I want only one thing, your soul. - Papa Legba
After a three-week holiday break, "American Horror Story: Coven" returned on January 8 with its tenth episode, The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks, and all focus was on the iconic singer-songwriter. But another new -- and more intriguing -- character appeared, Papa Legba, portrayed by Lance Reddick from "Fringe."
With ashen face, long black hair and glowing red eyes, sporting a skull-adorned top hat, Reddick is almost unrecognizable. Aside from, perhaps, Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who appeared, "Re-Animator" style, as a head in previous episodes, Legba offers the most visually stunning personification this season.
Legba returned to Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) for her annual payment on their contract made centuries before, his grant of her immortality in exchange for a price. The first year, Laveau gave her own baby to Legba. In present day, she steals a newborn from a hospital, but before surrendering the infant, she and Fiona (Jessica Lange) kill Nan (Jamie Brewer) and offer her soul instead.
Against Marie's advice, Fiona, who spent much of the first nine episodes seeking youthfulness and immortality for herself, summons Legba. He tells her she has no soul, and thus, nothing to bargain with.
Tonight's episode twelve, Go to Hell, brings the return of Papa Legba, as shown in the episode's trailer. (Click here to watch.) Looks like he'll interact with Misty Day (Lily Rabe), but beyond that, who knows? He's also listed in the credits (on IMDb) for next week's final episode of the season, The Seven Wonders.
Traditionally. in Haitian Vodou, the Loa (or Lwa) mediate between human beings and Bondye (the Creator), who is mostly absent from human interaction. Papa Legba holds a particularly important position as the entity who can grant or deny permission to a human to communicate with the other Loa. Therefore, he's first and last sought as he's the opener and closer of the door between the Loa and humanity (according to Wikipedia). He's an old man with a straw hat and a pipe who walks with a crutch or cane.
The Coven version of Legba, however, bears a closer physical resemblance to the Loa of the dead, Baron Samedi, who appears corpse-like with a top hat (according to Voodoo New Orleans.com). Also surprisingly like similar dark villain Dr. Facilier from Disney's New Orleans-based "The Princess and the Frog," although Legba's more like Facilier on steroids, with an exponentially increased creep-out factor.
Also, Coven's Legba operates differently than the traditional Vodou role. Instead of a mediator, he's a crossroads demon -- an evil spirit (devil/demon) who grants human desires on earth in return for immortal souls. The 1986 film "Crossroads" depicts Legba this same way, based on the myth surrounding blues musician Robert Johnson, who supposedly sold his soul for musical talent, as chronicled in his legendary and oft-covered 1936 song, "Cross Road Blues."
Just what demonic plots does 'AHS: Coven' have in store for Papa in its concluding episodes? Tune in to FX tonight and next Wednesday at 10 pm Eastern to find out.