11 “Protect the Coven” (American Horror Story: Coven) [SPOILERS]

What has been a fantastic series, all in all, is slowly coming to a close.

No, actually, forget that. There’s been nothing slow about the last few episodes. For a show which prides itself on fast-paced insanity, it has been building to a borderline-psychotic conclusion. Quite simply, it’s been impossible to predict what is going to happen next.

And. It’s. Genius!

Given her complete absence from “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”, it’s a breath of grotesque, rotting air that this is a very LaLaurie-centric episode. We get to see how she turned up in New Orleans, and got a taste for blood. Which is every bit as gruesome as you’d imagine.

It’s hard judging what the best/most mental part of this episode was.

To start with, everyone is fairly nonplussed at Nan’s death. Even when Zoe finds out who killed her — Fiona and Marie Laveau — she doesn’t seem surprised or concerned. To be fair, the number of people that the pair of them have bumped off over the course of the series its hard to feel overly shocked at any of the slaughter.

Which brings me neatly to the face off between Fiona, Marie and the witchhunters. It’s less magical than I had envisioned, but really the sight of the Axeman slaughtering a room full of financial executives with…well, an axe, was gleefully fun. Blood everywhere. Especially when Fiona makes the final swing.

Elsewhere, Cordelia has one of her finest scenes in the series so far. And, this being American Horror Story, it’s also one of the most harrowing. Seeing her take her pursuit of her second sight to the extent of gouging her own restored eyes out is the sort of thing which sets the teeth on edge.

Zoe and Franken-Kyle at last have something to do! It’s not the most exciting of plots, but at least running away together for somewhat ambiguous reasons — namely Madison being an unstable ball of ego, and nobody wanting to deal with it — is better than moping around. I’m not sure how long Kyle has been back with it, either. Maybe I missed that in how dull their story has been compared to everything else.

And I told you Queenie survived. How isn’t really that important, though it does provide this episode’s “who is the next supreme?” speculation. Basically: it might be Queenie. But the highlight is when she walks into the coven, pissed off with everyone, and with a sarcastic LaLaurie in tow.

And, as I said, this is LaLaurie’s episode. Her monologuing overtones give a depraved but endlessly witty tone. Her despair at returning to servitude (“You flush my shit, bitch!”), up to her alliance with ghost Spalding to take out Marie Laveau using…ah…Benadryl (“Don’t say its name out loud!” “Is it that powerful?”). It’s daft, it’s hilarious, and it’s brilliant. And, of course, endlessly unsettling.

What “Protect the Coven” does is meld the menagerie of plot lines and characters into a cohesive story. The title provides the motivation of pretty much everyone. Marie and Fiona are looking to protect the coven from external threats; whilst others are looking to the internal ones. And it is those internal threats which will drive the season conclusion now. Because with the external dangers gone, wartime alliances will dissolve, and everyone will be at each others’ throats again.

So roll on next week.

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