American Horror Story Coven, S3E2: Body Parts
Original Airdate: October 16, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
I’ve heard a lot of feedback about the new season of AHS Coven, and so far it’s all very positive. Those people who were worried that a show about witches in New Orleans would be mired by cliché have been reassured by the clever writing and interesting plot. This isn’t any witch story we’ve seen before, and a surprising number of people went to the history books (and Google) to research all of the characters who are based on real people. So far it is clear that the season revolves around feminism, male-female roles, mother-daughter roles, race relations, and sins of the past coming back to haunt people. From the grave injustices of American slavery and the legacy of the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the 1690s, we saw a lot in that first episode. The story continues in this week’s episode.
The bayou. In my opinion, the mysterious bayou is what makes Louisiana such a great setting for horror stories. It lends itself to all kinds of situations. We see a couple of illegal gator poachers reeling in their latest catch. The jerk chicken was the best bait, evidently. They get back to their camp to find a woman walking among the gators they have hanging up to be skinned. It’s Misty Day, looking ethereal and waifish in her hippie clothes, muttering to herself that the dead gators are all wrong. She demands to know why they men have killed God’s creatures, catching them off guard and making them think she’s from PETA. Better PETA than Fish and Game, they agree. The older man points his gun at her. “Play with dead things, you’re more than likely to join ‘em,” he warns. “Not all dead,” she replies, closing her eyes. One of the gators spring to life, grabbing the man’s arm so that he fires the gun into the air. His buddy takes off running, only to trip and fall. The gator they’d just killed clamps its jaws around his head and drags him into the water. Steve Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” plays in the background as Misty saunters off.
Have you paid attention to the opening credits? Creepy. And I think they mean something. I’m sure we’ll find out.
Cordelia is waking the girls up for morning gathering, which sounds like an event in a recovery clinic, not a school for young witches. She finds Madison dressed in her underwear. Recovering quickly, she tells Madison and Zoe to get downstairs as soon as possible. Madison is frustrated that Zoe has been online searching for information about Kyle. Evidently he was a United Way volunteer in the summer. “He should be canonized,” replies a snarky Madison, who thinks he would have joined his frat brothers had he had the chance. The way she sees it, Kyle “was living on borrowed time” anyway. She did Zoe a favor.
Meanwhile, Cordelia has moved on to wake up her mother, Fiona. After several attempts, Fiona finally opens the door, looks a bit disheveled. Cordelia notices a foul odor coming from Fiona’s room, which Fiona blames on some Chinese herbs. She mocks Cordelia’s morning gathering and says she’ll be down soon. As soon as the door closes, she turns to face Madame LaLaurie, who has been gagged and tied to a chair. Fiona wants answers from her. How is it that she survived so long without looking a day older than she was when she was put in the ground? As soon as Fiona removes the gag, LaLaurie screams, so Fiona slaps her. She screams again when the room is filled with the sound of a ring tone. “Jesus, woman, it’s a cell phone,” Fiona sneers. Such a great moment. Kathy Bates looks terrified of Jessica Lange. Fiona leaves her to join the gathering, but not without issuing a threat—she’d better make her explanation worth her while.
Detroit, 2012. Queenie is filling orders at a fast food restaurant. It’s a chicken restaurant, and the customer at the counter accuses Queenie of shorting him a piece of chicken in his 8-piece bucket. He says she must have failed math, and she responds that she got As in every math class from algebra to calculus. When he doesn’t stop, she tells the “pencil dick” that he ate the piece just to get an extra one. He calls her a “fat ass” and demands to speak with the manager. “I am the manager,” she says through gritted teeth as she thrusts her arm into the fryer. Her skin remains perfectly fine while his skin breaks into blisters. Back in the present day, Nan asks if Queenie went to jail, but since there were no witnesses that saw her “throw” the oil on the man, she didn’t get charged. The story made the paper, and that’s how Cordelia found her. Queenie says that she grew up on white bread witch stuff like Charmed and “Sabrina the Teenage Cracker.” She didn’t know Black witches even existed. As it turns out, she now knows that she’s a descendant of the first Black witch to be killed at Salem. She’d been a house slave, which makes Queenie part of her “tribe.” Madison asks if they should sing “Kumbaya” now, which sends Queenie from her chair in a rage. Just as Cordelia tells the girls they need to work together, Spalding leads two men into the room. It’s the police.
Detectives Sanchez and Stiles are there to speak with Madison and Zoe about the incident at the party. When a movie star arrives at a party like that, people are sure to take notice. People saw Madison go into the back room with the boys. She insists that they tried to get her high but she didn’t let them. Except for Vodka, she laughs. Zoe chimes in that Madison was indeed sober. But when the detectives pull out a picture of Zoe in the hospital, Zoe starts to tremble. She tries to cover, saying that she felt sorry for the boy she’d met the night before, but they shock everyone when they reveal that he died. After doing some research, they found out that her boyfriend Charles died the same way. Cordelia closes her eyes while Madison seems to realize that her roomie stepped up for her. Zoe cracks under the pressure, blurting out that the guys gang raped Madison and so she flipped the bus over with her mind. They’re all witches, and she’s sorry and she doesn’t want to go to jail. That’s when Fiona walks in. The detectives ask if she’s in charge. “I’m Fiona Goode, I’m in charge everywhere,” she replies. As they tell her that they will need to bring the girls in for questioning, Fiona spits into two glasses and offers them to the officers. Sanchez drinks right away, while Stiles fights it to the point that his nose starts bleeding. Before Fiona makes good on her threat to turn his brain into scrambled eggs, he finally drinks. Placated, Fiona asks for all of their evidence on the case and makes sure that they will not remember anything about this. There. Easy peasy.
Upstairs, Madison is furious that Zoe told everyone what happened. Surely this will have an impact on Madison’s “recovery.” Zoe isn’t so certain given how much they seemed to know already, and besides that, this was like multiple murders. It was wrong. (She seems to have forgotten her own role in this) Just as Madison asks about the kid in the hospital, Fiona flings open the door and sends them both flying up into the walls. She’d forgiven the bus accident on “the exuberance of youth,” but what Zoe did was inexcusable. Above all, she says, when people come asking questions, their role is to close ranks and stick together. Zoe is “soft.” Those police had nothing on the girls and would have gone away easily had she not had her little outburst. Fiona reminds them both of their places in this world when she tells them that the only thing they have to fear is her.
Madison and Zoe go to the county morgue. Madison shows off her cat burglar skills (learned from doing research for a movie) to get inside. Now that she knows what Zoe did on her behalf to the boy in the hospital, she wants to repay her by bringing her boyfriend back with a resurgence spell she stole from Cordelia. They walk into the freezer to find body parts all over. Madison unzips a bag that contains legs, an arm, and Kyle’s head. Zoe turns away, but Madison says he’s still kind of cute, even in that state. Zoe looks around the room and sees tragedy, while Madison sees “potential” and a challenge. There are all kinds of body parts, so they can put them all together to build the perfect boyfriend. “Find me a saw,” she commands.
Cordelia is at the doctor’s office. She and her husband are watching the ultrasound machine. Cordelia wants to know if her oven is “ready for a bun,” but the doctor has bad news. The medicine she has been taking isn’t working, and it’s time for them to consider alternatives like IVF. Her husband asks for privacy and says that she has a choice. Clearly he knows that his wife is a witch and he wants her to use magic. Cordelia is reluctant because that kind of magic leads to dark things, and she’d be no better than Fiona. Besides, she doesn’t want to play God. Her doctor points out that she’s letting the doctor do just that. This gives Cordelia pause.
Back at Miss Robichaux’s, Fiona walks in with a plate of fried chicken. She tempts her guest with it, but she correctly surmises that after 180 years, Madame LaLaurie doesn’t need to eat anymore. LaLaurie reacts to the statement so Fiona removes the gag. LaLaurie wants to know how long she’d been buried, and when Fiona tells her, she looks shocked. She knows that the “Black Devil” tricked her. She recalls drinking the potion, falling to the ground, and waking up in time to be called outside her house by Madame Laveau and a group of freed slaves, some of whom appear to have been LaLaurie’s victims. LaLaurie tells Laveau that her attempt to poison her failed, but that wasn’t what Laveau was after. LaLaurie demands that her family be returned to her; Laveau points above them and says that the family “never left.” There above them are the hanging corpses of LaLaurie’s daughters and husband. LaLaurie crumples to the ground in shock. Laveau explains that she gave LaLaurie the curse of immortality so that she can spend eternity in the ground in a box, listening to the world going on around her and never able to rejoin loved ones in the afterlife. They place LaLaurie in a coffin and haul her away to be buried. We return to the present, where Fiona takes a bite of chicken and offers condolences for LaLaurie’s loss. La Laurie isn’t hungry.
I think it’s interesting to note that we have now seen most of the leading female characters engage in murder: Fiona, LaLaurie, Laveau, Zoe and Madison. I’m sure this only the beginning.
At the morgue, the girls wheel their collection of body parts down the corridor. They assemble Kyle piece by piece, and then Madison sews him together while Zoe prepares for the ceremony. Once they’re ready, Madison says they have to breathe in the smoke, which leads them to awful hallucinations that make them scream in agony. They offer their blood and obedience to the gods of the underworld (“Did we just marry the devil? Because I’m not down with that,” Zoe says). The trip they’re on gets more and more intense, and with a final “arise” command from Madison, everything stops. “Well, that was a bust,” Madison mutters. Nothing seems to have worked. Madison returns to the car while Zoe stays inside pretending to look for her phone, but she’s really there to offer an apology and kiss to Kyle for getting him involved. While Madison waits, the coroner shows up. Madison bails on Zoe, leaving her to fend for herself. The coroner finds Kyle’s stitched up body, and then he finds Zoe. Just as he is about to grab her, Kyle sits up and grabs him, bashing the man with his flailing arms. Outside, it looks like this little episode has captured Misty Day’s attention as she walks up to the morgue.
Fiona sits in the stylists’ chair at a hair salon. She is the only white woman there, and when the stylist tugs her hair, Fiona comments that she probably isn’t used to seeing white women in her salon. Or the neighborhood, the stylist replies. They switch on some loud music, making Fiona all the more uncomfortable. When the music is turned off suddenly, everyone turns to see a modern-day Madame Laveau standing there. She fusses over a little girl’s hair before sending everyone home, leaving her alone with Fiona.
Nan is back at the school trying to read a book, but something is bothering her. She tells whatever it is to stop, and when Queenie asks if everything is ok, she stomps past her. “Too much noise!” Nan goes to Fiona’s room and tells LaLaurie that she “thinks too loudly,” so she sets her free and tells her to get out. When Queenie sees (and smells) her, LaLaurie pushes past her, calling her a “slave.” “Who you calling a slave, bitch?” Queenie demands. LaLaurie hits her over the head with a candlestick before escaping.
Fiona and Laveau face off. It’s a very interesting dynamic; Fiona sits and talks while Laveau does her hair. They both know who they are dealing with. It would seem that witches and Voodoo queens do not share a common bond; it is believed that Techuba of the Arawak tribe was the one who imparted her gifts to the witches of Salem and was paid back with treachery. Fiona tells Laveau that she has something that Laveau will want. She’s been to St. Louis Number One and has watched the tourists painting crosses on Laveau’s tomb in order to make a wish, when all they needed to do was “go down to the Ninth Ward to get their hair braided.” Laveau can see that Fiona wants something, and this is true enough. She wants the immortality potion that she used on LaLaurie. Things get tense, and Fiona sets the wigs on fire to allow for her speedy escape. But this isn’t over.
Cordelia has decided to take husband Hank’s advice. She goes through her garden and gets what she needs for a pretty potent spell. I say it’s potent because they have some pretty potent sex with snakes and fire and lots of nudity that had to push the limits of the censors.
Zoe rushes Kyle away from the morgue. She tries to explain what is happening to him, but like Frankenstein’s monster, he isn’t capable of understanding and he instead bashes his head into the car window. Maybe he should have stayed dead, she muses. That’s when Misty Day pops up in the back seat, saying that Zoe called her out so she might as well offer her help.
Back at the Stevie Nicks bayou den, Misty Day applies a magic salve to Kyle’s stitches. “It’s the shit,” she explains. Literally. It’s swamp mixture. Somehow Zoe entered Misty Day’s meditation. She called to her, so she came. It feels to me like Misty Day is lonely. Zoe asks about the music, only to be told it’s Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks. “Stevie Nicks from American Idol?” Zoe asks. Misty Day laughs. “Stevie Nicks, White Witch.” Zoe starts to get creeped out and wants to leave, so Misty Day offers to care for Kyle until he’s better. That way, when Zoe comes back, he’ll be as good as new. (Major emphasis on when she comes back) That also ensures she returns for Kyle, who clutches her hand like a child.
Madame Laveau shuts down the parlor for the night, chastising the stylists for leaving their stations a mess. Passing through the doors into her private sanctum, we see an altar and all the things you’d expect to see in the back room of a beauty parlor owned by a Voodoo queen. Then there’s this grunting noise. “You’ll never guess who’s back,” she purrs. She turns around and the Minotaur is standing there grunting at her. Laveau unlocks his leg irons. There is business to attend to.
Fiona is walking through the French Quarter when she finds Madame LaLaurie sitting in front of her old Royal Street house. The street names are all the same, of course, and there’s a plaque outside commemorating the historical site that is her house, a house of horrors. “People have always celebrated the macabre,” Fiona says, puffing on her cigarette. “You’re not remembered fondly, but that’s better than not being remembered at all.” Fiona admits that everything she’s heard about Madame LaLaurie suggests she’s one evil person with “a mean streak wider than her backside,” but LaLaurie sees herself as a woman of her time. She loved her girls and it killed her to see them hanging like that. Her husband, not so much; she was going to poison his buckwheat sooner or later anyway. Fiona sighs, saying that in a way it’s easier in death not to disappoint the ones you love. LaLaurie asks if Fiona really is a witch, hoping that she can figure out a way to kill her. Fiona laughs, saying that though she still might kill her, it won’t be today. “Let’s go home,” she says, offering another warning that if she ever wanders off again, she’ll put her back in the box.
And that is a wrap on episode two. For anyone wondering how Evan Peters and Lily Rabe might make a comeback after dying last week, now we know. Anything seems to be possible this season, including a Minotaur walking the streets of New Orleans.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Please leave your comments below!