American Horror Story - S3, E8 (2013)

"The Sacred Taking"

GENERAL INFO:
Creators:  Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Producers:  20th Century Fox
Channel:  FX
Starring:  Jessica Lange, Sara Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, Jamie Brewer, Kathy Bates, Gabourey Sidibe, Angela Bassett; ft. Alexander Dreymon, Patti LuPone, Dennis O'Hare, Danny Huston
TV Rating:  MA LSV
Genre:  television, horror, thriller, drama, witches, magic, Voodoo
Scare score:  C
Rating:  A


Plot overview: The main plot of this action-packed episode revolves around the sickly Fiona (Lange) and her place within (or otherwise out of) the Coven.  Following the betrayal of Queenie (Sidibe), the remaining witches at Miss Robichaux's must put their differences aside and band together in order to combat not only the Voodoo Queen (Bassett) but a masked witch hunter as well. 

This episode struck me in many ways as being very different than previous episodes.  From the get go, camera angles were crazy, and simple plot was delivered in confusing, attention-grabbing ways (dreams, flashbacks, flash forwards), and even the very first scene was strange, dark, and unprovoked by previous actions.

I was such a big fan of this episode because of all the PLOT advancements; it was extremely fulfilling.  There was such beautiful witchcraft involved in this installment that I think others have severely lacked.  Is it so much to ask for a group of witches to provide us with some spells and rituals?  Either way, the Coven is getting a little stronger, characters are realizing the need to trust one another, death isn't even an obstacle, a new Supreme may or may not be rising, our pets' heads are falling off… ah, but I digress. 

Though we're halfway through the season at this point, the scariest thing happening so far has come as no surprise to me (seen here).  I'm talking about the lacking acting skills of some of our young witches, namely Gabourey Sidibe and to a lesser extent Jamie Brewer.   For a while now I've been doubting the static nature of Miss Sidibe, who has remained far inside the realms of her comfort zone: sass and moping.  I was frankly surprised by her first scene and the appalling lack of acting.  Ask a 12-year-old who does school plays to read Queenie's line from under the bridge, and chances are they'll at least do it with more heart. 

*SPOILER ALERT*

Quite a few shocking things happened this episode.  First and foremost we have the Coven's attempt to take the life of their Supreme.  I really enjoyed the inclusion of this ritual, although I didn't really get what the point of the magic was, being that the "push" from Madison (Roberts) and Myrtle (Conroy) seemed strong enough to convince any ill, guilt-ridden witch to want to end it.  I must say I am so thankful that at least Delia (Paulson) now realizes how important her mother is for the safety and preservation of the Coven.  Future crisis averted… for the time being.

Otherwise, a masked witch hunter we can only assume to be Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) is making moves against the - until now - unaware ladies at Miss Robichaux's - not to mention their neighbors.  This was a source of two major (and unpredictable) plot points:

(1) The sudden arrival of Misty Day (Rabe) and the recently revived Myrtle Snow at Miss Robichaux's.  While this was certainly a point of tension, it also means the Coven will be a little stronger should it need to actively defend itself. 

(2) All of the drama at the Ramsey household next door.  For the second time this season, we've seen a mother abuse her son - a perhaps less known, less-talked-about type of abuse that certainly must happen behind closed doors somewhere in, if not all over, the world.  I think it is interesting that AHS has chosen this genre of abuse (if only to scare people) because it simultaneously makes viewers more aware.  I also think we can now expect much more out of La LuPone considering what happened right at the end of the episode.  Will she be some evil person now?  Or will she be thankful to the Coven for their help?  I wouldn't even be surprised to see if she is a witch herself that has been hiding from her gifts by turning instead to religion.  Either way, I'm just not sure what the point of the capacity of Misty Day's gift is at this point.  Dead?  No problem.  #fixed.  Although, I think this is the first time we've seen Misty collapse after reviving somebody: what could it mean?

Finally, we can now expect some sort of funny, Adams Family-esque character from Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie following Laveau's (Bassett) gift real special, so Fiona took off the top, took a look inside and it's…. her head in a box.  Call me crazy, but giving away Delphine's head seems like giving up the prisoner all together.  I wonder how magic and physics will come into play here.  Will she still be able to feel pain if her disconnected body is still tortured?  In the case that Laveau keeps sending body parts, it sounds like easy work for Misty Day and her swamp mud. 

Another thought on this whole "war" between witches and vodouists that we're supposed to be expecting.  I realize Laveau has a group of friends who serve doubly as hairstylists and assistants in her Voodoo rituals, but are any of them actually capable of powers?  It seems like Laveau is the one doing all the work.  In which case, what kind of war would it be between a handful of witches and only one Voodoo Queen and her cornrowed friends?  Maybe I'm underestimating Voodoo. 

Final critique:  This episode was one of the best ones we've had in a while, mainly because there was plenty of action and excitement.  Now that the Coven is smart to the work of (presumably) Hank, and now that daughter has accepted mother as an ally, we'll have to see where the increasingly powerful - and increasingly close - witches lead us next.