AHS “Coven” The Axeman Cometh, third season, sixth episode – After Madison’s disappearance, Zoe attempts to contact her with a Ouija board, but ends up summoning a physical manifestation of the New Orleans Axeman.
Drama, Horror (TV-series)
November 13, 2013
Season 3 of American Horror Story takes place mainly in 2013 where a young woman, Zoe, turns out to possess supernatural powers that need to be controlled, and is consequentially enrolled at an institution known as “Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies” along with a handful of students who refer to themselves as witches.
“The Axeman Cometh” begins with a flashback to the year 1919, where, prior to a nightly killing spree, the Axeman of New Orleans is heard reading an edit of his famous letter to the Orleanians. He instructs citizens to “jazz it, or get the axe”, meaning that any household, from which jazz music cannot be heard playing, can expect a visit from the Axeman on Tuesday night.
At the witches’ academy, a coven of young witches (Zoe’s predecessors) wows to end the Axeman’s killing spree, by setting a trap for him. The Axeman is then seen finishing up after playing the saxophone at a local nightclub. He packs his instrument in a customized sax case with a secret compartment containing a hand axe. The coven lures him into the academy building by playing an opera piece instead of jazz. He follows the sound until he enters a room where a witch a doing a tarot reading on the floor, pulling the ‘death’ card (usually meaning impending downfall). He turns off the gramophone playing in the background and tells her that she is responsible for her own demise, although the rest of the coven shows up behind him, armed with knives. The witches jump him and stab him to death, telling him that the reading was for him.
Forward to 2013, in the very same building (the academy estate), Zoe searches for clues among the deceased Madison’s stuff, and is led to a small concealed chamber behind a closet. She finds some old photographs (documenting a decreasing number of witches in the coven) and a Ouija board. She brings the old items back to show her fellow students, Nan and Queenie, and after some arguing, they down some absinthe and arrange for a small Ouija séance.
“You wanna’ find Madison? Witch up!”
They try to contact Madison over the spirit board, but wind up talking to the Axeman of New Orleans instead. He asks the girls to use the board to “release” him, but Queenie freaks out and terminates the séance.
While Fiona, the head of the coven, is being treated with chemotherapy at a cancer clinic, she becomes able to hear the thoughts of other patients out loud. She almost flees the scene, but the staff persuades her to go ahead with the treatment.
Zoe and her classmates discover how the Axeman was killed by witches from their own coven back in 1919. Since Queenie & Nan refuse to do another séance, Zoe grabs the Ouija board and does one alone. She promises to set the Axeman free if he leads her to Madison. The Axeman directs Zoe to the attic of the building, where she finds Madison’s decaying body in a wooden chest in the middle of an old doll collection. Spalding (the academy’s mute butler and doll collector) attacks her from behind, but she breaks a porcelain doll over his head.
Cordelia returns to the academy estate after having been blinded by a violent acid attack. The blinding has amplified her psychic powers, causing her to have visions of a person’s past upon physical contact. Fiona has prepared a room for lodging, and when Cordelia enters, Hank (her official husband, and a professional “witch hunter” undercover) physically touches her and thereby gives her a psychic vision of himself in bed with Kaylee (another witch who has earlier declined an invitation to join the coven). Furthermore, when Fiona touches Cordelia just afterwards, Cordelia sees how Fiona executed Myrtle (the witch originally accused of the acid attack) by tying her to a stake and burning her to death in the medieval fashion.
Zoe and her classmates torture Spalding for information about Madison’s death. In an attempt to protect Fiona (who murdered Madison), Spalding claims to be the murderer, although Zoe doesn’t believe him.
While Misty is watering her green garden, Kyle (Zoe’s undead boyfriend) appears in her shack. When she tries to clean him up, he relapses into his own past where his mother sexually abused him. He becomes irrationally destructive, smashing most of the interior in Misty’s hut. Zoe arrives at the scene, asking Misty (who is a powerful necromancer) to help calling Madison back to life.
Meanwhile at the salon of Marie Laveau (Fiona’s long-time rival) Hank explains to Marie that Cordelia (who is officially his wife) has gained new psychic powers which threaten to reveal the many secrets he keep from her. He accuses Marie of being the woman behind the recent acid attack, though Marie denies having any connection with it. Marie tells Hank that she suspects him of having fallen in love with Cordelia during their marriage of convenience, which would of course render him useless as a witch hunter. She swears that she will only even let him live if he proves her wrong by killing every witch at the coven’s academy.
Back at the academy, Zoe persuades Misty to use her “power of resurgence” (reanimation) to resurrect a confused Madison, who spits out a cockroach and has lost most of her recent memory. Zoe and her group agree not to report the resurrection to the heads of the coven. Shortly thereafter, Misty leaves the premises because she is socially uncomfortable.
Zoe, Nan & Queenie interrogates Madison, who has forgotten most of the events leading up to her murder. She however recalls seeing a red color (the color of Fiona’s garments at the time of the murder), and disappointingly remarks that there are no corridors of bright light or anything else of interest on the “other side”.
Lastly, as Cordelia goes to rest in the room Fiona prepared for her, she hears the voice of the Axeman. She is confused, but he explains that one of her students (Zoe) promised him release but lied. Because he was killed in the very same room, he is able to trap her inside with him, but not able to leave the room. He swings his axe to threaten her into performing a ritual that will set him free, but she insists that she cannot do that. When he starts smashing the rooms interior she screams frantically, attracting Zoe and co. to the scene. Zoe immediately finds an old book with incantations and magical practices. Together, the girls recite the correct spell, releasing the Axeman from the room.
The Axeman is afterwards seen leaving the building, venturing into the night and ultimately buying Fiona a drink at a local jazz nightclub.
Danny Huston as The Axeman
Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode
Emma Roberts as Madison Montgomery
Taissa Farmiga as Zoe Benson
Jamie Brewer as Nan
Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie
Evan Peters as Kyle Spencer
Lily Rabe as Misty Day
Sarah Paulson as Cordelia Foxx
Josh Hamilton as Hank Foxx
Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau
Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow
Denis O’Hare as Spalding
Alexandra Breckenridge as Kaylee
Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie