Episode Title: “Burn, Witch. Burn!”
Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Jessica Sharzer
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Previously on “American Horror Story”:
Beware full spoilers below!
It feels like “American Horror Story’s” “Burn, Witch. Burn!” would have been a better Mother’s Day episode than a post-Halloween episode. Sure, it has zombies in it, but a major focus is on Madame LaLaurie and Fiona’s actions as mothers… and what really, really bad mothers they are. Bad mothers united. Wahoo!
Just in case the audience has forgotten what an awful person Madame LaLaurie is, we get another heapin‘ helpin‘ of her evil during a flashback to the 1800s. During this trip down memory lane we discover that not only did she torture her slaves by mutilating them, turning one into to a minotaur, and sewing their mouths shut after filling them with poo, but she also abused her own daughters after learning that they didn’t like her very much.
Madame LaLaurie also abused her daughters’ potential suitors by leading them through a haunted house filled with the typical “spooky” things, like a bowl of “eyeballs” or a platter of “intestines”. This time, however, instead of grapes and sausages the dishes were actually bits and pieces of LaLaurie’s slaves. It’s gruesome, it’s horrible, it’s excessive, and it’s totally “American Horror Story”.
Anyway, after LaLaurie catches her daughters in the midst of planning her demise, she takes them to the basement for a LaLaurie-style whuppin’. Back in the present day, her girls show up as revenge-hungry zombies, along with a sizable zombie army backing them up. The walkers kill a random passerby and then go after the cute neighbor guy. Noooo! Cute neighbor guy! Don’t go into the light!
Zoe, however, takes control of the crazy-ass situation, barking orders and luring the zombies away by banging a pot and pan together; a plan which she follows up with a “I wish I thought this through” look before getting trapped in a shed. Meanwhile, Queenie uses her witchy powers to self-harm a zombie, which doesn’t really do anything, but it’s cool. Madame LaLaurie eventually impales her zombie daughter with a fire poker before she has a chance to lay a hand on Queenie.
Just as things are looking grim for our group of witches, Chainsaw Zoe emerges from the shed and starts slicing and dicing like a meth-infused Bruce Campbell. Her chainsawing action doesn’t last forever, and when she’s down to just one zombie it jams, forcing her to pull out some Deus Ex Witchina and use some heretofore unseen witch powers to zap that zed back to hell- and severing Marie Laveau’s connection to her undead army. This is an awesome scene and “AHS” would benefit from keeping up the strong, fighter Zoe over the meek and weak Zoe. And this is just one more thing that points to Zoe potentially being the next Supreme.
While the girls fight for their lives against those who have no lives, Fiona rushes Cordelia to the hospital on account of her case of acid to the face and subsequent blindness. Ever the caring mother, Fiona takes the opportunity to steal some drugs from the hospital and get high. She does, however, make a woman talk to her stillborn baby and hold it, then she uses her magic to revive the rugrat, so we get to see a rare glimpse into the kind of good Fiona’s capable of.
Cordelia’s husband takes a break from the constant cheating on her and people-murdering he’s been doing so he can come visit her in the infirmary, where Fiona promptly chews his ass out for being a crappy husband. He tries to fire back about her parenting (or lack thereof), but he’s just not mighty enough to face off against Fiona. When hubby dearest eventually takes Cordelia’s hand, she flashes and sees all of the awful things he’s been up to. Ruh-roh. Looks like hubby’s gonna be in trouble!
All in all, this hospital sequence is pretty great, giving us a nice peek into the tumultuous duality of Fiona as well as giving Jessica Lange a chance to stretch her mighty acting chops.
The witch’s council, composed of a catty Southern gentleman, a boring chick, and Myrtle cosplaying as Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, convenes to decide whether Fiona is fit to reign as the Supreme. Myrtle pushes for them to fire her, but before the deal can be sealed, Fiona reveals the truth: Myrtle is obsessed with Fiona, and has been ever since they were teenagers. She’s been following her around, trying to find a way to bump her off, and even went so far as to chuck acid in Cordelia’s face.
Fiona also claims that Myrtle murdered Madison, which is a sign that either Fiona’s lying about the whole thing, or she’s an opportunist who knows how to keep her hands clean. Anyway, Myrtle’s acid-burned hands seem to indicate at least some of what Fiona said is true, so the council deems her burn-worthy and the whole witchy gang gets together for a good old-fashioned witch burning with Myrtle as the guest of honor.
Later, while Fiona nurses the effects of the 1.21 billion pills she took, Queenie comes to her and asks “Did I help you get rid of a guilty woman, or frame an innocent one?” Then we flashback to see that Fiona set Myrtle up big-time, and Queenie helped by using her witchy voodoo to cause the burns on Myrtle’s hands making her look guilty. Queenie’s guilt is eating away at her, so Fiona comforts her with the idea that she might be the next supreme, which she likes. Ooh, Queenie, trusting Fiona is a way to end up being the next dead chick. Both this scene and the witch’s council stuff were quite well done, playing with the audience’s expectations and yanking our beliefs back and forth.
In the attic, Spalding continues to play with a very dead and rotting Madison. Oh, and Cute Neighbor Boy survived the zombie attack. Hooray!
The episode ends with the arrival of the always-Fleetastic Misty Day! Only this time there isn’t any Fleetwood Mac playing. WTF!?! Anyway, Day works some magic and Myrtle pops back to life. Although, I hope Misty’s powers include some serious skincare, because Myrtle’s still looking extra crispy.