The Sacred Taking
|"The Sacred Taking"|
|American Horror Story episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon|
|Written by||Ryan Murphy|
|Featured music||"Season of the Witch" by Donovan|
|Original air date||December 4, 2013|
|Running time||44 minutes|
"The Sacred Taking" is the eighth episode of the third season of the anthology television series American Horror Story, which premiered on December 4, 2013, on the cable network FX. The episode was written by Ryan Murphy and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
In this episode, Fiona (Jessica Lange) must take her life in order to undertake a ritual to find the next Supreme. This episode is rated TV-MA (LV). Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Danny Huston, and Patti LuPone guest star as Marie Laveau, Queenie, the Axeman, and Joan Ramsey, respectively.
Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) find Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) under an overpass, torturing a homeless man (Gregory Bright) with her powers after he threatened her. Queenie tells them that she is now practicing voodoo, after Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) convinced her that the witches are not true friends. Madison taunts her, and Zoe tells her that the structure of the Coven is changing. Unfazed, Queenie uses a dagger and cuts out the man's still-beating heart. She informs them that the man is a pedophile and Marie needs a dark heart to strengthen Queenie's powers with a spell. Queenie tells the witches that they are going to lose the coming war.
The Axeman (Danny Huston) asks Fiona (Jessica Lange) to run away with him, but she doesn't want to be a burden to him. However, she wants to stay alive as long as possible, knowing her cancer is rapidly advancing from one of the girls obtaining her Supreme powers. Fiona just needs to figure out which one it is.
Luke's (Alexander Dreymon) mother (Patti LuPone) chastises him for visiting the girls at the Academy, for they are using the "Devil's magic". She says that he's completely "unclean", makes an enema, and forces him to strip. At the Academy, Nan (Jamie Brewer) hears his screams and wants to help him, but Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) wants her assistance in the plot against Fiona.
Zoe finds a freaked-out Misty (Lily Rabe) at the door. In a flashback to Misty's cabin, Myrtle (Frances Conroy), still covered in her healing mud, has woken her about a man outside. The man blasts a hole in Misty's door with a shotgun. At the Academy, Cordelia confirms Misty is a fellow witch needing protection by taking her hand and seeing her burning at the stake. Misty asks if her friend can stay and takes them to see a revived and almost-normal Myrtle in the greenhouse. Cordelia notes that resurrection is the most difficult spell of the Seven Wonders to accomplish, and believes Misty is the next Supreme.
The Coven prepares for the Sacred Taking ritual by wearing red robes and black lace veils. Zoe and Madison debate who is the next Supreme. Cordelia tells them being a Supreme isn't a gift but a burden. Once Fiona dies, there will be a new Supreme. Cordelia explains the Sacred Taking ritual is invoked to protect the Coven in which a Supreme takes her own life to ensure the safety of the Coven, hastening the next Supreme. Madison doesn't think Fiona will kill herself. Cordelia says Fiona will need a "push".
Fiona's health continues to deteriorate. She violently vomits in her bathroom, then finds Madison dancing around her bed. Madison claims to be the next Supreme by reviving herself and Fiona's punishment will be burning at the stake. She convinces Fiona to avoid that fate and swallow the handful of pills given to her. Fiona starts packing immediately after Madison leaves. Myrtle appears, telling her that Madison resurrected her. Fiona tells her she's not ready, that she's found a true love to take care of her. Myrtle shows Fiona wasting away in a hospital bed, with the Axeman complaining about the smells and of how long Fiona is taking to die.
Out in the hallway, the girls disagree over who will be the next Supreme. Nan storms out and goes across the street to Luke's house. Waiting in his car outside, Hank (Josh Hamilton) sees her. She finds Luke inside, bound and gagged in the closet.
In her room, Fiona prepares herself for death, with Myrtle's help. She asks Myrtle to look after Cordelia, takes a handful of pills and lays down on the bed. She tells Myrtle to hang her portrait in the spot she chose in the foyer. Myrtle takes some of Fiona's jewelry, then walks out. Fiona wakes to a voice calling to her. Spalding (Denis O'Hare) tells her he wants to give her something to purge the pills, explaining why he could now speak and that he was murdered. She resists taking the ipecac, believing she was doing the right thing for the Coven. He implies she is taking the coward's way out. He then tells her she was duped by the others – Madison isn't dead, but isn't the next Supreme. Misty resurrected her. Fiona takes the ipecac, vomits the pills, and vows that she will avenge both Spalding's death and her own.
At Marie Leveau's, Queenie serves a caged Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) some fast food. Delphine asks Queenie what she did to deserve her betrayal, begging Queenie for release. Marie interrupts them and Queenie leaves. Delphine scoffs at Marie's taunts, pointing out she cannot die. Marie produces a large sword, mocking Delphine's lack of imagination. She hacks off Delphine's hand, warning that she's just getting started.
Nan and Luke are prevented from leaving his house by his mother. He tells her that she cannot stop them. She threatens him, while a rifle laser appears on her and she is shot twice. Luke is also hit, protecting Nan from the gunfire.
At the Academy, the witches wait for Fiona to die, but are surprised when she appears asking about the "swamp witch". Misty is across the street, as paramedics are tending to Luke. Fiona joins her and compels an officer to tell her what happened. He tells them Luke is wounded and the mother is dead. Fiona then challenges Misty to bring Joan Ramsey back. Outside, Cordelia finds a bullet, and her Second Sight shows its trajectory. She knows it was meant for witches. Inside, Misty revives Joan and collapses.
Meanwhile, Kyle (Evan Peters) has been secreted away in Zoe's room and she tells him they are under attack. She fears for his safety the most, and he professes his love for her, as Madison listens from the hallway.
The next morning, Cordelia fears Fiona's wrath. Instead, Fiona admires the Coven's resilience and believes there is hope for its future. Fiona then sees the blessed silver bullet Cordelia found – a witch hunter is in New Orleans. Cordelia tells Fiona the Coven needs their Supreme, now more than ever. With no servants to be found, Fiona answers the front doorbell, only to find a cardboard box on the porch. She scans it with magic, takes it inside and opens it. Inside is Delphine LaLaurie's head staring back at her, whispering for help.
Rotten Tomatoes reports an 87% approval rating, based on 15 reviews. The critical consensus reads, "The polished writing and creative direction turn "The Sacred Taking" into a more-than watchable transitional episode, speckled with touching, human moments." Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B rating, saying, ""The Sacred Taking" is just good enough to make me realize how much this season has been lacking, in ways both major and minor." Matt Fowler from IGN gave the episode a 7.6/10 rating, writing, "Coven is still wickedly watchable, but it does run in circles. Even more so than Asylum."
"The Sacred Taking" received a 2.2 18–49 ratings share and was watched by 4.07 million viewers in its original American broadcast, winning the night for cable.
- "The Sacred Taking – American Horror Story: Coven, Episode 8". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (December 4, 2013). "American Horror Story: "The Sacred Taking"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- Fowler, Matt (December 4, 2013). "Head Games". IGN. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- Kondolojy, Amanda (December 5, 2013). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'American Horror Story' Leads Night + 'South Park', 'American Pickers', College Basketball & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
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