Somewhere in the middle of last week’s episode of ‘American Horror Story’, a character asks with some exasperation: “Is everyone back from the dead?” This is the sort of show where questions like that need asking.
Here’s a rundown of some of the madness on display in episode ‘The Sacred Taking’:
Zoe and Madison try to convince Queenie to come back to the Academy. They find her under a bridge murdering a homeless man. She claims that he was a rapist and a bad man, and Marie Laveau needs his “dark heart” for a voodoo spell. She tells the other girls, “War is coming, and you’re gonna lose.” I feel like we’ve switched to ‘Game of Thrones’ all of a sudden.
Fiona is in bad shape due to her cancer, which has progressed rapidly and is terminal. She’s shacked up with the Axeman again, but she worries that he’ll abandon her when she gets too sick.
Crazy neighbor lady Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone) is very upset that her son Luke has sullied himself with the witches. She doesn’t believe him when he insists that he didn’t have sex with any of them. She demands that he strip in front of her (what is it with this show and incest themes this season?) so that she can give him an Ajax enema to cleanse his sins. That doesn’t sound pleasant.
After avoiding being murdered by an unidentified man with a shotgun (I’m guessing it’s Cordelia’s husband Hank), Misty seeks sanctuary with the coven, and she’s brought recently reanimated Myrtle with her. Myrtle believes that Misty will be the next Supreme. At this point, it seems to be a toss-up, and any of the girls could be. Except Madison, who died, so that kind of rules her out, even if Misty did revive her. No one really seems to think seriously that it could be Nan either, which makes me assume that it probably will be.
Cordelia and the girls have been plotting against Fiona. Myrtle suggests that they should hold a ceremony called “The Sacred Taking,” which has only ever occurred twice before. The gist of it is that, in trying times, the reigning Supreme may sacrifice herself to force the ascension of the next one. Of course, this would require Fiona to voluntarily commit suicide. To facilitate that, Madison and Myrtle reveal themselves to her and taunt her with threats that she will be tried and burned for murdering Madison, unless she takes the easy way out first. A distraught Fiona, on her way to the grave anyway, decides to down a bunch of pills. However, Spalding appears to her in ghost form, his speech fully returned, and informs her of the deception. Fiona pukes up the pills.
Now with some of her strength back, Fiona openly defies the other witches and informs them that their plan has failed. Cordelia assumes that this means she’ll burn at the stake next for her treachery, but Fiona has no intention of punishing her daughter for doing something that she would have done as well. “You really are my daughter,” she beams with pride.
Nan can sense that something is wrong with neighbor boy Luke. She runs over to the house, only to witness both mother and son being murdered by gunfire from the street. (Again, I assume it’s Hank, but why is he killing the neighbors? Was he aiming for Nan?) Fiona orders Misty to revive the mother. What twisted plans could she have for her?
Zoe attempts to teach Kyle to speak and read using a Leapfrog-like children’s learning program. He tells her that he loves her. Madison overhears from the next room and looks heartbroken.
Over at the beauty salon, Queenie has a moment of sympathy for Delphine LaLaurie and sneaks her a fast food burger in her cage. Marie Laveau catches and chastises her. Delphine tries to stand up to Laveau. She doesn’t fear death, and defies Laveau to lock her back up in the casket so that she can come out again in another hundred years after the country has restored itself to its former racially pure glory. (After her change of heart with Queenie, I doubt that she believes anything she says here.) Laveau, however, has other ways to torture her. Specifically, she chops off LaLaurie’s hand. Later, Fiona receives a mysterious box package on her doorstep. Anyone who’s seen ‘Se7en’ can guess what’s in there. Yup, it’s Delphine’s head – and she’s still alive!
Overall, this is another pretty good episode, though it doesn’t offer any particularly startling revelations. It’s more about putting the pieces in place for the upcoming finale. I’m fine with that. One of the things I’ve appreciated most about this season is that it’s the show’s most coherent and structured storyline so far. The previous two seasons both felt very chaotic and half-improvised, as if the writers were making them up as they went. This one feels more fully thought-out, with a plan and a purpose – yet without sacrificing any of the gleeful insanity that makes this series so special.