun is circling the shack and he almost stepped on her face. Misty Day flees before the man with the gun bursts inside and starts shooting at her bed. They spent the night in the swamp before making their way to Miss Robichaux’s. Cordelia comes in and Zoe says there is a witch who needs protection. Cordelia touches Misty’s hand and recognizes her. She offers the protection of the Coven. Misty asks if her friend can be protected, too. She’s just outside in the garden.
The witches go out to the conservatory and Cordelia announces that whoever it is, she is with friends. Myrtle turns around, red hair flaming, and agrees, so long as Fiona isn’t around. Cordelia rushes to her, saying she thought she’d never see her again. “Poor choice of words, dear,” Myrtle chastises gently. Nan asks how Myrtle’s hair grew back so quickly, to which Myrtle replies that she’s “been buying in bulk from North Korea for years.” I have no idea what that means, but it’s a great line. Cordelia recounts the ills of the Coven that have occurred at the hands of the Supreme and admits that the Coven has fallen on hard times, but Myrtle disagrees. Given that resurrection is one of the hardest abilities to master, and given how many people have been brought back to life recently, it would seem that Misty Day is the next Supreme. After all, Misty has resurrected more people than Jesus did. Cordelia’s expression captures her surprise at the announcement.
Zoe finds Kyle upstairs looking at an educational video on the laptop. He is very happy to see her and would rather kiss her than play the games, but she says they are going to be busy and he needs to work on getting smart. Madison walks in, reminding the startled Zoe that they’re going to share Kyle. She kisses him and asks why she has him playing games. Why not just let him “watch porn and jerk off” like any other guy, she asks. Zoe says he needs to learn so he can return to being a productive member of society. Watching Kyle’s reaction to the banter is great given that he has real-life romantic ties to both women. Madison leaves, promising that they’ll have fun later, but all the while Kyle keeps his hand on Zoe’s knee and seems much more interested in her. She has to go as well, so she puts headphones on him (he looks around in wonder at the new sounds) and leaves him alone.
Myrtle is downstairs with the Coven as they don red robes for the ceremony. The ceremony is the Sacred Taking, which is supposed to help draw out the new Supreme. Misty Day doesn’t want to be the next Supreme, and Madison pokes at Zoe for thinking that she was the next one. Nan says that any one of them could be the next Supreme, which Madison scoffs at. Cordelia says that being the Supreme is a burden that no one should wish for. She explains that the Sacred Taking ceremony has been performed three times, the first of which dates back to the days of the Salem witches. Prudence Mather suffered from tuberculosis and wouldn’t be able to survive the journey south, so the ceremony allows her to take her own life and reveal the next Supreme. Myrtle laments that the poor Salem witches had to travel all that way without a charcuterie platter and a bidet. Times were rough…. Madison exposes the flaw in the plan: Fiona would never kill herself for the benefit of the Coven. “Not without a push,” Cordelia replies.
Fiona is upstairs throwing up. She hears music, and goes into the bedroom to find Madison dancing around in a red dress. Madison loves the room, the walk-in closet, and the big bed that she can’t wait to break in (she teases that it probably hasn’t seen much action, but we know that isn’t true…). Madison says she’s the next Supreme, so she resurrected herself. Fiona asks if Cordelia knows, and Madison replies that everyone knows, and they also know what happened to poor Myrtle. Fiona orders her out, but she can hardly make the door open on its own, a sign of her weakening power. Madison is going to make this easy for her—either she burns at the stake, or she takes some pills and goes to sleep. Either way, Fiona must die.
Fiona picks up her suitcase, but Myrtle stops her from fleeing. Fiona asks if everyone is coming back from the dead. Fiona wants to flee to a Greek island, but that’s not one of the options. Die or burn. Fiona tells Myrtle that she has finally found someone to belong to, someone who she loves. Myrtle points out that he’ll never stay with her through the end. She has a vision of what’s to come, when Fiona is wasting away in a hospital bed. Axeman can’t bear being around the smells any longer, and he leaves her.
Madison walks out of Fiona’s room to find Zoe, Misty and Nan on the stairs. She says it went well and Fiona believes her to be the next Supreme. Nan doesn’t understand why she can’t be the next Supreme, and she runs off when Zoe doesn’t back her up. She runs to Luke’s house, past Hank, who is waiting and watching in the car. She uses her powers to open the door, and she wanders through the house until she hears a noise in the closet. It’s Luke, and he’s bound and gagged. “Oh, God,” she whispers.
Myrtle watches as Fiona prepares her body to die. She puts a scarf over her head and sits at the dressing table. Fiona’s hand is shaking from her meds, so she asks Myrtle to hold the mirror. Myrtle obliges, and for a moment it seems like they’re old friends again. Fiona reminisces about a man named Levon who was the drummer in a band. They went to Woodstock together. She says all the boys were crazy about her, but he was special. Some people stay on the carousel, but others choose the thrill of the roller coasters, she adds. After donning her fur coat, Fiona scoops up the pills from the bed and takes them. She asks Myrtle to watch over her daughter, saying that Cordelia was her greatest failure, one that she will be haunted by forever. As she lies down, she tells Myrtle to make sure they hang her portrait in the place she chose, and not to leave it in the basement with “the disgraced Russian witch.” Myrtle compliments Fiona’s lipstick, commenting that she could never pull off the coral colors. Fiona closes her eyes. Myrtle waits a few moments before leaving, pausing to scoop up Fiona’s jewelry….
Fiona is drifting when she hears a voice. It’s Spalding, and he’s telling her to wake up. He has a bottle in his hand and says she needs to drink it to purge the pills from her system. He tells Fiona that he was murdered in order to be silenced, but the young witches don’t realize that for over three hundred years his family has watched over the Coven, and at last he sees everything. Fiona tells him that she’s trying to do the noble thing for the good of the Coven. “Horse shit,” he replies. They have been feeding lies to Fiona for a long time, and she swallowed them easier than she did the pills. He holds out the bottle of Ipecac (making its second appearance in the series) and she opens her mouth. Next we see Fiona heaving into the toilet while Spalding watches from the corner. She tells him that he has always been her “silent sentinel” and she vows to avenge his murder, as soon as she has avenged her own.
At Marie Laveau’s salon, Delphine sits forlornly in a metal cage with barely enough room to move around. Queenie shows up and Delphine can smell the food she brought for her. Queenie looks puzzled when she hears that they aren’t feeding Delphine. Delphine says they’re just bleeding her for the poultices, and the bandage around her neck serves as proof of it. Delphine can’t understand why Queenie betrayed her. She learned to make the pot pies and cobblers to please her; however, just as she locked her away, she can free her. Just to stretch her legs, Delphine adds. Marie Laveau shows up and tells Queenie to stop feeding Delphine, and that animals belong in cages. She dismisses Queenie (who seems to be wrestling with her role in all of this. Delphine demands water in a clean glass, trying to sound like her old self. Marie isn’t fazed by it. She says that she thought of all the things she could do to Delphine once she had her locked away, but so far being locked up has been very fulfilling. Delphine knows that she can’t die, so she says that Marie should just bury her again so that she can return in a hundred years when the “natural order” of things has returned and Obama isn’t president. Marie laughs, telling Delphine that she suffers from a lack of imagination. She slices off Delphine’s hand while Delphine screams in agony.
Nan and Luke flee from the house. He knows that his mother will look for them at the school first, so first they just have to get away. Nan asks if they’ll be boyfriend and girlfriend, and when he nods, she kisses his cheek. Then we hear Joan’s voice. She’s on the phone with the police, telling them that she has a female intruder in the house that is armed. Luke says it’s a lie, and he shoves his mother away. Joan doesn’t like this, and she threatens her son. A red dot appears on his mother’s stomach, and suddenly a gunshot rings out once, and then again. Joan drops to the floor, dead, and when Nan moves into the line of fire, Luke pushes her out of the way and gets shot himself. “Don’t leave me,” Nan sobs. She’s going to be the next Supreme.
Myrtle plays Schubert’s last piece on the piano while the other women wait anxiously for the end to come. Cordelia wants to hear something less depressing, but Myrtle insists that the piece was all about accepting death. They ask if Misty is feeling anything yet, but she feeling nothing. Just nerves. Cordelia has heard it starts with her feet getting warmer, and Myrtle hear it was a feeling in “the cooch.” “For me, it was a migraine,” comes Fiona’s voice. She pulls out a cigarette and lights it effortlessly. She wants to meet the swamp witch, but Misty is gone.
Next door, the police are scouring the living room while Luke is wheeled out on a gurney. Nan goes with him to the hospital. Misty is standing near the fireplace. Once the room has been cleared, Fiona walks in. She sees Misty Day but she is interrupted by a police officer. Fiona commands him to explain what happened, and after she dismisses him, she tells Misty that she can demonstrate her power with dead Joan. Misty approaches the body and goes to work,
Outside, the girls from the school gather news about what happened at Luke’s house. Cordelia wants to know where her mother is, and Zoe starts to lead her inside when Cordelia stops her, saying that she’s found something. Inside, Fiona keeps the police away while Misty works. Cordelia has a vision of the man who shot Joan, and she realizes that he was coming after them. Misty finishes her work and passes out as Joan takes a deep breath. Fiona rolls her eyes.
Zoe hurries to find Kyle, who is deeply involved with his computer game. She tells him they are under attack and she has to get him to safety. He hugs her. “This road goes two ways,” he says slowly. She doesn’t understand what that means. “I love you,” he finishes. “I love you, too,” she replies, and they hug each other. Madison has heard this interaction from her place outside, and she starts to cry.
Fiona awakens and finds Cordelia downstairs drinking coffee. She laments the lack of servants in the house. Cordelia isn’t sure what kind of reaction to expect from her mother, and she’s surprised to find that Fiona is proud of her daughter and the Coven. For once, they showed true grit, and she now has hope for the future of the Coven. Cordelia is emotional hearing her mother say she’s proud of her. She jokes that she would have made an attempt on Fiona’s life much sooner had she known. Fiona notices the bullet on the table and Cordelia says she found it. The bullet has been blessed. Witch hunters are after the Coven. Cordelia admits being relieved that her mother was alive when she found the bullet. They need Fiona now more than ever.
The doorbell rings and rings, and finally Fiona goes to answer it, leaving the table and the tender moment with her daughter. The porch is empty save for a big box. Fiona brings it inside and Cordelia joins her at the dining room table. Inside the box is Delphine’s head. “Help!” she cries.
So ends another amazing episode of American Horror Story Coven. Again I’m left with the question of redemption. After everything that Fiona has done, they need her now more than ever. After all of the evil things Madame LaLaurie has done, she’s receiving the same treatment after making an attempt to change. Is it possible for them to change? Can they truly be sympathetic characters? I’m eager to hear your thoughts. And what is going on with the mother-son relationships this season? First it was Alisha and Kyle, and now Joan and Luke. Very bizarre.
As always, leave your comments and thoughts below!