'American Horror Story: Coven' Recap: Axemen and Witch Hunters and Ouija Boards, Oh My

American Horror Story: Coven certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to establishing and then hammering home the “rules” of its crazy world. A witch can set shit on fire with her mind? Ouija boards operate in two phases: “summoning” and “release”? Then god dammit, some spirit is going to be summoned and released. And if it was established as early as the first episode that some witches have the power to bring others back from the dead? By episode six, just about halfway through the season, you might get as many as three different characters resurrected in the span of 42 minutes.

We don’t deserve a show this crazy and propulsive, but thank god it exists. Things happen! Even if they’re utterly ridiculous (backing right into “totally stupid”) on occasion, they’re always entertaining. Tonight, three big moments transpired that deserve our focused attention:

  1. “The Axeman” (Danny Huston), a vicious saxaphone-playing serial killer felled by the Robichaux witches in the '20s, returns via Ouija board to wreak havoc on the house that turned him into a restless spirit
  2. Turns out Hank, Cordelia’s philandering husband, is in fact a WITCH HUNTER working with Marie Laveau to eradicate every last vestige of the Salem witches
  3. Swamp witch Misty manages to bring Madison — who Zoe found using the Axeman’s help — back to life (this after last week bringing Myrtle back to life)

One of the nice things AHS has done for itself is to build the expectation that literally anything might happen in the span of a season, to say nothing of an individual episode. You thought that character was one way? Turns out nope, they’re entirely different! To spend nearly 15 minutes covering the death and resurrection of a character we hadn’t heard of before but whose presence feels integral to what transpires over the rest of the season JUST MAKES SENSE here. AHS gets away with murder (literally and figuratively) but only because it’s primed viewers to think that way.

Not that we couldn’t see something like the revelation of Hank’s true purpose coming. Whether you guessed he was a witch hunter or not, it was obvious — even before he shot Alexandra Breckenridge — that something was up with the guy. You don’t just find yourself in the company of witches all willy-nilly, some goofball just along for the demon-sex-filled ride. And as we discovered, he was not just along for the demon-sex-filled ride. And now Marie Laveau wants those witches DEAD, whatever it takes. 

Madison’s reintroduction to life at Robichaux’s was fairly uneventful. It took tremendous witchy power to bring her back, sure, but once she had regained consciousness (or, you know, life) it was as though she’d just been asleep. The evidence against Fiona is definitely beginning to mount, but it could be a few episodes before anything begins to stick.

Six episodes down; seven to go. Are we still holding out for mermen this season? I know I am!

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