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EPISODE: "The Axeman Cometh"
THE SCOOP: A murderous spirit is summoned by Zoe, Nan and Queenie while getting down with some Ouija board action. Meanwhile, Cordelia discovers a terrifying new telepathic power in the wake of her accident.
THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS. IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE, IT MIGHT BE WISEST TO STOP READING!
THE SKINNY: A strange brew continues to stir at the old Robichaux witch academy! In keeping with the motif of the season 3 "Coven" storyline, we jump back and forth between the past and present day, New Orleans. In this episode, we're taken back to 1919, where we meet the deranged serial killer aptly named The Axeman (played suavely by Danny Huston). I quite dug this introductory scene, the model-Ts, the smoky barrooms, the jazzy rift, the period decor...and of course, the Axeman's homicidal handy-work. Anyway, while it does take awhile for The Axeman character to converge and payoff in a context that makes sense in the present day storyline (at the academy), there's plenty of side action and subplots to keep one entertained.
So after the sweet flashback intro sequence, which is probably the best part of the episode (don't worry, it lasts a good 9 minutes), we find Zoe skulking around in the halls of the academy. She stumbles on a trap door, finds a Ouija board buried in an old closet, and soon recruits Nan and Queenie to see if a malefic spirit is present. Or really, any entity that will help them communicate with the missing Maddison. Sure enough, The Axeman revels himself to be there in spirit, as it was a coven of witches back in 1919 that finally put his shady charade to an end. They killed his ass. Now his spirit is vengeful, and as the girls accidentally manifest The Axeman in physical form, the new crop of witches in the academy are nothing more than pigs in his potential slaughterhouse. Yup, shite's getting awfully hectic...and trust, there's nothing more delectable than Huston with a shiny axe-blade!
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Cordelia has discovered a horrifying kind of clairvoyance as a result of having her eyes scorched out last week. I wasn't feeling her storyline nearly as much this episode as I was The Axeman angle, that is until the two finally, and somewhat brilliantly, converged in the episodes penultimate scene. The reason I wasn't feeling the whole telepathic angle otherwise - aside from it being a bit redundant considering the witches telekinetic, pyro-kinetic abilities to begin with (at least Fiona and Maddy) - was because of the whole relationship confrontation with Hank. I mean, Josh Hamilton is a killer actor, but I don't want to see him get into domestic disputes with his newly blinded, deeply enraged girlfriend. It just felt like a slow spot in the episode that took me out of it a bit. And that doubles for Fiona's hospital scene as she deals with chemo. I realize the writers are trying to establish and reiterate an emotional core in the characters, but such efforts felt rather slight this week. No doubt, both Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson have given far more heartfelt speeches on the show.
I did like the way the episode ended though. It was really pretty damn cool to have The Axeman lecherously approach Fiona in the bar, as she would seem to have no idea who he is, right? But he knows her. Ending on that note definitely has me hooked to see how it all plays out next week and beyond. I wonder what happened to Cordelia after her encounter with The Axeman. I wonder what's going to happen to Maddy now that she's reanimated. I wonder how Hank's going to respond to Marie's wicked wants. All pretty damn good questions to ask, are they not?!
All in all, I'd say episode 6 of "AHS: Coven" has done a good job of staying consistent with the tone and tenor of the preceding episodes, at the same time introducing a kick-ass new character I hope sticks around for awhile. To make a larger statement about this season as a whole - while I do think the whole coven of witch angle (in New Orleans no less, "True Blood" anyone) is a bit silly and childish at times, I so fully appreciate how bizarre, perverted, subversive and just overall off-the-wall the spirit of the show remains to be. I also appreciate how much easier it is to follow this season, as the main criticism of seasons past was how jumbled, confusing and chaotic it was to care about. They've improved a great deal in that regard, while still continuing with the unbridled sleaze.
KILL OF THE WEEK: Definitely when The Axeman gets gang-stabbed, roughly a hundred times, by a throng of young witches-in-training.
BLOOD & GORE: Aside from the Axeman suffering a group butcher job, We get a ripped off zombie arm, a dude's arms lit on fire, and a bug crawling from the mouth of a reanimated corpse.
WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: I thought the most jarring character moment this episode was the way Cordeila acted upon returning from the hospital. Goddamn. Instead of being the shy, cute, demure little thing she normally is, she got curt, short, furious and ferocious with her new burned out orbs. Sarah Paulson is a terrific actor, so it's good to see her get to show her range in such a wide and vast way this season. Seriously, aside from Lange, she's the reason the show works.
MOST BIZARRE SCENE: Fiona's hospital breakdown is pretty damn head-scratching. It almost felt surreal, or like a character's dream. There she is, getting chemo treatment in an open clinic, mumbling sotto to herself about the fears of dying and not wanting to let go. And right when she's professing her undying desire to find one last love, right at her most vulnerable, her asshole doctor buts in and mentions how his mom found someone on eHarmony. Classic, sad, bizarre dark humor right there.
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