“American Horror Story” Returns for “Sacred Taking;” 5 Key Questions

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What started as the most enthralling “American Horror Story” installment to date quickly slipped into the franchise’s most notable lull.

While no “American Horror Story” has exercised taut control over its narrative, the past two “Coven” episodes suffered from a particularly troubling lack of vision. Instead of falling into the usual trap of trying to achieve too much, the episodes, with the legendary Axeman of New Orleans at their center, could not locate anything worth saying or doing.

Criticisms like “overly ambitious,” “glaringly scattered” and “egregiously impatient” are commonly applicable to Ryan Murphy shows. “Painfully boring,” the best way to describe the last episode (and the prior, to a degree), never is.

Fittingly, it is Murphy himself who wrote “The Sacred Taking,” Wednesday’s new episode and “AHS”‘ chance to break its slump.

Riddled with scattered storytelling, absurd dialogue, random character transformations (one relatively humorless character is resurrected as a wry jokester) and odd pacing, the episode is as close to Murphy’s signature style as it is far from being a television classic.

But for the first time since early November, it provides “American Horror Story: Coven” with a sense of purpose. It lets things happen. It relocates its sense of fun. It matters.

Here are five questions worth asking as you prepare for “The Sacred Taking:”

Will Queenie stand by her decision to betray Delphine and the Coven?
Queenie bought what Marie Laveau was selling in the previous installment, but as the appealing rhetoric is replaced with haunting reality, will she remain confident that the transition to the world of voodoo was a desirable one?

In addition to witnessing Laveau’s own savagery, Queenie will be forced to personally enter a new realm of violence (in the incredibly weird opening scene).

How do you punish the immortal?
Protected by an immortality spell, Delphine has no reason to fear the punishment of death.

Disillusioned by a world with a “darkie in the White House,” Delphine has no reason to fear a return to her underground prison.

What, then, can Marie Laveau do to inflict further pain on the woman she so vehemently detests? And how can Laveau use that action to send a message to her sworn enemies at the coven?

The answer comes in the episode’s closing moments. Of course, insofar as neither FX nor Ryan Murphy has been tight-lipped about the reveal, many “American Horror Story” fans already know exactly what Laveau plans to do.

Who is the new Supreme?
What is clear to some is not clear to all. And while viewers–and Cordelia–have been led to believe Zoe will reign as the next supreme, the sentiment is not shared unanimously. While investigating other candidates, Wednesday’s episode also offers a common sense explanation about why it is frivolous to argue about the identity of the coven’s next leader.

Who will Kyle choose?
As Kyle, who spends much of the episode playing educational games on a MacBook, continues his re-entry into functional society, he will also have to confront his feelings about which lover–Zoe or Madison–he cares most notably. By the end of the episode, both girls learn where they stand with the “AHS” take on Frankenstein’s monster.

What does it take to break Fiona?
She may be getting older, weaker and increasingly insecure, but that does not mean Fiona will roll over and die. And, knowing the satisfaction it would bring to those who no longer love and respect her, she certainly will not consider suicide.

But insofar as the coven unanimously does want to rid the world of Fiona Goode, it must find a way to overcome her stubbornness. What will it take to break Fiona?

Of course, with a war against Laveau looming and a witch hunter on the loose, is now really the time for the coven to ditch its powerful, cold and calculated Supreme?

“The Sacred Taking” airs Wednesday at 10PM ET.