American Horror Story Coven, S3E4: Fearful Pranks Ensue
Original Airdate: October 30, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Though tonight’s episode of AHS Coven has a lighthearted title, the first few minutes of the show are very disturbing on so many levels I’m not even sure where to begin. This season is so different from its predecessors because though it is rooted in folklore about witches and Voodoo, much of the background is rooted in real events. At times I find myself flinching not from the supernatural scenes, but from the images of violence against African Americans and women. They’re depictions of real things that happened not so long ago…which makes for some truly disturbing viewing.
Tonight we begin in 1961 New Orleans. A young African American boy is riding to school when he is chased down by a group of grown men in a car. They corner him in an alley and knock him out. From there, we go to Marie Laveau’s salon. The boy’s mother is telling the ladies that her son is attending DeSalle High School, which has been desegregated. When the other women seem reluctant to believe that he’ll be accepted there, the mother points out that JFK is in the White House (nice timing, given the upcoming 50th anniversary of JFK’s death) and her son will now get a better education. Next we see a field and a tree whose branches are opened up to reveal the boy. It looks like he’s standing there, but when we get closer, a police officer is cutting him down from the tree into his mother’s arms. The noose is still around his neck. Marie Laveau looks on with rage in her eyes. Later that night, the men drink around a fire, telling each other that they are only doing what’s right and the governor will support them. Little do they know, Marie Laveau is casting a spell. She conjures up the decayed bodies of the long ago departed, and this flock of reanimated corpses attacks the men and kills them ruthlessly. In a twist of irony, the ringleader is impaled by the gun of a Confederate soldier, and while he is hanging in the air, his body is pulled apart by the walking dead. Marie Laveau feels the whole thing happening, and she gasps for breath once it’s done.
I always knew Spalding would turn out to be a creeper. He’s having tea with his massive doll collection, and, like Steve Buscemi’s character in Con Air, he seems to be enjoying it. Immensely. The dolls stare back with their creepy eyes and…yeah. Creepy. His tea is interrupted by the sound of people downstairs. As it turns out, we have returned to the end of last week’s episode, only we see how Fiona killed Madison from Spalding’s point of view. Once she’s dead, he rolls her up in the rug, her jeweled high heels poking out from the end of the rug like a bedazzled Cleopatra. Fiona asks him to pour a drink for her, and while she drinks, she comments that Madison would have been an awful Supreme, and she essentially had to take one for the team and kill her off so that she could remain the Supreme during these difficult times. She tells Spalding that she really enjoys their talks, much more so since he lost his tongue. We might have learned more, but the sound of breaking glass interrupts their moment.
Fiona goes to the conservatory to find that the place has been trashed. Initially, she’s worried about her daughter, but soon she finds Queenie on the ground with a gaping hole in her stomach. Queenie cries that she couldn’t stop it, and she points to where the Minotaur stands in the corner. Whether or not Fiona sees him remains a mystery, but it’s clear that Fiona is afraid. She goes to Cordelia’s room and tells her daughter to wake up, that one of the girls was hurt on her watch. Fiona has taken Queenie to her room and she’s lying almost motionless on the bed. Cordelia prepares an herb potion of some kind while Fiona rants that they have been attacked. Clearly, this is the work of Marie Laveau. Fiona figures out that Cordelia went to see her for a fertility spell, and before she can attack Cordelia, Cordelia says that she didn’t get anything from the meeting because Fiona had already been there, issuing threats against Laveau. In the midst of the argument, Queenie stops breathing. Fiona blows air onto her face and she comes back to life. Cordelia thinks they need a hospital, but Fiona says that from now on, everything will be done internally, because the last thing they need is a visit from the Council.
Fiona returns to her bedroom to find Delphine hiding in the closet. Delphine is in shock, partly because of the monster, and partly because Queenie saved her. She tells Fiona that the Voodoo Queen sent the monster to get her, but Fiona knows this already. She tells Delphine to get out, that the monster won’t be coming back.
At the hair salon, Marie Laveau puts the finishing touches on a woman’s hair. The woman has been invited to the mayor’s mansion for the annual Halloween ball. The woman tries to pay Marie, but instead Marie puts money into the woman’s hands. A package arrives unscheduled, so Marie tells her assistant to open it. The woman screams. Inside the box is the Minotaur’s head…and it’s still alive. Marie screams.
Kyle is banging his head into the side of the bathtub. Zoe rushes in to stop him, and when she says his name, he stops and repeats his name. “No Kyle,” he says. She apologizes for everything that has happened, and when she starts crying, he slowly wipes away her tears. She decides to make him something to eat instead of dealing with him, and while she’s making tuna she finds a box of rat poison. She carries the food back to the bathroom to find that he is gone. The front door is open, and outside is a neighborhood full of kids in costumes out trick-or-treating. Zombie Kyle will fit in perfectly. Talk about great timing.
Fiona summons Delphine to zip up her dress. When Fiona remarks that it’s Halloween, Delphine asks if they will light bonfires and make offerings to keep the evil spirits away, but Fiona informs her that bonfires have been replaced by jack-o-lanterns and candy has replaced the offerings. When Fiona is finished, Delphine says she’s beautiful, while Fiona asks if she looks any younger. Once her black witch’s hat is on, she’s the best witch of all.
Marie Laveau’s assistant storms into the back room while Marie gets ready to cast a revenge spell. Her assistant knows that Marie is powerful and she’s heard all of the stories about her, but in those stories she was the hero. She tells Marie to make peace. We flash back to an older time when Anna Lee was still the Supreme. It would seem that Marie and Anna Lee brokered a deal to keep their respective covens from causing problems for the other, given that the world around them was “cruel enough.” She tells Chantal that truce is over and they need to act, and she’d better not get in her way.
Cordelia is on the phone with Hank. He has taken a day job in Baton Rouge since they need the money, and he also has a meeting with Phil Underwood. After he hangs up, he opens the door to reveal a pretty young girl named Kaylee. He’s having an affair. They have some pretty loud sex together, and Hank really lets loose. “Happy Halloween,” he tells her, lighting a cigarette. She laughs and tells him it’s her favorite holiday. She loves dressing up. When she asks what he was last year, his response is interesting: “I was a monster.” I get the feeling Hank has a few secrets, too.
Cordelia tends to Queenie while Delphine sits nearby. When Queenie comes around, Cordelia fetches a clean towel and Delphine tells her that she doesn’t know how to thank her for saving her life. “I guess you’ll just have to work on that,” Queenie mutters. Nan rushes in to let them know that “they’re here.” Cordelia thinks it’s the girls…but it’s not.
Outside, three figures walk toward the door. Cordelia rushes to greet them. The Council is made up of flamboyantly goofy Myrtle (Frances Conroy), “old queen” Quentin, and demure and Puritanical Pembroke. Cordelia immediately begins apologizing for the attack on Queenie, but they didn’t know about it, so she apologizes for going to see Marie Laveau, which they didn’t know about, either. Fiona enters, telling her daughter to shut up and welcoming the Council with evident familiarity. She asks “what the old hens are here to cluck about,” and Myrtle reveals that they were summoned by one of the girls. Nan appears. She called the Council because she can’t hear Madison anymore and she thinks she’s dead. Spalding puts the finishing touches on his scarecrow and then gives him a big hug.
Myrtle convenes the inquiry into the disappearance of Madison Montgomery. The penalty if someone is found guilty of murdering a witch is death by fire. Cordelia tries to assert that Madison is a spirited girl who has been at her school longer than any rehab program. Zoe says that she didn’t notice any new powers, but she has that “thing” because she’s a movie star. When Pembroke asks what that is, Quentin replies that “it’s the thing that you lack: charisma.” Queenie puts it more bluntly: Madison is a “stone cold bitch who likes drinking, big dicks, and trouble.” Cordelia takes a moment in the middle of questioning to note that her rug is missing. The Council asks if she had developed any new powers, but no one saw anything except Nan, who tells the Council about the day she set the neighbor’s curtains on fire. Quentin asks who else knew that she’d done that. Nan smiles.
(PS—why is Zoe able to be present for questioning? Isn’t she out looking for Kyle?)
Hank and Kaylee have a post-coital meal. He talks about the vending machine in San Diego that has sushi in it. (I live in San Diego and I’ve never seen anything like that) Kaylee is impressed that his FDA agent job allows him to travel so much. She’s equally surprised that they met in an online community dedicated to Thomas Kincaid pictures. She hopes that after all of this, he won’t break her heart. After he pours more wine, we see that his intention is not to break her heart…it’s to blow her brains out with a heavy-duty handgun. Whoa. Didn’t expect that one.
Myrtle questions Fiona, asking why she returned to the academy after such a long absence. They agree that she has been a rotten Supreme, failing to manage most of her duties. Fiona turns the questioning around and asks if she’s wrong for being away or wrong for coming back to Miss Robichaux’s, but the real issue is that there have been two mysterious disappearances under that roof, and in both cases she was the last person to see them alive.
Miss Robichaux’s, 1961. Young Fiona sobs when she hears that Anna Lee is gone. Say it ain’t so! The Council tells her that Anna Lee is gone, and that she may have been going somewhere. Fiona tells them that she had a bottle of wine with her, which leads the Council to believe that perhaps she had been taking it to Marie Laveau after negotiating the truce. They also have something to tell Fiona. As the scene shifts to a party, the Council announces that Fiona is the Supreme-Elect, and she’ll soon perform the test of the seven wonders to prove her worthiness. Young Myrtle believes that Fiona is hiding the truth, that she’s getting away with murder. Fiona sends Myrtle’s wine glass crashing to the ground while the Council talks about a new era. Later, Myrtle casts a spell seeking the truth. She enchants Spalding’s tongue so that he can only tell the truth because she knows that he’s being called in for a closed session the next day. As she sees it, he’s always cleaning up her messes, so surely he knows something. Even later that night, the school is awakened by Spalding’s cries. He’s been attacked and his tongue has been cut out. Fiona smirks at Myrtle.
Back in the present, Myrtle says that Fiona will finally pay for all of her crimes, but Fiona doesn’t think they have any evidence of wrongdoing. Myrtle says there hasn’t been a witch burned at the stake since 1926, but she has a book of matches and she’s ready to light the fire. As Spalding fills Fiona’s cup of tea, Myrtle calls him as the final witness. She demands to know the name of the witch who cut out his tongue and tells him to write the name on a pad of paper. We flash back to 1961, where he asks Fiona to join him in the bathroom. He says his last words are that he has always loved her, and then he cuts out his tongue as she watches in true horror. Only then does she realize what he was doing. And he did it for her. Myrtle looks at the paper to see that he’s written her name down. This sends Myrtle into a rage, saying that Fiona has twice gotten away with murder. Cordelia, who has listened to the whole conversation, says that Myrtle is wrong, that the Supreme must be in perfect health and Madison had a heart murmur, so therefore she was not the Supreme.
At the salon, Chantal closes up while Marie begins her ceremony. A big yellow Britney Spears snake is draped around her shoulders and then she stabs a smaller snake. She calls upon the dead to rise again. I have a feeling they’re not going trick-or-treating.
Speaking of trick-or-treating, Delphine has gotten the hang of candy distribution. Upstairs, Zoe insists that Madison is still alive and that they should be out looking for her, but neither Nan nor Queenie seem interested. Elsewhere in the house, Spalding puts on a nice little hat that matches the dressing gown that he’s wearing, and then he goes to the closet to fetch a fine lace dress for his finest doll…Madison. He has her posed in a rocking chair in a bra and panties, ready for tea.
Fiona and Cordelia are at a bar, and Cordelia wants to play Questions. She asks her mother why she hates Hank so much. It’s simple: “he reeks of bull shit,” Fiona replies, and she can’t understand why her daughter can’t see that. She asks if her mother killed Madison, to which Fiona says no. Then Fiona asks who the next Supreme will be, but it’s still Cordelia’s turn. Fiona is done with her daughter’s boring questions. Cordelia ends up puking in the bathroom, and after she rinses her mouth out, a figure dressed in black tosses acid (in a Mason jar, like the baby gravy!!) into her face. Cordelia screams as the hooded figure leaves.
Delphine hands out more candy. Luke, the neighbor, shows up with cookies for Nan to repay her for the cake she made. She giggles in delight. They stand together in the hallway when someone pounds on the door. Delphine opens it and sees three zombie girls. She recognizes one of them as her daughter and shuts the door. Outside, more zombies approach the house.
Happy Halloween, indeed.
Well, tonight’s episode was a departure from the earlier episodes. It started out with some heavy stuff and then became more lighthearted. A few questions linger, though. Where is Kyle? Why isn’t Zoe looking for him? Where is Misty Day? Who poured the acid on Cordelia? And why can’t Nan figure out what the truth is if she can read minds?
There’s a lot of excitement in New Orleans right now, and I suspect things are only going to get hotter next week. Be sure to post your comments below!