AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Recap – “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

     October 30, 2013


Things got a little more heated between the witches and voodoo practitioners this week on American Horror Story: Coven, but more importantly, we got a look back in time at the formative years of some of the show’s major players.  In addition to the plot points, viewers were treated to some good ol’ fashioned AHS hijinks, including surprise murders, sexy times and character creep-outs.  We were also treated to a returning cast member who we haven’t seen since the first season, though it remains to be seen whether or not she’ll turn up again.  Hit the jump for my recap and review, and for why I have faith in the future.

american-horror-story-coven-angela-bassettThings got off to a bit of a rough (and racial) start this time around, with three white men lynching a young Black boy for no apparent reason.  It turns out that the only motivation behind this hate crime was the fact that the boy, Henry, had begun attending the integrated De La Salle school in 1961 New Orleans.   American Horror Story has a history of depicting scenes of a sensitive nature that appear for shock value and then stop short of offering any deeper commentary.  This is one of those times.  The sequence did, however, serve to set up the final shot of the episode and incorporated a bit of voodoo fun with zombies.  If nothing else, Laveau (Angela Bassett) raising the dead and having them attack the white men was an example of immediate and cathartic retribution for the hate crime, which was a good tactic to get the audience on her side and to show off her impressive powers.

Someone who’s not impressed with her power is Fiona (Jessica Lange), the reigning Supreme who is not remotely close to giving in to her waning abilities.  After dispatching Madison (Emma Roberts) and dealing with the Minotaur off camera (and mailing its severed head back to Laveau), Fiona also manages to save Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), berate Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and pacify Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates).  It’s not until the Council of Witches shows up to investigate Madison’s disappearance that Fiona is truly put to the test.  Here’s where things get interesting, as Fiona’s ongoing feud with Council chair, Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), is explored.

It seems that when Fiona murdered the previous Supreme, the Council also investigated the incident, and its possible connection with the voodoo practitioners.  In the end, they wound up promoting Fiona to the new Supreme.  This news did not sit well with her rival, Myrtle, who knew that the Academy’s butler, Spalding (Denis O’Hare), knew more than he was letting on.  In a sequence that finally revealed Spalding’s first (and probably last) words in this season, we learned that Myrtle enchanted his tongue so that he couldn’t tell a lie and that Spalding himself cut it out rather than betray his love, Fiona.  Spalding remains loyal to this day as he deceitfully named Myrtle the culprit who cut out his tongue many years before.

american-horror-story-coven-denis-ohareWe need to talk about Spalding.  The opening shot of him having a tea party with a room full of creepy dolls wasn’t bad enough for AHS.  Instead, this was only a teaser to the mute’s final scene in which he wears a woman’s nightgown and cap to set tea with a life-sized doll in the form of the deceased Madison Montgomery.  At least Roberts gets to hang around set a bit longer, but it’s not looking good for her character.  Other creepy Spalding moments included embracing the scarecrow and cutting out his own tongue.  At least he got some dialogue this time around!

In the realm of miscellanea, we also watched Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) futilely attempt to fix FrankenKyle (Evan Peters) who chose instead to slam his forehead into a toilet and then run off to frolic amidst the trick or treaters.  We then see Cordelia’s husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) cheating on her (quite roughly) with a random young woman he met online (Welcome back, Alexandra Breckenridge!); the affair doesn’t last long as Hank puts a bullet in her head (Farewell, Alexandra Breckenridge!).  Cordelia, meanwhile, is busy giving away too much information to everyone, including the Council and her own mother, who, unbeknownst to Cordelia, is likely on the path of eliminating any rival Supremes-in-the-making.  (Pro tip: Look for someone who exhibits glowing, radiant health.)

Lange is having the most fun by far this season, although O’Hare gave her a run for her money in this episode.  Bates, at least thus far, has been a wasted talent; I’m hoping they do more with her character than relegate her to an anachronistic house servant.  Bassett is still the most impressive Coven addition to me because she’s owning her role and bringing a real respect and power to her character.  Nowhere is this more evident than the final scene of this episode in which she invokes her dark powers to bring the dead back to life once again, sending LaLaurie’s own undead daughters to the Madame’s doorstep.  Vintage AHS.

Rating: B

american-horror-story-coven-fearful-pranks-ensue-councilQuotes & Miscellanea:

Cora: “I have faith in the future.”

Fiona: “Oh, Spalding, I’ve always enjoyed our little talks together … especially since you lost your tongue.  Makes you seem wiser somehow.”

Fiona on the Minotaur: “Oh Christ, our girls couldn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat.”

Fiona: “From now on we handle everything internally. The last thing you want is to have the Council show up on your doorstep and question your competence.”

LaLaurie on the Minotaur: “What if it comes back?” Fiona, smirking: “It won’t.”

Fiona: “Who’s the baddest witch in town?”

Hank: “Happy Halloween!”

Kayleigh (Breckingridge): “What were you last year?” Hank: “I was a monster.”

Do we really need the serial killer storyline for Hank?  Time will tell.

Queenie: “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.”

Cordelia: “Where’s my rug?”

american-horror-story-coven-posterMyrtle: “The Council reminds you, no witch has been tried, convicted and burned at the stake since 1926. I would also like to tell you, Fiona, that I have a book of matches in my pocket and I’m just dying to light this fire.” – Who wants to bet we see that happen this season?

As more fish-eye lenses and swirling cameras are apparent in this episode, it’s no longer a sign of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon at the helm, but of AHS camerawork in general.

Spalding talks!

Spalding: “Thank you for coming. These are my last words, Miss Fiona. I have always loved you.”

Kids: “Trick or treat!” LaLaurie: “Oh, little beggar children all fancied up … Don’t be greedy, just take one! You little hooligans!”

While throwing up in the restroom, Cordelia gets acid of some sort thrown into her eyes by a hooded figure (as they do).  Voodoo retribution for the pregnancy spell she requested?