American Horror Story Series 3: Episode 8 – The Sacred Taking

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There’s a slightly Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to the opening scene as we find Queenie in the back streets of New Orleans on a hunt. Nan, Madison and Zoe confront her and ask her what she is doing and Queenie makes it clear she is working for Marie now, rejecting Zoe’s invitation to return back to the school and mocking the idea of them all waiting to find out who the new Supreme is.

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The girls are shocked when Queenie kills the man she has been chasing but she tells them he is a rapist and she is taking his ‘dark heart’ to Marie as she is making a potion to give Queenie more power. She warns the witches that there is a war coming and that the coven will lose.

An Attempted Coup

After the titles, Fiona’s voiceover provides an insight into how she feels and how she is dealing with the fact that she is dying. We see that Cordelia has no sympathy for her mother and their relationship seems damaged beyond repair. Fiona has continued to see the Axeman and finds solace in his company. She admits she is the afraid of the pain and decay the cancer will bring and she is driven by the fact that she knows a new Supreme is coming and she is determined to find out which witch is draining her power away. Fiona has not lost the desire to fight her demise and knowing that the coven wants to see her dead gives her extra motivation to stay alive just to spite them.

Cordelia dismisses the potential of any form of reconciliation with Queenie and the witches continue to plot against Fiona. Cordelia tells the girls that there is an ancient ritual called ‘the sacred taking’ that can be used to protect the coven. Misty turns up at the school and is distressed as she says her someone is trying to kill her. Cordelia ‘recognises’ her immediately and offers her the protection of the coven. Misty surprises them all as she has bought a newly risen to the coven with her. Myrtle was ‘awoken’ by someone circling Misty’s cabin with a shotgun and managed to warn her in time for them both to escape before a hooded gunman breaks in and shoots up the room. Myrtle has been disfigured by the fire but she offers hope to the coven as she identifies Misty as ‘the next Supreme’.

The witches prepare for the ‘sacred taking’ and Misty seems afraid at the prospect of being the Supreme.  The ceremony involves the suicide of the reigning Supreme when she has become too weak to protect the coven. The death of the Supreme allows for a new, younger, fitter Supreme to rise but, as Madison points out, Fiona is unlikely to volunteer to sacrifice herself for the coven. Cordelia says they will need to give her a push.

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Fiona’s cancer is taking hold and in her drug induced haze she is becoming disoriented and she is surprised to find Madison dancing to  The Season of the Witch in her room. Madison tells her that everyone knows Fiona killed both her and Myrtle and she encourages her to commit suicide to avoid being burned at the stake. Fiona is then visited by Myrtle who repeats Fiona’s options – death by fire or suicide. Fiona wants to stay alive believing that the Axeman is her final great love and will be by her side to the end. Myrtle tells Fiona that her lover won’t stay with her and that she is destined to die alone.

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Fiona prepares herself for her death and tells Myrtle that she has no regrets about the choices she has made in her life as she has lived for the ‘thrills of the roller coaster’ rather than playing it safe. She asks Myrtle to look after Cordelia and, dressed in her best fur, Fiona takes a handful of tablets and lies down to die.

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She is woken by the ‘ghost’ of Spaulding who offers her an antidote to the drugs she has taken. He refuses to let her die and tells her about the witches plan to get her to kill herself. Fiona vomits up the drugs and swears vengeance on the members of the coven. Fiona comes downstairs to find the coven waiting to see who it is that will become the supreme believing she has died. As Fiona makes her entrance, Misty vanishes.

Delphine and Marie

Delphine remains locked in a cage at the back of Marie’s hair salon. Marie is bleeding her for her beauty poultice. Queenie clearly feels guilty about what she has done and she takes Delphine a burger. Sensing her guilt, Delphine tries to persuade Queenie to free her but she is found by Marie before she can act. Delphine taunts Marie as she feels that her immortality means that Marie has limited options in terms of what she can do to her. Delphine’s imprisonment seems to have revitalised the racist within and Delphine throws insults at the voodoo queen. In a display of her power, Marie chops off Delphine’s hand.

Zoe, Kyle and Madison

We have seen that Zoe is still attempting to teach Kyle and whilst she may be treating him like a child she is trying to find a way that he can integrate into the world. Madison on the other hand is still treating him like property and Kyle’s body language indicates he’s aware of this. Zoe later goes to Kyle and they declare their love for each other. Madison is eavesdropping and is upset by what she has heard.

Nan and Luke

Meanwhile we had seen that Luke’s mother, who has already been shown to have a serious case of religious mania, was prepared to go to exceptional lengths to protect her son’s soul. The extremeness of her ‘morality’ is shown as she berates Luke for interacting with the girls in the coven and he passively accepts the fact that she feels the need to cleanse her son from the inside out. In an extreme example of the exertion of maternal control she insists he undergoes a bleach enema.

The Shooting

Nan has heard Luke’s cries of pain from next door but Cordelia tells her to ignore it. Nan is upset further as everyone seems to be dismissing any possibility that she might be the next Supreme. In anger she goes next door to find Luke bound and bundled in a closet but whilst Nan is rescuing Luke, his mother finds them and calls the police. Luke notices the lights from a gun sight but before he can do anything, shots ring out and his mother is killed. To Nan’s distress Luke is also shot as he pushes her out of the way of the gunfire.

Fiona finds Misty at the neighbours house at the bloody scene of the shooting. Luke has survived the shooting but has a serious head wound and Nan goes with him to the hospital but his mother’s body lies dead. Fiona challenges Misty to use her talents and she brings Luke’s mother back to life.

Cordelia finds a blessed, silver bullet from the shotgun and is able to ‘see’ that the shooting was not a robbery gone wrong but an assassination attempt against the coven by a witch hunter.

Fiona and Cordelia appear to go some way towards a reconciliation the next morning with Fiona saying that she is proud of the way Cordelia attempted to ensure that the coven had a chance to survive. Given her conversation with Spalding it seems likely that Fiona may not be totally honest about her feelings here but given that Cordelia is being acknowledged by her mother she doesn’t seem to be questioning what she is being told. Was it significant that Fiona would only touch Cordelia on the shoulder so that she could not be read? Fiona answers the door to fins a parcel on the porch. She takes it into the dining room and the final scene of the episode reveals the contents to be the head of Delphine who manages to gasp one syllable – ‘help’.

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You can’t find a good servant when you want one!

Cordelia and Fiona are aware that Delphine and Spaulding are missing but at the moment they do not seem overly concerned about the coven’s loss of serving staff!

Line of the week

Cordelia (learning of her mother’s terminal illness): Do me a favour. Die before Thanksgiving so none of us have to suffer through that mess of raisins and styrofoam you call stuffing.

Themes and Issues

Uglification

The older women (through the use of some excellent prosthetics) have all been disfigured.

  • Cordelia has lost her sight and her facial scarring runs across her face like a mask. Still beautiful, despite her puckered and discoloured skin, Cordelia has found that the acid attack has made her more powerful. She has to compensate for the loss of sight and so she is able to ‘see’ into people and learn the truth about them through the sense of touch.
  • Myrtle has returned from the grave and it might be assumed she was ‘awoken’ a little too early from her regenerative sleep in the swamp mud as, unlike Misty whose burning left her physically untouched, she had lost her hair and her face appears creased and crumpled by scar tissue. She has her shocking red wigs made form hair purchased in bulk from ‘North Korea’ so she is fully recognisable even if her appearance is a little ‘wretched’.
  • Fiona has gone through the most dramatic change as she has been loosing her hair and can be seen to be physically deteriorating as the cancer takes hold. Flash-forward scenes show a balding and weakened Fiona who reeks of death and every last shred of her previous beauty has been eradicated. Living through her worst fears seems to be the Supreme’s punishment for her past failings.

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The Impermanency of Death

Misty is described by Myrtle as having ‘bought more people back to life than Jesus Christ’. Death in this series does not mean that we have to say goodbye to a character but coming back is not always a totally positive thing. The ‘undead’ count so far (not counting the Halloween zombies) is:

  • Delphine, Bastien and Marie are immortal;
  • Kyle was bought back by Zoe and Madison;
  • The Axeman was bought back by Zoe;
  • Zoe killed one further person – Spalding – but he is able to speak to Fiona from beyond the grave and his death allows him to see everything – including the coven’s plot against Fiona;
  • Misty has bought back 3 people – Madison, Myrtle and now Luke’s mother.

s@albionmill

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