[This is a review of American Horror Story: Coven episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]

As American Horror Story: Coven races toward the finish line of a season that’s proving to be a slight miscalculation in terms of taking a lighter approach to the normally crazy (and crazy dark) kind of storytelling the show is more well-known for, the series is reverting back to some familiar tricks. That is: with just two episodes to go, the events in Coven have begun to revolve mostly around setting up a series of wild, violent incidents in rapid fire succession, as a way of clearing a path toward the season finale.

That’s not to say with all the cringe-worthy happenings there wasn’t also plenty to laugh at in the aptly titled ‘Protect the Coven'; it’s just that when the show is operating at such a high rate of speed, it’s often hard to stop and appreciate everything that’s going on. In that sense what transpires here comes off like the writer (in this case, Jennifer Salt) is having a grand time trying to outdo one scene with the next, piling unsavory jokes on top of brutal violence in the style AHS has grown accustomed. Early on, while everyone is at Nan’s funeral, Fiona and her new best friend Marie eulogize the coven’s resident mind reader in a wickedly deadpan fashion; the bleak hilarity of the situation is made even darker when Madison responds to Myrtle’s inquiry of Misty’s whereabouts by saying she “probably twirled her way to the Everglades by now.” But as far as dark comedy goes, the less that’s said about Delphine’s mulligatawny the better.

But this antepenultimate episode couldn’t just stop there, not when the Delphi Trust is looking to make peace with the witches and Miss Robichaux’s has more viable candidates for the next supreme than you could shake a broom at – especially now that a powered-up Queenie has returned and brought with her a reassembled Delphine. (At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Nan show up next week with Papa Legba in tow, re-writing the contract he made with Marie centuries ago. Because if Coven has proven anything, it’s that which appears ironclad or otherwise immutable can easily be undone.)

While, that line of thinking has led to the season having plenty of inconsistencies and a rather vague world, there are still times when Coven actually does seem to work. Typically it’s when the writer in question allows for parallels to be set up between certain characters, something small that connects them with one another without everyone actually having to engage with one another physically, or through dialogue. This time out it seems like everyone is more interested in making deals, and then engaging in a little backstabbing or simply trying to get away, while others make moves to either save the coven or damn it forever.

And with that, the episode, having done away with the members of the Delphi Trust in bloody fashion, leaves only coven-related issues up in the air. Cordelia has re-blinded herself to regain the “sight” she’d lost, while Delphine, having been tricked by ghost Spalding into pawning the house’s silver to purchase a baby doll, winds up with the golden opportunity to bury the unconscious Marie someplace she can’t dig her way out of. Finally, Kyle and Zoe run off to Epcot at Myrtle’s request, while it seems the rest of the house prepares for a showdown between Fiona, Madison, and Queenie – though odds are good Zoe will be back, along with a few more guests before the end.

American Horror Story: Coven continues next Wednesday with ‘Go to Hell’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview below:

Photos: Michele K. Short/FX