Friday, November 22, 2013

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 7: The Dead

Opening flashback with Kyle before he was zombiefied and his not!dead rapist frat mates in a tattoo shop. His friends are arseholes, which is no surprise to anyone, and Kyle wastes time telling them his dream of becoming an engineer and why that’s important. Ultimately we see that Kyle adamantly refused to get a tattoo because it could ruin those hopes while the rest of his fratmates got them.

And back to the present with Zombie!Kyle chained up – and because his is frankenzombieKyle he has his friend’s tattoos on the limbs Madison and Zoe replaced. Zombie!kyle cries and screams incoherently – and Zoe watches from a distance with a  gun hidden behind her back. She goes to him and tells him she should have let him go, she shouldn’t have brought him back – he killed his mother and there’s only one way to fix that (dance on her grave?) all while Kyle cowers away from her – until he grabs the gun off her. He puts the gun in his mouth…

And she runs over, takes the gun and throws it away, shooting out a window and then holds him. Zoe, you need to make your mind up because you’re giving some seriously mixed signals here.

On to Madison with a surprisingly good monologue. How she spent her life trying not to feel pain, to ignore pain, how she threw herself into her raucous lifestyle so hard and so strong to try and stop feeling any pain from her broken movie star life and terrible parents. How she was so driven to avoid anything like a negative emotion that she was gang raped and the next day pretended nothing had happened.

And now, as a zombie, she is drinking every spell component Cordelia has to try and feel something, anything, even pain. She tried to burn herself to feel something other than the “eternal silence inside of her”.  She talks about her eating disorders and how even they are not evoking anything in her.

Queenie goes to the kitchen to find food but, of course, Madison has cleared the place out. She’s joined by LaLaurie who is also hungry so they decide to go out and get drive-through. Seriously, LaLaurie and Queenie are going on a food trip together? Please reverse this budding friendship before I have to vomit on my screen. Despite being slightly confused by the recorded voice, LaLaurie even makes a friendly joke about supersizing the order. Over their food they joke and Queenie does have some good lines when LaLaurie makes a crack about her weight and says she doesn’t mean to give offense Queenie replies that “but she always does.” Her not meaning to doesn’t matter. And when LaLaurie falls back on the whole being out of time excuse Queenie hits back then – she’s confused, well so is Queenie: “I come from Detroit to join my sister witches and instead is sitting in a fastfood parking lot at 3:00am with an immortal racist.”

So very true.  LaLaurie also tells Queenie the other witches will never accept her as a sister to them because she’s Black “black as coal”. Which doesn’t anger Queenie, but it does sadden her.

This does mean that LaLaurie isn’t there when Cordelia is woken in the middle of the night by Hank calling her. She hangs up on him and he goes back to drinking while surrounded by many many weapons which is probably a very bad thing. She gets out of bed and goes wandering but only Madison is about – Madison tries to hide (Cordelia isn’t in on the whole zombie!Madison secret) but she has to run and catch Cordelia to stop her falling down the stairs. As soon as Cordelia touches Madison she gets one of her psychic flashes – this time of Madison being killed by Fiona.

Fiona has finished her night on the town and has gone home with the charming Axeman. He has a house – because he murdered the last owner and shoved him into the bathtub. Fiona doesn’t notice when she goes to the bathroom to freshen up – since she’s distracted by her hair falling out. They come together again and he touches her hair – and more falls out. She pulls back, declaring the whole night a mistake. She alternates between countering his seduction by saying she is better than a broken down, roach infested house and then saying he wants nothing to do with her because she’s wretched and awful human being. When love doesn’t win her over, he goes for sex – good old fashioned great sex. Followed by a whole innuendo laden description of his saxophone playing – which definitely persuades Fiona.

Back at the house, Zoe unchains Kyle and tries to rehabilitate him again, though he is frustrated and irritated that he is barely able to communicate while he understands what’s happening around him. And Madison arrives to send Zoe to Cordelia, agreeing to look after Kyle. With Zoe gone, Madison goes for zombie angst and zombie solidarity

Queenie goes to see Marie Leveau. Marie has nothing good to say about the witches she’s with and Queenie mounts a half-hearted defence of them, saying they don’t care she’s Black and made LaLaurie her slave – but it doesn’t sound like even she believes it and Marie certainly isn’t convinced. She offers Queenie a home with them if she brings them LaLaurie, mixing her witch powers with Marie’s Voodou and then she won’t have to play second to a “pretty little white girl”. Queenie claims she doesn’t want to join but also asks what they’d do with LaLaurie if she brought her to them – which Marie doesn’t answer.

Cordelia meets with Zoe and it’s apparent that she’s become so much more aware of the state of things in the house since going blind (Hank, her mother…) and she considers what Zoe did to the Axeman – summoning and banishing – and sees that this means Zoe is pretty damn powerful. Which means Fiona is going to be out to get her, like she did Madison – unless they get her first.

Zoe staggers back to the zombie room, where zombie!Kyle and zombie!Madison are having zombie!sex. She decides she doesn’t want to see that and closes the door before any pieces drop off.

Fiona and Axeman have also finished up and Fiona is ready to leave before the body in the Axeman’s bathtub starts to smell. Yes she knows he’s there. No, she doesn’t give a damn. He wants her to stay with him and not be “afraid of her own pleasure” but she denies him – and he reveals he knows quite a bit about her – and has watched her since she was 8 years old. Flashback to little 8 year old Fiona facing down an older witch bully at the Academy and dropping a welsh dresser on her. In the present Fiona realises it was the Axeman who dropped the cabinet on the bully – she never did it.

As he watched her from childhood he became less protective of her and admired her ruthlessness and fell in love with her (and yes, going from father figure to lover is beyond creepy). He claims he only wants to give her the pleasure she deserves and he kisses her again – and she kisses him back. Then slaps him – a man who watched her grow old? Fiona isn’t tolerating that.

At the house, Spalding wakes up tied to his bed – and with a tongue. Zoe found his tongue hidden in the box with the spirit board so reattached it (Myrtle Snow had enchanted the tongue to preserve it so Spalding could tell the truth but, unlike Zoe, Myrtle wasn’t powerful enough to restore it). Of course, Myrtle’s truth spell still holds and with his tongue restored Zoe can now get him to tell the truth: no, he didn’t kill Madison – Fiona did. He talks about how much the coven means to him while Zoe mocks that he’s just employed by it – to which he sets her up with a “I have devoted my life to the coven” and she kills him. “Not anymore”

In the kitchen Queenie goes to see Lalaurie (who welcomes her and offers food) and asks what the worst thing Lalaurie ever did was. Lalaurie is reluctant but Queenie offers the spectre of friendship as a lure. Lalaurie tells of how she had a cook, a slave called Sally who became pregnant (by Lalaurie’s husband, so raped through sheer power differentials if nothing else). Lalaurie killed that baby and used it for her beauty treatment, sally committed suicide. The Queenie is duly horrified by such an act and Lalaurie comes out with a very earnest and sickening “I’m learning, Queenie”. She claims a different time (except Lalaurie’s brutality was extreme and sickening even to slave owning New Orleans). She says she’s grateful to have a true friend to guide her.

Fiona, in the bathroom, loses more hair and considers shaving it all off – until the sound of a saxophone stops her. She goes to where the Axeman is performing and offers him a drink

Madison checks in with Zoe to see how angry she is about her sleeping with Kyle; Zoe pretends indifference and how it couldn’t work anyway. Madison points out that the advantage of necrophilia is that Kyle’s already dead so could probably survive Zoe’s sex-death power. Madison isn’t giving Kyle up, since sleeping with him made her feel, but she’s happy to share.

Madison takes Zoe (dressed in a towel) to Kyle and it’s zombie threesome time!

And Queenie takes Lalaurie to get her hair done – at Marie Leveau’s salon. Lalaurie looks all betrayed. Marie hands Queenie the knife – and it’s Marie using Lalaurie’s blood for her beauty treatment this time.

I am growing more and more dubious about Marie’s portrayal (and crafty, sneaky eyed looks after Queenie suggesting her manipulation). While we have seen brief shots of the reasons for her anger, they’re almost emphasised as historic rather than ongoing. She’s not presented as an opponent who has a damn good reason to be suspicious and angry with the witches, she’s more shown as a very angry woman whose immortality has caused her to hold onto a grudge past its time – despite everything she’s angry about still being very relevant and very present. While Marie is shown over and over as angry and conniving and dangerous (her offer to Queenie is presented as suspicious and perhaps malicious more than legitimate), Fiona has been seen as increasingly tragic and pitiable as well as the harsh multiple murderer she is and even LaLaurie is on the redemption train (especially with the attempts to present her actions as a thing of the past, a different world which is wrong on so many levels) – and when not redemption the comic relief (liesssssssss!). It’s not that we haven’t seen both Fiona and Lalaurie do evil things – but the show has also taken pains to show them as human and even sympathetic. Marie is just the nasty conniving, angry angry angry (did I mention angry?) other.

Especially since I think I’m intended to be angry at Queenie for giving Lalaurie up to Marie, rather than cheering her on and celebrating.

Madison’s monologue was truly excellent. Not just in really summing up how awful not being able to feel would be – and it did that in beautiful, graphic fashion – but also explaining so much about the character and how being a young successful actress had hurt her. And it explained a lot of her reactions – towards food, towards her rape, it added a level of texture and depth to what had been a very 2d caricature.

Contrast her numbness and the despair of it with Kyle who is so overcome with despair and rage and pain that he’s incoherent.

The Axeman storyline has grown beyond imagining and I’m not sure I care or what it’s really adding

Zoe – even this new, harder, Zoe still doesn’t interest me. Cordelia however…