AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN 3.4: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

ahscoven3041Nothing like an episode with a tense cliff-hanger, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN delivered an ending that left me wanting to know what will happen? What kind of powers do the witches have to fend off the undead?

A helluva lot happened in this episode, and we’re only four weeks into the season. I have a feeling the real storyline has barely begun, because there’s so far to go. There seems to be plenty of time for Madison and the minotaur to come back.

New Orleans, 1961:

Henry (Tyson Ford), a young black boy, is lynched by a mob. A furious Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) raises a zombie army to take horrible revenge on the killers.

Now:

Spalding (Denis O’Hare) is just about to sit down to tea with his dolls when he hears a commotion downstairs and arrives just in time to see Fiona (Jessica Lange) slash Madison’s (Emma Roberts) throat. Fiona orders him to dispose of the corpse and he rolls it up in a carpet.

Fiona hears Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) scream and goes to the greenhouse, where she finds the girl bleeding. The minotaur rears up behind Fiona. Later, Fiona wakes up Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and gets her to help with spells to help Queenie. Cordelia recognizes voodoo magic and blames Fiona for riling up Marie, but Fiona realizes that Cordelia went to Marie for a fertility spell and scolds her for undermining Fiona’s position. When Queenie dies, Fiona breathes life into her, and she revives. Fiona goes to her room, where Delphine (Kathy Bates) is amazed that Queenie saved her, but warns the minotaur will return. Fiona says no, it won’t. The next day, Marie is working in the hair salon when a package arrives. Inside is Bastien’s (Ameer Baraka) severed head! Marie wigs out.

Elsewhere, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) finds a distraught Kyle (Evan Peters) banging his bloody head against the bathtub and gets him to stop. She offers to make him something to eat, and while mixing up tuna salad she spots a box of rat poison on the shelf. She brings the tuna to the bathroom, but Kyle is gone. The front door is open, and the neighborhood kids are trick-or-treating.

AHScoven3042At the salon, Marie makes preparations to cast a spell when Chantal (Dana Michelle Gourrier) reminds her that the last time there was a war Marie and Anna Leigh Leighton (Christine Ebersole) had a sit-down and brokered peace by dividing up the town. Marie asks her whose side she’s on. Meanwhile, Cordelia calls her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) who’s on a business trip. When he hangs up, he’s with his mistress, Kaylee (Alex Breckenridge), and they have sex. Later, as they eat vending machine food, she asks him if he will break her heart. In response, Hank shoots her in the head.

Cordelia is stunned by the arrival of a delegation from The Council. She assumes they are there because of the minotaur attack, but when they confess ignorance, she suggests it’s because of her visit to Marie Laveau, but they are surprised by that as well. Fiona interrupts and asks Myrtle (Frances Conroy), Quentin (Leslie Jordan) and Pembroke (Robin Bartlett) why they have come. Nan (Jamie Brewer) says she summoned them because she cannot hear Madison’s thoughts anymore and fears that she’s dead. The Council begins deposing witnesses, and everyone says they don’t know where Madison is. Nan reveals that she saw Madison set the neighbors’ drapes on fire — meaning she developed a new power. Myrtle blasts Fiona for neglecting her duties as Supreme for almost 10 years, and points out that this is the second time a witch has disappeared when Fiona was the last to see her.

New Orleans 1971

The Council is quizzing young Fiona (Riley Voelkel) about the disappearance of Anna Leigh. Then they name her Anna Leigh’s successor and announce she will perform the Seven Wonders. Young Myrtle (Michelle Page) is convinced Fiona killed Anna Leigh and has enchanted Spalding’s tongue to only tell the truth when he is called to testify tomorrow. Spalding overhears. Later, Spalding is heard screaming and found with his tongue cut out. Myrtle suspects the dispassionate Fiona.

ahscoven3043Now

Myrtle wants Fiona to burn for killing Anna Leigh, and calls Spalding  to testify which witch cut out his tongue. He writes a name on paper: Myrtle.

1971

Fiona finds Spalding waiting for her in the bathroom. He says that he has always loved her — and takes a straight razor and cuts out his own tongue.

Now

Myrtle screams and rages against Fiona. Cordelia says her mother couldn’t have killed Madison because Madison was not her successor — she had a heart murmur that disqualified her. Fiona is shocked but covers up.

That night, trick-or-treating begins, and Marie casts a spell that summons the dead from their graves, including Henry’s murderers. At the school, Spalding is having another doll tea party. He takes out a special dress and shows it to — Madison’s half-naked corpse, propped up in a chair! Fiona and Cordelia go out drinking. Cordelia has too much and goes to the ladies’ room to throw up. A robed figure emerges from a stall and throws acid in her face. Back at the school, Delphine is handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. When she opens the door again, she sees three female corpses standing on the porch — her long-dead daughters! She slams the door as an army of the dead shamble toward the school.

Zombies laying siege to a small group in a house? So, AMERICAN HORROR STORY is getting back to its roots with a little Night of the Living Dead homage. Remember the very first episode of this series, packed nearly to overflowing with pastiches of so many horror movies and tropes? Good times. And George Romero deserves a good tribute every now and then.

I knew that Frances Conroy must have had some big scenes coming up when she played such a small role in the premiere, and this was a payoff worth waiting for. I loved seeing her raging at Fiona, hands shaking in rage and frustration. Her jealousy of Fiona has her not thinking straight.

ahscoven305Right after Fiona ripped open Madison’s throat, I wondered: What if she isn’t the next Supreme? I always assumed from the beginning that Zoe would be the successor, since I know the producers wrote the part specifically for Taissa Farmiga. But then I started wondering if Nan was the dark horse in this race, but now I’m back to Zoe.

But Fiona certainly showed no sign of slowing down this week — what with literally breathing life back into Queenie and looking younger and more spry. This is either proof that the next Supreme is not ready to ascend, or a pretty powerful placebo effect; she thought she got rid of rival and her powers improved. I’m sure that Bastien won’t argue about Fiona’s power!

It’s horrifying, but just what I expect from this show that Spalding kept Madison’s corpse to play with. And in her undies, no less. I’m counting on her being resurrected somehow in the near future, and I’m betting she won’t like the idea of being Spalding’s teatime plaything. And, as for horrifying, those creepy porcelain-faced dolls that Spalding was playing with are even more horrifying than clowns, and should be cast into a fire on sight! I hate those dolls! No wonder Spalding is off his rocker.

If you’re wondering why Kaylee looked so familiar, it’s because she was portrayed by the actress who played the sexy young version of Moira the maid in the first season. And she’s appearing in the same episode as her opposite number, Old Moira, Frances Conroy. Such symmetry.

At least that makes sense, unlike Hank splattering Kaylee’s brains all over the carpet. (Another dead girl; another overhead shot of her corpse with pooling blood on a carpet. Who says this show doesn’t have a signature visual style?) Hanks seems a little impulsive to me.

ahscoven3044You know who has a real problem with impulse control? Nan. She reads other people’s thoughts, and any time she has a thought of her own, she acts on it. Think about it: She’s been reading the minds of the other students; she read Luke’s mind to discern what kind of cake he likes and is apparently making him like her; she freed Delphine from her bonds to stop her mental screaming; and she summoned The Council because she was worried about Madison. Talk about someone who acts on the first thought that comes into her head! Nan needs to get a grip on her impulses and think about what effect her actions are having on those around her.

And, speaking of The Council, are the three witches we saw in this episode the entirety of the Council? Or are they just a delegation? A mere three witches doesn’t sound so impressive; I pictured The Council being a much more august body, with lots of sexy witches who meet in a castle, in a conference chamber with stone tables and tall chairs and servants and blazing bronze braziers and torches on the wall and chanting in the background. So, yeah, kinda like my place on weekends.

QUOTABLE:

“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 hand job or something.” — Queenie

“The Council reminds you, no witch has been tried, convicted, and burned at the stake since 1926. And on a personal note, I’d like to add, I’ve got a book of matches in my pocket, Fiona, and I’m just dying to light this fire.” — Myrtle

“You got an online girlfriend in every port, 007.” — Kaylee

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