‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Takes Time Out for Jazz & a Love Connection

Published 11 months ago by , Updated November 19th, 2013 at 10:54 am,

Lily Rabe in American Horror Story Coven Episode 6 American Horror Story: Coven Takes Time Out for Jazz & a Love Connection

[This is a review of American Horror Story: Coven episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]

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From the very first moment that Danny Huston’s distinct vocal cadence emerges, it’s clear that, if for no other reason than his welcome appearance, ‘The Axeman Cometh’ was going to be a slightly different episode of American Horror Story: Coven.

It’s not at all rare for this show to parachute in a new character this far into the season just to see where he or she lands and what kind of havoc can be wrought upon arrival. So, with the introduction of the titular Axeman – played here by the man who made Magic City more watchable than perhaps it deserved to be – there’s a sense that Huston will be around for a bit longer than his introductory cold open at the beginning of the episode.

That open, of course, is also part and parcel for American Horror Story, in that the show loves to put its audience in an unfamiliar setting right off the bat, where the only frame of reference is the title card – in this case, New Orleans 1919.

That’s not a time period Coven has visited before this season, so even though the actual location is familiar to the audience and relevant to the storyline (it’s not like the Axeman was terrorizing Sheboygan or anything), the feeling of disorientation, mixed with the sense of unease and apprehension Huston is so gifted at bringing into a scene, affords the episode a chance to briefly explore the narrative of Coven from a different perspective.

The fact that Huston’s character is a serial killer who has paralyzed the city with fear and made them do his bidding with regard to his fanatical love for jazz (the word, by the way, sounds like something else entirely when delivered by Huston), gives his final moments a certain weight when it’s the women of Miss Robichaux’s Academy – Class of 1919 – who put a bloody end to the Axeman’s reign of terror.

Taissa Farmiga in American Horror Story Coven Episode 6 Cometh American Horror Story: Coven Takes Time Out for Jazz & a Love Connection

But while Huston brought the episode loads of menace and plenty of teeth marks on the scenery, the addition of the Axeman actually helped give the episode more of a sense of cohesiveness than last week’s busy and somewhat discordant ‘Burn, Witch. Burn!’ – which ran the gamut from Zoe’s Bruce Campbell-like stand against a horde of zombies; Fiona on a hallucinatory trip through a terrifying hospital (complete with an appearance by Boardwalk Empire‘s Meg Steedle!); and then wrapping the whole thing up with Myrtle being burned at the stake.

But that’s not to say ‘The Axeman Cometh’ was a slouch, either. The episode still managed to reveal Hank as a witch hunter, while also bringing Frankenkyle and Madison back into the fold – though it feels like not venturing off into a brief Frankenkyle-centric subplot where he angrily wanders the streets of New Orleans in search of Misty Day is a missed opportunity for hilarity – while still centering the main narrative on the witches (or the increasing lack thereof) at the Academy and having a more focused feel overall.

And, as an added bonus, the Axeman looks like he’ll be sticking around for at least one more episode, as he takes his newly reacquired corporeal form out for a drink and happens to wander across a lonely Fiona drowning her sorrows in a martini glass. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m really pulling for those two crazy kids to make it.

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American Horror Story: Coven continues next Wednesday with ‘The Dead’ (sadly, not John Huston’s) @10pm on FX.

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  1. I don’t if you already knew this Kevin, you didn’t bring it up, but the Axeman is another addition of historical figures to the show. And the letter in the beginning was actually written by the actual serial killer.

  2. Slow episode, but a mildly pleasant change.

  3. I love the historical connections on this show – however grossly fictionalized.

    Bringing LaLaurie into modern times was inspired, as was her reaction to Obama… maybe the best single moment of satire I’ve seen this year.

    • The best moment was when Fiona, the egotistical, power-hungry, head witch indicated that she voted for him twice. Obviously saw something in him that she identified with…

      • Wow, Obama bashing on a comment section for a TV review, knowing that everything you tried to imply about the President seems to be the libelous slandering of a jealous Republican voter?

        For shame….

        But then, I just noticed who wrote that comment and I’m not surprised.

  4. Loved the episode, especially its closing scene. I think, a newly released psychopathic serial killer is the perfect fit for Lange’s character.

    This won’t add anything substantial to the episode discussion as such, but: was it just a coincidence that the actor who portrayed Stryker in X-Men Origins shows up in an episode titled “The Axeman Cometh” of a season who couldn’t dodge a slew of comparisons to the first X-Men movie due to the mansion set-up and the somewhat copied Rogue-character?

  5. i thought Meryl Streep’s daughter Grace Gummer as the feisty, lead suffragette/witch was pretty dope.

    she rallied her sister witches to straight icepick the Axeman’s azs ‘Basic Instinct’ style. loved it! ;-)

  6. I enjoyed this episode, but the appearance of the Axeman has me confused. My problem is that he starts as a spirit, but is able to wield an axe. Then, upon his “release”, he gains a flesh and blood body (as stated by Mr.Yeoman)? I never heard anyone mention that about his “release” in the episode, and so I assumed he was still a spirit (my thinking being that “release” would set him free from the academy, but still as a spirit). Something such as giving a new body to a spirit would seem to be a more arduous task than presented. Also, where was the Axeman in the beginning? There should have been some mysterious events occurring in the academy since the beginning until the Axeman leads Zoe to the ouija board. Maybe someone can help me here? Is there a different understanding of release that I didn’t rationalize?

    • The Axemans spirit only showed up after Zoe and the others used the board the first time. That’s why he wasn’t always creeping around.

      Maybe him coming back is in flesh has something to do with the spell Zoe used. Not sure.

  7. It was a decent episode (aired this past Tuesday, didn’t get to watch it until this morning) and Cordelia’s new power seems pretty cool but her husband being recruited by the other side to infiltrate and kill witches was pretty obvious and cliched. I hope his character gets killed off soon.

    As usual, the standouts were Lange and Rabe, especially the latter since she had more screen time this episode. Otherwise, pretty standard episode in a season that hasn’t really gripped me and left me excited for the next episode like season 2 did.