American Horror Story has been known to pull figures from history and work them in to the plot threads of the seasons' storylines. Murder House gave us Elizabeth Short (a.k.a. The Black Dahlia). One of the tortured souls in Asylum claimed to be Anne Frank. We've already met Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie during the events of Coven and the most recent episode introduces us to real-life serial killer, the Axeman of New Orleans.
The year is 1919 and the Robichaux Academy is in the midst of the women's suffrage movement. One particular morning, a group of students read the Axeman's (Danny Huston) infamous letter as printed in the local newspaper. It warns of his upcoming pass through the town but also offers mercy to any individual whose home is playing host to a jazz band in full swing. The girls debate whether to attempt indulging the Axeman by playing jazz records on the night of his arrival. Millie (Grace Gummer), embolden by the recent tidings regarding women's rights, takes the reigns and exclaims that they will not be victims anymore. GIRL POWER! During the New Orleans stop of the Axeman's tour, he is led from a local bar to the Robichaux Academy where he silently prowls the seemingly empty house. He comes across Millie sitting on the floor of her bedroom, a Tarot reading spread out in front of her. As she pulls the Death card from the deck it is revealed that the reading is for the Axeman, himself. The rest of the coven, dressed in robes, emerge from the shadows of the room and stab the murderer to death.
Present times: Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is rummaging through Madison's (Emma Roberts) belongngs, desperately searching for a clue as to the missing girl's whereabouts. This eventually leads to her discovering a hidden room within the closet. Inside, Zoe finds Mr.Tumnus class photos showing a declining enrollment each year as well as a spirit board. Taking a page from Millie's book, Zoe rallies Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) to make a pact to protect the coven and eachother by finding out what became of Madison. After Queenie shares some prophetic warnings about the shadiness of summoning/releasing spirits through the Ouija board, the girls reach out into the netherworld and make contact with a particularly malevolent spirit that was murdered in the house... the Axeman. He's still a bit raw about what happened in 1919 and accuses Zoe and her friends of murdering him.
Even after a bit of research into the history of their newfound friend, Zoe wants to contact him again in the hopes that he will lead them to the missing Madison. Queenie and Nan want nothing to do with chatting up the spirit of a man who got his kicks by turning everyday citizens into kindling. Zoe takes matters into her own hands and offers the Axeman release if he directs her to Madison. She gets her answer... A-T-T-I-C.
By now, we are aware that Spalding (Denis O'Hare) is involved in some bizarre Silence of the Lambs shenanigans in the attic. After some snooping, Zoe discovers that the butler not only has a porcelain doll fetish but also enjoys keeping rotting dead girls in trunks. At least that solves the question of where Madison has been hiding. Zoe, Nan, and Queenie torture the butler to get answers as to who killed the young witch. Instead of implicating Fiona (Jessica Lange), Spalding implicates himself in the murder in order to satiate his necrophiliac tendencies. Zoe is not sure that she buys that.
Speaking of Fiona, she is undergoing chemotherapy while the girls play Guantanamo Bay at home. During her treatment, a previously unknown power surfaces in her psyche and she begins hearing the thoughts of the patients around her. Visibly shaken, Fiona attempts to leave but is convinced otherwise by her doctor. She laments future moments in her life that may never come to pass, such as having one last, great love.
Later that afternoon Hank (Josh Hamilton) brings Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) home from the hospital while Fiona prepares the bedroom for her daughter's return. After scolding her mother about her choice of welcome-home flowers, Cordelia receives another vision of Hank's affair with Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge) after he brushes against her. She angrily confronts him and tucks tail and leaves the house. Fiona tries to comfort her emotional daughter but this leads to Cordelia receiving a vision of Auntie Myrtle's execution. Fiona explains that it was necessary because of what Myrtle had done (the alleged acid attack on Cordelia and murder of Madison) and then leaves her daughter alone to grieve in peace.
Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is having an enjoyable afternoon in the garden of her swam shack. She has Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) percolating back to health in the mud (Lush should really consider marketing this stuff) and her plants seem pretty plentiful. Kyle (Evan Peters) returns looking like he was "rode hard and put up wet". I guess when you spend a few days wandering the streets after murdering your incestuous mother, you get a bit of stink on you. Misty attempts to bathe him but the intimacy of the act causes flashbacks to dirty times with his mother. In a fit of rage, he trashes Misty's cabin, including her radio. Her reaction is just what you would expect, "You broke Stevie!" Zoe comes knocking and is unimpressed with the renovations to Misty's condo, so she takes the hippie witch and Frankenkyle back to the Robichaux Academy.
After securing Kyle in Cordelia's greenhouse, Zoe urges Misty to revive Madison. At first, Misty is not convinced that bringing the girl back is possible due to the length of time that has passed since she was killed. With the magical aid of Zoe, Misty is able to purge the death from Madison's body and resurrect her. Madison, true to form, immediately calls out for a cigarette.
Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) receives a surprising visitor at Cornrow City. It turns out that Hank is in her employ to wipe out the line of Salem witches and he has been using Cordelia to get the inside dirt on any new, budding witches. Kaylee was one such witch. She had come to the Academy to seek assistance in understanding her pyrokinetic powers that she had used to immolate her ex-fiance. It's refreshing to know that it wasn't the black magic fertility treatments that made him psychotic... he's just a murderous, opportunistic douchebag. Marie denies any knowledge or connection to the acid attack on Cordelia and then accuses Hank of letting his emotional attachment to Cordelia sway him from his duty. She demands that he bring her the heads of all the remaining Salem witches or his life is forfeit.
Back at the school, Misty is keen to dump Kyle with the girls and sever ties. Nobody screws with Stevie. Plus, she's getting some serious foul vibes from the school. Zoe, Nan, and Queenie all agree to keep both Madison's return and Kyle's presence a secret from Fiona.
That evening, the girls are talking with Madison, trying to help the girl remember who really murdered her. The only think Madison can remember is the color red. Nan asks her if there was a white light but Madison says that there is only darkness on the other side.
At the same time, Cordelia is getting ready for bed but it seems that Zoe's fiddling with the spirit board has allowed the Axeman to partially manifest in the place he was murdered... Cordelia's bedroom. She senses his presence and he attacks her, chopping up the room in the process. He demands that Zoe finish what she promised and release his soul.
Unable to get to Cordelia after hearing her screams, Zoe grabs a magical tome on pure instinct and begins to perfectly chant the incantations of a spell despite it being in a foreign language (another new power manifestation?). Together with Nan and Queenie, she finishes the spell of which the results are unbeknownst to them. it seems that the Axeman has been granted his release. He has fully manifested on the physical plane and exits the mansion. His first stop is the local bar... where he offers to buy Fiona a cocktail.
Next episode: What happens when Cordelia touches Madison?