From Frances Conroy

American Horror Story – Apocalypse, Episode 4: “Could It Be… Satan?”

A look back at the past of the outpost, Michael Langdon, and a post-witch+warlock world.

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American Horror Story – Freak Show, Episode 7: “Test of Strength”

Stanley and Dell come together tenuously. The unthinkable happens to Penny at the hands of her father.

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American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 13: “The Seven Wonders”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 13: “The Seven Wonders”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Douglas Petrie

* For a review of the previous episode, “Go to Hell” – click here
* For a review of the first episode of Season 4 “Monsters Among Us” – click here


The finale of Coven is upon us!
Fitting enough, Stevie Nicks shows up singing “Seven Wonders” by Fleetwood Mac. There’s a nice montage of all the young witches preparing for the big ceremony. In her room, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) levitates the bed while studying. In the bathroom, Madison (Emma Roberts) plays it cool and bubbles the water, lighting candles and a fireplace with the snap of her fingers. Misty Day (Lily Rabe) dances in the basement and practices in the small garden Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) keeps. Then there’s Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), who studies up on voodoo, and even keeps a little picture of Nan by her books. Love this opening and it works so well. This has been a very feminist type season, which I dig. And this opening for the finale gives us a nice bit of equal time with the young witches, highlighting them all and including each in a sort of happy light. Not something we often get on American Horror Story. Plus, it’s fun that Nicks has been kicking around singing Fleetwood Mac songs and being cool as hell.
Picture 7Consistently I get a great kick out of Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) who shares her belief that Leonardo da Vinci was a warlock. She serves up a beautifully rendered meal for everyone. Then Cordelia talks of the start of The Seven Wonders by telling all the girls: “Kick ass tomorrow.”
We start with TELEKINESIS. Kyle (Evan Peters) lights a bunch of candles, with all the girls lined up in front of the table. They’re meant to haul the candle via mind control, which each of them do without much trouble.
CONCILIUM is next, or MIND CONTROL – they pair up and have to make the other do what they wish, prompting slaps, hair pulling and all sorts of stuff you might expect from a few catty young women who want nothing more than to outdo the other. Fun moment sees Kyle being forced to lick Madison’s shoe, being tossed around the room by her and Zoe in a bid to be the best and meanest of the two, but finally Cordelia breaks it all up.


DESCENSUM or DESCENT INTO THE NETHERWORLD comes afterwards. “If your soul hasn’t returned to your body by sun up, you die,” Myrtle proclaims before readying the hourglass to start. The ladies all chant together and then head down into hell for their test. Queenie is back at the chicken shack again just like her encounter with Legba, easily bringing herself back first. Then Madison returns from a “live version of The Sound of Music“. Zoe does too from a breakup hell she barely escaped. But only Misty does not come back yet, she’s stuck in school being forced to dissect a frog; of course, she keeps bringing it back to life. She’s made to dissect the living frog, taunted by the other children, and then the cycle begins over again: over and over. Honestly, this vision of hell returning to your worst moments is terrifying, very great representation of the afterlife. Sadly, though, Misty is not coming back. She lies on the floor, her body limp, as Cordelia hugs her tight. But the sand in the glass runs out, Misty disappears into a black smoke and she’s dead, gone forever. Didn’t see that coming when the tests started out.


Not much mourning before TRANSMUTATION begins as the next challenge. The three remainders don’t seem to be too trouble by it all, quickly zipping around the property. That is until one of them mixes things up and transmutates to the wrong spot. Zoe finds herself impaled on the academy gates high above the ground. They take her corpse down to the basement in hopes of bringing her back. Queenie can’t resurrect her, putting her out of the competition. Cordelia wants Madison to bring Zoe back, in effect proving she must go on and finish The Seven Wonders. But of course, the young mean bitch Madison doesn’t want to do that and jeopardize her position as the next Supreme. She leaves Myrtle and Cordelia, and Zoe dead.


But all is not lost. Myrtle convinces Cordelia she ought to test herself on The Seven Wonders. Finally, someone with sense. Cordelia does several of them pretty quickly. When it comes to DIVINATION, Madison and Cordelia face off; Madison loses, packs up to leave and threatens to expose the witch coven to the outside world. However, Kyle makes sure that never happens: he strangles Madison to death for not reviving Zoe and in turn gives Spalding (Denis O’Hare) a new doll to keep. In the end, Cordelia’s last test is bringing Zoe back – VITALUM VITALIS – which she does. Then promptly passes out hard. But once she’s back, her eyes work again and she is the new Supreme; the one, the only.
After all the wonderful and grim events, Cordelia emerges as the queen witch of them all. She goes public to the world about the academy, about witchcraft, and now many young witches around the world begin to seek her and the academy out. Furthermore, Queenie and Zoe are a part of the new regime, aiding Cordelia in steering the coven correctly.
But then Myrtle, oh Myrtle! She wants to be punished, and I supposed ought to be, for killing the other Council members, Cecily and Quentin. She insists, even with Cordelia refusing to do such a thing. Finally after everything is said and done, Myrtle is resentenced to being burned at the stake, as she already had been earlier in this season. So they trot back out to the dunes where Myrtle is strapped to a stake, set ablaze, and burned, blackened once more. Vicious, yet highly noble on Myrtle’s part: her dedication to the coven is more than evident, time and time again. Her final word? “Balenciaga!” -y’know, for the fashion conscious folk.


I love the end with Fiona (Jessica Lange), as we see her own version of hell. She is forever stuck with the Axeman (Danny Huston), in a little mediocre house down by the river, eating fish for dinner every night. A perfectly normal everyday life, something absolutely unspeakable for a woman like Fiona, a needy narcissist and a woman who needs fame, fortune, who needs extravagance. It’s fitting, and brutal in its own way. Love the writing involved with this finale, it works quite well for Fiona and her final resting place in hell.


With the end of Coven, we see another happy finish. There are still losses, deaths to mourn, and so on. But as Cordelia tells a television interviewer: “We are strong women.” This whole season had a great feminine vibe, and if some male viewers can’t accept or handle that it’s their loss. I found it incredible, and the writing really shined every chance it had. Lots of strong female characters. Plus, there were several excellently placed male characters, even Kyle who Evan Peters played so well almost virtually silent in each episode until the end. Overall, I loved this season. And as Cordelia, Queenie, Kyle and Zoe welcome newcomers to the academy, I almost wish there were more episodes to this season. When I first watched it as it came on FX a couple years ago, I didn’t take to it hugely, though I did enjoy all the episodes. Now when I go back through, I realize how good the writing was, how fun the characters and situations were, and above all else how intricate the plots themselves came off. Great work all around.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 12: “Go to Hell”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 12: “Go to Hell”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Jessica Sharzer

* For a review of the previous episode, “Protect the Coven” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Seven Wonders” – click here

 


“Go to Hell” begins with a nice opening concerning The Seven Wonders. Filmed in black-and-white, looking like a genuine silent film including title cards in between scenes. Such an excellent sequence, which gives us background into the whole Seven Wonders ceremony and what it entails. It’s also a little creepy, too. Even if nothing weird is actually happening. Just a very good homage to the silent film era. On top of it all, one of my favourite classical piano pieces by Frédéric Chopin plays throughout – Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2. A great piece of music to have accompanying this sequence. As well, Fiona (Jessica Lange) comes in near the end via voice-over.
Then we’re back with her talking to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). But Queenie knows what the older witch is up to, that she only wants to figure out the new Supreme in order to kill her. I don’t think that has changed, at all. Best of all, Fiona calls Papa Legba a “halfbaked Beetlejuice“. I laughed aloud at this line. Such a good one from writer Jessica Sharzer. But even more fun, Fiona announces to Queenie that this coming Saturday she will perform The Seven Wonders, “or die trying“. Looks like a true competition of powers is going to go down eventually between the remaining young witches at the academy. Will Misty Day (Lily Rabe) somehow return to compete? Or will it be Queenie, Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) in a trio head-to-head?
Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is trying to find out about Misty. She tries to touch Madison, to make use of her second sight. However, out of nowhere Madison teleports from one side of the room to the other. Manifesting new powers, huh? Well, Cordelia tells her not to “read too much” into all that. Finally, after a bunch of back and forth, Cordelia lays a hand on Madison. But nothing comes. We know the truth, so is Madison manifesting more powers giving her the ability to block thoughts, to control the thoughts of others?
Down in the basement, Queenie is looking for Marie. She can’t seem to find Laveau anywhere, though. Then she’s back upstairs with a creepy voodo book, on its front is the symbol of Papa Legba (Lance Reddick). She lies back on the bed and chants in a foreign tongue. She finds herself back at Chubbie’s Chicken serving food again, as if gone back in time literally, not just in thought. Outside there’s a seemingly never ending lineup of people around the building, inside. And at the front? Legba himself. This isn’t hell, though. Not “the hell“, he says, but “your hell.”
I love the conversation between Queenie and Legba. It’s sinister, but also pretty damn darkly comical. Reddick and Sidibe are both talented in their own respects, and this brief scene is a lot of fun. When she makes it out of the chicken shack hell, Legba is waiting. He explains all about Marie Laveau and the immortality of both her and LaLaurie; turns out Delphine chopped Marie into pieces to toss around New Orleans. Yowzah. Always a nasty, rough customer, that Delphine.

 

Papa Legba: “Time moves differently in hell

Picture 8Perhaps a favourite scene of mine takes us back to the old stomping grounds of Madame LaLaurie, where now Delphine herself is a guide. She has a different haircut, she wears a green suit jacket and black pants looking very modern. And hilariously, Delphine is now trying to rewrite her own history and past through touring people around the house and setting people straight on the true events; though, all she does is lie. We get a nice flashback to when Delphine has a confrontation with the former tour guide – a superbly eerie moment, as LaLaurie picks up a proper tool and bashes the woman in the head; plus, a little lick of her tongue to clean some of the blood that splashes her face. I mean, what an excellent and gruesome scene! Kathy Bates is a class act and I love seeing her do horror, it’s a true treat. I always thought her performance in Misery was perfect, now she gets lots of true and disturbing horror to work with in this series.
An even better sequence happens when Queenie talks to Delphine about repentance. There’s an inclusion of lots of popular culture controversies, as Delphine is seen watching television with the likes of Paula Deen and others crawling across the screen. Awesome writing.
Then Queenie stabs LaLaurie, who starts bleeding out profusely. What happens next? The formerly immortal Delphine may finally see death, now that she doesn’t want to die anymore.
Fiona’s having her portrait painted for the academy wall. Then her nose starts to bleed out of nowhere, either from the cancer, or the cocaine. Or the cancer and the cocaine in equal amounts, who knows. She continually laments her own face, the way she looks. She’s nearing the end and all she worries about is whether or not she looks youthful. And it’s driving her towards being hateful. Only she and Cordelia have a nice little chat, which shows how much she does care about her daughter. Though, it can’t make up for a lifetime of neglect and hatefulness.
Regardless, Fiona gives her mother’s necklace to Cordelia, as a way of “saying goodbye.” Once it goes around her neck and Fiona touches her, Cordelia’s second sight returns. Only it shows her the thoughts in Fiona’s mind, the intentions – we see a massacre in the academy house, all the young witches dead, impaled, blood everywhere, even Misty returned and murdered. It’s a shocking sight, out of the blue. Even Cordelia is dead in the vision, bullet hole in her head, and Fiona is seen snatching the necklace from her neck. Returning to the light, Cordelia is now aware of what is inside Fiona, what she is really aiming at. Funny how, with the strength Fiona instilled in this scene early on, Cordelia eventually was able to realise her powers once again; all in order to figure out what her mother was actually up to. Love the irony.

 

But Cordelia has plans herself. She goes to see the Axeman (Danny Huston). She warns him about loving Fiona, how dangerous it can be for those who fall into the trap. Cordelia also saw more than just the massacre in Fiona’s head, she saw her plan to the Axeman behind, too. He is only a pawn to her, someone she can use to do her bidding, to get the dirty work done. “She used you,” Cordelia tells him bluntly. Will she try and use the Axeman to do away with Fiona once and for all?
At the same time, Cordelia’s also trying to track Misty down, unaware of her fate at the hands of Madison. Poor girl is still stuck down in that casket, singing to herself, over in the cemetery. So Cordelia takes Queenie out to the mausoleum, and the latter proves to have some more impressive powers. She hauls the coffin right out of the bricks. Yet Misty isn’t breathing. No worries: Queenie’s got this, baby. She also can resurrect the dead, it seems. Her voodoo game is strong.

When the rest of the world sees a wall, we see a window.”

 


So Misty being back doesn’t spell much good for Madison, though, the young sassy lady is not worried too much. Then out of nowhere, Zoe and Kyle show up again. Clearly not in Florida anymore. On their way they had a confrontation with some homeless guy, which ended with Kyle snapping the guy nearly in half. Most of all, they came back because Zoe displayed a new power of her own: more resurgence. Now they all seem to be able to do intense things with their powers. Better yet, Misty shows up throwing fists at Madison, ready for a real fight. They wrestle around a little while the others watch; mostly, Misty kicks the shit out of Madison.
The Axeman shows up trying to swing his axe at everyone, pissed off and threatening to kill them all. The witches send him flying. But then notice he’s covered in blood already: Fiona’s blood. In a step backwards, we see the Axeman in his apartment with her. He’s on to her now, after his visit from Cordelia. She appears completely unaware until he mentions it. And eventually it comes – the death of Fiona Goode by the hand of her jilted lover, the Axeman.
Back at the academy with the girls, the Axeman has to be punished. His original death at the hands of the academy witches is recreated, and he dies a second, horrible, bloody death. Fitting, no?

 


Then we see both Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau in their own hell, each bound together in their eternity in the darkness. A truly awful, disturbing end for them both. They’re forever spending time with Papa Legba in hell. The two immortals are now dead – released from the chains of life, only to serve Legba for eternity in the same room. Day after day, over and over.
After Fiona’s portrait is hung on the wall, Myrtle alerts the girls: they will all perform, as I guessed, The Seven Wonders that Sunday at dawn. The next Supreme will be revealed, for better or for worse. And some of the others will certainly die.
Stay tuned for the next episode, the finale of Coven, fittingly titled “The Seven Wonders“.

 

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 8: “The Sacred Taking”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 8: “The Sacred Taking”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dead” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Head” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-1-33-20-amWith Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) at the savage mercy of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) on her side too, things seem to be changing in New Orleans.
Out under the cover of the city’s darkness, Queenie is searching for something. Under a bridge somewhere she lurks among the homeless community, the destitute and drugged up washouts either on the bottle or on the pipe. From one of the little tents comes a terrifying man, looking to “carve her up“. But Queenie easily fends her off with voodoo doll shit. From out of nowhere come Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga). They don’t want her to leave, they seem to want her back and actually appreciate her. They know she’s tough. Still, Queenie has things to do for Laveau: she cuts open the aforementioned homeless guy, apparently a rapist, and hauls a heart out; no problem. Apparently it’s going to help her gain power, some kind of ceremony Marie is planning.

War is coming. And youre gonna lose.”

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-1-33-27-amFiona (Jessica Lange) is slowly getting sicker and sicker. All the treatments and the medications, the chemotherapy, it’s making her feel “as if I’ve been dipped in the River Styx.” She writhes on the floor and in a voice-over laments that her body is no longer her own, she has given herself over to terminal illness, which will take her away from the earth soon enough. Cordelia doesn’t care, only taunting her over Thanksgiving cooking. The only one who does care is the dear ole Axeman (Danny Huston), who lays with her in bed smoking, looking at her with a swollen twinkle in his eye and longing only for a life with her, anywhere, somewhere. “Youre watching me decay,” says Fiona. He doesn’t see it that way, though, the illness is destroying any bit of faith she once had. All that’s keeping her living and breathing properly at the moment is spite, not wanting to give her daughter or anyone else the satisfaction of leaving a moment too soon.
More creepiness comes by way of Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon) and his mother Joan (Patti LuPone). She is upset, in all her puritanical glory, about her son’s newfound uncleanliness. She mixes up a chemical cocktail in a hot water bottle, connected with a catheter-like tube, and then has him lay down in the tub. We don’t exactly see what happens, or where exactly the tubing goes. However, we can easily assume it’s a nasty way of Joan cleansing her son and his sinfulness, y’know, all that deep grimy sin on the inside. Yuck. I’m guessing it was an enema, not anything in the front end.
At the academy, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) shows up in a panic, feet filthy, raving a little. After she was able to get Myrtle (Frances Conroy) resurrected, turns out a man with a gun came to get her. A man trying to shoot witches? No doubt witch-hunter Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton). When Cordelia meets Misty, she sees everything with her newly gained sight, all the troubles she’d seen up until then. Now she is a part of the coven. Even better, Myrtle is back with them again like old times, back from the burning dead. Also, there are conflicting thoughts on who will be the next Supreme. Who could it be? Is it Misty? Or Zoe? Or who else? We’ll see what happens.
They start a ceremony called The Sacred Taking, title of the episode. It’s meant to prove Misty is the next Supreme. The whole thing starts with Cordelia talking about the ceremony is meant to also help the survival of the coven, starting back in the days of the Salem Witches. Great little sequence here with a black-and-white flashback to the Invoking of the Sacred Taking.

 


Poor Fiona is losing her hair, throwing up, and she thinks maybe losing her mind. A cover of “Season of the Witch” by Donovan plays and Madison, red dress belonging to Fiona, dances around the room: “Surprise bitch,” she exclaims. She talks about breaking in her new bed, and so on, being the new Supreme and all. Claiming she brought herself back and the Council ought to be called. Such a surreal scene the way they shot everything, which adds to the fact Fiona probably believes her mind is caving in. Sad to see Fiona try and open a door, the thing barely moving a few inches. Madison tries to convince her to kill herself with a bottle of pills. Furthermore, Myrtle shows up to freak Fiona out. But she takes it fairly well, all things considered; not sure if they’re back to life, or she’s in hell. Fiona plans to go away with the Axeman, while Myrtle fills her head with visions of him getting tired of the smell of her death, tired of waiting around.

You guys suck balls

After Nan (Jamie Brewer) storms off, upset that she’s not even being considered as in the running for Supreme, we see Hank waiting outside, lurking in the darkness. She finds Luke in his house, tied up. What’s happening?
We cut back to Fiona, who wants to die now. She wants to give up, asking Myrtle to look out for her daughter as best she can. Taking all the pills to plummet to her death, Fiona goes to sleep. But eventually comes to, as Spalding (Denis O’Hare) wakes her. He explains his tongue, his death, and reveals Madison was revived by Misty and they are exploiting Fiona, trying to kill her and make way for the new Supreme. With help from Spalding she purges the pills. Then vows revenge for them both against the coven.

 

 


Back over at Marie’s salon, Queenie brings Delphine – now locked in a cage for regular bleedings – some food. Before they can have any meaningful conversation, and LaLaurie can get any answers, Marie shows up and squashes that situation. Marie plans to keep Delphine, who of course cannot die, and make her suffer. Starting now with a chop of the hand and a warning there is much, much more to come for the immortal racist.
Now we switch back quickly to Nan and Luke, who are prevented from going anywhere by the religiously psychotic Joan. Not for long, though. Soon a rifle’s laser points through the windows. Joan is shot twice, Luke takes a bullet trying to make sure Nan survives.
At the academy, Cordelia and the others await Fiona’s death. Only the Supreme is still quite alive. She saunters through the living room, asking about Misty. Which leads her over the commotion next door. Cordelia ends up discovering the bullets were meant for witches, not the Ramseys.

 


My favourite part of this episode, though, is the very end. The academy receives a package at the door. When Fiona answers and opens it, there is the head of Delphine LaLaurie, staring up at her, and whispering to be helped. Very ominous. A horrific message from Laveau. Is a war coming between the voodoo sect of witches and the descendant witches from Salem? Looks like it.
screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-2-08-34-amStay tuned for the next episode with me, titled “Head” directed by Howard Deutch and written by Tim Minear.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 5: “Burn, Witch. Burn!”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 5: “Burn, Witch. Burn!”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by Jennifer Sharzer

* For a review of the previous episode, “Fearful Pranks Ensue” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Axeman Cometh” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-15-48-pmThis episode begins back when Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) brings a possible suitor for her daughter through a nasty little chamber of horrors, featuring real eyeballs, bloody entrails and such. While the big party rages on, her own flesh and blood are plotting to get out from underneath the wretched reign of their mother. Borquita LaLaurie (Jennifer Lynn Warren) and her sisters are brought to the place where the slaves are caged up and tortured. Mama LaLaurie promises to let them out: next year.
Cut back to current day. LaLaurie is seeing her own daughters, risen from the grave, banging at the door. Inside, Nan (Jamie Brewer), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Luke (Alexander Dreymon), and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) try to keep them out.

 


We can’t forget, poor Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) was attacked with acid, right in the face, while she and Fiona (Jessica Lange) were out having drinks. I feel as if Cordelia’s whole acid burned clouded eye look is Lucio Fulci-esque; anyone agree?
At the hospital, the doctor tells Fiona her daughter is blind, her face is scarred. Nothing we couldn’t have already anticipated.
But the main problem is back at the school, where the zombies shamble more and more towards everyone inside. Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), meanwhile, is levitating and doing some crazy shit to conjure up the undead hordes. Furthermore, a couple young dudes wander onto the lawn of the witches school, and Luke is out trying to reason with the zombies. SO much happening. Brave Nan tries her best to help Luke, too.
At the same time, Fiona is wandering around in the hospital on an especially dismal, grim floor. A patient wanders by and mumbles: “You didnt throw the acid but you might as well have.” Then Fiona finds her way into a room where a woman had a stillborn child. All the guilt of her life tumbles down, right on top of her. She makes the woman hold her baby, and conjures up the life inside it again. It’s a strange yet touching moment. While Fiona’s daughter is blinded, scarred for life, this woman has a fresh start, her daughter allowed new life. Fiona’s done too much damage to her own daughter, at the very least she can give another woman a new one.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-16-39-pmZoe helps lure the zombies away from Nan and Luke, cowering in a smashed up car, but backs herself into a corner. In the house, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) helps get Queenie settled away. Downstairs, LaLaurie confronts her dead daughter Borquita face-to-face, or rotted face to living face. It’s a sad scene, even as terrible as Delphine was before immortality and all that followed. Borquita, the walking dead, doesn’t care either way. She attacks and chokes her mother. Upstairs, zombies keep pressing towards Spalding, then Queenie. Though in the end, LaLaurie saves the day somehow, fire poker-ing the corpse to (its second) death.
Managing to get her hands on a chainsaw, Zoe cuts through a ton of the zombies, saving Nan and Luke. Too much zombie guts and juice in the chain, so the thing goes dead at the worst time. But all of a sudden Zoe hauls out a strange sort of spell, a strong one, knocking Marie Laveau out of whack and stopping the march of the corpses.
When Cordelia finally wakes up, she has a further sight, despite losing that of her eyes. Husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) touches her hand, and Cordelia sees all his indiscretions.
All the corpses are burned, things are being put back together at the witch house. Worst of all, the Council has arrived once more. Quentin Fleming (Leslie Jordan), Cecily Pembroke (Robin Bartlett) and Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) show up to unseat Fiona from her title of Supreme. Clearly things have unraveled, to the furthest degree. However, Fiona has things to say. She believes the one who blinded Cordelia was Myrtle. What? Seriously, Fiona? I’m more inclined to believe she’s off her rocker right now, than to see Myrtle as a murderer. Especially once Fiona starts dropping information about Myrtle being in town before anyone else knew, about Myrtle hiding in a motel under a false name. Fiona reveals Myrtle’s hand: burned, presumably from the acid used on Cordelia.

 


So the witch shall be burned! “Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John plays as Myrtle is lead to the stake, the entire coven along to watch. Then Fiona tosses the last of her cigarette, igniting her old rival into a flaming pillar. Nasty, brutal way to go. Did she really disfigure Cordelia? Or is it more Supreme magic on Fiona’s part?
We find out quickly it was Queenie who helped Fiona – some voodoo doll type stuff. Queenie keeps seeing Myrtle burning, smelling it on the air. She obviously is traumatised by Fiona’s violent ruling of their coven. The older witch convinces Queenie that she could possibly be the next Supreme, putting ideas in her head. I can venture to say this is more of her fiendishness. She needs others along for the ride in order to get the mean deeds done.

 


In other news around the weird house, Spalding sprays down his room a good deal. In the treasure chest still sits Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), long dead, rotting away. In fact, trying to pull her out Spalding tears an arm clean off.
Speaking of corpses, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) finds the charred remains of Myrtle at the stake. She lays hands on her, and the eyes come alive.
Myrtle’s back!
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-31-28-pmNext episode is titled “The Axeman Cometh”.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 4: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 4: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Jennifer Salt

* For a review of the previous episode “The Replacements” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-05-59-pmThis episode starts in a flashback to 1961 in New Orleans, a young boy being chased on his bike by white men in a car. Obviously something nasty is about to go down. Then we’re across town with Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) at her shop: lots of discussion about integration in schools, John F. Kennedy, et cetera. Though, Laveau isn’t as rosy eyed as some of the hairdressers who look to the future with hope for blacks and whites living in harmony. Marie would rather go on the offensive, it appears.
And with this opening, we’re introduced to some Haitian zombie voodoo. Interesting. Well, we already know Marie can do things for immortality. Makes sense she can reanimate the dead. This is something George A. Romero would no doubt be proud of – zombies coming back from the grave to kill racist white guys. I know I love it. Then there’s great blood and gore, a guy lifted up on the bayonet of a rifle and torn apart by living dead, guts ripped from his body. Nice way to start “Fearful Pranks Ensue” – with an out n’ out bang.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-12-pmFinally, after Spalding (Denis O’Hare) turns up all the time in the background, specifically when Fiona (Jessica Lange) decides to kill people, we get a better look at his character. We go back to the finale of “The Replacements“, except now from the perspective of Spalding. He walks in on Fiona slitting the throat, semi-accidentally, of Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). So now, the aftermath comes by way of ever trusty Spalding, the silent sentinel of Miss Robichaux’s Academy. More so the sentinel of Fiona, the continually loving servant to her every dangerous and tragic whim. Denis O’Hare is an incredible character actor whose talent knows no bounds; he is always a treat, and this role begins his tenure on American Horror Story.
Then Fiona discovers Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) – she’s been gravely wounded by the Minotaur, nowhere to be found. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and her mother are at odds, over everything, but they try their best to take care of Queenie. It all comes out about their respective dealings with Laveau. Regardless, among the arguments and the screaming between mother and daughter, they manage to take care of the poor girl.
Ultimately, Fiona is worn out. She’s got Delphine (Kathy Bates) lurking around on top of everything else, and now that’s pretty well out of the bag anyways with Queenie knowing. I keep feeling a pang of sympathy for Fiona. Time will tell how much that holds up on this second time around watching this season, she is not exactly a heartwarming woman.
Marie Laveau receives a package over at the shop, a big box: inside is the Minotaur’s head. Maybe Fiona isn’t as tired as she seems. Laveau is abandoning the truce set down between the witches, back when Anna-Lee (Christine Ebersole) ran the show as Supreme. So get ready for war.
Poor Kyle (Evan Peters) ain’t doing so well either. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) found his mother at the end of last episode. Now she finds Kyle banging his head off the bathtub, bloodied from killing mom. This is such a fucked up situation. She wanders between feeling bad for him in a loving way, to wanting to kill him off so as to be done with having brought a monster back to life. It’s an awfully tense place for her to exist emotionally. Doesn’t matter for the time being: Kyle is gone. Who knows where.


Then we’re back with Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton). Apparently he’s not too concerned with faithfulness to his wife. In a hotel, somewhere on business, he meets with a woman named Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge). They have a bit of rough sex. Cheater husband Hank is not who he has seemed to be, and not just in the sense of his infidelity. First, he met Kaylee online, they began a relationship from there. Second, he kills her with a silenced gun in the hotel. What’s his deal?
While her husband cheats, Cordelia is still trying to take care of Queenie. LaLaurie is grateful Queenie saved her and feels indebted, which is interesting – such a stark turn against who she once was, and still is, the fiery evil racist.
But Cordelia has bigger things to worry about than her husband, or having LaLaurie skulking around under her nose. The Council of Witchcraft shows up at their door. Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), Cecily Pembroke (Robin Bartlett) and Quentin Fleming (Leslie Jordan) are there for a chat. They want news on Madison, apparently. It’s come to their attention, due to Nan (Jamie Brewer) summoning them, Madison might be dead; Nan “can’t hear her anymore.” Official council inquiry is underway, everyone is questioned. If any witch killed her? “Death by fire,” proclaims Myrtle. Excitingly macabre.
This brings about some history, showing how Fiona emerged as the favourite as successor for Supreme, as well as her rivalry with Myrtle Snow. Nice flashbacks, I dig them. Turns out Myrtle is a pretty great witch herself. We get to see how Spalding ended up a mute, too. It all came about through Myrtle trying to find out what Fiona knew, back in ’71, about what happened to the Supreme. The young Ms. Snow enchanted Spalding’s tongue, so that he couldn’t tell a lie. However, she had no way of determining what was going to happen.
It all comes to light after we find out Spalding’s dedication to Miss Fiona. He cut out his own tongue, all in order to not be able to say ANYTHING; let alone tell a lie.
Even more surprising, we find out Madison had a heart murmur. This eliminates her as a possibility for Supreme: a hallmark of the reigning witch of all witches is impeccable health, in terms of no illnesses from birth (not stuff like Fiona later in life). So that came as a bit of a shocker. Especially for ole Fiona, whose eyes go wide with the revelation coming from Cordelia.
But things have certainly not gotten any better for Madison after death. While Spalding likes to keep tons of dolls around, even dressing as a baby-like, grown doll himself in the creepy upstairs room of his, poor dead Madison has been taken up there with him. Now, she is an eternal Barbie doll for Spalding to pose and play with.


The finale of this episode is even more shocking than ANYTHING ELSE so far. As Cordelia and Fiona, bonding a little closer than ever before it seems, drink at a bar together more of their relationship comes out. Fiona knows Hank is a piece of shit, Cordelia may even know this and just doesn’t want to admit it. They talk more about the next Supreme, only a tiny bit. Cordelia ends up puking in the bathroom. Worse still, an unknown, hooded attacker comes from out one of the stalls and tosses acid right in her face, blinding the eyes and savaging her face. WHO DID IT? WHO IS THE MASKED CULPRIT? MAN? WOMAN? We’ll have to wait and find out.
At the academy, Luke (Alexander Draymon) shows up to repay Nan for the cake. But at the same time, zombies start to come out and shamble towards the house. Delphine opens the door only to find her own dead family, living corpses, right there on the doorstep.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-12-42-pmAnd cue the end. Great episode! This is a two-parter episode, we’ll see its conclusion next with “Burn, Witch. Burn!” so stay tuned with me for another review.