TV Review: AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN, Episode 11 'Protect The Coven'

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

This week, American Horror Story: Coven pulls absolutely no punches. Whilst the majority of Coven has been in-yer-face ugly with some of its action and grotesqueness, Protect the Coven takes things to a whole different level.

We open with a glimpse into the past, as we see just how Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) started on her downward spiral. It most definitely is not pretty, and that opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Bringing things to the modern Robichaux household, last seen as just a head, LaLaurie turns up, with a full body, attached to a dog lead held by the returning Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). With Queenie apparently dead after the events of Hank’s attack on the home of Marie (Angela Bassett), I’d say that it was a surprise to see the character turn up at the door of the Coven home but, as mentioned in earlier episode reviews, death has been watered down to such an extent in Coven that all deaths and returns are as surprising as a rainy British summer.

As Queenie and LaLaurie are now back in the Robichaux household, joining the recently moved-in Marie, all of our witches are conveniently housed under one roof. Of course, this leads to competition, backstabbing and much, much more. All of our younger witches are out to one-up each other in their race to be the new Supreme, and it turns out that Queenie has some new powers that put her at the top of list in this regard. Even though there’s so many magical beings in one house, and that does have its entertaining moments, it’s Madame LaLaurie that has one the nastiest scenes (well, several of them) of the episode. Let’s just say, the next time soup is on the menu at the Robichaux residence, politely say “no.”

Remember when we were looking forward to the conclusion of Coven bringing us an almighty tear-up between the witches and the witch hunters? Well, things appear to come to a head sooner rather than later, as both parties decide to a sit-down meeting to get everything out in the open and make a deal that is suitable for the two groups that have been at war for centuries. Just how civil can this meeting really end up?

With LaLaurie, Marie and Fiona (Jessica Lange) at the forefront of Protect the Coven, we also get some great supporting turns from Frances Conroy’s Myrtle Day, Danny Huston’s maniacal Axeman and Denis O’Hare’s Spalding, who aligns himself with LaLaurie. Also of note, we get a particularly brutal moment for poor Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), who is desperate to prove herself useful at a time when the entire Coven could be under threat.

So, the race for the Supreme continues, the witches and witch hunters conflict seemingly comes to a surprising head, we get to see just how disturbingly twisted Delphine LaLaurie is, and we get one of most visceral, gruesome and dark episodes of Coven yet – which says a hell of a lot.

As ever with American Horror Story, it’s hard to see where things are going from here on out. There’s certain story arcs that seem dead and buried, then there’s some that look set to be the focal point of the rest of the season, but with Coven you can never really bank on things happening as you’d expect. Either way, Protect the Coven is an entertaining, if not difficult, watch that is a great eye-opener on Madame LaLaurie.

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