Episode 7 “Traitor”, (written by Adam Penn and directed by Jennifer Lynch) gives us no obvious traitor and we are without our favorite Antichrist (Cody Fern) this week. However we do get voodoo as monogamy enforcer, a very special Christmas Tales from the Crypt nod, a few more Coven returning characters and three burnings at the stake. We’re still in flashback mode for the entire episode but to me that’s a much preferable place than the post-apocalyptic world we started out in earlier this season. Some fans are getting nervous about whether there will be time for a satisfying battle against the Antichrist and ending once we get back to this season’s present day but I’m all for learning how everything fits together, revisiting favorite characters and taking care of that pesky Antichrist when we get to it! Based on the fact that observant viewers have noted that Hotel flashed forward to 2022 and the world was fine, it seems that the apocalypse will be reversed. It will be fun to watch how we get there and see Michael get his comeuppance. There will be a price to pay to defeat him, hopefully less than the price a certain voodoo devil asks for in this episode, but more on that later.
The cold open shows Dinah (Adina Porter), at the height of her powers as the voodoo queen of New Orleans after Marie Laveau’s forced relocation to hell, putting a woman under a spell and removing her heart via voodoo doll in a dream-like sequence. This isn’t personal; the woman has done nothing to Dinah. This is about money and Dinah is well paid by a rich suburban wife who wants to ensure that her cheating husband is faithful to her even if it means compelling him to be monogamous by force-feeding him the smoothie from hell containing his mistress’s heart, her own toenails and few other goodies likely not approved by the FDA.
Cordelia waits for Dinah outside and asks her to help arrange a meeting for her with Papa Legba, the voodoo devil (Lance Reddick). Dinah tells her she must be at a crossroads to want to meet with him and she will arrange the meeting for $100,000 cash as she doesn’t do favors for anyone. We may learn more about why she’s such a lone wolf if the season takes the time for it. At least we finally learn more about Dinah’s character than the popular talk show host persona mask she had on when we first met her in Outpost Three earlier this season. Dinah appears to be all about herself, money and keeping herself out of deals with the voodoo devil, Papa Legba, as she saw what the quest for eternal life did to Marie Laveau. She seems to be all about enjoying this life as Papa Legba’s price for eternal life is too high as we learned in Coven. Just ask Marie Laveau— who must continually torture Madame Delphine LaLaurie after giving up her own baby and after a long lifetime of procuring babies for him every year—or ask Fiona Goode who has to live a claustrophobic life with the Axeman waking up on the same morning for eternity.
Suddenly we see a 1970’s style “Our Feature Presentation” opening title on TV and Joan Collins appears as a new character, witch and washed up actress Bubbles McGee starring in a Christmas horror film, A Christmas to Dismember. It’s a fun throwback to an actual 1972 Tales from the Crypt segment called, “And All Through the House” which starred Joan Collins. Bubbles chews up the scenery as she plays a woman who disembowels her husband with a letter opener only to be trapped by an escaped psycho dressed as Santa Claus. If Ryan Murphy ever wants to do a standalone holiday special, may I suggest a full length A Christmas to Dismember? Madison (Emma Roberts) arrives on set to bitchily let Bubbles know that she has been summoned. Bubbles and Madison trade a few barbs, we soon find out why as Bubbles can read minds, she hears the thoughts of the crew member and a very cheeky waiter while out to a delightful dinner with her old pal Myrtle (Frances Conroy) and Madison. The coven needs Bubbles’ skill of reading the minds and souls of people. Cordelia is gathering her army of, in some cases unlikely, witches to fight Michael.
Next we see Dinah reluctantly summoning Papa Legba for Cordelia and warning her, “Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.” She’s been paid but she still seems to have some concern for Cordelia. Papa Legba arrives laughing in the ominous tall shadows that always mark his arrival, chuckling as he says, “Witch Queen comes with an intriguing request.” He knows all about Michael Langdon being the Antichrist and “bringer of days” and claims to be, “merely a gatekeeper between humanity and the underworld.” Cordelia is shocked to see Nan (Jamie Brewer), another return character from Coven, who is now his helper and enjoys causing trouble in hell. Fiona had traded Nan’s soul when Legba claimed that Fiona had no soul to offer. From Cordelia, Papa Legba doesn’t just want one soul in return for trapping Michael in hell. Rather his price would be the souls of all of her girls in her coven which Cordelia refuses. Papa Legba leaves as they have no deal. Nan begs her to send her friends to her. Dinah tells her that, “now, not only will all of your girls die but so will 6 billion other people.” She is disgusted with Cordelia and we wonder what effect those words will have on her.
Who is the traitor referenced in this episode’s title? This set-up episode shows us Cordelia piecing together her dream team and detailed plan to fight Michael but if she determines that isn’t quite enough to save the entire world from destruction, will she consider Papa Legba’s diabolical deal for the greater good and will she become the traitor to her coven? Given that no one else was easily identified as the traitor, it does create a nagging suspicion that she may have reconsidered and cut a secret deal with Papa Legba. It seems unlikely though given her character and role of protector of the coven. Hopefully this is not the last we see of Papa Legba, though it would be better for the characters if he never comes back. We know his favors come with huge stacked deck prices but it would be a disappointment if he was just a brief cameo. Also, I don’t think you invite Papa Legba to the party and then don’t give him anything to do. As Papa Legba says in the Coven episode “Go to Hell”, “Eventually everybody pays. Everybody suffers.” Now this usually applies only to people who make deals with him but in this season, everyone will suffer if Cordelia doesn’t make a deal with him to sacrifice the souls of her coven or if her own plan doesn’t work in place of the deal.
Back at Miss Robichaux’s, Mallory (Billie Lourd) asks if the new Supreme Michael is nice. Queenie (Gabourney Sidibe) tells her he’s not Supreme yet. Mallory learns that the current Supreme must die for the new one to rise. Coco (Leslie Grossman) swans in bragging about her new power and demonstrates it as her eyes roll back and she stares at a muffin and accurately can give its calorie count. Hilarious! She over does it on the calorie counting while eating and chokes to death on a pastry. Mallory demonstrates another entirely new form of magic and does “supernatural laser surgery” on her, opening up her throat, removing the errant Sno Ball, closing up her skin so it’s untouched and bringing her back to life. On an earlier episode this season, she had demonstrated another previously unheard of magic by not only healing a dear but turning it back into a fawn.
Cordelia’s health starts to fade quickly as she can barely walk on the stairs and asks Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) to take her to her room. She fears that Michael will ascend to Supreme and that he’s already taking over. Cordelia is defeated as she couldn’t take Papa Legba’s deal and feels that she has doomed the world. Zoe tells her she thinks that she’s weakening because Mallory is actually the next Supreme and tells her of Mallory’s latest miracle. Viewers who picked up on the fact that Mallory’s eyesight became better as soon as she was resurrected in episode three appear to be on the right track about her being the next Supreme. Whether Mallory is something even more powerful than the next Supreme wasn’t dealt with or even hinted at in this episode other than the fact that she does magic that the witches have never seen before. I don’t think she can be Michael’s twin as we heard the ghost twin baby crying in last week’s “Return to Murder House” episode. Whether she is some kind of angel or force of good is yet to be seen. We do know that Michael was afraid of her power. We also have yet to see when the decision is made to temporarily erase the memories of Mallory, Coco and Dinah with identity spells. It is a fun carnivalesque inversion with Mallory acting as the meek personal assistant to sub-par witch and social media influencer Coco while under the identity spells when in fact Mallory is likely the queen of all witches and possibly much more. But then it’s said that “The meek shall inherit the earth” and shout out to all of the powerful personal assistants out there!
Cut to Myrtle and Bubbles at Hawthorne Academy where Myrtle plays a mean theremin, the otherworldly-sounding instrument that gets its sound by sensing the proximity of the player’s hands. In addition to bringing to mind sci-fi movies, the theremin fits in well leading into a scene where a character needs to sense the thoughts of her enemies. I had forgotten about that endearing musical theremin habit of Myrtle’s and her music seems to overexcite Bubbles to the point that Myrtle has to warn her to go easy on the champagne as they are there on some very serious business. Bubbles needs to stay sharp so she can read the minds and souls of the warlocks. After the decadent dinner and drinks that the witches have prepared for the warlocks Ariel (Jon Jon Briones) and Baldwin (BD Wong) under guise of an olive branch, inhibitions are loosened and with no Michael there to control and confuse the flow of information, Bubbles easily overhears Ariel’s thoughts about how glad he is that John Henry is “a pile of ash now” and how he “can’t wait for every last stinking witch to be dead.” They rush back to tell the other witches.
At dinner at Robichaux’s with all of the witches and Behold (Billy Porter), Mallory expresses regret that Cordelia will have to die for her to ascend to Supreme but Cordelia comforts her with the fact that this is the way it has always been. She also tells her she’s not dead yet and there are more tests for her to take. Behold scolds them for celebrating when everyone is about to die but Cordelia tells him she wants them all to celebrate together possibly for the last time and that she has known about the threat for sometime and has a plan (hopefully not one involving a deal with Papa Legba.) She recounts how she brought Myrtle back to life two years ago to help fight this danger.
Cordelia announces that the coven will fire the first shot and they travel to the gas station where John Henry (Cheyenne Jackson) met his untimely end. Zoey conjures up the pile of ashes of John Henry. Myrtle looks at it and says “I remember him being taller.” Mallory will attempt to use her power to bring John Henry back to life. The music “Nocturne in E-Flat Major” by Chopin and the silent film style we’ve seen before for the test of seven wonders begins. She completes the final test, her seventh wonder and John Henry is back. He reveals that it is a life or death matter and that a mysterious woman killed him. The witches are shocked as they thought the warlocks had killed him.
Coco is eating ice cream but her automatic calorie counting power is a real buzzkill and she can’t bring herself to eat even one calorie-laden spoonful. Cordelia tells her she thinks her power has more to offer and asks her to find and destroy the woman who killed John Henry as she poses a threat to their coven and her power is finding threats. Even Coco has a role on the dream team.
We end the episode with the coven taking action against their enemies. The dream team is in effect.
First, Coco has somehow tracked down Miriam (Kathy Bates) who is at the butcher getting her typical stew meat and cloven hooves “for satanic zing.” We see Coco watching her and following her outside. In the parking lot, Miriam shoots her with a tranquilizer dart and it’s looking like Coco is out of her depth when Miriam says “I’m going to boil you alive in my crockpot” but mysterious back-up men help Coco and take Miriam away.
Next, we’re back at Hawthorne’s and Baldwin shows Ariel the vial of powdered poison and cautions that it’s the strongest he’s ever made. He then blows the powder on Ariel who is understandably livid until Baldwin explains that he’s created it so that it only works on women. The two warlocks find this hilarious and imagine in vivid detail killing the entire female coven. Cordelia walks in having none of that and explains that the poison was originally created by a female witch and they’ve just co-opted it. Cordelia sets the poison on fire and in a very satisfying move, erases the men’s mouths preventing further mansplaining from being possible. She seals it with a bow when she asks them to “Say it again” after they had said her powers were fading.
Meade, Ariel and Baldwin are burned at three stakes in a crucifixion formation. John Henry does the honors of pouring gasoline on Ariel and Baldwin as only warlocks may kill other warlocks and there’s poetic justice for him when he pours the gasoline on Miriam as she had recently killed him the same way. The warlocks are horrified and in agony but Miriam is blissed out and a terrifying true believer even as she burns.
It was a funny and satisfying episode as the witches take steps to fight Michael by building their team, gathering and combining their power and destroying enemies but I wondered why Michael was allowing any of it to happen. Why is Michael conveniently in the wilderness when the witches come to Hawthorne to read minds, take names and burn some of their troubles? Doesn’t he feel a “disturbance in the force” as a new Supreme rises or is he confident that everything is working out according to his plan? We should find out a bit more next week in another flashback episode.
Please share your thoughts on who you think the traitor is in the comments.
Favorite Quotes from Season 8 Episode 7:
- Tell all your friends…the Voodoo Queen can fix any problem.
- I could really help people, like a human Weight Watchers.
- I remember him being taller.
- I’m basically a walking nutrition label.
- I’m going to boil you alive in my crockpot.