AHS:Coven “The Axe Man Cometh”

American Horror Story

The Axe Man Cometh

By Cat Scully

It’s 1919 and a mysterious narrator writer enters the scene with his typewriter, calling himself the Axe Man. He writes in a small room with newspaper clippings and saxophone, saying the victims will be known by the murder with his axe. The witches of 1919 read the newspaper clipping the Axe Man will be stalking people that do not play jazz music. The sisters debate in their docile decisions what to do, so they decide to unite with their powers to find him and keep him from ruling their city. That Tuesday night, the Axe Man stalks the streets, hearing jazz pour from every home but the witches school. He walks up the pathway, axe in hand, and enters. The lead witch rallying the girls is reading tarot on the floor as he enters and turns off the music, saying he gave fair warning. She draws the death card and says it’s expected as witches begin to stab him all at once until he dies.

Zoe sees a bottle she drops roll into the closet and behind a hidden door. She finds a ton of old photos and pilfers through the boxes until she finds a Ouija board. She shows the photos to Nan and Queenie, imploring them to watch each others backs, sharing Absinthe with them to pledge to take care of each other. Queenie is hesitant to use the board Zoe brings because it brought a bad spirit out that took her grandmother’s face off. They ask the board who is speaking to it and it answers not only that it was murdered, but that witches killed it and names itself the Axe Man. Queenie stops the board and yells at Zoe saying if survival is so important, she better be careful of who she talks to.

Meanwhile, Fiona is in the hospital and starts picking up the ability to listen to other people’s thoughts. The other patients begin to drive her insane, but the doctor comes in and makes her take her seat to finish her treatment. They give her the medication and she goes delirious and says what she wants is to really belong to somebody. Her blind daughter comes to visit her at home with her husband, immediately smelling the roses and asking for chrysanthemums for strength. She tells her husband that she had to go blind to really see him, finally seeing the redhead he killed. On her own, Cordelia opens and shuts the doors on her husband. Fiona touches her to help her, but sees that Myrtle was burned at the stake “for what she did to Cordelia.”

Zoe researches the Axe Man, learning the axe meant both his saxophone and a real axe. Queenie is still hesitant, believing spirits will say anything to escape and plague them. Nan also says she doesn’t want to help. Zoe goes back to ask the board where Madison is, promising release if he helps her. He spells out “ATTIC,” so Zoe goes upstairs and finds Spalding’s room reeking ,rightfully ,like dead corpse. She opens the trunk and finds Madison’s body and the butler grabs her from behind and grabs her mouth to keep her from screaming. She struggles away and knocks him over the head easily.

Queenie, Zoe, and Nan tie the butler up thinking he is hiding something. They begin to burn him, thinking he killed Madison. He readily admits to killing her, making up a story that he had sex with her corpse and that’s why he killed her. He asks them through Nan’s mind what they will do now, but Queenie begins to voodoo torture him. Zoe doubts he killed Madison, thinking he’s learned a trick or two on how to hide things from witches.

In her garden, Missy waters her plants, but there is a body below the dirt covered with swamp water that’s the remains of Myrtle Snow. Kyle returns to Missy and she gives him a bath, but he keeps retaliating remembering his mother and thinking Missy is her. He smashes her music and Missy begins to sob, calling him a monster. Kyle sobs in her arms as Missy says to get him out of there because he broke Stevie. Zoe tells her that he needs her help. She takes Missy back to Madison and asks her to put her back to put it back together. Missy is hesitant, but tries to bring her back. She asks Zoe to help and immediately Madison starts to come back to life, pushing the death out of her. Madison screams back to life and asks for a cigarette.

Cordelia’s husband rushes to LaLaurie’s shop and tells her that they have a problem. He blames LeVeau for scaring his wife and causing her to gain second sight and potentially “ruin their plans.” Marie denies it, saying she “isn’t the Taliban” causing those things to happen, and says she didn’t hire a professional witch hunter for nothing. He says after six years in that house, he’s given her access and that she wanted all the Salem descendants. We cut to a redhead he killed named Kayleigh who came to the coven earlier as a witch applying to be a part of the school but hesitant. We see her argue with her boyfriend, who doesn’t want to marry her because there is “something wrong with her” and he agrees. She lights him on fire and Cordelia tries to convince her that being surrounded by people with similar gifts would help her. She says that she just wanted a husband and kids, but we see Cordelia’s husband listening in from the other room and realize that he’s the one responsible for killing all the coven witches slowly for LeVeau, which he confirms to her claiming nine kills in five years. LeVeau claims that he really is in love with Cordelia and tells her that after Bastian he better go back to the house and bring back every witch head if he wants to live.

Missy rummages through the fridge and takes some food, leaving for the night, but Zoe offers her a bed to sleep in. Missy refuses, saying that she gets bad vibes from them and that she is still looking for her tribe but they aren’t it. She also refuses to take Kyle back since he’s a walking tornado. Upstairs, Cordelia picks a lock and enters Fiona’s room, feeling her things and her pills. She strips, but feels the Axe Man there who tells her that he always hated that room. Cordelia asks him what he wants and he says release. He’s furious that Zoe didn’t release him like she promised. Cordelia says she can help if she can leave, but he refuses to help unless she calls back the witch that promised to release him. He chases her around the room. Zoe feels for a book to help make him pass on and finds it immediately, doing the spell naturally. The Axe Man leaves the house, content until he sees a car pass playing rap music.

Madison wakes and Zoe feeds her a drink to help her stomach, but she throws it up. She thinks that she was in a car crash, but Zoe explains that she died and Madison can only remember seeing red, leaving everything still open-ended. Meanwhile, Fiona sits at the bar and feels her hair start to fall out as she listens to jazz music. She sees a hat placed on the bar and the Axe Man bids her hello. He asks her what she’s drinking and we cut to black.

AHS S3, E3: “The Replacements” by Cat Scully

 

This is the episode I have been waiting for. So far, I’ve been pretty tame in my reviews, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the season to start acting like the past ones. I felt the build up was necessary and, knowing the series and how it never lets me down with crazy, I patiently waited. The wait really paid off with episode three. Finally we see some crazy hit the fan, and when it does, oh man was it unexpected.

We finally get the answer to the question, “so how exactly did Fiona become the Supreme?” the moment the episode starts, showing Fiona with her mentor Anna Lee. With a tense argument over what makes a proper supreme and a slice to the neck, Fiona kills her mentor and finds herself Supreme a little too early for her own good. This, subsequently, leads us to the explanation of why the butler had his tongue removed.

It’s revealed that when a Supreme starts to fade, it’s because she’s giving her powers to a younger Supreme who will take her place. Apparently, that much witchcraft can’t exist in one place and it starts to make all too much sense that Fiona is dying of cancer. Then, the natural question is, who is stealing Fiona’s power? Zoe would be too easy, and thankfully, the answer isn’t her:it’s Madison.

By now, we all know that guilt follows Zoe like a little, black cloud and she craves the resolution of her guilt. She calls Kyle’s mother, hoping to receive some solace in potentially returning her son to his mother. What she finds is a less than perfect picture of a grieving pothead who openly offers Zoe a hit of her pipe. Learning that his mom was going to hang herself with grief, she resolves she must reunite them. This proves more than a little problematic as Misty has attached herself to the now-healed Kyle through tending to him. Zoe promises to take him and come back to visit Misty, but she knows its complete bull.

Meanwhile, a problem moves in next door:and by a problem, I mean a handsome boy with a tyrannical Christian mother. Queenie, Nan, and Madison watch the shirtless boy, Luke, move in and set out to meet this strange, new neighbor. They form a welcoming committee with a yellow cake and Madison in a barely there dress, but Luke completely ignores Madison and treats Nan with respect instead. When Luke’s mother interrupts, Madison retaliates and nearly cuts his mother ,Joan, with a knife. In another act of revenge, Madison unwittingly lights the drapes on fire, manifesting another talent. Later, Joan meets with Fiona and returns the knife with a bible in tow. Fiona ,rightly, puts her in her place and sends her packing, however, the long term battle between the two has started, thus, leaving Fiona with two enemies and a dwindling list of help. Through this altercation, Fiona realizes Madison has manifested one of the seven wonders required to become the Supreme.

The moments with LaLaurie are becoming increasingly hilarious as she watches the “magic box” television and finds an African American president. Fiona sets to disguise her as the new maid, but as LaLaurie sets to serve Queenie, a small bomb of drama is handed to us on a crafted silver platter. Fiona punished LaLaurie by making her serve Queenie every second of the day, saying “there is nothing I hate more than a racist.”

In Cordelia’s quest to get pregnant, we find that both Fiona and Cordelia have a blood work problem that denies both of them treatment to their quench their desires. Cordelia decides to pay a visit to Marie LeVeau and ask for a voodoo solution to her fertility problem as her last hope. There’s no way in hell that Marie will help her, but she still leads her on, toying with her how the process would work and how they could help her. We get a beautiful voodoo sequence of the ritual with Marie dancing alongside her voodoo tribe, finally seeing some voodoo enter the season. Still, she throws it all in Cordelia’s face, saying “too late for tears, damage is done.”

Zoe takes Kyle back to his house, ditching him at the doorway for his mother to find, acting more like a Frankenstein monster than ever. He enters the house giving a knowing look back at Zoe, letting us all know something is wrong. His mother visits him in bed that night and her sweet words of missing him quickly turn into her making out with him all the way to fondling her son in bed. Despite their grotesque relationship, we learn that his mother knows something is wrong with him and that he came back “wrong.” Eventually, the intimacy becomes too much and Kyle smashes her skull in with a trophy, leaving her there for Zoe to find when she returns to check up on him.

While LaLaurie makes Queenie food, and we have  a small motherly scene of advising Queenie to find love instead of food, the Minotaur arrives. This forces LaLaurie to reveal to Queenie who she really is, begging her on her knees to hide her. Queenie decides to take care of it, cuts LaLaurie’s hand and wipes it on a rag, then goes outside to face the Minotaur. She leads it with the smell of LaLaurie’s blood to a dark alley. Relating too much to the Minotaur, saying she was a beast like him, Queenie offers herself sexually to him. He circles behind her, acting like he’s about to fulfill her lust for him, and instead the Minotaur takes her to do who knows what with her.

As Fiona trains Madison, consulting her and learning more about how her coked-out mother forced Madison into acting, Fiona plays it like she wishes to impart her wisdom:but as soon as she sees Madison get a man to disregard his own safety by walking into the middle of the street, she knows Madison is taking her power. Fiona takes Madison to a bar later that night and sees her youth fading before her eyes as Madison descends into drunkenness. Back at the house, Fiona confronts Madison, asking her to end her life so she won’t have to suffer anymore and to become the new Supreme. But in their arguing, Madison’s throat is cut instead. Fiona regards her on the carpet and looks back at the butler, delivering the best line of the season so far: “this coven doesn’t need a new Supreme. It needs a new rug.”

The only thing I’m left with hoping for at the end of this episode is we still haven’t seen any voodoo on witch fighting or action. Although the buildup is tremendous, this season may start pushing it too far without the battle if it keeps going at this rate. The religious next door neighbor may end up burning them all alive before we can get to the battle, but I’m still hoping for the best:and AHS hasn’t failed me in that regard yet.

American Horror Story: “Boy Parts” by Cat Scully

 

American Horror Story – Boy Parts

Those of you wondering whether the season would really kick up in pacing in episode two, the mixed answer is both yes and no. This episode has some of our dead cast from the first episode back, resurrected in different ways as AHS would never leave them completely behind. Missy, our resurrection witch, is back and opening this episode in the swamps where she brings back alligators to kill their poachers to the sultry, swaying tunes of Stevie Nicks.

As the witches’ house wakes, Zoe and Madison argue about whether Kyle was really guilty by association of raping Madison and deserved his death. Racked with guilt, Zoe pleads that he was not like the others and that he shouldn’t have died, but of course Madison doesn’t particularly care. Meanwhile, in her room, Fiona hides LaLaurie from the rest, bound and gagged, while she tries to figure out how LaLaurie could be alive after 180 years. As LaLaurie is only interested in screaming for help, Fiona still hasn’t figured out why she is there and decides to find out by other means.

We cut to Queenie working at a fried chicken palace in 2012 Detroit, where a man harasses her enough while she is working, that she sticks her hand in the deep fryer and with her human voodoo ability causes him to burn his arm instead. Queenie relates over breakfast this story and explains she is related to the witches of Salem by blood through the slave Tituba, but had no idea other witches existed until the fryer incident made the local newspapers and she was sent to the school in New Orleans. However, she is interrupted by homicide detectives that saw Madison at the party where the frat boys were killed. Zoe and Madison are interrogated, but the detectives have clear evidence they were involved with the deaths of the frat boys. Zoe was caught on camera at the hospital before and after the death of the ringleader. Zoe blurts out a confession, explaining Madison was raped. Cordelia tries to defend them, but Fiona steps in and forces the detectives to take glasses of water she spit into to control them. Zoe and Madison are asked to return to their rooms, where Zoe turns hysterical about them getting caught. While the detectives are sent away with no memory of what they saw, Fiona goes to the girls room and throws both of them against the wall. She calls both girls on their failings, making us almost like Fiona for giving both girls the slap in the face they needed; not that we didn’t already love the rampaging Supreme anyway.

Through their punishment and confrontation, Madison learns that Zoe killed the ringleader for raping her and killing Kyle, so she vows to pay her back. Madison takes Zoe to the morgue and finds the partial bodies of the crash victims, resurrection spell in hand. She decides to build the perfect boyfriend for Zoe and begins to piece together a Frankenstein boyfriend with Kyle’s head.

If you’ve watched AHS the past two seasons, you know that each season revolves around mothers, daughters, and pregnancy. Cordelia and her husband, who abruptly shows up in the season in the middle of a doctor’s room with no background at all, argue whether to use magic or not to get pregnant. Cordelia, against it, tries to convince him that invitro fertilization is the answer. But as he exits, you can tell, he clearly isn’t going to go with it.

Fiona goes back to question LaLaurie, still bound and gagged in her room, and tries to figure out who cursed her to stay alive. She tells Fiona that it was Marie Laveau, a voodoo woman who killed her daughters on the steps of her home so that she could always be alone and live with her regrets and never join her family in the afterlife. Learning this, it’s obvious what Fiona wants and doesn’t care what destruction LaLaurie might bring to get it: immortal youth. Her next natural course of action is to find the still-living Marie to get her to give her the power of youth, thus, setting of the chain of our noted “witches versus voodoo” season. When she finds Marie Laveau’s hairdressing salon, the war begins as Fiona calls voodoo “the nail to her hammer” of witchcraft, to which Marie snorts and snaps that witches got their power in Salem from voodoo and a line of Shamans. Fiona leaves, threatening Marie to give Fiona her youth because she has something Marie wants, but won’t tell her.

Cordelia caves and gathers plants and herbs to ready her and her husband for the pregnancy spell. She gathers snake eggs, sets a black circle, and they begin to have sex despite the surrounding ring of fire. The snake eggs break and Cordelia’s eyes turn black. Since we know that her husband was barely introduced and not even really involved in each episode, he’s not sticking around long, but whatever the consequences of the ritual are, they’re here for the season.

Meanwhile, Kyle is resurrected by Madison and Zoe, with Madison ditching Zoe there when a morgue employee shows up. In his rage and confusion, Kyle kills him. Zoe tries to drive Kyle home but finds Misty in her backseat, who directs them to her home in the swamp instead. She begins to heal Kyle with her mix of moss and dung when Zoe figures out who Misty really is and pieces together that she used her resurrection power on herself after she burned. The Stevie Nicks playing every time Misty comes on screen was, as always important, with Misty saying she believes the singer to be a witch like herself and was the first she ever knew before Zoe. Misty agrees to watch Kyle as Zoe flees back to her house, hoping no one noticed she was missing.

During Zoe’s flight, LaLaurie is released by Nan, who says she thinks too loudly and is bothering her. LaLaurie escapes, knocking Queenie out with a candlestick, and heads to her old home. She manages to not get hit by cars in her discovery that her home is now a museum. Fiona finds her there and chides her for all the dark things she’s done, but all LaLaurie can think of is her dead daughters. Realizing that LaLaurie is more use than she initially realized, and how alike they are, Fiona takes LaLaurie back to her home again. Meanwhile we cut to Marie at her home, where she talks to the still-living Minotaur and tells him that you will never believe who is back.

All in all, this episode and last are ringing entirely different than either of the previous seasons. So far this season feels more like the Twisted History Channel than the random happenings in Asylum or the concentrated hauntings of the first season. Still, the balance of real history given new horrors is making it too delightful to resist, and quite possibly more consistent to follow in terms of plot. With the stage all seemingly set, hopes are high that the real shock and awe we’ve come to expect with American Horror Story will slap us in the face again.

Sleepy Hollow:John Doe

Sleepy Hollow – John Doe: review by Cat Scully

We open on a boy chasing a curly haired girl through the woods, only to be attacked by Samurai-clad horsemen. As the boy is wearing two hundred year old attire, we don’t expect the car that cuts off his fleeing the Samurai. An immediate cut shows Abbie and Icabod taking over Corbin’s old cabin and unpacking: they get a call for a found child, the same one fleeing the Samurai, but only speaking Middle English and covered with black veins, making it obvious he is infected by the horseman of pestilence.

With the CDC on their way, thankfully, Icabod’s utterance that the quarantine is the stuff of nightmares is one of the unintended, funniest moments in the whole season. The little boy, Thomas, was forbidden from leaving his home in Roanoke;  the island in North Carolina and “the lost colony” of the new Americas.  During their research, the CDC found the EMT was also infected, leading everyone, with no surprise, to believe Thomas is carrying a plague.

Abbie and Icabod head to Witch’s Spring Trail where they first found Thomas. The flirting between Icabod and Abbie is getting less subtle and more bemused in the open, which is a welcomed relief as the sense that these two will end up together at some point grows. An extra set of footprints leads to a small island and a secret passageway through water where they are transported back in time to Thomas’s era, Roanoke, and its many infected citizens.

Back at the hospital, the CDC are ,naturally, unable to find anything like this plague as more and more people succumb. They are all relying on Icabod and Abbie in the village, where they learn the Horseman of Pestilence guards the plague he has unleashed on them, still trying to spread it on the world. So long as the citizens remain on the island, in a sacred space away from the Horsemen, they are safe. If anyone leaves, like Thomas, the spreading plague in Sleepy Hollow will finally align the Horseman of Pestilence with the Headless Horsemen. Icabod shambles back to the hospital, but he is infected by Thomas and immediately quarantined and given a shot to be put to sleep, where he sees Katrina who tells him the only way he could be with her is if he was dead. Katrina is trapped with other souls in Purgatory, where Moloch keeps them captive until he decides what to do with them.

Abbie finds herself in a hospital church, praying for the first time in years, asking the divine for a sign. On her way out, she sees the holy water and realizes the spring water heals the community in Roanoke. As Abbie explains all to her boss Frank Irving, he immediately believes her, making his motives and his knowledge all the more problematic as to his hand in all of this. But Abbie never stops to question, and instead leads Icabod and Thomas back to Roanoke with the Horsemen gaining on them. Abbie is right that the water provided the cure, so, she  has  saved Icabod and Thomas. After transporting Thomas and the town of ghosts back, Icabod and Abbie are left  alone. In almost losing Icabod, Abbie tells him how much he means to her by saying he belongs in Sleepy Hollow. He smiles almost knowing, and we must wait another week to see where their relationship leads.

Sleepy Hollow:The Lesser Key Of Solomon

Sleepy Hollow – The Lesser Key of Solomon, review by Cat Scully

We weren’t going to get far in the season without a Boston Tea Party reference and it’s finally arrived, with Icabod protecting a particular crate during it. The immediate cut-to Onstar joke of Icabod giving the answering system romantic relationship advice was unexpected. The cuts from Icabod jokes to Jenny escaping felt rushed, but fun and necessary to jump right into the episode. Abbie is finally learning to step up and argue for what she feels is right with Frank, but in the correct way rather than a headstrong one, making her an already beautifully developing character as a lead. Plus, it’s becoming more apparent through these arguments that Frank is allowing more to happen without corralling them in.

One thing I enjoy about this show is that it always starts off where the leads are  pretty consistently; rather than random, one episode characters or first victims, like in Supernatural each time.  As it alternates, it lets us connect better to our leads as we travel through the show. Our “one-off” this episode is a man  who gets a phone call, while his son is playing piano, informing him that Jenny has escaped,thus, leading to him searching for her and giving us our “one gross moment” per show: a skewer through the skull and the discarded body of a bar owner found beheaded with his head left on the pool table. The “one gross moment” per episode is ,possibly, holding this show back. Shows such as Supernatural and American Horror Story, contain a number of several brutal moments per episode; when they are well placed,  this can up the stakes of a show.

As the pair uncover that Jenny travels around the world, Icabod proposes the bigger question of why her passport on file had so many locations stamped within. They find that troubled teen Jenny lived in seven foster homes, so they travel to the last home Jenny lived in the longest and learn that the house clearly abuses lost girls by taking the money given to them by the state. They threaten to turn them in and get a lead that Jenny would run off to Trout Lake. This entire sequence feels like so much is trying to be done in such a short space that the reveals feel rushed. We’re left with the lingering feeling that everything still isn’t revealed, which is good, but if it is too rushed the audience has no time to process it and we’re left with a horrible sense of questioning if these events really matter.

When they leave, Icabod intones that he and Abbie could really get farther if they relied on her criminal past rather than her law status; it is becoming clear, with each action, that they are getting  further from the safe parameters of the law. The house at Trout Lake is none other than Sheriff Corbin’s, so Abbie must face that her sister and her hero had a relationship she did not expect, and ends up finding herself staring down Jenny and her loaded gun. Jenny helping Corbin obtain rare objects feels like a lie, though it does explain her constant travels. It seems Corbin told Jenny before he died that something was coming for him and that it was “death.” A hidden wall panel unveils a box containing a sextant, a compass for seafarers, finally tying the Boston Tea Party and the crate back into play. Too conviently, Icabod says he used the Boston Tea Party as a diversion to get their hands on the British crate, as Icabod found a Hessian who took his own life to protect the crate and the weapon hidden within. A stone crate with markings identitcal to the sextant was guarded with Hessian blood. Within Corbin’s sextant, a projection of Sleepy Hollow from Icabod’s era comes to life by flashlight, pinpointing the location of the stone chest. With the trio ambushed and the sextant stolen, the trio find their assailant in question is a “Reinhessien of the 5th Battalion,” a descendant of the Hessians who have hidden as descendants within Sleepy Hollow for centuries. Moloch shall rise is the last message of the Hessian before he swallows a poison capsule. With the three left with a dead body, the season is pushed even further into making the three of them fugitives, albeit, not happy ones.

They head towards the last known whereabouts of the stone chest which holds the Book of Solomon and the incantation to releasing 75 demons, but it is too late, as two Hessians are already snooping around for it. With the book found and the pages read, the Hessians dripped it with their blood, releasing a bubbling vat of unknown substance that boils and through the flames the demons begin to form out of the earth not unlike the Orcs from Lord of the Rings.  In a very brief skirmish, Abbie destroys the book, breaking the portal and stopping the demons. Moloch of Paradise Lost, that leads the demons against heaven, is our now-named demon of the past episodes haunting the twins in the forest and traveling through mirrors.

Abbie’s speech of seeing who Jenny really is and being proud of her, then ending this episode with giving her papers for her eventual release, leaves us questioning if Jenny still has other motives that Abbie doesn’t know about, as she still hasn’t totally gained her trust.