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American Horror Story: Coven - Chapter 7, "The Dead' - Early Review

Beginning and end. “It’s my life philosophy - it means live right goddamn now.” Wise words from a dead guy...

My hope last week that we might soon better examine not only what’s going on in Kyle’s head but also how he’ll integrate with the overall arc of Coven this year is certainly addressed tonight, and the focus on his character is made clear right from the get-go. “The Dead” opens with a flashback to Kyle and his fraternity brothers sometime before the night they met Madison and Zoe. While Misty Day does not appear tonight, we still get an awesome throwback tune as Kyle howls Toto’s “Rosanna” while his frat brothers get tattooed in a New Orleans shop (Beginning and End is what one of the dudes gets inked in Chinese symbols on his ankle. Kyle’s reaction is pretty much what mine would be).

When we catch up with the reanimated and reassembled Kyle in present day, shackled in the basement of the Academy, we realize he too is having a flashback of sorts. Evan Peters continues to play the ever-challenging role of uncommunicative man-monster, and while I’ve always felt sympathy for the character (dude got his head severed and THEN molested by his mother) this week we get a real glimpse into his head and begin to see the world through his eyes. As the title implies, in fact, much of this episode is spent examining the new lives of the dead and the consequences of their return (still no Myrtle Snow, though, just to warn you). Madison is back and also taking center stage this week, first seen delivering an epic nihilistic monologue while emptying pill bottles and gorging on everything in the fridge. Last week I noted that writer Douglas Petrie had once worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if you’ve seen the sixth season of that show then you might have a pretty good idea about where all of this is going - Madison, like Buffy, is haunted by her inability to feel emotion when she returns from the other side. Season six was when Buffy started getting all kinds of X-rated on the UPN and Madison appears to be barking up the same tree the resurrected slayer did when she wanted to start feeling something (hint: dead guys do the trick). Murphy and his writers keep throwing curve balls at us, though, and the final scene between Zoe / Madison / Kyle was just about the last thing I expected. Buffy certainly never went there…

While the younger generation is the focus of much of Chapter 7, it certainly wouldn’t be Horror Story without a good dose of Jessica Lange. Her current incarnation Fiona Goode begins a love affair with The Axeman… and well, actually, that’s about it. Phenomenal acting and quite a bit of screentime for her and Huston - including a flashback of their own - but not much development storywise tonight. Fiona’s daughter Cordelia, however, is on to her mom's trail after she runs into Madison in the halls of the Academy. A vision she has during the encounter leads to, literally, a witch-hunt to prove that Fiona was Madison’s killer.

Heavily promoted tonight has been the budding relationship between Delphine LaLaurie and Queenie. Aside from the progression of Kyle’s story this is easily the highlight of the episode for me. A visit to Marie Leveau leads Queenie to begin questioning her place in the coven as well as her use of LaLaurie. “The Dead” provides Bates with her most exciting work so far this season - her scenes range from wildly hilarious to spine-tinglingly terrifying (there's a slave-era flashback that's downright chilling) and at times pack a sympathetic emotional punch. The end of the episode is easily the best cliffhanger so far this year and pretty much changes the game for all of the characters. With that in mind, let me know in the comments what you’re most excited to see and once the episode airs feel free to come back & share your thoughts. Check out an excerpt from Madison’s monologue and then get some last teasers about tonight's episode below.

“I am a millennial. Generation Y. Born between the birth of AIDS and 9/11, give or take. They call us the global generation. We are known for our entitlement and narcissism. Some say it’s because we’re the first generation where every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. Others think it’s because social media allows us to post every time we fart or have a sandwich for all the world to see. But it seems that our one defining trait is a numbness to the world. Ad indifference to suffering. I know I did anything I could to not feel. Sex, drugs, booze. Just take away the pain…”

Stuff You’ll Love:

- Spalding. Denis O’Hare seriously needs to play a creep in every season of this show. As grotesque as some of his scenes get, I can’t help but smile whenever he’s on the screen. Ever wanted to see an enchanted tongue wiggle its way back into a mans mouth? No? Oh…
- Flashbacks to Fiona as a young child at the Academy
- Queenie taking Delphine to a fast-food drive-through. It is as awesome as you’re thinking
- I'm really digging the newly energized and bad-ass Cordelia that we're starting to see. I found her boring at first.
- The ending. Seriously…

American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 on FX. “The Dead” premieres tonight. Feel free to follow me on Twitter for updates on Horror Story and all my SpoilerTV work.

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