FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 11: “Protect the Coven”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Jennifer Salt
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Go To Hell” – click here
Another flashback at the top of this episode, with Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) coming back from Paris, though reluctantly. She rambles on about the lack of “intellect” and “inner light” present in the slaves, as well as the loathing of her own family. Nobody seems on her level, I suppose; that’s funny. It’s 1830. Delphine has a chicken brought over for slaughter, ending up cutting the head off herself. She feels its blood run warm over her hands. Then cut to up in the dank attic, a slave has a deep injury to his leg, blood pooling out of it. Looks like this is the first time Delphine realized her inner bloodlust. There’s no other slaves kept in cages there as of yet, so it must have been long before her disgusting habits became regular; in fact, this is when she first arrived. Very interesting to see the start of her love of blood. She doesn’t help the poor injured servant, only knocks him out to keep for further use. She bleeds him out and just from the sound of her breathing, it’s exciting to her. “I think I’m gon‘ like it here,” she tells the gagged and moaning man in front of her. Eerie start to this episode, giving us more glimpses back into the history of LaLaurie and her murderous impulses.
Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) show fake sympathy for the dead Nan (Jamie Brewer), who is being laid to rest in the cemetery. All the witches are present. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) shows up with LaLaurie reconnected at the head and on a leash; brutally, darkly funny. Everyone is sort of pissy. Myrtle (Frances Conroy) is naturally suspicious of any death in the coven, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) backing her up nowadays. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) has Kyle (Evan Peters), who might as well be on a leash. But they all leave after the brief funeral, still wondering where Misty Day (Lily Rabe) could be.
Across town at the Delphi Trust, Harrison Renard (Michael Cristofer) receives word from his right hand man David (Mike Colter) that the story on Hank and his death will be covered up; he was, on record, as a homeless veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Back at the academy, Fiona and Marie are still scheming to get the witch hunters. For once, for good. All the while, we get an excellent voice-over from LaLaurie who goes about the house cleaning up after everyone, lamenting every last minute of it. Even better there are great moments such as Myrtle tasting a beautiful soup made by Delphine, then when Delphine is given a cute little black baby to hold by Marie. So many perfect scenes, it’s a great sequence that lasts almost 5 minutes; the score underneath it all is so good, such an intense and emphatic bit of work.
But the best? A gardener comes in from outside, his hand bleeding; a black man, it so happens. Right as Delphine wonders “what fed my soul back then.” Perhaps a bit too perfect. She’s taken up residence in Spalding’s old room upstairs. The whole voice-over has been Delphine talking to the poor black man she has tied up currently. Such an expertly written sequence, I’m beyond impressed with this episode. This is my second time watching this season again and I’m noticing how well it was actually written. Great job in particular this episode by Jennifer Salt, who is a frequent writer every season in the series.
“You flush my shit, bitch.”
Zoe wants to find out what happened to Nan. Like we’d expect, Madison doesn’t care at all. She’s more concerned with Kyle and his sex. But then Kyle resists, he claims to love Zoe. Is there a fight brewing? Madison gets the room quaking, things flying. A lamp cracks Zoe in the back of the head. Then Myrtle shows up, a little verbal spar with Madison. All three of them – Myrtle, Kyle, Zoe – they see the threat that is Madison. Some sort of devastation is coming. Not sure, though, in which form it will come.
Over with the Axeman (Danny Huston), Fiona lounges in discontent. He seems pretty focused on being able to “give up the axe” and Fiona giving up the coven. He wants to help her sort out who is becoming the next Supreme, to kill her. No good can come of that, either.
Then up in the attic, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) appears to Delphine. He’s impressed with her, what he calls, “art.” Spalding is upset with the new alliance between Laveau and Fiona. He hates that Fiona has forgotten herself, forgotten who she’s supposed to be. A new bond is now forming between Spalding and LaLaurie. They’re forging an agreement.
More news in the house sees Queenie still growing further from the coven, now even more so due to her hating Marie, too. She doesn’t want any of Cordelia’s nice talk and they have a slight confrontation. I hope this doesn’t hurt Queenie because I do love her character, though, I can understand why she’s sort of saying fuck everyone. Nobody has been fully treating her with the respect she deserves.
Still, Cordelia is tough and she is a woman with a vision. Even if that vision comes at a price: her eyes. Down in the greenhouse she tries more herbal magic, but breaks down in the middle. Then, to regain her second sight, Cordelia stabs herself in the eyes with a gardening shear. She ruins her own eyeballs to find the power again. Fiona shows up worried once more about her daughter, even after shunning her previously for the debacle with Hank. But as Myrtle makes clear, she should only be worried if “harbouring bad thoughts.”
Up in the eerie attic playhouse of Spalding, he receives the item he asked for. Delphine brings him back a doll baby, which drives him to near ecstasy. Such a creepy moment, he even sniffs the thing. Very “unsavoury” in the words of Delphine.
In the basement, Myrtle gives Zoe some sort of sapphire ornament to keep. “To hawk in case of emergency,” she says. She also wants Zoe and Kyle to leave, to get away from the coven somewhere. Myrtle warns of both Madison and Fiona, each of them with murderous intent towards any next emerging Supreme. Probably smart, really. Is being the next Supreme worth all of that deadly competition?
Harrison Renard, his right-hand David and a bunch of other suited gentleman go to meet Fiona and Marie. The two sassy women against all those unsuspecting dummies. Very calmly, Marie and Fiona talk with Harrison, who is pretty damn on edge. He offers up a century long truce. Fiona counters: “You disband this little merry troupe of assholes, vowing never to harm another witch from now until the end of time.” The ladies play with them a bit before David tries laying down the line. Fiona tells them plainly: “Then here’s my other offer: you can all just die.” After which the Axeman, tending bar unnoticed, turns and chops everyone to death, except for Harrison. Renard has a cup of coffee trying to be nonchalant, his last words being a spit and “Go to hell, witch bitch.” But Fiona has the last word, planting her man’s axe right in the side of Harrison’s neck. A beautifully gory end to their boardroom meeting.
“I love you more than jazz, baby doll.”
At the academy, Marie is getting drunk on French 75 made by Delphine, as Fiona takes off to “hail the conquering king” who “swung a mighty axe” for them. Although, LaLaurie has other plans. She stabs Marie with a huge kitchen knife right in the chest. But a little medication and a knife are nothing compared to the Voodoo Queen. When Marie goes after Delphine, Spalding shows up and cracks Laveau over the head and sends her over the stairs. He tells Delphine to bury her and make sure she can’t dig her way out, similar to what she had done to her. Then creepy Spalding goes back to the way things were for him. Except now he has a little baby to dress up, too. So he gets in his baby outfit, puts the baby in one, and they sit in a rocking chair like two weird babies together. “Finally, a living doll all my own,” says Spalding while they rock back and forth. Wow – damn unsettling, and I dig it. Denis O’Hare is a wonderfully talented actor.
“That ain‘t magic. That‘s an antihistamine.”
Zoe has to try and convince Kyle to go with her, away from the academy. He’s afraid that he may hurt her, or someone else. He has uncontrollable feelings boiling up inside of him all the time. He doesn’t want any of that to inexplicably come out and affect the world around him. Poor FrankenKyle, he’s made up of a bunch of different parts, all warring against one another inside I’m sure. But there’s something about Zoe which calms him.
Then they’re off, running to the bus for Orlando, Florida. The future is ahead of them, bright and gleaming. Is it meant to be? We’ll see.
Another solid episode. I’m looking forward to more developments closer to the season finale in the next episode, titled “Go to Hell”. Stay tuned, friends and fellow fans!