'American Horror Story: Coven' recap: In which a lot of witches got burned, some more literally than others

Last night’s episode of American Horror Story was titled “Burn, Witch, Burn,” and if you’re wondering whether a witch was in fact burned at some point, then what show are you even watching? OF COURSE a witch was burned, and zombies were chainsawed, and arms were ripped off by mute butlers wearing horrifying American Girl Doll outfits. For any of those things to not happen would see me raise an eyebrow and ask if Ryan Murphy is getting soft in his middle age.

Because so much is happening all the time on this show to the point that a given episode includes eight to 30 subplots, it seems silly to reflect on the episode as a whole rather than its component parts. So that’s what we’re going to do right now — break the monolith of last night’s episode into smaller pieces, each one graded on its “huh?” and “hahaha that’s crazy!” factors.

Madame LaLaurie Confronts Her Demons

Way back when, the former torture queen of the South would actually show off that chamber of horrors we’ve seen so much of as a fun attraction in her home. You know neighbors’ lame “haunted houses” they’d set up in their dining rooms, complete with spaghetti “guts” and gooey grape “eyeballs”? The Madame was doing that, just with actual guts and eyeballs. Suffice it to say none of her daughters’ pansy suitors could stand it, which got her daughters riled up enough to try and stage a coup. MAMA DIDN’T LIKE THAT, and locked all three of them up in her slave attic. Her Mother of the Year speech?

“On Christmas morning, I’m gonna stuff your conniving mouth full of shit.”

So it’s not much surprise when one of those girls, her oldest, returns to the witch school doors as a zombie bent on destruction. These decisions we make have a way of biting us in the ass!

In the end, LaLaurie is forced to stab her zombie daughter right through the chest, killing the creature for good (and saving Queenie). Maybe this bit of closure means the woman will finally really be able to make a go of it in the 21st century?

Witch School Comes Under Siege

Precisely like in X2, when the mutant-hating villain lays waste to the X-Men mansion, a horde of undead raised by Marie Laveau descends on Miss Roubichaux’s. Exactly not like in X2, most of them are dispatched with by a chainsaw-wielding witch. That’s right, Zoe gets her hands on a chainsaw and just tears through the zombies, sometimes literally, bathing herself in blood and defending her school like a champion. Oh, and, in the process, executing a heretofore unknown power that all but confirms yes, absolutely, Zoe is the next Supreme.

Mother-Daughter Fun in the Hospital

Previously, on AHS:C, Cordelia’s face was doused in sulfuric acid, thrown by some mystery assailant (presumably one of Laveau’s minions). It burned, probably blindingly so.

Fiona made a surprisingly good mothering decision by dragging Cordelia to the hospital, where doctors confirmed what we already knew above. Then Fiona headed to the pharmacy, where she got loaded on pills, before stumbling into the room of some woman with a stillborn baby. For about five minutes it looked like Fiona was ready to take the baby and give it to her daughter, why not, but it turns out all Fiona wanted to do was bring the baby back to life…for its real mother. Happy moment!

When Cordelia’s husband showed up — you remember him, right? Last week’s sex-crazy murderer? — somehow Cordelia could “see” all of his sins. They are clearly headed for BREAKUP CITY.

Burn Baby Burn

How does a coven of witches burn one of their own? Very ceremonially, and with the indifference of a Breaking Bad-style murder. After Fiona successfully proves (or frames?) Myrtle as the culprit behind Cordelia’s blinding, the high witch council votes unanimously that she should be burned at the stake. And so, accompanied by those albino suits from the premiere, everyone marches out to some obscure little sand dune, fitted with an appropriately sized log. Myrtle is doused in gasoline.Then Fiona, the ultimate badass, tosses her lit cigarette. Flames.

Later on: Did you really think that a) we were done with Lily Rabe’s Stevie Nicks resurrection queen? or b) we were done with Frances Conroy’s Myrtle Snow? Witch, please.

Spalding’s Doll Party

It wouldn’t be an episode of Coven now without at least a brief check-in on the status of Madison, and Spalding’s doll collection! So how are they doing? Madison: arm ripped off. Doll collection: still creepy as shit.

See you next week!

Image: FX