“American Horror Story: Coven” Recap: “Welcome to Hell”


Moons over my hammy! The opening sequence of this week’s American Horror Story – which looks like a fabulous old silent film reel when it isn’t strongly resembling a shitty Smashing Pumpkins video – is a perfectly camp introduction to the penultimate episode of this blithely batty season. We learn through a series of vignettes that the Seven Wonders are: Telekenisis, Concilium, Transmutation, Divination, Vitalum Vitalis, Nerve, and Talent. Seriously, I am EATING THIS UP. Where have you been the last three weeks, Nameless Puritan Chicks in Bonnets?!

Back at Hogwarts, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) knows what Fiona (Jessica Lange) is up to WITHOUT reading her mind, because Fiona is about as hard to read as a large-print menu. She wants to know where Marie Motherf*cking Laveau is, but Fiona could care less. But when Queenie gets sassy, Fiona smack-talks her “half-baked Beetlejuice” voodoo deity and gives her a mind choke that would make Cheryl from Archer swoooooon. She tells Queenie that she will be doing the gauntlet of the Seven Wonders on Saturday whether she likes it or not.


Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) looks not-so-fresh, with the whole half-peeled lemon face thing and all. She asks Madison (Emma Roberts) for help adjusting, but Mads – ever the team player – transmutates away from her touch (she’s afraid that Cordy will learn that she’s the one that 86’d Misty). Cordy implores, “Madison, I need to touch you” and she eventually relents… and Cordy can’t see dick. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNN….


Queenie finds a bloody mess in the garden and can hear the voice of Marie crowing about revenge. Where is it coming from? This is like an underproduced vignette from Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Up in her room, Queen reads her bedazzled Book of Shadows, manifests a version of herself floating above her own bed, and then snaps to in the chicken joint she worked at in Detroit. What, whaaaah? Turns out, this is Queenie’s hell, and Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) schools her on it. She has the power to get herself out of dodge before the customers get unsavory.

Back in the here and now, Queenie points out to Papa (over hot cocoa) that Marie (Angela Bassett) is technically in breach of their contract just because she’s been hacked into pieces by Delphine (oh, BTW, Delphine hacked Marie into pieces). In addition, Delphine (Kathy Bates) has gotten her hair did, has incapacitated the tour guide at her old home, and is now conducting the tours herself, delivering a very different (and very revisionist) version of the events. Delphine claims that she stepped in just because the tour upped her murder count from 62 to 150, but let’s face it: she was a grabby little thing from the get-go. Queenie ambushes her at the house and tries to set her right, but she has no remorse. So Queenie stabs her in the heart and condemns her to hell, and black goo spurts out of her chest cavity. Is this the end of Delphine?


Meanwhile, back at Shady Pines, Fiona is having her portrait painted. It’s as exciting as it sounds. But when she spouts a nosebleed after Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) brings a vase of flowers into the room, she decides to spend her final hours more wisely, and visits her daughter.

Fiona tells Cordy that she can’t just lose her second sight – that power is in her forever. Cordy mumbles that it would have been good to know that BEFORE she put the shears in her eyes, but whatevs. (“NOW a warning?!”) Fiona offers Cordy her grandma’s necklace, but Cordy senses that this is a goodbye so she refuses it. Fiona insists, placing the necklace on her daughter – and when she does, Cordy sees a vision of all the girls slaughtered: Mads impaled on a railing dowel (a la Dario Argento’s Tenebre, a nice touch); Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) nailed to the wall; Misty (Lily Rabe) blitzed on the harmonium; Queenie with a knife through her throat; and Cordelia herself with a bullet through her head… all at Fiona’s hand. She snaps to and musters up a flimsy excuse about a ring, and Fiona buys it.

Cordy visits the Axeman (Danny Huston) and tells him he can’t trust Fiona, because she’s watched thirty seconds of this season. She envisions his future, which involves Fiona skipping town with a passport with the name “Fiona Borgia” – wait, what?! Is that a reference to that Jeremy Irons show? Or a clue for next year? Got me. She tells Axy that Fiona is leaving him, the “halfway decent musician in a $12 suit.” He takes this as a compliment taking inflation into account.


Cordy then searches for traces of Misty Day in her clothes, and she finds a neglige that gives her a vision of Misty singing in her coffin. She drags Queenie along, and Queenie uses her Super Mario Power to knock down the bricks and then uses her Vitaminwhatever power to bring her back to life. Still with me? I’m not.

Back at Professor Xavier’s, Myrtle puts together a massive floral arrangement involving deadly nightshade and tells Madison where Queenie is, and all of a sudden Misty appears to slap the undead shit out of Mads. It’s kind of worth watching several times, I gotta say. Also, Zoe and Frank-N-Fratter (Evan Peters) are already back from Epcot because Kyle killed a vagrant and Zoe brought him back again, and now she thinks she is Supreme. But then all of a sudden the Axeman appears with a bloody axe to… eh… hail a cab? I have no idea. Kyle tries to subdue him but then the sisters do it for themselves, subduing him with magic and telling him he came to the wrong house. But it was Fiona’s blood on his axe?

Later, we see Fiona visiting Axie that last, fateful time, where he realized she really was a major asshole and she overacted to the cabinetry. Blah blah blah catfish blah blah gin rickeys blah blah blah. They rub themselves all over one another one last time and then he throws her around, lets her go, and allows her to utter “when I was 8 years old my mother bought me a little calico cat…” before AXING THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF HER. Seriously, that’s it for Fiona. He fed her to the alligators. And even Misty Day says, “I can’t bring back gator shit.”


Myrtle croons, “Bloody blood blood blood all day in this place!” and then they stab the shit out of the Axeman. Ugh. Good riddance. Your name should not be a euphemism for your instrument for your body spray.

We then jump – rather abruptly, I might add – to Delphine being locked up in her own attic in a cell near that of her own daughter, Bon Qui Qui. Wait, what? Wasn’t BQQ hanged before her surprised eyes? Turns out this is hell, and Delphine and BQQ will be there forever as the guests of Marie Motherf*cking Laveau. Marie doesn’t actually WANT to torture the evil white lady for all of eternity, but she has to, because voodoo because racism because episode twelve because Ryan Murphy.

“No one gets away with sin.”

“Welcome to hell.”

“Everybody suffers.”

These writers could moonlight penning fortune cookies at a fundamentalist Chinese restaurant.

Back at Hogwarts, they hang the portrait, and Cordelia announces that the Seven Wonders will commence on Sunday at dawn.


Whew! Well that was certainly a change from the last few episodes, which had almost led me to lose faith in the season altogether. Despite the fact that this episode essentially pulled a Logan’s Run by killing everyone in the cast over 40 (aside from Myrt, who’s already died once – killing her again would be overkill!), it brought a modicum of closure to a few of the storylines, including the Marie/Delphine feud and the whole Axeman mess. I kind of love the fact that Fiona didn’t make it to the finale – it’s almost as though poor Jessica Lange’s teeth couldn’t bear another episode of scenery-chewing.

Notably Absent: Spaulding

Notably Dead: Fiona, Delphine, Marie Motherf*cking Laveau, Axeman

Notably Undead: Misty, an Epcot vagrant

Shriek of the Week

Good lord, this was a screamy episode – I can’t pick one. Let’s just give it to all of them.

Constance Comment of the Week

Hands-down, “half-baked Beetlejuice” wins the game this round. Way to go out in style, Fifi!

Witchslap! of the Week

People actually didn’t act like total imbeciles this week, for the most part, but Zoe probably takes the prize for coming all the way back to this house of bloodshed because she thinks she’s the Supreme… whom Fiona clearly intends to murder. You’d have been better off staying at the Land of Imagination, hon.

Blood – 10/10

Wow. Between last week and this ep, this is definitely the bloodiest hour of television not involving actual surgical footage.

Beasts – 2/10

There may not have been any actual animals on screen, but the well-placed mentions of both alligators and a calico cat were welcome.

Buns – 0/10

Yeah, that ship sailed months ago.


Did you know that alligators – like Papa Legba – love marshmallows? And post-menapausal witches, apparently.

The bit about Delphine learning redemption from news footage of bullshit mea culpas from the likes of Paula Deen and Anthony Wiener was pretty great. Finally, a point!

Myrtle’s line about Halston selling his brand to JC Penney – though as forced as any of her lines the past few weeks – was kind of funny.

Wait, why would Bon Qui Qui be in hell? Or was that just the image of BQQ, to make Delphine feel that much worse?

Do I need to point out the numerous glaring inconsistencies regarding whose powers manifest when? Why can’t Madison teleport out of the path of Misty’s gypsy boot? Wasn’t Misty able to bring herself back from the dead the first time, after she was burned alive? Yet this time she lets a nap get out of hand and Queenie has to Vitaminwater her?

So if Axeman killed Fiona at his apartment, why did he come running down the stairs at the ladies back at the house?

As far as Supreme goes, I think Queenie deserves it most, followed closely by Cordelia. So of course it will end up being Kyle.

That’s it for me – at least this week’s ep had some verve and they pared down a few more loose ends. What’d y’all think? Was it a killer episode or just witchy poo?

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.