‘American Horror Story’ 3.08 Recap: “You Have No Style and Your Pits Smell Like Fishsticks”

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.


  1. Super-VHS

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that both botched assassination attempts were Hank, and that yes he was trying to get Nan when he accidentally shot up Patti LuPone and Luke. Hank’s in full Witch Hunter mode now. Didn’t they even have a shot of him sitting in the car outside the house before it happened? Around the scene where Nan ran out of the mansion, saying, “you guys suck balls”, when no one thought she could be the Supreme.

    Which, btw, I’m not totally sure she is… or isn’t. I think right now we’re supposed to think she could be, but it’s more misdirection, just like all the other possibilities. Like the Madison having two powers bit.

    At one point, Zoe seemed the logical choice because she was the closest thing resembling a traditional protagonist at the beginning of the season. When she fought off the zombie horde outside the house, it was built up like the moment she’d reveal herself to be all powerful. And then… nope.

    I called the Misty possibility early, because she seemed too powerful, and mysterious, and important to stay on the sidelines, listening to Stevie Nicks in a swamp. The gift of resurrection seems mighty meaty. But as the season has wore, and Misty hasn’t really shown any other ability, I’m not so sure anymore. But… maybe?

    They’ve basically gone through the entire cast, and they all still seem possible. Could it be Cordelia, who has never known her own true power because she’s been hiding in the shadow of her mother, and is only now coming into her own? Is it just a coincidence that Cordelia got her new power of “sight”, and Fiona suddenly took a turn for the markedly worse?

    Could outsider Queenie actually be the Supreme, and when she realises it, she finally brings the Voodoo and Salem witches together (possibly to fight an as yet unseen, even more terrible foe), thus bringing a sort of “balance to the force”?

    In hindsight the Madison misdirection was beyond obvious, and after thinking about last week’s little aside, Nan seems… I don’t know, sort of obvious too? That has me questioning it as a real possibility. Everyone underestimates her because of her disability, which means she’s the least suspect. To me, the Nan twist seems almost too on the nose. The line, scene, was a breadcrumb, but one that’s designed to lead down a dead end path.

    The only thing I’m sure of is that it’s all deliberately murky, and the writers are keeping us in the dark; suspicious, and guessing, just like every character. Almost anyone is still game. There are five more episodes. I can’t imagine they’re even remotely close to telegraphing the truth yet.

    As to the incest… it’s the South. At least, that’s how I imagine Murphy rationalising it. Plus (not that show needs any more), the incest taboo makes for easy, old fashioned, skin-crawling creepiness.

      • Super-VHS

        I pulled up the episode on my DVR and just checked the scene I was thinking of. There *IS* a shot of Hank sitting in the car where you clearly see his face.

        I’m talking about the scene after Madison leaves Fiona to be tormented by Myrtle, and talks to the girls on the stairs. Specifically, right after Myrtle convinces Fiona The Axeman will leave her when she gets too sick. Madison says her “your pits smell like fishsticks” line, and then Nan tells everyone they “suck balls.”

        Nan run from the house, down the front steps. The camera cranes up and over the gate as she runs onto the sidewalk. There is a shot of a dark car on the other side of the street, then a close up of Hank in the driver’s seat. The camera is positioned on the hood, and pans as we see him watch Nan run next door to the Ramsey’s.

        Now, it isn’t until several scenes later that Hank does the actual deed. We move back to the lengthy, trippy, sequence where Fiona talks to Myrtle some more, takes the pills to kill herself and then throws them up, before cutting back over to the Ramsey house, and “someone” (i.e. Hank) fires shots into the house. But put 2-and-2 together…

        However, what’s REALLY the interesting part about this short sequence is the next shot, after we see Hank watching Nan from across the street. There is a quick shot of Nan as she runs to rescue Luke, then a close up of the Ramsey’s doorknob. The knob opens without her touching it, which is something I completely missed the first time!

        This means Nan has telekinesis AND clairvoyance. Maybe she is the Supreme after all!

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