American Horror Story: Coven ‘Head’ Recap- Episode 03.09

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So folks this is the last episode until January 8th! And we were presented with some unexpected twists and turns, such as the unfortunate and premature death of–

The Breakdown

First things first. In the opening we learn that Hank is a seasoned, trained witch hunter since childhood. A flashback shows us that his father took him witch-hunting and forced him to shoot and kill a poor defenseless (sort of) witch in the woods. This explains a lot.

Fiona visits Marie to return Daphne’s head-in-a-box. Fiona wants an alliance, but Marie just laughs. Daphne talks a bunch of racist smack. Fiona warns Marie that something worse is coming for them, alluding to the gun-toting witch killer.  Again, Marie just laughs it off and calls it “white witch worries”.

Queenie takes Daphne’s head away and Marie tells her to burn it.

At the witch house, Cordelia breaks some eggs and becomes upset. Myrtle tries to help her. Myrtle wants Cordelia to know that  she wasn’t the one who burned her and took her sight. There’s a flashback involving Cordelia first arriving at the house and how Myrtle took her under her wing, most likely because Fiona was a wretched mother, and how a young Cordelia asked Myrtle, “Will you be my mother now?” Present-day Myrtle says that she always loved her like a daughter. Cordelia says she knows that Myrtle didn’t do it. “My mother set you up,” she says. “My blindness gave me real vision.”

Head

In a very unexpected stretch of plot, Hank visits his father at a big corporate office building. The company’s name is Delphi, and it’s clearly a cover for something nefarious. Like all big corporations, they are unhappy with his performance. His father tells him that they only strike when the time is right, and refers to their organization as a Brotherhood pledged in blood to wipe out all the witches in North America . He pretty much admits that they were the ones who burned Cordelia. Finally! So that’s who did it. Hank is obviously upset at this news, and like a typical asshole-father his dad scoffs and says, “Don’t tell me you actually have feelings for her?” No, he only married her and lived with her and engaged in freaky voodoo sex to conceive a child with her and helped her when she was blinded. Sheesh.

Myrtle, now completely healed after her burning at the stake, hosts the previous Council at the house. She serves them all sorts of goodies, and they marvel at how healthy and well she looks post-burning. They obviously are prejudice against Misty Day and her hippie swamp persona. But Myrtle tells them that Misty Day is a humble witch, and in trying to defend her, she says that they are very lucky to have found her.  She then reveals that she has paralyzed them! She calls the Truman Capote looking witch a drunk and the nondescript witch “boring”. She mentions something about keylime pie, which reminds me how much I love keylime pie (sorry). She tells them that they will help the coven. Then she takes out their eyes with an ice-cream scooper and gives them to Cordelia (???!!) Her vision is magically restored. Why, I ask myself, didn’t someone think of this before?

Fiona is pissed. She threatens to exile Myrtle for maiming Cordelia in the first place, but then Cordelia reminds them that the real danger is outside. She makes peace. She reminds Myrtle that Fiona is Supreme and that she must respect her, and she reminds Fiona that Myrtle didn’t blind her. In regaining her sight, Cordelia has now lost her clairvoyant visions, which makes her quite sad.

Head

Zoey, Madison, and Nan visit Luke in the hospital but his mom won’t let them get close to him. Luke is basically catatonic after being shot. He speaks to Nan telepathically about his mother breaking his arm. Later, there’s an entire subplot about Luke’s mother killing her adulterous husband by putting a bee in his car. It’s all very irrelevant and not particularly interesting or shocking, so I won’t get into it.

Turns out Queenie didn’t burn Daphne’s head. Instead, she tries to rehabilitate Daphne’s racism by forcing her to watch African-American centered media, like Roots.  It’s a humorous scene, but also quite clever, since this seems like a sure-fire way to eradicate Daphne’s racist bigotry (if that’s even possible).

Hank is suddenly tortured by Marie Laveau as she sticks needles into a voodoo doll. She warns him that he must kill all the witches or she will stick a needle in his heart.

At the house, Misty and Cordelia make potions together and really hit it off. They make a plant come back to life. They are a great team! Misty tells Cordelia that she is such a great leader but Cordelia reminds her that Fiona is the true leader. Misty basically calls bullshit.

Head

Hank interrupts them. He tries to make amends with Cordelia. He claims his life has no meaning without her, and since he has no other motivation to be there, we have to assume he’s being genuine. But it’s too little too late for Hank; Cordelia kicks him to the curb. She says she’s going to file for divorce. He’s angry and I’m really worried he’s just going to snap and shoot up the house (foreshadowing). She should just lie to him and cast a spell or something.

But Fiona comes in and further berates him into leave. Wait, how did Fiona all of sudden get better??? This show is schizophrenic. Whatever. Hank leaves and Fiona stumbles on Kyle. “Another godamned boy? Jesus these girls.” But she soon takes him under her wing and he’s playing poker in no time. Fiona tells Zoey that they need someone to protect them, and Kyle will be their bodyguard of sorts.

Now we arrive to our tragic ending. Hank barges into Marie’s hair salon and shoots up the place. He kills everyone and shoots Queenie in the stomach! Just before he’s about to kill Marie Laveau, Queenie manages to grab a gun and shoot herself, this killing Hank instantly because of her human voodoo doll powers. While this is happening, the scene splices with images of Daphne’s head watching harrowing and tragic news footage of African-Americans being beaten and arrested by the police during the civil rights era. She is overwhelmed. A tear rolls down her face. Has Queenie saved her damned soul after all?

The Analysis

It’s difficult for me to rate and properly critique this episode. On one hand, I appreciate how the show opened and ended on Hank, from his murderous origins to his gruesome death. Misty Day and Cordelia’s budding (pun intended) friendship is a refreshing touch, which might be more of a testament as to how talented and naturally gifted Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe are as actors. But really it’s the  scene of slave-owner Daphne’s head watching images from the civil rights movement that is truly one of the most bizarre and original sequences I’ve ever seen. Talk about a truly unique story-line addressing slavery, American racism, and 21st century perceptions of historical changes.

That being said, the tail end of the season suffers from a lack of direction. The season hasn’t been able to maintain focus on any central character or conflict, and therefore the entirety of the season feels discombobulated, and certain developments come off as arbitrary. I’m surprised FX is drawing out the season to the end of January, but I can’t complain. I’m sticking with our witchy friends till the very end. I’m loyal, you see. I’m just hoping we get a final show down between our Supreme and Marie Laveau.

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About the Author

Patricia Marquez
is a writer and film enthusiast newly relocated from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has been published in Pacifica Literary Review and the York University Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. A horror buff at heart, she now lives in Austin, Texas with her demon cat named Pim.
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