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Papa Legba is the Gatekeeper of the Spirit World, charged with balancing the scales of life and death. He is a character in American Horror Story portrayed by Lance Reddick.

Background

At some point in time, Marie Laveau sold her soul to Papa Legba in order to acquire immortality; in exchange, he asked Marie for the annual sacrifice of an innocent life at any time of his choosing.

Personality and Appearance

Papa Legba is a tall, shadowy Loa, or spirit of Haitian Voodoo, with coal-red eyes, grey-white face paint in the shape of a skull, and long black dreadlocks. He wears a dark overcoat that tapers down to the ground, matched by a hat with small skulls around it, decorated with various bird feathers. His nails are yellowed and long, and he uses them to snort drugs offered to him by those petitioning for his presence. He is mainly seen walking with a cane.

Being the Gatekeeper of the Spirit World, Papa Legba is always interested in acquiring souls, no matter who they are from. He particularly enjoys making deals with those that are needing of valuable life lessons and negligent of consequences, preying upon their fatal flaws (i.e. greed, vanity) in order to force them under his servitude and, when they fail to uphold their end of a bargain, torment them for eternity after their deaths as punishment for their wickedness. He was willing to make a deal with Fiona Goode for her soul despite her narcissism, cruelty, and murderous behavior, but revoked the deal when he found that she lacked a soul in the first place.

Despite his often antagonistic and somewhat sadistic persona, Papa Legba is an honest and fair individual. He explained clearly and honestly his terms of granting immortality to Fiona when she asked for details. Upon being asked by Queenie about the dynamics of Marie and Delphine's immortality, he explained every meticulous detail of their arrangement, in the process praising Queenie for her sharp mind and powerful magic in having been able to enter and exit the spirit world successfully.

What Papa Legba does with the innocent souls he acquires from his accomplices is unknown. Because these souls have done no injustice, and therefore nothing to warrant damnation in their own personal Hell, it can be assumed that Papa Legba sends them to a lighter afterlife that doesn't inflict eternal torment. When Nan was drowned by Fiona and Marie in a bathtub, he promised to take her to an afterlife where she would find treats for girls "just like her", presumably bringing her to Heaven. Unfortunately, Nan would be eternally cast into Hell for the murder of Joan Ramsey, forced to torture the guilty for all of eternity.

In order to make a deal with Papa Legba, an individual must have a true desire and intent to see him, and must offer something of value to pique his interest. Being a spirit of life and death, Legba is able to grant wishes to those who request them - including immortality - but these wishes come with a steep price: the willing dispension of one's soul into his possession. After granting their request, the aforementioned individual is from then on in service to him, and must perform any act that he commands them to carry out. Oftentimes, this is the sacrifice of an innocent soul on any day of his choosing, every year. As time passes, he demands worse sacrifices in an attempt to psychologically drive the person into madness for their desires. Reneging on their part of the deal will result in Papa doing the same and reversing their wish, often with dire repercussions.     

Story

Coven

Papa Legba first appears and awakens a sleeping Marie and demands that she pay his price and reminds her that once a year she must provide a soul for him. He appears again in a flashback as Marie explains to Fiona how she became immortal and how long ago she gave birth to a baby, but Papa Legba wanted her to give up the infant to him, she tried to take back the deal and become mortal again but could not was forced to give him her child. Fiona called Papa and tried to arrange a deal with him for immortality and she agreed to his terms of service, but when she tried to finalize the deal, he says the deal is off because she has 'nothing to sell' saying she has no soul and then disappears. Then after Fiona and Marie drown Nan in the tub he appears and tells them that he won't accept any substitutions and that they must provide an innocent soul, after they try to convince him, he comments that the two of them together are 'big trouble' and then escorts Nan's soul to the afterlife though she comments it is better than being in the coven. [2]

Queenie later takes up an audience with Papa Legba, using voodoo magic to enter the spirit world where she finds herself in Chubby's, where she used to work. Papa Legba appears to her and explains that this is how Queenie perceives Hell, the place where she was treated badly and considered herself worthless. Queenie then inquires over where Marie Laveau is. Papa acknowledges this, then warns Queenie to leave or be stuck in the afterlife forever. After returning to her bedroom, Papa Legba reveals that Marie has been dismembered and scattered by Delphine LaLaurie, and tells Queenie that while Marie lives, so also will Delphine. Queenie notions that because Marie is disembodied, she can no longer pay her service to Papa Legba.[3]

When Delphine finds herself incarcerated in the spirit world, tortured by Marie Laveau, and the latter refuses to butcher Delphine's daughter, Papa Legba appears. He says to Delphine 'welcome to Hell', prompting Marie to question why she is dead. Papa Legba tells her that she could not hold up her end of the bargain, and that he owns her soul. He orders her to 'get back to work'. [3]

After Fiona dies, Papa Legba appears in her hell, laughing maliciously at her torment. [4]

Apocalypse

Cordelia Goode pays a visit to Dinah Stevens, the new Voodoo Queen of New Orleans since Marie Laveau's death. Cordelia asks Dinah to help her set up a meeting with Papa Legba. Dinah tells her that it'll cost her a hundred thousand dollars for the introduction.

Later, they are at the Miss Robichaux's Academy and Dinah asks Cordelia if she's ready to meet Papa Legba. Cordelia says yes, however Dinah warns her to not promise anything she can't deliver. Through a ritual, Dinah summons Papa Legba. He appears and tells Cordelia that he knows why she summoned him. He asks her why she thinks he could be of any help. Cordelia asks him to open the gates of the underworld so that she can lure Michael Langdon inside so that he can roam the underworld forever. Legba tells Cordelia he will only go along with the plan if he gets something in return. He mentions that the last time the Witch and Voodoo Queens had summoned him, he was given the best offering of all. Nan appears behind him greeting Cordelia and Dinah in a somewhat harsh and sarcastic manner. Since performing a coup against the Anti-Christ is such a risky task for Papa Legba, he tells her that the price for this would be all the souls of her witches from the Coven. Nan explains that she's enjoying hell and wishes to see her friends again. Cordelia offers her own soul instead but Papa says that she alone isn't enough. Cordelia apologizes to Nan and denies Papa Legba's deal which leads them to vanish, leaving Cordelia and Dinah dumbfounded. [5]

Later, Papa agrees to release Marie Laveau from Hell because she's been doing a terrible work as a torturer, and due to an offer made by Cordelia that he couldn't refuse: replacing Marie with Dinah Stevens. Although, this event is later reversed by Mallory. [6]

Powers

Papa Legba is a powerful spiritual entity with a variety of supernatural powers.

  • Immortality - As a deity, he is not susceptible to human weaknesses, thus being immune to all aging, disease, and death.
  • Transmutation - The magical ability to move instantaneously from one location to another. This power is more commonly known as Teleportation.
    • Through the worlds - Papa Legba can move freely through the worlds.
  • Telekinesis - The magical ability to move things with the power of the mind. Papa Legba was seen to close the door to the rooms when he had collected his innocent soul from Marie Laveau.
  • Clairvoyance - The magical ability to read the minds of others. Papa Legba was able to hear Marie Laveau's demand of Immortality, and when Cordelia went to him, he already knew which would be her demand.
  • Soul Collecting - Papa Legba can collect humans' and witches' souls.  
  • Immortality Blessing and Revoking - Papa Legba was able to bless and revoke someone with immortality, turn humans and witches into Immortals as well as turning back.
  • Sovereignty of Hell - As a figure of darkness, Papa Legba rules and oversees dimensions in Hell. He stated that "he's merely a gatekeeper", implied that he has less control over those dimensions than Satan.
  • Immunity to Timeline Alteration - Unlike humans, but like demons, Papa seems both aware and unaffected by the alteration of timelines, as he has been conscious of what Mallory did, and brough Misty back to life as reward.

Quotes

  • To Fiona Goode
    The deal is off. You have nothing to sell. You have no soul.
  • To Queenie
    You are one crafty witch.
  • To Delphine (in her Hell)
    Congratulations, Madame Delphine LaLaurie; you have been granted your sweet release from the world of the mortal. And as punishment for your crimes of murder, torture, passion, fashion, and being an all-around, no-good miserable bitch, you will spend all of eternity here... in my home.
  • To Marie and Fiona (after killing Nan)
    You two, together? Big trouble.
  • To Fiona Goode
    I don't give a wet donkey's shit about your title. I shine to only one thing; your soul.
  • To Queenie (in her Hell)
    No, darling. It's not the Hell... it's your hell. This was the worst time of your life, waiting on people who treated you like the piece of trash you thought you were. No power, no respect, and no future that you could see. Just grease in your hair and the smell of lard in your nose.
  • To Queenie
    Took some skills to come down here before you die. Most people be afraid they couldn't get back. It's almost sun up; unless you want to stay here forever, you better hurry and get back. Time... move differently in Hell.
  • Papa Legba
    No one gets away with sin. Eventually, everybody pays. Everybody suffers.
  • To Cordelia Goode
    The Antichrist. Michael Langdon, bringer of the End of Days. But what makes you think I can help? I am merely a gatekeeper between humanity and the underworld. Betray Satan's spawn?... Ouf. I would be putting myself at great risk.


Notes

  • Despite being named after the Voodoo Loa Papa Legba, this character has more in common with Baron Same di, the Ghede of Death and Lust. However, Samedi has been used regularly as a character in fiction so the producers of the show likely wanted to use a different name.
    • In real-life Voodoo liturgy, Papa Legba must be called upon before and after any ceremony to guide the spirits summoned in a ritual back and forth to the spirit world. Along with his role of Gatekeeper to the Spirit World, in Voodoo denominations, Papa Lebgba is also the patron of travel, opportunity, and luck.
  • Papa Legba is the first loa to appear in American Horror Story.
  • He is the sixth immortal character to be introduced in accordance of each season; The first and second were Shachath and The Devil. The third was Marie Laveau. The fourth was Delphine LaLaurie. The fifth was Bastien. The "seventh" were a handful of vampires. The eighth was The Addiction Demon. The ninth was Scáthach.
  • He is the first character to have the ability to collect others' souls. The second was Edward Mordrake and the third was Scáthach.
  • Papa Legba appears to have some kind of rivalry with/dislike of The Devil, at first unwilling to anger him but then changing his mind when he demands Cordelia Goode to sacrifice all of the witches at Miss Robichaux's Academy in his honor[5]
  • Although Dinah states that Papa Legba makes a offer only once, he seems to reconsider his proposal of immortality to Dinah once again.[5]

Gallery

References

  1. Regarded by Marie Laveau and Nan
  2. Episode: The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks
  3. 3.0 3.1 Episode: Go to Hell
  4. Episode: The Seven Wonders
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Episode: Traitor
  6. Episode: Apocalypse Then