American Horror Story has always used its settings to great effect, even if they were a bit restrictive. Murder House was full of secrets and mysteries, but the characters hardly ever left the yard, and the Asylum was just as restrictive. Two seasons stuck in big buildings isn’t much to work with.
Luckily, American Horror Story: Coven has learned from past seasons’ mistakes and continues to introduce new elements of New Orleans to the story. “The Axeman Cometh” introduces the Axeman himself, a notorious serial killer who preyed on New Orleans in the early 20th century, breaking into homes and murdering families with axes. It’s gruesome business, but it fits perfectly into Coven’s twisted version of New Orleans
The episode begins with the Axeman writing his infamous letter to the presses that urged citizens to play jazz music in their house at a certain time to avoid becoming victims. Done with cowering in fear, the coven of 1919 decides to draw in the killer and give him a taste of his own medicine, stabbing him to death in the academy.
Snap back to the present, and Zoe has discovered a ouija board that allows the girls to contact spirits against Queenie’s warnings. If characters listened to smart warning, though, this wouldn’t be American Horror Story, so of course Axeman’s spirit is toyed with. He barters for freedom by revealing where Madison’s body is. Poor Spaulding gets tied down and tortured as the girls use Nan’s powers to read his mind, but he manages to lie and cover up for Fiona yet again.
Fiona takes a step back from the spotlight for an episode and goes to chemotherapy instead. As she grows sicker, she seems to be softening up just a bit, which is surprising since she’s not exactly known for her restraint or sympathy. She has another fantastic scene in this episode in which she hears the thoughts of those in chemo around her, comparable to last week’s baby resurrection she pulled.
Even if it feels rushed, Fiona’s development is mesmerizing simply because she’s going through such a radical change. She has become more sympathetic and understanding while still retaining her sharp edge, and it’s all thanks to Jessica Lange’s performance. I know I’ve singled her out multiple times throughout the series, but she’s just amazing, plain and simple. There’s a reason she keeps reappearing in each new season.
Kyle finally makes a reappearance at Misty’s cabin in the swamp this week, but he throws a temper tantrum when she tries to dry him off after a shower, similar to his mother. Zoe shows up in time to return both to the academy, although Kyle is left chained up in the greenhouse. The poor guy isn’t catching any breaks anytime soon, but at least give him something better to do than get lost or get angry. I was finally looking forward to Evan Peters getting a better role, too.