Friday, November 8, 2013

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 5: Burn Witch Burn

1833, New Orleans, Hallowe’en – and it’s a Madame LaLaurie flashback holding a fancy party that includes the governor and his son Jacques as guests. She decides to give Jacques a tour of her little chamber of horrors (now, didn’t we last episode establish that Madame LaLaurie had a very different interpretation of what Hallowe’en meant?) though her daughter Borquita thinks this is a bad bad idea. Her horrors including having Jacques put his hand in a bowl of eyeballs (plucked from her tortured slaves), and another of intestines – this drives Jacques to run in terror.

Borquita is rather put out by her mother scaring off the handsome, well connected man who was interested in her and she and her sister gather to complain how they will never find a husband with their mother around who is horrible to them and the slaves. They consider the possibility of murdering their mother. But they’re overheard by her – and that night she has her daughters dragged up and locked in to her torture chamber, breaking Borquita’s leg.

And to the present Madame LaLaurie opens the door to her three zombie daughters. Zombies converge on the house and Lalaurie laments they didn’t put up the protections she advised. Queenie is injured still and has to sit (Nan worried at her being out of bed, Queenie “tell that to the army of darkness”) and Zoe, showing her standard level of sense, decides to close the curtains and turn out the lights (yeah, that’ll work) and worry about calling the cops (Queenie, always more sensible, points out that that may annoy Fiona who is way worse than the police). Unfortunately, cute-but-uninformed neighbour Luke thinks it’s just a prank and goes outside to the confront the undead legions.

Some other trick or treaters show up, impressed by the awesome zombie costumes and Luke realises something is up, especially when Marie Laveau (floating nearly the ceiling of her ritual room) sends her zombies in and the trick-or-treaters get ripped into messy messy pieces.

Elsewhere, at the bar Cordelia staggers out of the bathroom screaming with her burned face and Fiona yells for someone to call an ambulance – and screams when she sees what’s happened to Cordelia’s face. In the waiting room she worries and pops pills – and a doctor arrives and tries to tell her that Cordelia is blind with lots of jargon to try and soften it – causing Fiona to attack him (physically not magically) until an orderly settles her down.

Fiona sits by her daughter’s bedside into the night and runs out of pills. She goes looking for more in the oddly deserted, lights-flickering hospital. She uses her magic to break into the pills store and stock up – woozy she goes back into the hospital that now has people moving around. Dazed she sees a robed figure – like the one that threw acid on Cordelia and one patient appears to tell her she might as well have thrown the acid herself. She staggers into one of the rooms – a woman who has just given birth to a stillborn daughter. Despite the mother’s protests – she passes her the dead baby telling her she has to keep them close, so they feel safe (yes, this is some major Cordelia guilt coupled with pills and alcohol). She tells the poor woman to praise the dead baby, reassure her and tell her “I’ll be your mother until the day you die,” she does and Fiona touches the baby’s head – and brings the baby to life.

At the house, Luke clues in and tries to run inside but is attacked by a zombie from behind. Zoe starts yelling orders, getting everyone away from the windows (and stopping LaLaurie going out to her daughters) and getting everyone upstairs away from all the big windows. But Nan has left the house to save Luke, dragging him to the car where they both try to take shelter.

Zombies close in on the car, breaking windows – until Zoe rushes out clattering pans together, attracting their attention. They chase Zoe and she runs to the shed and locks herself in. In the house, LaLaurie chides Queenie for getting out of bed when she was injured and tells Spalding to ensure she stays put while she goes and gets ice. In the kitchen she sees zombie Borquita outside her door and lets her in, trying to reach some shred of humanity in the zombie. The zombie grabs her by the throat and lifts her with super strength (which could mean she doesn’t remember LaLaurie or she does – either gives you plenty of reason to strangle her).

The zombie goes upstairs, knocks Spaulding aside and goes for Queenie who grabs a pair of scissors and a shard of glass and uses her voodoo-doll power on it – it doesn’t do much damage. But for some reasons LaLaurie coming up behind it and stabbing it through with a poker is enough to kill it. In the aftermath, LaLaurie says Borquita had a monster for a mother, and killing her was the only kindness she ever did for her. LaLaurie sobs and Queenie puts her arm around her (AAAAAARGH! NO NO NO NO! NO! YE GODS NO! STOP THIS!)

Outside, Nan tries to get the severely injured Luke to the safety of the house, but he staggers and falls, having lost a lot of blood. He’s too heavy to carry – but Zoe rushes in with a chainsaw (classic zombie killing tool) to hold off the zombies while Nan and Luke stagger to safety. Zoe slaughters a few zombies with a chainsaw before it runs out of power and sputters to a halt (this is why an axe is better) – leaving her helpless. A zombie looms over her – and she reaches out a hand and says something (echoy magic worlds); the zombie collapses and in her ritual room, Marie Laveau plummets from the ceiling where she’s been hovering. Marie tells Chantal that the witches have some real power at the house. Oh look who’s Supreme. Anyone surprised?

Break to the old Supreme and Hank arrives at the hospital so he and Fiona can squabble until a nurse arrives to tell one of them to get out because she’s not having them fight in her hospital. Fiona gives Hank 15 minutes with her and Hank takes Cordelia’s hands and tearfully tells her he will stay with her – and Cordelia gets a vision of Hank cheating on her

The next day at the house, Fiona watches Nan and Zoe burn the zombie bodies and Fiona agrees with Nan that Luke can stay at the house until he is well (his mother would only call the police) she also praises Zoe for her ability and willingness to fight. LaLaurie comes to the fire to lament at what a bad mother she was, a sentiment that Fiona shares

And the Council arrives again, they’re not happy with Fiona and all the events that have happened since she arrived. They have decided to force Fiona to abdicate and the Council will now rule – Fiona accuses Myrtle of stealing the Supremecy she cannot inherit. Myrtle refuses to listen and gets up to walk out – and Fiona puts her back in her chair with her magic. She accuses Myrtle of being the witch who attacked them – and we have a flashback to the hospital where Fiona saw the robed figure-  and saw it was Myrtle in a mirror reflection Myrtle protests the idea that she would hurt Cordelia since she spent more time raising her than Fiona, but Fiona holds that Myrtle a) did that because she couldn’t have children and b) hates Fiona far more than she loves the coven. Even better, Fiona angles to pin Madison’s murder on her as well – since she and Spadling discovered Myrtle had come to town before the rest of the Council and checked into a hotel under an alias (the hotel room has a very creepy obsession wall dedicated to Fiona) – a photo of which Fiona shows the other council members. They take it as proof Myrtle has been there which is… a logical leap to say the least – but Myrtle goes the classic route of getting emotional and blurting things she will later regret. Fiona tears off Myrtle’s glove and shows the acid burns on Myrtle’s hand.

The other two Council members are convinced – and vote to burn the witch. Myrtle responds with dignified, defiant acceptance and goes “proudly” to the flame.

Everyone turns out to the bonfire (Zoe is convinced they won’t really burn her – Queenie is more realistic and aware of how bad it is to mess with Fiona). They tie her to a stake, douse her in petrol. After her last words, Fiona lights the flames with her thrown cigarette.

Back at the house, Queenie goes to see Fiona and asks her if she helped Fiona frame a guilty woman, or an innocent one. We flashback to see Queenie outside the room while the council was arguing and when Fiona grabbed Myrtle’s hand (and Myrtle protested “you’re hurting me!”) Queenie, outside dips her hand into acid and uses her voodoo doll power, giving Myrtle the incriminating, burned hand. Fiona dodges the question – Queenie agreed because she thought she owed Fiona one for saving her life; but she’s having trouble living with the fact they caused Myrtle to burn to death. She doesn’t know how she can live with that but Fiona comforts her, assures her she’s opening her own power dangling the carrot that Queenie may be the next Supreme; offering the love, confidence and acceptance Queenie clearly wants.

Upstairs, Spalding tries to febreeze away the smell of Madison’s body and accidentally pulls her arm off.

And Misty wanders up to where Myrtle was burned. She touches the burned body and uses her power – Myrtle opens her eyes.

Can we not attempt to humanise LaLaurie? It’s all kinds of vile to try and push this woman on a redemption storyline. I think I’d be much happier seeing her hissing “LIIIIIESSSS!” at the television screen than watching her worry about Queenie and saving Queenie’s life – and then being comforted by Queenie? No. Stop! Stop! Stop this! We do not need to humanise and redeem the poor, sad, sadistic racist serial killer, we really do not.

Zoe is the super magicy one. Are we shocked? Is anyone shocked? Anyone? Nah, didn’t think so. The way I see it, we now have 2 likely choices for Supreme – Zoe (most likely) or Misty – no real indication that Nan or Queenie are in the running

I don’t like Queenie being manipulated, but at the same time I’m glad to see her showing ambition and even making a decision (even if that decision is “I’m getting in good with the one who has the major power”) – but I wish that decision wasn’t to be used as a tool by Fiona. I want to see her show some power and choice that isn’t choosing to be a Fiona’s tool or to risk her life to save LaLaurie!