'American Horror Story: Coven' Episode 5 Recap: Mommy Dearest

Note: Do not read on unless you've seen "American Horror Story: Coven," Episode 5, titled "Burn, Witch, Burn."

The overarching theme in tonight's episode is the relationship (or lack thereof) between mothers and daughters. It couldn't have been easy for Cordelia to grow up with a mother like Fiona, what with the philandering, the absenteeism, and the whole "Youngest Supreme Ever" thing. But I would take Fiona as a mother any day over LaLaurie. In the opening flashback, we see LaLaurie treating her daughters like absolute s**t, even threatening to fill one of her daughters' mouths with ... yep, s**t. The other two don't fare much better, with one hanging by both arms and the other in a cage down in the slave dungeon for a year. (It's hard to reconcile the former brutal LaLaurie with the current timid LaLaurie, but that's a whole other topic.)

Once we're back at Robichaux Academy, we see that the cast of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video is still gathered on the lawn, but nothing's happening. The zombies stand in place, seemingly awaiting some sort of instruction. Flash quickly to Marie Laveau, who's levitating over a chalk drawing in the back room of her hair salon. Her eyes flick open, and she says in her great, threatening voice, "Begin!" That sets the zombies in motion, who immediately head towards the Academy. Sexy neighbor boy (his name is Luke, but for whatever reason I can never recall it... OK, Luke. Luke. Luke) tries to be all brave, thinking the zombies are just teenagers in costume, but oops. They're not. He gets injured pretty severely, but not bitten, and is rescued by Nan and Zoe.

Let's talk for a minute here about Zoe. It's one thing for Nan to go running out there to save her love interest, and besides, she's never been one to shy away from anything. But Zoe? The meek, mild girl with the overly modest wardrobe, taking charge? Something is happening to Zoe, and it's evident here as she wields a bloody chainsaw, hacking away at the zombies like some "Evil Dead" renegade, that she's evolving. She must be the next Supreme, absorbing some of Fiona's aggression and confidence along with her magic -- which we also see. After being cornered by the zombies, Zoe utters one phrase and every single zombie falls to the ground, once again lifeless. Marie also plummets to the floor of her salon, her spell rendered useless. Marie expresses fear at the unknown power, which lets us know that damn, whatever Zoe's got, it's nothing to scoff at.

Inside the house, Spalding, Queenie and LaLaurie are hiding in the bedroom, and then LaLaurie stupidly tries to communicate with one of her zombie daughters, Borquita (quite the name), who proceeds to strangle her, throw her to the ground and head upstairs for Queenie and Spalding. Queenie's voodoo doll magic is useless, and Spalding is only good at cleaning up dead bodies, not actually making them dead, so LaLaurie is forced to "kill" her own daughter, for lack of a better word.

The other mother-and-daughter combo is, of course, Fiona and Cordelia, and the latter is still in a hospital bed recovering from the acid attack. It completely destroyed her optic nerves, yet left the eyes physically intact. Fiona's informed that Cordelia will be blind for life, and it sends her into a tailspin. She attacks the doctor, finds the Medication Room at the hospital and opens it with her fingernails (natch), and treats the room like it's a pill buffet. Completely high, she wanders the creepy hospital in a stupor. And then it's Obvious Metaphor time as Fiona stumbles upon a room with a woman who just gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. The doctors apparently just left the corpse of the dead baby in the room with the mother, since they do that in hospitals. Fiona revives the dead baby after making the mother recite every cliché mother-daughter saying in the book, and we know that this is Fiona's way of making up for her terrible treatment of Cordelia.

As I predicted last week, this injury has brought out the power in Cordelia. Whether it was deliberate by the attacker to bestow this gift upon her, or if it was in her all along, we don't know yet, but one thing we do know is her new power kicks ass. When her asshole husband finally shows up at the hospital hours later, he takes Cordelia's hand, and she immediately jolts up in bed and opens her (now white) eyes. She sees it all -- the sex, the murder, all of it. It seems, like Zoe, that Cordelia has gained some serious powers here.

We can't forget that the Council is still in town, too, and they're back at the Academy while Fiona, Zoe, Nan and LaLaurie are incinerating the zombie bodies in a big bonfire. Fiona shuts down LaLaurie's attempts for them to bond over their failings as mothers, which is just classic. Fiona's on her A-game now (must've been all those pills), and she manages to sway the Council against Myrtle, who she accuses of murdering Madison and blinding Cordelia. In the presence of overwhelming evidence -- the burned hand, the very incriminating photo collage on the hotel room wall (seriously, criminals, stop making collages of your intended victim), and her obvious resentment -- the Council condemns Myrtle to death by fire. "I go proudly to the flame!" she proclaims, and doesn't try to defy Fiona, which I found a little odd.

So it's off to the pyre/stake/death pile. In their funereal best, the ladies and the Council all head to the quarry to bid farewell to the seemingly treacherous Myrtle. Fiona lights the fire with her cigarette, and into the eternal goes Myrtle. Or so we were led to believe, though I knew this wasn't the last we'd see of her. Our favorite bayou queen, Misty, saunters over to the pyre and resurrects Myrtle. Uh oh, this is quite the pairing. Nothing a little swamp mud can't cure.

At the end, we see an exchange between Queenie and Fiona, and learn that it was Queenie's voodoo witchery that made the burns appear on Myrtle's hand. Myrtle didn't actually do anything, except make that creepy photo collage. Fiona assuages Queenie's feelings of guilt by making her believe that she's the next Supreme (a "Supreme of Color"), in yet another faux mother-daughter moment. Fiona makes false promises about taking Queenie under her wing, which seems to work for now.

Spalding can just spray air freshener over Madison, his dead prize, to clear the air, but unfortunately Fiona doesn't have that luxury. Soon, she'll have to face the music about what she's done. It may just be too late for her to make amends, which I'm not too convinced she wants to do anyway. Remember, folks: her ultimate goals are to retain her youth and keep hold of her powers, which are both slipping away each and every episode.

Witch, Please: (every week I'm going to award the witchiest witch of them all) At the risk of being repetitive, it has to be Fiona this week. She resurrected a dead baby, commanded the Council: "You will sit!" (which was incredible), and did the whole nails-as-ID-card swipe at the hospital. So cool.

Other Random Thoughts:
  • A "Medication Room" at a hospital? Clearly marked? I can think of so many reasons why that's a terrible, terrible idea.
  • One more thing about that hospital: Is it just me or is it the worst hospital of all time? Nearly every single light was either flickering or out altogether. And I don't think pediatric doctors would leave a dead baby corpse in a room with a traumatized mother. Seriously. Unless the whole thing was a hallucination, which I suppose is possible. There was a guy wandering the halls wearing just a diaper, after all.
  • Did anyone else hear Fiona say that she would be back to Cordelia's room in 15 minutes? If so, that's some bad editing, because before we know it, she's back at the Academy burning the bodies in the bonfire.
  • Full well knowing that a lot of crazy stuff has been happening in New Orleans lately -- you know, the zombies, the Minotaur, Madison "missing," voodoo priestesses on the hunt, etc. -- the coven leaves Myrtle's charred corpse just LYING there?! Fully open and available for anyone or anything to come calling? Honestly, after that screw-up, they deserve anything that comes their way. At least wait until the body is ash, or take it with you. Geez.
  • Where, exactly, does one buy stylish witch-burnin' funeral clothes? The witches seem to have a good selection of dapper outfits, especially Zoe rocking that hat.
  • I'm a fan of Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time," and yes, the title makes complete sense in the context, but that song is forever and always associated with "Dazed And Confused," so it felt out of place while the witches were walking to the burning. But that's just a personal opinion.
  • I loved Fiona telling off Hank: "You're a loser. You're one step up from the men who stand in front of Home Depot."
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