“The Axeman Cometh” – 5 Highlights of Tonight’s “American Horror Story”

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Following the superb Halloween two-parter was never going to be easy. Aware of that challenge, Wednesday’s “Coven” will not be skimping on the artillery.

Central to that weaponry is a device utilized by both previous installments.

As “Murder House” did with the Black Dahlia, “Asylum” did with a woman claiming to be Anne Frank and “Coven” has already done with its own Marie Laveau and Madame LaLaurie, Wednesday’s episode incorporates the legendary “Axeman of New Orleans” into the fictional “American Horror Story” universe.

Offering its own visualization of The Axeman’s murder spree, including a direct reference to his most famous warning letter, Wednesday’s episode, naturally, brings the infamous serial killer (played by Danny Huston) into a direct confrontation with the show’s central “Coven.”

And with spirits and resurrection central to the latest installment of “American Horror Story,” one should not even flirt with the idea that his presence is constrained by the opening flashback to 1919.

Highlights of “The Axeman Cometh,” which airs on FX this Wednesday at 10PM:

Marie Laveau is No Self-Esteem Booster
She has plenty of powers and spells, but none apparently involves the boosting of self-esteem. In one of the episode’s most engaging moments, Angela Bassett’s Laveau laces into another character with more fervor and wit than creator Ryan Murphy’s “Glee” character Sue Sylvester could muster on a good day.

The Return of “Man Ass”
Not shy about enjoying the liberties of cable, “American Horror Story” has developed quite the reputation for rear nudity. Wednesday’s showcase certainly does not rival the gratuitousness of Dylan McDermott’s prances around the “Murder House,” but its image of “Man Ass” leaves no doubt that it is an episode of “American Horror Story.”

Meet Hank
In “Fearful Pranks Ensue,” viewers learned that Hank was every bit as shady as they–and Fiona–expected. In “The Axeman Cometh,” viewers receive a much clearer window into the Josh Hamilton character.

Questions answered include:

What is he hiding from Cordelia? What is the true nature of his “work?” Does he pose a threat to Cordelia (and any other main character)? With whom is he working? Why did he murder Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge)?

Breckenridge reprises her role to help answer the last of those questions.

Meet the New (and Improved?) Cordelia
Too excited about its poetic irony to wait, “Coven” has already revealed that Cordelia, as a consequence of going physically blind, now possesses a more meaningful clarity. She can see past superficial pretense and into the core of those with whom she comes in contact.

In “The Axeman Cometh,” Cordelia comes to grips with the pros–and cons–of that newfound ability.

Despite some initial, frustrating difficulty with the physical constraints of life as a blind woman, Cordelia later shows the kind of evasive instinct and agility that would make her a fitting replacement for the guy on ABC’s “Blind Justice.”

What About Madison?
Emma Roberts’ name is still in the opening credits, yet her character’s lifeless corpse, now sans an arm, remains relegated to status as the latest toy in Spalding’s attic.

The Madison issue comes to a head in “The Axeman Cometh.” And several key characters are involved in that journey.