American Horror Story: Coven Recap: “Protect the Coven” (Season 3, Episode 11)

With only a few storytelling hours left to go before Coven wraps up, the writers are (as in every season, apparently) throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Wednesday’s episode brought Queenie and Delphine back into the mix (of course); it also supposedly conquered the “Big Bad” while re-introducing a minor villain. It didn’t bother tackling Misty Day – even Myrtle and Fiona, who were pretty convinced Misty is the new Supreme, didn’t bat an eye toward the fact that she disappeared suddenly, and that known scheming trollop Madison Montgomery was the last person to see her. My notes for this episode are all over the place because the showrunners are cruising us through important scenes so quickly your head’ll spin. Further, I’m pretty sure Murphy is playing around in Greek mythology (see below). Join me for this week’s batshittery!

Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie

Delphine? Shady? NEVER. Photo courtesy Michele K. Short/FX.

In the opening scene, we for some reason enter Delphine LaLaurie’s head; her narration provides the main plot thread through the episode. Aside from giving Bates more screen time (I’m in favor, obviously), there seems to be little reason for this. It’s enough to know she’s an evil, torturing racist. We don’t need the back story. Delphine, the product of “two prominent members of Parisian society,” is forced to move to New Orleans, “this shithole,” in 1830, during the halcyon years of ham-hock sleeves and black people as property. When her daughter, well, chickens out on slaughtering a chicken (sorry), a grouchy Delphine discovers she has a taste for blood. After she chops off the rooster’s head, she fingers the arterial spray lovingly, her eyes going distant. Murphy then cuts straight to an injured slave screaming in the attic, blood spurting from his knee. Delphine obviously knocks him over the head and tortures him brutally, muttering that perhaps she’ll like it here after all.

Back in the present day the witches, dressed in their best black, proceed to one of New Orleans’s gorgeous cemetaries to pay their last respects to Nan, “who fell in the tub,” Fiona says nonchalantly. “Amen,” agrees Marie with a shrug. Myrtle and Cordelia murmur about Misty’s mysterious whereabouts, and Madison assures them transparently that they shouldn’t bother. Meanwhile, Misty’s probably trapped in a tomb a few hundred feet away. The cemetary provides a brilliant backdrop to all this murderous jockeying for first place. I mean, let’s recap for all the witches present in this scene: Fiona slashed Madison’s throat, Misty brought Madison back, Madison “killed” Misty; Marie tried to kill them all, and then Marie helped Fiona kill Nan. Delphine murdered Marie’s lover, and Marie cursed and then cut off Delphine’s head and hand. Queenie put Delphine back together (her talents are indeed getting stronger, as there are no scars), and Delphine wants nothing more than to murder black people. Oh right, and Fiona murdered Myrtle (whom Misty reanimated). Am I missing anyone? Basically, shit is cray, and you all are idiots.

After the funeral scene, in which Queenie has Delphine on an actual leash, we re-enter LaLaurie’s head (which is a pretty fucked up place to be). She bemoans her awful life as a servant to the witches, cleaning up their “sex-stained panties,” as the camera passes over a bed where Madison, Kyle, and Zoe sleep peacefully, fully clothed and atop the covers. (Did the censors perhaps step in here and indicate you can’t actually show the aftermath of a threesome, even on FX?) When Delphine scolds Madison about disposing of her own waste, Madison sneers, “You flush my shit, bitch.” Delphine stares into the toilet, and the editors cut directly to Myrtle’s soup. To Myrtle metaphorically eating shit as she exalts Delphine’s Mulligatawny soup. Myrtle drones on about fig trees, exclaiming that they smell like “an Olympian’s ejaculate” in the springtime (I adore Frances Conroy). James, a black gardener, has injured himself with shears while cutting the trees. Delphine takes advantage of this vulnerable moment to capture him, bind him in the attic and then reminisce fondly about how she just loved torturing black folks for science. All for science. She then cuts off his toes while crooning “This Little Piggy.”

Kyle and Zoe

Frankenstein’s Monster Boyfriend = terrible love interest. Photo courtesy Michele K. Short/FX.

Zoe performs some kind of spell that reveals Fiona and Marie killed Nan. Madison walks in to find Kyle and Zoe together in the bathroom and freaks out; we knew this was coming. When Madison “gets down on her knee pads” to blow Kyle and test Zoe’s emotional resolve, he pushes Madison away. Madison’s subsequent tantrum creates a mini-earthquake, and Myrtle comes up to check on them. She tells Madison she’s the worst kind of celebrity, “a bobblehead with crotchless panties” (I snorted), and Madison responds that Myrtle is a “dried up old Hot Pocket.” These ladies are, indeed, drag queens. You can practically see the claws. It’s deliriously fun to watch them throw around these ridiculous lines in complete seriousness.

Fiona and the Axe Man lay about prettily, reminiscing about the past (this episode contanis a lot of reminiscing). He asks her, with an odd sweetness considering he is, you know, the Axe Man, if they can just “live a normal life” after they murder the rising Supreme. Yeah, totally! That’ll be simple. What?

Meanwhile at Delphi, nobody’s mourning Hank, particularly not his Big Evil father, who tries to set up a meeting with the witches while nefariously planning to murder them. Fiona and Marie breeze in, saying they can’t stay long because Emeril has invited them to a tasting later. “Listen up, white devil,” Marie says, “We ain’t got time for this.” Who should be waiting on them, bringing Marie a Diet Sprite and Fiona a filthy martini, but the Axe Man? Harrison offers the witches a 100-year truce in return for his business, but we know he has no plans to keep that promise. So Fiona and Marie set the Axe Man on Harrison and his Delphi cronies. Slash, slash, slice, slice, chunk, chunk. After a perfunctory escape attempt, Harrison grabs a cup of tea and decides he’ll go out with dignity. The Axe Man hands Fiona his beloved weapon, and she practically cuts off Harrison’s head with it. Meanwhile, Marie calmly checks her email on her cell. “I love you more than jazz, babydoll,” Axe Man tells Fiona as she reaches for her filthy martini over the blood-drenched desk.

Fiona and Marie

TROUBLE. Photo courtesy Michele K. Short/FX.

In the doll-filled attic at the school, Delphine and Spalding have a run-in (here’s Spalding again, just in case you forgot about him!). He “admires her work” on the slave, whose guts are now spilling out of his body. Delphine brings him some kind of collector’s doll from 1830 in exchange for Spalding’s help obtaining a potion that will render the voodoo queen mortal and allow Delphine to end Marie’s life. He hands her a pack of Benadryl and tells her not to speak its name, it’s so powerful. (At this point, the entire viewing audience facepalmed, and I actually muttered, “Oh, you sonuva…”) Delphine prepares a mean French 75 for Marie and Fiona, lacing Marie’s with the drug. After she stabs Marie right through the heart, Marie extracts the knife angrily and cries, “That ain’t magic, it’s an antihistamine. The only thing I’m allergic to is you!” As she takes after Delphine, Spalding conks her on the head with his dolly, knocking her down two flights of stairs. “I just wanted her out of my hair and you were the most likely to cooperate,” he tells Delphine with a grin. It’s cool! Just bury here somewhere she can’t escape. Spalding takes Marie’s sacrificial brown baby, dresses it in a tiny gown and bonnet, then attires himself to match. As he rocks in his attic chair, touching the child with his disgusting fingernails, he croons that he’s now got a living doll all his own. What’s Spalding’s role in all this? Why is he here, again? I suppose he served as a catalyst and encouragement to Delphine, but their whole thread seems unnecessary and contrived.

Queenie doesn’t accept Cordelia’s apologies for oh, you know, assuming Queenie was dead at her husband’s hand and not investigating. In a flashback to the shootings at Marie’s, we discover Queenie was shot in the belly, but that her powers are growing: “Not even a silver bullet can stop me.” Queenie berates Delia that she’s just as weak as she’s ever been…but is it true? Cordelia goes to her greenhouse and begins her work. She removes her new eyes from her head, rendering herself blind once again. Fiona comes racing up the stairs calling for her (why does Fiona care?!) and meets Myrtle outside Delia’s room in her yellow dish gloves. Myrtle tells Fiona that Delia, the martyr, has ripped her eyes out of her skull for one reason: to protect the coven. Not from the witch-hunters, but from the dangers within, i.e. you, Fiona. “You are an enemy to this coven, but Cordelia has your number,” Myrt says stoically. Here’s hoping it’s true. I want to see Delia kill Fiona, and Misty become Supreme.

Zoe and Kyle

Well, at least they both have pretty, shiny hair. Photo courtesy Michele K. Short/FX.

After she gives Fiona this warning, Myrtle attends to warning Zoe. She gifts her with an extremely valuable piece of jewelry, a brooch shaped like a harvester ant, one of the most venomous creatures in the world. Myrtle chides Zoe that she’d never be able to pull off wearing the thing, but that she should get the hell out of NOLA and hock it. Myrtle can see the dangers within the coven, particularly in Fiona and Madison (who are more alike than either of them wishes). Kyle resists briefly against leaving, but he loves her too much (blech). In the final scene, the two of them sprint toward a running Greyhound bound for Orlando, grinning and holding hands. The soundtrack bubbles away happily as they smile at each other. You know this is bullshit. What’s in store for the lovebirds?

I spend much of this show with eyes progressively narrowing, eventually murmuring (to my boyfriend’s odd looks), “You are all idiots.” Like I said last week, I’m pretty certain Murphy is gunning for some kind of message about feminist sisterhood. Something along the lines of, “you bitches need to stop hating each other and hate the real culprit: the Patriarchy.” He’s not doing a very good job of it, though. Only two more episodes, which gives the writers 1.5 hours to throw more surprise! info at us, to give us more brilliantly terrible one-liners, and to make us squirm. I hope they make the best of it, because this episode was pretty disappointing.

Anybody else notice the similarity between Delphi and Delphine? I don’t feel it’s a coincidence that Myrtle was exclaiming about “Olympians’ ejaculate” in this episode. More clues: “The site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the centre of…Gaia…Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and became a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth.” By blinding herself, Cordelia is transforming herself into an oracle. If anybody could be linked to Gaia, it’d be Misty. Does Fiona represent Python, perhaps? Murphy, what are you up to?

Share your guesses and thoughts on this episode! I love a good nerd-out.

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