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American Horror Story S03E05: "Burn, Witch. Burn!"


HOW IS THIS A SHOW? HOW IS THIS A SHOW? Last question: HOW IS THIS A SHOW?

That is my only question at this point and it kept running through my mind for almost the entirety of "Burn, Witch. Burn!" Why is this season of American Horror Story so PERFECT right now? How did this happen? I thought television was supposed to be erratic and imperfect and debatable from week to week, but guess what? American Horror Story is on some kind of roll. It's almost boring to talk about, that's how consistently entertaining it's been this season. This is NOT guilty pleasure television. This is prestige television. This is the best thing I've seen in a very long time. People seem almost embarrassed to admit how good American Horror Story has become, like its lurid appeals are just too base to mention in mixed company. But guess what? If you somehow think that the presence of horror or comedy (or, gosh forbid, a mixture of the two) precludes something from being brilliant, you are wrong and you deserve a reverse-Nobel Prize for being a dummy-snob. Everybody has a different definition of what makes good drama, and I'm certain that American Horror Story meets every requirement while also outright ignoring convention as often as possible. This episode grossed me out and frightened me and made me laugh both with and AT it, and that was before one scene in particular brought me to tears. Am I just mentally unstable? Irrelevant. Maybe my standards are just not as classy as yours. For example, in my opinion all good drama should contain a scene in which one character calls another character a piece of sh*t. In this episode that happened THRICE. Oh boy do I adore this show. Let's start a Kickstarter so that we can all chip in and buy the writer of this episode a catamaran as a token of our thanks because it was PERFECT.

All right, let's talk about "Burn, Witch. Burn!"


We began with a flashback. Just when you thought you'd seen quite frankly all you needed to see regarding Madame LaLaurie's hospitality skills from back in the day, turns out we didn't know the full extent of her awfulness just yet! In this case her daughter Borquita (LOLOL that name) was trying to woo some hunk and Delphine made him go through her homemade haunted house scenario, which usually includes peeled grapes and whatnot, but in this case just featured real body parts (lazy).


And the suitor did NOT enjoy these Halloween festivities one bit! And in case you were wondering, neither did the slaves from which Delphine stole these body parts.


Just so we're clear, the eyeballs and intestines came from slaves. If there had been any doubt, it should be gone now. Just like the slaves' eyeballs and intestines. This show is truly disgusting sometimes, guys.

Anyway, we were meant to believe that Delphine did this to ALL her daughters' boyfriends, just chased them out of the house with all manner of human organs, and the daughters were understandably fed up with it. So much so that they began openly plotting her murder. Unfortunately she was probably standing against the door with a glass or whatever because she instantly knew about the plot and had all three of her daughters locked up in wooden crates!

Harsh! Also, unless I'm mistaken, this all happened BEFORE the minotaur-creation incident, so that means the daughters spent a year in the dungeon (one of them had to eat poo on Christmas) and then they stuck around and continued living there afterward. And then they got totally murdered by Marie Laveau. What I'm trying to say is, their lives did not seem very fun to me. 

And now they were about to start their worst-smelling phase yet!

So yeah, a lot of this episode had to to with the guilty consciences of terrible mothers, and this moment was the thesis statement. Sometimes you lock your daughters in crates and years later they show up to eat your brains. A classic morality tale, really.

Meanwhile the zombies were under the control of Marie Laveau, who'd murdered tons of chickens and started f*cking LEVITATING. There was this cool moment where all the lawn zombies just stood still, like they were in a trance. But then Marie Laveau opened her eyes...

And the zombies suddenly started to attack!

Yeah, the hunk next door had felt that these were just a bunch of trick-or-treaters and gone outside to tell them to scram. Whoops! I like to think that if I were confronted with an actual zombie I'd know right away. I mean, the smell alone. But also the bad manners. And the flesh-eating.

In one of the biggest revelations of the episode, Zoe was AMAZING. She immediately shifted into gear and started shouting commands at everybody like a BOSS. This was seriously so good. She'd spent so many episodes being this bad-decision-making wallflower, and suddenly she was super competent and smart. NEEDED THIS. Do it, girl.

Speaking of amazing: Nan!

Nan ran outside to save the hunk. Which, fair enough, that is something every last one of us would risk our lives to do. But it was still really something to see her get in the mix like this. (Oh and I loved the bit earlier in the episode when she confirmed they were zombies because she couldn't hear their thoughts. Spooky!) Anyway, I love Nan, but it turns out she is not very good at dragging injured hunks across lawns. So they took refuge in Cordelia's parked station wagon.

Speaking of whom... Cordelia was NOT having a good time at the bar anymore. No, getting acid thrown in your face really tends to put a damper on things.

It looked very painful! And it was frankly very moving to see Fiona so up-in-arms about her daughter's crisis. I mean, she straight-up pushed around a doctor for the crime of delivering the news that Cordelia was now blind.

Haha we need to talk about this hospital. What a nightmare! Roughly every light flickered on and off, plus everything was sickly green dirty-looking. Several times I thought this would prove to be some kind of dream sequence but it wasn't! It was just the world's worst hospital. THANKS OBAMA

So then Fiona started wandering the halls and everything was blurry and unsettling. Then she found the pill closet and went WILD.

Classic Fiona!

Um, then this next scene happened.

Like, everything had been so woozily filmed and nightmarish that I literally had NO IDEA where this scene was going. Fiona just sorta stumbled into a room, found a dead baby, and then asked the wailing woman nearby whether it had been stillborn or died after birth. I mean, there's a chance she was just making conversation, but part of me wondered if that information was necessary to what Fiona had in mind next.

In one of the more unsettling yet beautiful scenes ever on this show or ANY show, Fiona tearfully made the grieving mother hold the baby and tell the baby she loved it and that she'd always be its mother. Very creepy stuff like that, and the distraught woman reluctantly did as she was told. Mega pathos. But it was very, very devastating in that Fiona's own child was only a few doors down and Fiona was clearly using this dead baby situation to work through some of her own issues. But then, just before turning to leave, Fiona touched the baby and it began to coo.

YUP. So obviously I was borderline sobbing here. Not even ashamed. Fiona's act was so casually selfless and wonderful I was beside myself. Something about a total jerk of a witch having this weird moment of benevolence just hit me in my heartbones. I guess it makes sense that as a Supreme, Fiona has all the powers, including Misty Day's resurrection skills. And I'm also guessing there's a difference between giving someone a spark of life and also healing their flesh (which was why Fiona couldn't heal Cordelia). But who knows. Everything about this played like dream logic, just lovely and terrifying all at once. Really beautiful stuff and astonishingly written. Feeling very emotional, guys. BRB need to lie down in a pile of warm laundry.

Okay, so anyway, the zombies were still attacking the coven like crazy, and I guess Delphine was in a pretty emotional mood so she decided to let her dead daughter in the back door. It was weirdly touching to see Delphine monologue about what a bad mother she'd been while stroking her daughter's zombie cheek. But yeah, as you could imagine, a zombie's a zombie and zombies do NOT care about eloquently described regret.

But we didn't see anything bad happen to Delphine, so when Zombie Borquita (LOL) went upstairs to hassle Queenie next, it wasn't clear whether Delphine had been killed or not.

Queenie, of course, busted out all her best human voodoo doll tricks, but in my opinion they didn't work.

Oh well, it was worth a shot. But then:

Zombie Borquita was murdered by Delphine! She'd apparently survived the earlier run-in with her zombie daughter, grabbed a fireplace poker, and ran upstairs to save the life of her NEW-AND-IMPROVED daughter.

Oh man, when Delphine started sobbing and nuzzled Queenie's bosom? So great. I knew these two would be friends someday and I didn't know how much I needed it until this scene. So good. The crazy thing about this show is that Delphine is still a loathsome, despicable person who deserves all the worst things to happen to her YET she seemed so genuinely remorseful for her crimes that it was hard to root against her. It just sort of appeals to our most basic human decency to see her undone like this. Yes she is a monster, but this is still so compelling to me, I don't know. Nevermind because CHAINSAW!!!

ZOE!! ZOE FOUND A CHAINSAW AND DESTROYED ALL THE ZOMBIES! ZOE CHAINSAWED THE ZOMBIES EVERYBODY! SHE SPLIT ONE RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE! WHO ARE YOU ZOE? WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? ZOE WINS? ZOE WINS! I LOVE ZOE NOW. THIS WAS THE BEST!

And then it got even better. Chainsaw ran out of gas, with one zombie left. How did Zoe handle it? Oh with a little bit of BRAINPOWER.

Yep, Zoe got a new skill! She can kill on command. With her BRAIN!

So, um, Zoe's the next Supreme right? Even Madame Laveau called it. Zoe's POWERFUL now. Oh man, what a turnaround. Zoe went from zero to hero. ZOE YOU RASCAL.

Hate this guy. He showed up to Cordelia's hospital room and fortunately for us, Fiona TOLD. HIM. OFF.

Again, Fiona used her powers for good. In this case she flat-out threatened to murder him and it made me so happy. Apparently I derive actual pleasure from murder threats now. Thanks, American Horror Story.

So then a crabby nurse made Fiona leave for a minute, and the crappy husband took Cordelia's hand and this next thing happened.

WHOOPS! Look who else is developing new powers! Man, what a bummer it must be to be a philandering serial killer, only to have your witch wife get acid thrown into her face and develop second-sight. Because that's what happened here! Cordelia is psychic as hell now. Top that, jerk! 

The next day, after a busy morning in which Fiona made the girls burn zombie parts on the lawn (and Fiona touchingly gave props to Zoe for her chainsaw skills), the witch council returned to kick Fiona out of the coven. 

But Fiona was NOT going down easy. As she revealed, Myrtle was the one who'd thrown acid in her daughter's face! Plus, Fiona had taken cell phone pics of Myrtle's Fiona-themed serial killer collage on her motel room wall.

Oh, plus Myrtle had acid burns on her fingers:

All of these pieces of circumstantial evidence were strong enough for the other two members of the council to immediately sentence her to death! Chillingly, Myrtle just accepted her fate, claiming her life had been one big unfair trial to begin with, so bring on the dreamless sleep already. 

Next thing we knew, there was an absolutely insane burning-at-the-stake scene like something out of Jesus Christ Superstar. (That was about a witch, right?)


WOWOWOW! I mean, obviously it was hilarious that Fiona lit Myrtle on fire with a cigarette. But also: the outfits everyone had on! Holy moly, the hats alone. AMAZING. Okay, I realize this is not very nice, but did Fiona's look remind anybody else of Blade from the Puppet Master movies?


JUST WONDERINGGGGG.


For her part Zoe seemed VERY startled by this whole scene. First because she didn't think witches were burnt at the stake anymore. But also maybe she was psychic enough to know the whole thing was a sham? Who knows. I trust you, Zoe. You've earned it.


Because as we then found out, Fiona had called in a favor from Queenie to burn Myrtle's fingers in front of the council! And I'm guessing a lot of the other details of Fiona's story were probably fabricated also, including that flashback we saw of Myrtle wearing a black cloak in the hospital while Fiona was high on pills and bringing dead babies back to life. So, uh, yeah. That meant Fiona had intentionally framed a very important woman AND her daughter's assaulter was still out there somewhere. Very interesting indeed.

This was a nice moment between Queenie and Fiona in which Queenie tried to quit the school out of guilt over what happened to Myrtle but Fiona tried to make her think she was in the running to be the next Supreme.

Poor Queenie. But I'm just glad she isn't leaving. I love Queenie with all my heart. And I feel like I don't have enough closure on that masturbating-in-front-of-a-minotaur subplot. What happens next with that? Don't leave us hanging, show!

Meanwhile in the attic the butler sprayed so much air freshener everywhere and then tried to take Madison out of the wooden chest that he was keeping her in.

And WHOOPS! Just a truly disgusting, accidental, rotten arm yank-off. Wow, very gross. I had been hoping that Madison would've been brought back to life by Marie Laveau's zombie voodoo, but nope. Still very dead. And now one-armed. That does not seem like a great situation to be in at all.

Um, then this scene happened. We all know that Misty Day (LOL) is like a reverse Grim Reaper, just walking around bringing dead junk and hunks and alligators back to life. So it should have been obvious (but was still delightfully surprising!) when she showed up at the scene of the witch-burning. Apparently the albino bodyguards had not yet removed Myrtle's body and dogs were eating it. Bad dogs! Scram, you dogs.

And so, of course, Misty Day (LOL) did what Misty Day (LOL) do. 

AAHHHHH! I mean, welcome back, Myrtle. But also AAAAHHHHH! WHAT A NIGHTMARE. She looked bad, you guys. Like REAL bad. Still though, maybe she will get justice against Fiona. She probably deserves it. But also AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOO! 

CAN'T UNSEEEEEEE

If we're being real, "Burn, Witch. Burn!" was a perfect hour of television and I will enter a street fight with anybody who disagrees. I will use all the uppercuts and kick slaps and roundhouse punch-cartwheels in order to defend this episode's honor. I loved this episode! Please do not make me have to street fight, I really want to stay retired from street fighting in general. But coming out of retirement is NOT out of the question when it comes to defending this episode. That is how good it was.

Okay bye.


QUESTIONS

... Will the next Supreme be Zoe or Cordelia?

... Wasn't Delphine sort of a bad mother? Be honest.

... Do you think Kyle had a fun Halloween? What did he do?

... Have you ever killed a zombie with your brain?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 1/29/2014

Season 3 : Episode 13

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