‘Suprise, Bitch’: It’s War on “American Horror Story: Coven”

TSTWas “The Sacred Taking” American Horror Story’s weakest episode of the season? Probably, but given how strong Coven has been this season, the weak link still held its own. It felt a little jumbled, but it certainly helped set up the series’ five remaining episodes and next week’s last new episode until 2014. Let’s take a look at what went down.

The episode opened with what I initially thought was a flashback. Queenie is wandering around a shoddy area late at night and completely alone – until she’s approached by a man who threatens her with rape and murder. Our girl is scared, but not for long. She picks up a board with several nails pushed clean through and jabs it into her hand, incapacitating and confusing the man long enough for her to overpower him. She’s stopped, though, as Zoe and Madison show up. This was also the moment I realized that this was a present-day incident and not one that took place in Detroit. They want her to come back to Miss Robichaux’s, but Queenie is on a mission. Her encounter with the homeless man was no accident. Marie Laveau sent her out in pursuit of an evil heart, and this man just happens to have raped a number of young girls. The heart is an ingredient in a potion Marie is supposedly brewing to make Queenie a stronger voudon, something Queenie suggests Fiona would never do for the other witches. She’s right, as Fiona is wont to do pretty much the opposite. Queenie cuts the man’s heart out and holds it up, still beating, as she lets the girls know this town ain’t big enough for the both of them. It’s war.

Meanwhile, Fiona has seen better days. She’s in an immense amount of pain, eased only slightly by the Axeman, who intends to stay with Fiona until her time runs out. She’d rather him just leave, though, because she doesn’t want him to see her as she inches closer and closer to death. She knows that her condition is advancing so rapidly because the new Supreme is growing strong, but who is it?

The ladies of Miss Robichaux’s don’t plan on Fiona living to find out. Just before Cordelia lays out her plan, Nan rushes in after hearing Luke’s screams. Joan is not exactly happy with Nan and the other girls and, because of Luke’s involvement with the neighbors, she “cleanses” him. The new, harsher, MORE AWESOME Cordelia, though, can’t be bothered; they have a plan, the first step of which is to eliminate Fiona.

Before they can really dig in, Zoe answers the door after several rings of the bell, as the staff (Spalding? Dead. Delphine? In Marie’s clutches.) is gone. It’s Misty, and she needs help. She was attacked by a man with a gun, presumably Cordelia’s witch-hunting husband Hank. She’s immediately accepted after Cordelia “sees” her past and later joined by Myrtle, fierce mane and all, who believes Misty is the new Supreme because of her resurrection powers.

Kyle, in the meantime, has been learning via an iPad and a children’s education app/television show, but when Zoe comes in to check up him, he has something else on his mind and it isn’t grammar. Zoe has work to do, and just as she starts to leave, Madison comes in, kissing Kyle and promising more later. Though she hasn’t actually said it, Zoe seems to be regretting this sharing thing more and more, whether it’s because of her strong feelings for Kyle or she and Madison’s opposing views on his development. Later, Kyle and Zoe exchange “I love you”s but – SURPRISE! – Madison hears everything. That doesn’t exactly bode well for Zoe.

Back downstairs, the ladies start to hash out their plan. It’s here where we learn where the episode’s title comes from: the Sacred Taking is a ritual in which the Supreme, weakening, takes her own life so the new Supreme assume her duties as quickly as possible. The witches prepare the ritual for only the fourth time ever. They hope they can get Fiona to do this – with a little nudge in the right direction.

Madison is more than happy to nudge. Fiona enters her bedroom after vomiting to find Madison dancing in a long red dress in front of a mirror. Her “Surprise, bitch. Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me” line made me laugh out loud for all the wrong reasons and spawned a million gifs (seriously, search the “Surprise bitch” tag on tumblr), but it got the job done. Fiona rubs her eyes as if she’s dreaming, but no. Madison is really standing in front of her. She claims to have resurrected herself as the new Supreme, and now that the whole coven knows it was Fiona who killed her, she’s going to be burned at the stake. Madison gives her two choices: accept her painful, fiery fate or suck down a few pills and do the job herself. Just as she’s left to weigh her options, Myrtle comes in through the revolving door of resurrected corpses. To corroborate Madison’s story, Myrtle claims the new Supreme brought her back as well. Fiona, in love with the Axeman, vocalizes her plan to run off with him. They’re in love. Her sickness is a nonissue for him. Myrtle, though, paints a different picture in a dreamlike sequence where we see Fiona, bald and sickly, falling out of her hospital-grade bed promising the Axeman she’ll die quickly after he runs out, unable to deal with her condition any longer. She applies some makeup and tells Myrtle about a six-month affair with “the drummer from The Band,” my man Levon Helm. She swallows the pills, lays down on the bed, headscarf and all, and prepares for death while Myrtle dumps the contents of a jewelry box into her purse.

Someone has other plans. Spalding, or at least his ghost, wakes Fiona up with a bottle of Ipecac, asking her to take some and vomit up the pills. He tells her the truth, and Fiona has found new life. She’s ready to take on the coven.

Next door, Nan tries to rescue Luke. After the girls pretty much say Nan could never be the Supreme, she runs over and enters the house, but not before we catch a glimpse of Hank waiting in his car. As she gets closer to him, his thoughts get louder, and she finds him bound in a closet. The two get ready to run away – “anywhere” – but not before Joan meets them at the bottom of the steps, already on the phone with the police. They argue, but it stops once the gang notices a laser pointed at Joan’s chest. She’s shot and killed almost instantly. Nan’s next, but Luke jumps in front of her and takes the shot himself.

Meanwhile, the girls wait for the next Supreme to emerge. They talk about what it might feel like when Fiona enters, eventually asking about Misty, who is next door with Nan. Fiona heads over, wanting to see Misty work her magic (heh). Two policemen enter just as they’re about to start, and Fiona flicks them away. Misty brings Joan back to life, but things are a little bit more dire outside. Cordelia finds a silver bullet, realizing they’re being hunted. The next morning, mom and daughter have a nice little bonding moment; with the discovery of the silver bullet, Cordelia said, they need Fiona in their ranks, and they do. Each woman is powerful in her own right, but Fiona, when she’s not running away from her responsibilities as Supreme, is one wildly cunning and skilled witch.

The doorbell rings, and Fiona goes to answer it while questioning the whereabouts of the staff. She finds out where one of them is – she opens the door to find a package. It’s Delphine’s, whose hand was chopped off earlier in the episode, severed but still “alive” head in a box. The coven’s focus is off of killing Fiona, for now. War with the voudons (and Hank), like Queenie said at the beginning of the episode, is coming.

About Sam Sciarrotta

Hi there! I'm Sam. I like baseball, Bruce Springsteen, tomato pie, and most other things. I'm looking at you, but I'm thinking about Breaking Bad. 2012 college graduate and budding journalist.

Posted on December 10, 2013, in Cable, Drama, FX, Primetime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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