It’s 1919 and the city of New Orleans is gripped in fear from a spate of axe murderers. No, it’s not your humble reviewer, Axe-Wielding Alex, running amuck with a time machine. This killer is a jazz musician with a penchant for chopping up lovely ladies. He holds the city ransom, saying that he will kill again if any house he passes in the night doesn’t have a jazz band playing inside.
Understandably, the women of New Orleans are terrified, but those of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies are particularly incensed. They are powerful witches after all, though their speech and ladylike manner of ninety-six years past belies their murderous potential. As Axeman (Danny Huston) passes their mansion on his night walk, he hears not jazz but opera music playing on a phonograph. He stalks up the stairs, axe in hand, and finds a solitary woman dealing out tarot cards. When she reaches the Death Card he goes to strike! Only his senses are betrayed! This is a trap that he didn’t foresee, and like Julius Ceasar centuries before, he is knifed to death by a mob of black-hooded figures.
Thus begins of “The Axeman Cometh” with the mortal end of the Axeman. After the opening credits American Horror Story: Coven flashes forward to the present day with our second-most virginal witch Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) investigating the missing Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). Zoe rifles through a box of Madison’s stuff, where she finds a flask and a derringer, before being led by a rolling mini-bottle of alcohol into a secret closet compartment. She finds photographs populated by past coven women, but more importantly she finds a ouija board, or as Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) calls it, a spirit board.
Zoe presents her hypothesis of dwindling witch generations and proposes that the three remaining neophytes do something to combat the problem by starting with discovering what happened to Madison. While Nan (Jamie Brewer) is consumed by her crush on neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon [absent from this episode]), and Queenie, in the pocket of Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), wants to play things safe by first consulting the Supreme, Zoe’s initiative wins out. The three witches drink absinthe — drink of the divine, which [they] are — are then hold a seance with the spirit board. Queenie cautions the others — be polite! — but instead of summoning Madison, they make contact with another of the house’s deceased spirits — AXEMAN — who accuses the witches of murdering him. Queenie stops before they can find out anything more, again cautioning the others by saying, “If survival is so important to you, you better find out who you’re talking to!”
The girls research the Axeman by checking an online fan site. They quickly learn that the jazz man killed eight people, and connect the dots that the nickname for a saxophone, which he played, was an ‘axe.’ Nan points out a picture of the class of 1919 witches, and Queenie reads out a diary entry that foretells his killing: “This jazz killer has killed long enough. This city is done trembling. Tonight it ends.”
Zoe presses the Axeman’s ghost for more information about Madison, but Queenie and Nan, afraid of releasing the murderous spirit, wisely opt out of a second seance. The youngest witch goes it alone, and the spirit board gives her the clue ATTIC. Up in the attic Zoe finds walls of creepy babydolls, and then Madison’s overly ripe, one-armed corpse. Spalding (Denis O’Hare) grabs Zoe from behind, but she easily gets out of his grasp and knocks him out with one of his precious porcelain dolls.
The girls tie the “twisted tea-serving necrophiliac” up to a chair and torture a confession out of him. Spalding hides Fiona’s deeds and takes full responsibility for Madison’s death, saying that he killed her just to have sex with her dead body. He also mocks them, saying that if they go to the police it would bring disaster down on the coven. In retaliation Queenie uses her power to burn half of his cheek off with a red-hot spatula. Zoe doubts the veracity of his confession, but as of yet she doesn’t peg Fiona.
Instead, she travels to Misty Day (Lily Rabe)’s swampy sanctuary for help. Misty has been busy with the recently resurrected Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), buried under a mound of mud, and the returning FrankenKyle (Evan Peters) Monster. Misty tries giving Kyle a bath, but doing this causes him to have visions of his incestuous mother. He has a fit of rage, smashing a chair and Misty’s 8-track player (along with her Stevie Nicks tape) in the process. Fortunately, Zoe arrives just in time to soothe the savage beast, and takes them both back to the mansion.
Kyle gets chained up while Zoe and Misty perform a ritual to bring Madison back to life. They reattached her arm, and then literally push the death out of her corpse. Out pops a mouthful of blood and a single cockroach, but Madison sits up, coughing, and says, “I need a cigarette.” Afterwards, Zoe decides to keep Madison a secret from Fiona. Misty raids the kitchen, but declines staying with the coven, saying that “she’s got bad vibes, real bad” about something foul in the house.
Meanwhile, Fiona receives chemotherapy, but she is plagued not just by cancer, but also by the thoughts of the other patients in the hospital room. Suddenly she has acquired the power of mind reading! This new power freaks her out, and she tries to leave, ripping the IV from her arm to squelch the others’ thoughts. She says that her daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) needs her more than ever before, and that she’s only doing the cancer treatment for her. Of course, Fiona shows a bit more selfishness when she says that she just wants one more great love affair in her life. In order to comfort herself, she placates the others in the treatment room, easing the worries on their minds.
Blind Cordelia, using a white cane, arrives home with her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) to find that Fiona has specially prepared her room for her. Cordelia finally has a bit of an edge to her character. She chides her mother for furnishing her room with the wrong type of flowers — “roses pull in love and romance, but that’s not what [she’s] looking for . . . [she] needs chrysanthemums for strength and protection.” She has another vision of her cheating scumbag of a husband, and says that he “will be accountable for every single betrayal.” After Hank leaves, Cordelia has a vision of Fiona burning Myrtle Snow at the stake. Fiona maintains that Snow committed the acid attack on her, but Cordelia knows that isn’t true.
Hank ends up going straight to Cornrows City, where he has a powwow with Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). In an interesting turn of a events, it seems that Hank is a ‘professional witchhunter’ hired by Laveau to take out not just the coven, but all of the descendants of the original Salem witches. Which is what he has been doing — in a flashback Hank is seen spying on Cordelia while interviewing Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), the redhead whom he shot in the head two episodes ago. Hank cites her death, as well as eight others, as proof that he hasn’t gone soft. Bassett delivers an excellently acted monologue and with simmering anger rants about the coven witches disrespecting her, Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) being dug-up, and Fiona’s beheading of her beloved Minotaur. Laveau gives Hank an ultimatum, she’ll have either the heads of all the witches in the coven, or his.
However, it is not Hank who poses a threat to his wife, but the spirit of the Axeman. He had been promised release from Zoe, but she reneged on that, so now the vengeful spirit threatens Cordelia to call the others to release him.
At the same time in another room, Madison is being questioned by Zoe, Nan, and Queenie. The previously deceased witch doesn’t remember the circumstances surrounding her death, just the color red, and then black forever. Cordelia’s screams draw the living witches away. On the other side of a locked door, Cordelia blindly flees from her stalker, who relishes in chopping up the furniture. The lights cut out and jazz music fills the house. The three girls run down to the library, where Zoe is drawn to a book that will release the Axeman from his after-life imprisonment in the house. After the spell is said, all of the candles in the house flare up and they are able to get to Cordelia.
The next shot shows the Axeman, leaving the house, going out the front gate, and then arriving at a jazz bar to buy a gal a drink. And who is that gal? Why, it’s the Witch Supreme Fiona Goode.
The next episode is the halfway point of the season. I’m still not exactly sure how things are going to shape up for the second half of Coven’s run. There will be two factions against Fiona. Laveau’s voodoo sect along with Hank and Misty & Myrtle. I honestly don’t see someone like Laveau teaming up with the other two witches, but she may end up trying to use them in her schemes against the coven. There are two wildcards — Cordelia and Zoe. Cordelia did not approve of her mom killing Myrtle, but I honestly can’t see her turning against Fiona. While she is angry at her mom, she has a stronger connection to the coven than to possibly betraying it to Hank and Laveau. Zoe, I think, suspects Fiona. While Queenie is clearly in Fiona’s pocket now, Zoe has had more meaningful interactions with outsider Misty Day. Also, she has one of the witches most traumatized by Myrtle’s execution. However, she does proclaim to have the coven’s best interests in mind and wants the race of witches to be preserved for future generations.
The confrontation between Laveau and Fiona should be epic when it finally arrives, but I think that Fiona will have some other pesky things to deal with before then. She will probably feel the betrayal of a lover in the form of the Axeman. Would this bring her closer to her love-spurned daughter? I think that the Supreme will also have to reckon with Luke’s over-bearing Christian mom again in the future.
I have no doubt that Hank will have his head end up on someone’s platter, but whether that is Fiona’s, Cordelia’s or Laveau’s I’m not sure. Perhaps he may even try to get with Zoe and be fucked to death!
One of the things that I didn’t really like too much about AHS‘s first season was how much power it gave the spirits. They were dead, but essentially could act in any way a living person could. In my opinion their spiritness needed to be tempered with a limitation to their physical interactions with living characters. Coven obviously has taken a different route in dealing with the dead characters until now, but I hope that the Axeman gets some sort of demonic explanation rather than just being a disembodied ghost. On that note, I thought that Danny Huston was excellent in his role as a murderous madman. His facial expressions and mannerisms reminded me a bit of Laura Palmer’s killer in Twin Peaks.
I laughed out loud when Fiona called Hank jughead.
Additionally, this line from Bassett got a laugh too: “You think I did that? I look like the Taliban to you?”
Kathy Bates was conspicuous by her absence. I’m sure she will pop up next week, and it will be interesting where he allegiances lie concerning Fiona and the rest of the coven.
I was never a big Stevie Nicks fan before, but I’ve been digging her tunes in this season.
Next week, Fiona has one more great love affair with the Axeman in “The Dead.”
American Horror Story: Coven continues to wow me! This week’s episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!,” has upped the ante on typical television (The Walking Dead) zombie gore, with an outrageous sequence of Zoe (Taissa Farminga) wielding a chainsaw. Along with the extended zombie attack, there was an initial seed of character progression with Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) who was attacked with acid in the last episode. And of course, as the title alludes to, there was a witch burning at the stake.
First, the episode opens on All Hallows Eve in 1833 with a reinforcement of Madam Delphine (Kathy Bates) LaLaurie’s despicability, as she shows off her chamber of horrors to the suitor of one of her daughters. He is grossed out by a dish full of eyeballs and a string of eviscerated intestines. Following this incident, LaLaurie catches her daughters plotting against her, and she has them abducted from their beds and imprisoned for a full year. These daughters are now zombies on the steps of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies where LaLaurie, Zoe, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Nan (Jamie Brewer), and neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon) are trapped.
Nan says that the people besieging the house are dead, as she cannot hear them. Luke thinks that it is all a prank, so he goes outside to tell them off. For a moment they are in a catatonic, unmoving state, and neither Luke nor some teenagers (complimenting their awesome prosthetics) can rouse them. Then Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), floating in her voodoo chamber, tells the zombies to “BEGIN.” They kill the random teens, and would have gotten Luke as well, if Nan hadn’t ran outside to save him. Zoe instructs Spalding (Denis O’Hare) to hustle the others upstairs, (but not, he silently indicates to his room), then she goes outside to find Nan and Luke trapped inside a car.
Zoe calls the zombies to pull them away from the car, but it seems to be a poorly thought-out plan, as they quickly chase her into a shed. Back inside the house, LaLaurie sees her daughter and opens the door to let her in. While LaLaurie seems to be rediscovering her humanity (unconvincingly, I might add), the living dead daughter has lost whatever remained of hers, and she attacks her mother. The shot cuts away with LaLaurie being held up off her feet, and the ghoul with a stranglehold around her neck. Unexplainably, later this same zombie is upstairs, and stalks Queenie after bludgeoning Spalding with a candle stick. Queenie uses a shard of glass and slices her own throat, transferring the effect with her human voodoo doll powers, and dusty gore sprays from the zombie’s throat. It doesn’t die though, until LaLaurie (frazzled, but seemingly unharmed) shoves a firepoker through its back and out its front.
Queenie says, “Holy shit, you killed it!” And this point proves that we aren’t in Romero zombie territory, but instead the witches are battling something more akin to the tele-fantastic zombies from The Video Dead — they have to be damaged enough to be killed again. Instead of discussing how to kill the rest of the ghouls, LaLaurie wallows, saying “She had a monster for a mother. This last act was the only kindness I ever did for her.”
Back outside, Nan and Luke make a run for the house, but Luke collapses and is too weak to move from blood loss. All seems lost as the zombies bear down on them, until Zoe appears with a MOTHERFLIPPING CHAINSAW! She does her best Bruce Campbell impression and slices and dices the dead until the chainsaw predictably sputters and dies. Instead of dismembering the last zombie, Zoe outstretches her arm and says some magic (Being of nature?) words. It collapses, as does Laveau in her voodoo chamber, who remarks, “I don’t know what that was, but they got some real power in that witchouse now.”
Elsewhere in New Orleans, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) accompanies Cordelia to the hospital after catching a glimpse of a black-cloaked figure leaving the bar. Fiona has a breakdown after learning that her daughter is now blind. What follows are several dreamy sequences of Fiona walking down hospital corridors (complete with flickering lights and abandoned wheelchairs), pilfering pills from a storeroom, receiving a weird message from a creepy-looking (diaper-wearing) patient, and resurrecting a stillborn baby for a grieving mother. These shots are blurry, and coupled with the camera-work bouncing back and forth, give the viewer some insight into Fiona’s mental state.
Later Cordelia’s murderous, secret-life living husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) shows up to the hospital. Fiona has an angry spat with him, including the great jab “You’re one step up from the men who stand in front of Home Depot.” Ultimately Fiona leaves him alone with Cordelia, and as he holds onto her hand, Cordelia has a sudden vision of all of Hank’s secrets.
The next day sees the witches burning a big pile of zombie corpses, which apparently nobody else in the neighborhood much minds the smell of. Fiona tells Nan that Luke can stay until he is fully healed, and she also praises Zoe for protecting the coven. Then LaLaurie tries to bond with her over their shared terrible mothering skills. While LaLaurie hopes that their tragedies will bring them closer together, Fiona puts her in her place, telling her that “I doubt it, you are after all, the maid.”
The council returns and informs Fiona that she must abdicate her Supremecy of the coven. Instead Fiona pulls a political power play that fingers (acid-burned) Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) as the one who has committed all of the recent (and past) transgressions against the coven. Fiona produces photographic proof that Snow had been spying and plotting against her, and then has Queenie put acid burns on Snow’s hand to implicate her as Cordelia’s attacker. With all of this evidence, the Council has no choice but to condemn Myrtle Snow to death by burning at the stake.
Snow takes these accusations in stride. She decides it would be better to die than to stay connected to a coven that has become so polluted and mislead by Fiona’s personal ambition and lust for power. She says, “I go proudly to the flame. Go ahead. Burn me.”
Which they do. The witches’ albino mafia-looking goons tie up Snow, douse her with gasoline, and then Fiona ignites her with a lit cigarette, all while Dr. John’s Right Place Wrong Time plays over the scene. Snow burns for several agonizing seconds until her spirit seems to fly outward. The others are all mesmerized by the flames, but Fiona calmly walks away.
The episode is essentially over here, except for a quick scenes that indicate where the story will be going in the next week:
Queenie expresses guilt about her part in implicating Snow, but Fiona placates her with the idea that she’ll help her to become the next Supreme of the coven.
Spalding sprays a lot of aerosol to cover up the stench of Madison’s visibly rotting corpse, stuck inside a trunk. He is dressed (bonnet and nightgown) for a teaparty, but when he tries to pull Madison out, her arm snaps off.
The episode ends with Misty Day (Lily Rabe) finding Myrtle Snow’s burned corpse. She uses her power of resurrection to bring Snow back to life.
I reference The Video Dead earlier in this blog, but the zombies also seem a bit like those from Burial Ground in their tool use, wielding hoes and axes. Also, the sequence held a bit of Night of the Creeps for me.
This episode really had a B-movie quality that I loved. Lange wandering around a creepy looking hospital was straight out of something like Session 9, Silent Hill, or akin to Laurie Strode in the deserted hospital in Halloween 2. Also, the fact that the zombie that attacks Kathy Bates illogically ends up in another part of the house, without killing Bates adds to the B-movie lack of logic. I think it is deliberate. While a show like The Walking Dead does (and should) take itself seriously, AHS has much more leeway to have fun.
I don’t like how Kathy Bates’s character is so hard and evil in the 1830s but rather grandmotherly in the present day. I’m not saying that this shift in character can’t (or shouldn’t) happen, but I don’t believe that it could have happened so quickly. It’s not like she changed during her time underground. She goes in a racist old coot, comes out a racist old coot, and then in the span of a few days becomes a softer, more grandmotherly person. Again, I like that her character is changing, but I don’t think it has been earned yet, especially when it opens by reinforcing how much of a wretched person she used to be.
Lily Rabe is back but only in a short bit. I have a feeling that she’ll play a bigger part in the next episode by teaming up with Frances Conroy’s character. Perhaps they’ll join with the voodoo sect against the coven, or maybe it will be Misty Day that has to chose between joining the coven and betraying Myrtle Snow, or sticking with the other witchy outcast.
I’m curious now to learn more about Hank and Cordelia’s relationship. I mean, obviously he knows she is a witch, but it seems that she has no idea about his secret life until this episode. Does he possibly have some superpowers in him too? Or is he just a murderous scumbag?
Come back later in the week for more witchy woman B-movie on TV goodness when American Horror Story: Coven returns with “The Axeman Cometh.”
“Fearful Pranks Ensue” opens up in 1961 depicting the type of racial incident that is not a prank, but does have dreadfully fearful consequences. A black youth is riding on his bicycle down a tree-lined lane when behind him a dark truck pulls up. It speeds up, getting closer and closer, so the boy pedals harder and harder. The truck’s bumper is inches away from the back tire of the bike, and finally the boy turns into a driveway, jumps off of his bike, and runs down an alley. Unfortunately, it is a dead end, and as the boy turns around he comes face-to-face with three angry looking white men. The scene cuts away to Marie Laveau’s hairshop, still in 1961, where one of the beauticians is saying that her son is starting his first day at the newly desegregated high school. Angela Bassett’s character seems to think this is a bad idea, and the viewer knows what is in store for the previously chased boy. There is a quick montage of a faraway shot of a single, desolate figure hanging from a large tree, a noose being cut down, and the mother over the lynched boy’s body, pushing the white police officer away. Laveau is in the background here looking fierce and plotting a voodoo revenge that she quickly executes with a ceremony involving slicing open snakes and drinking their flaming blood from a large chalice. Then, all of a sudden, American Horror Story turns into The Walking Dead as corpses start rising up from their graves. These living dead ain’t just hungry — they’re armed. There are some Native Americans with tomahawks, a civil war veteran carrying his bayonet mounted gun, and a big dead guy with an axe. The zombies stalk after and find the three men of the lynch mob, whose insides soon come out in a scene of bloody evisceration and dismemberment in what must be AHS’s most graphic scene to date.
Coming back from the show titles is the butler Spalding (Denis O’Hare) having a tea party with a roomful of creepy dolls. This is a very Spalding heavy episode which would circle back to this tea-party motif near the end of the episode. But first there is a quick recap of Spalding witnessing the neck-slashing scene that played out last week between Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). He pours Fiona a drink, and rolls Madison’s body up in the bloodstained rug, while Fiona engages in what she does best — witty quips — saying, “I’ve always enjoyed our little talks together, particularly since you lost your tongue.”
Fiona goes to investigate a crash in the solarium, where she finds Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) having been gored by the minotaur. The beast rises up behind Fiona, but it is never shown how he is dealt with. Instead the next shot is a frazzled Fiona waking Cordelia (Sarah Paulson). While tending to Queenie, the mother and daughter have a spat about both of their meetings with Laveau. Queenie stops breathing, but Fiona saves her, by literally breathing life back into her. Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is roused out of hiding, and is much more appreciative of Queenie since the black girl saved her life. However, later Queenie says that she’ll have to think about the best way for LaLaurie to really thank her.
The next day, at Cornrows City, a package arrives for Laveau. In it is the severed head of the minotaur, which blinks, so is seemingly still alive. This will prompt Laveau to prepare for an all-out war. Laveau’s second (Dana Gourrier) is against rekindling the animosity against the coven, given the truce that Laveau had signed with former Supreme Leighton (Christine Ebersole), whom Fiona murdered in 1971. Whatever tenuous peace there was between the witches and the voodoo practitioners is now over. The voodoo resurrection ritual from the opening is repeated, and once again the living dead rise from their graves, including the corpses of the lynch mob and (at least one of) Madam LaLaurie’s daughters.
The main conflict that this season is building to — the voodoo sect vs. the coven — has started in earnest in this episode, but there were some other interesting developments that happened concerning Kyle (Evan Peters), Cordelia’s husband Hank (Josh Hamilton), and the backstory between Fiona, Spalding, and witch council member Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy).
Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) finds the FrankenKyle monster beating his head against a bathtub. She gets emotional about the state that this creature is in, and realizes that it was wrong to bring him back to life. He speaks, claiming not to be Kyle and this is all too much for Zoe. She decides to fix him a lunch of tuna salad laced with rat poison and put him out of his misery. There is another complication though, which is that the monster has suddenly disappeared, and when Zoe looks outside to find him, all she can see are the ghouls and goblins of children dressed for Halloween.
Cordelia, perched on the edge of the bed like a smitten schoolgirl, talks on the phone with her husband Hank. He is off on a construction consultation job and says that the foreman is at his hotel room door. Only Hank isn’t meeting with a foreman. A woman (Alexandra Breckenridge) drops into his hotel room, and they engage in some intense lovemaking that culminates with Hank screaming like a madman. This girl is in love with Hank — he has her completely wrapped around his finger. She does have a good line though, and one that strikes a beat in Hank: “I think Halloween gives people permission to be who they really want to be.” Lest we think that Hank is only a cheating scumbag, things get much more interesting when he pulls out a silenced pistol and shoots the girl in the head in a big WTF moment. So who the hell is Hank exactly? He was obviously lying to this lover when he claimed to be a USDA inspector. He is also obviously lying to his wife Cordelia as well. While ready to write off Hank since his introduction into the show, this character kink makes him an interesting addition to the web of witches.
Nan (Jamie Brewer), no longer being able to read Madison’s mind, summons the Council, three witches including Myrtle Snow, Quentin (Leslie Jordan), a small, but flamboyant fedora-clad man, and Pimbrooke (Robin Bartlett), a frumpy grey-hair whom Fiona scoffs at. They set up an official inquiry into Madison’s disappearance and interview all of the women of Miss Robichaux’s Academy to find the whereabouts of Madison. Interviewees are informed that the punishment for inflicting grievous bodily harm against a Salem descendent is death by fire.
Each woman states what they know about Madison.
Cordelia volunteers way too much information about other matters (Queenie’s attack and her consultation contact with the voodoo sect), but little of consequence about Madison. She does blurt out that is her rug (the one in which Madison was wrapped up) is missing, but fails to realize the importance of this information.
The younger women have a bit more to say. Zoe says that Madison has a movie starlet charisma. Nan informs the Council of her burgeoning pyrokinetic ability. Queenie drops the best line with: “Madison Montgomery is a stone cold bitch who loves hard drinking, big dicks, and trouble. If she’s dead it’s probably because she got wasted and offered the grim reaper a handjob or something.”
Once the Council gets Fiona in the interrogation seat AHS viewers learn much more about the past relationship between her and the red-headed Snow. It seems that when Fiona took over as the Supreme (in 1971) she blamed Marie Laveau for the death of former Supreme Leighton. However, a younger (and ambitious) Myrtle Snow suspected that Fiona had killed Leighton. To find out the truth Snow put an enchantment spell on Spalding’s tongue (whom Snow suspected was hiding Fiona’s secret). Unfortunately, before Spalding could be coerced into telling what Fiona had done, he is found on the floor with his tongue removed. In the present day Snow asks Spalding to write on a piece of paper the name of witch who was responsible for severing his tongue. On the paper he writes ‘Myrtle Snow’ as Spalding was (and presumably still is) in love with Fiona. He did not want to implicate Fiona as a murderess, and since he couldn’t deny the truth, he instead cut out his own tongue with a straight razor.
Snow then has a screaming fit and is unable to contain her rage against Fiona. She claims that Fiona has twice gotten away with murder after killing the old and future Supreme. Only Cordelia confesses that Madison had a heart murmur and couldn’t have been the future Supreme with her poor health. The scene cuts away after this, but one suspects if there is to be a death by fire next week, it will most likely be Myrtle Snow tied to the burning post.
“Fearful Pranks Ensues” wraps up with a few short scenes likely to be continued next week:
Spalding, wearing a nightgown and bonnet, has another dolly tea party, only this time one of the attendees is Madison’s corpse, for whom he selects a frilly dress from the closet.
Cordelia and Fiona share some mother-daughter bonding time at a bar with Fiona lying about not killing Madison. Later, after retching in the bar toilet, Cordelia gets acid thrown into her eyes by a figure shrouded in black.
Neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon) brings over some cookies for Nan, but before any of the witches can enjoy them, the house is besieged by the undead.
Some random thoughts.
Lily Rabe’s Misty Day was missing from this week’s episode which is a shame.
Spalding hugged the scarecrow! (It’s little things like this that make AHS so great.)
Kathy Bates had a cute moment with the trick ‘r treaters at the door. However, I fear that her character may be progressing into a modern racial sensibility too quickly. Not that I’m advocating she be more racist, I just remain unconvinced that she would change so much in such a short time.
Apparently Nan (or any of the other witches) can’t read Spalding’s mind.
The show has reached that oh-shit-everything-is-crazy-now-point that it seems to attain every season. Already there has been the minotaur (and possible minotaur bestiality-ish sexual activity) and the FrankenKyle Monster sewed together from various body parts, but now there are zombies, a weird tongueless manchild having tea parties with his dollies, and a seemingly boring husband moonlighting as a murderous madman.
I am looking forward to next week’s episode which will have more zombie action (always a plus), although these voodoo corpses don’t seem to follow the same rules as the Romero-influenced Walking Dead geeks, so it will be interesting to see how the witches fare against them.
American Horror Story has added more horror and depravity to the show’s history with an episode featuring unsavory forms of sex, coupled with its normal dose of weekly violence. “The Replacements” starts with a flashback to 1971 depicting how Fiona Goode became the ‘Supreme’ of the Coven. Some forty years ago Fiona (played by young Jessica Lange doppelganger Riley Voelkel) assumed the mantle as the most powerful witch by slitting the throat of the then ‘Supreme’ Anna-Leigh Leighton (Christine Ebersole). Director James Wong would thematically circle back to this first scene at the episode’s end when Fiona faces down would-be future ‘Supreme’ Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). But inside this ouroboros of echoing moments across the decades, there is plenty of mischief and anguish in store of the other women of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.
Sarah Paulson’s Cordelia Foxx also shared some circular beats with her mother in this episode, as both were shown consulting doctors due to their bodies’ physical failings. Fiona is still vainly searchingfor youth, but the plastic surgeon says he cannot operate on her because her bloodwork indicates that she has cancer. Cordelia wants to have a baby, because it appears that the ritual she and Hank (Josh Hamilton) performed last episode did not induce pregnancy. In addition to her doctor, Cordelia also visits Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) at her hairshop (Cornrows City) fronted voodoo emporium. The priestess humors Cordelia for a while describing her fertility spell (a dizzying dance involving 2 ounces of ‘baby gravy’ thrown into a fire, the ingestion of a special hotter-than-Hades pepper, and a sacrificial goat’s blood being poured over the desired mother-to-be). Cordelia is prepared to rob a bank for the proffered sum of $50,000, but Laveau laughs her off, saying that she wouldn’t perform the spell for even double that price. Cordelia was born into the wrong tribe, Laveau says, and Fiona is her sworn-enemy.
Fiona though, for all her grudge-holding and murderous deeds, is a liberal woman of the 21st century who rallies against the antiquated racism of Madam Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and the priggishness of new neighbor Joan Ramsey (Patti LaPone). Bates gave her character a moment of levity as she melodramatically bemoaned Barack Obama’s presidency. Fiona gave her a quick education on how far blacks have come since LaLaurie’s time in the early 19th century, and Fiona heaps more insults on the high society woman by forcing LaLaurie to wear a maid’s uniform as her disguise while staying at the school. When LaLaurie gets uppity about serving African American Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Fiona again puts the madam in her place and condemns her to be Queenie’s personal slave.
Bible-thumping Joan Ramsey enters the story when she is visited by Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Madison who had been gawking at Ramsey’s shirtless son Luke as they were moving into the estate next door. Nan brings over a homemade yellow cake with butter frosting, knowing (clairvoyantly) that Luke would be unable to resist. The scantily-clad Madison is peeved when Luke rebuffs her overly forward flirtations, and then insults the Ramseys’ beliefs. The cake knife goes flying across the room, Joan demands that the witches leave; they do, but not before Madison lights the drapes afire. Later Joan confronts Fiona about what happened, and while the ‘Supreme’ verbally spars with the Christian woman, she is more concerned about Madison’s newly discovered firestarting abilities.
Fiona seemingly takes Madison under her wing, having her demonstrate her mastery over the flame, as well as teaching her some of the classic Jedi mind trick magic by coercing an unsuspecting pedestrian into traffic. They even go bar-hopping together where, if they were capitalistic witches, they’d use their powers as pool sharks. That’s not shown, but what is hinted at is Fiona’s growing resentment towards Madison as she is the one getting all the ogling stares of drunken barflies. When they return home for the night, Fiona waxes poetically about the history of various Supremes telling Madison that she will one day have her portrait up on the walls as well. Fiona confides that she is getting weaker and slowly dying, as she explains that it is the typical process of the new Supreme absorbing the powers of the old. She gives Madison the very same knife used to murder previous Supreme Leighton, but Madison is reluctant to deliver the killing blow to Fiona. A struggle over the knife ensues, and it is Madison her ends up on the ground in a pool of blood. Fiona triumphantly says, “this coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, it needs a new rug,” and tells the tongueless butler, Spalding (Denis O’Hare), who no-doubt lost that organ after witnessing Fiona’s previous murder, to clean up the mess, and “bury her deep.”
While all of this murder and mayhem is part of the main storyline of this week’s episode, all of the sexual depravity is relegated to the secondary story concerning Zoe and the FrankenKyle Monster, as well as an incident with Queenie and the angry minotaur.
The latter incident first: while Queenie and LaLaurie are alone at night, they hear some strange banging on the door and a shadowy figure outside. LaLaurie is rightfully fearful when she realizes that it is her enchanted houseboy-turned-Minotaur, back for revenge. Queenie says that she will handle things, and goes out after the beast with a rag soaked with LaLaurie’s blood. This entices the bull-headed man to follow her into Cordelia’s greenhouse. Queenie tries to connect with the minotaur claiming that they are both misunderstood and only want love. She lowers her hands down to her sides in what initially comes off as a bit of hocus pocus, but then she hikes up her dress and starts fingering herself. “Don’t you want to love me?” she asks. The beast stalks behind her, and then seems to mount her with one hooved-hand on her shoulder, before another normal hand clasps over her mouth. The shot cuts away before there is any definite depiction of bestiality — if indeed bestiality is what happens when one gets fucked by minotaur. Perhaps Queenie was killed, but she was more-likely kidnapped by the minotaur and other members of the voodoo sect.
American Horror Story may be too timid to show a depiction of potential bestiality on our TV screens, but it does not shy away from a portrayed depiction of incest. Zoe is still distraught about the state that Kyle is in. Although loner witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) has managed to work her magic and heal most of his wounds, Kyle is still mentally more monster than man. Zoe thinks that it will help if she takes him back to his mother Alicia Spencer (Mare Winningham). Mrs. Spencer had been distraught over the loss of her son, smoking his marijuana stash and contemplating suicide. Of course, this is because Mrs. Spencer has not just lost a son, but a lover. Zoe drops Kyle off on his mother’s doorstep, and later, after barging in on him in the shower, she realizes that he is not the same person that was her son. Mrs. Spencer confirms this when she joins Kyle in bed in a tender motherly moment turned cringe-worthy under the sheets sexual escapade. As a woman who had known every contour of her son’s body, she knows that this creature, though possessing Kyle’s head, is not the same boy she had carnally known before. Her chastising about keeping Zoe a secret, as well as her continued advances reaches a breaking point and the KyleStein Creature beats in his mother’s skull.
Well, there has been plenty of murderous mayhem and salacious sex in this third episode of American Horror Story: Coven. Next week seems to be the start of a showdown between the coven and the voodoo sect. I can’t wait, but before then, here are some random thoughts:
This is a school that has lost 50% of its enrollment, but I’m not sure that is too big of a concern considering everything else that has been going on. Plus, what the hell are the pupils learning anyway? Cordelia and Fiona are more concerned about their own problems, while Nan only reads all day, Queenie is stuck in the kitchen, and Madison and Zoe have man problems.
In this episode we learned why Spalding lost his tongue, but that bit wasn’t depicted on-screen as AHS had filled up its graphic violence quota with this shot of the dead Mrs. Spencer.
We learned that it is relatively easy to kill a witch. All you have to do is slit their throat. Maybe you have to be a witch yourself to do that though, or maybe it is only so easy for a ‘Supreme’ like Fiona. Still, in measuring up the coven (youth-obsessed Fiona, baby-obsessed Cordelia, and Kyle-obsessed Zoe) against immortal Laveau’s voodoo sect, I’d give the definite advantage to the Cornrow City folk.
I laughed when Cordelia told her doctor that Hank was off on a consultation about a construction job. Having such an insignificant husband just makes Cordelia all the more insignificant herself.
When Misty Day was mounted on Kyle in the bed, with Zoe right there next to them, I played at a scene in my head where they had a weird three-way relationship, akin to Evan Peters’s two wives in last season’s Asylum. If any two witches were suited for polygamy, it would be Zoe, who’d kill the man, and Misty, who’d bring him right back. It turns out that more revolting sexual activity was in store instead.
Perhaps having sex with a minotaur wouldn’t be bestiality, but the whole situation brings to mind a Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live sketch mentioning centaur pornography. But you’ve got to remember that, at some point, there’s gonna be a horse penis in there.
A friend of mine told me that he thought the dialogue in episode one “Bitchcraft” was laughable, especially concerning Kathy Bates’s speech said ancient Greek minotaur. While I’ll admit that this show does turn toward campiness, I thought that the writing in this episode was great. Bates, Bassett, and especially Lange are superb actresses, but their work is all the better when given lines like Fiona’s “I’ve lived a disreputable life, but I’ve done it in style, and I’ll die likewise.”
American Horror Story: Coven‘s second entry, “Boy Parts,” has assuaged any fears of losing actors Lily Rabe or Evan Peters, while raising deeper concerns about the magical laws of this narrative universe. The opening sequence of the episode brings back Rabe, as Misty Day, previously burned at the stake, but now alive and well, and wandering around the Louisiana bayou. She encounters two alligator poachers, who react threateningly to her intrusion on their camp. But these rough and ready pistol-toting swamp men are no match for Misty. She uses her power of necromancy to revive several strung up gator corpses that haven’t taken too kindly to being baited and brained by the hunters. In the end, the hunters don’t take too kindly to being munched on by alligators either.