From Taissa Farmiga

“Pretty sight, a lady with a book”: Otherness & Gothic Patriarchy in WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE

Stacie Passon adapts Shirley Jackson with a faithful, powerful retelling that continues to resonate with the social climate of today.

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American Horror Story – Apocalypse, Episode 6: “Return to Murder House”

Madison and Chablis go to Murder House looking for answers about Michael Langdon

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American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 9: “Head”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 9: “Head”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Sacred Taking” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” – click here
screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-05-49-pmAfter the head of Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) showed up at the witches doorstep last episode, we get a chance of pace in this one.
“Head” starts off with a father and son hunting in 1991. They’re sitting at camp and having some coffee together. The father calls the son Hank – is this the young version of Josh Hamilton’s character, husband to Cordelia (Sarah Paulson)? And what exactly are they hunting here? I may know, considering Hank’s dear ole dad loads the gun up with silver bullets. Then out from the woods comes a woman in tattered clothes, dad yelling to young Hank: “Put her down!” Before he can get the job done the woman, a witch, sets fire to the grass between her and the boy. Father jumps in, killing her and reminds his son: “Never forget what they are.”
Ominous past for Hank, whose entrance into the family business of witch hunting certainly began at an early age.
screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-06-09-pmFiona (Jessica Lange) shows up over at the salon to see Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). She has Delphine’s head in town in the box. Out back, the body of Delphine still stands rotting in her cage, swatting flies off her bloody neck wound. Fiona wants an alliance between the coven and Marie’s voodoo powers. But Marie believes “witch hunters is white womensworry!” There are lots of fun things happening in the dynamic between Marie and Fiona, the dual sects of witchcraft and so on.
Poor Cordelia is having a hard time as a blind woman. She and Myrtle (Frances Conroy) have a heart to heart. Myrtle worries Cordelia still might believer she had something to do with blinding her. However, she knows Myrtle would never hurt her, which is good. They need one another, especially in the new landscape of their existence with witch hunters right outside the academy’s doors.
Excellent sequence involving Hank going to see his father, Harrison Renard (Michael Cristofer). There’s “Sarabande” by Handel playing in the background, the Delphi Trust headquarters, all the witch hunting talk and much more. I love this whole aspect because I didn’t want it to simply sit in the background, as an anonymous entity Hank worked for; rather, we get a sense of an elaborate war between these hunters and the witches they pursue. And it’s not all hugely expository. We get bits and pieces from the writing which leads us to our own conclusions. They don’t go too far with it, other than to make them a viable threat and install them as a proper part of the story. Great stuff.

You havent forget what she is? What you are?”

Myrtle is having Quentin Fleming (Leslie Jordan) and Cecily Pembroke (Robin Bartlett) over to the academy for dinner. They’re thrilled to see her back, with better skin than ever, as well as very excited to hear all about Misty Day (Lily Rabe), the powerful girl hiding out in the swamps. But after a moment or two, Cecily freezes up in mid-sentence. To no surprise on Myrtle’s part. Almost as if this were planned, right? Quentin soon freezes up, too. A little “monks wood“, she tells them while they remain like statues. She has at them with a good few jabs, not for revenge, but mostly for Cordelia. Okay – a little for revenge. She uses the melon baller to scoop out some eyes.
Upstairs afterwards, Cordelia comes to and has her sight once more. The ravaged sockets where her previously muddied eyes sat, scarred skin all around them, now are beautiful and wide eyes once again. Fiona is happy to see her daughter restored, though, there’s still tension between herself and Myrtle. Luckily it seems as if Cordelia is now most concerned with the witch hunters prowling around, no longer so focused on her mother’s indiscretions and faults. Sadly, though, Cordelia no longer has second sight; her new eyes have changed all that.
We’re also privy to a nasty, gory cut-scene where Myrtle disposes of the two former Council members, chopping them to bits and throwing them into a tub of acid down in the basement. Brutal, yet amazing!

Good luck. Call the CouncilI hear theyre not seeing anyone right now.”

 


Nan (Jamie Brewer) is waiting at the hospital. She wants to see Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon), but his mother Joan (Patti LuPone) won’t have any of it. When Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison (Emma Roberts) show up, Madison doesn’t want her to take that. They barge in and hear a bunch of nonsense from Mrs. Ramsey, but the witches overpower her. With reason. In addition, there’s a great little moment where Nan hears Luke talk to her, as we see him literally standing behind her, whispering in her ear. Instead of another big confrontation, we finally see Joan give in. She sings the song Nan brought up, the one Luke told her about a moment before, and then calls Nan to her side. It’s actually a beautiful scene in the end, and I have to say – great choice to have LuPone play this part, she is an amazing actor.
Contrasted with such seriousness, after this comes Queenie starting off a film festival for the stationary Delphine’s severed head: Mandingo, The Color Purple, B*A*P*S, and to start, Roots. Hilarious, brief scene. Delphine starts singing Dixieland to try and contrast the “jungle music,” as she calls it.
Then bam, we get another intense sequence – all of a sudden, Hank Foxx is plagued by a voodoo-style attack, his bones cracking, his body bleeding. Marie Laveau is not happy with what their former agreement is yielding so far, having one of the white witches show right up at her doorstep. So, even though Hank is a piece of shit, I feel bad watching him get bent and torn out of shape.
Back at the academy, Cordelia is helping Misty with some of her powers. Nice visuals with the flowers growing, the bright colours of the greenhouse in the basement, plus the look of the small garden itself. Very cool set design. Then, Hank shows up crawling back like a slug to Cordelia. He’s happy her eyes are back, of course. But who cares what he thinks, certainly she doesn’t, and nor should she at all. He is not just a cheater. He’s a god damn witch hunter! Even though she doesn’t know that full extent yet. Regardless, Cordelia is not having any of Hank and his drama.

 


Neither is Fiona. Though, she’s never had any liking for the man. She brought home an attack dog. That doesn’t last long, not after she meets Kyle (Evan Peters), who hugs the dog a bit too hard like Steinbeck’s Lenny and cracks her neck. Uh oh.
But Fiona does one better, making a real guard dog – she slightly fixes Kyle, enough to make him competent for protection, and a good game of cards.
Cut to Nan and Joan at Luke’s side in the hospital. We find out more about the dark side to Joan Ramsey. Luke discovers, in the afterlife, her father did not die by accident. Seems Luke’s dad was having an affair with another woman, someone he actually loved. Then Joan set him up to die: trapping him in his car with bees, to which he was allergic, prompting a deathly reaction. Whoa, did not expect that! Although I was sure Joan had something seriously wrong with her either way.
Hank is gearing up to lay waste to the witches. Only now his sights aren’t set firmly on Cordelia and Fiona and their coven. He’s headed directly for Marie Laveau. The guns come blazing, blood flies over the walls and the mirrors; first a shotgun blast, then Hank takes out two dual pistols. Even Queenie gets a shot in the stomach. All the while, “Oh Freedom!” is sung over top, LaLaurie’s head watching footage of civil rights marches. Queenie manages to pick up a gun and blow Hank’s head off right before he can manage to do Marie in for good. A truly incredible sequence, complete with a teary eyed Delphine and an equally sad Harrison Renard mourning his now dead son Hank.
And at the very end of this bit, Luke wakes up accusing his mother of killing his father. Then, Joan puts him back to sleep. And puts a pillow over his head, smothering him.
The finale sees Marie Laveau now show up at the academy for a chat with Fiona. What will this bring? A real alliance finally?

 


A great, great episode. The next one is titled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”. Stay tuned for a fun one!

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 7: “The Dead”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 7: “The Dead”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Axeman Cometh” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Sacred Taking” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-12-50-pmThis episode begins with a flashback to Kyle (Evan Peters) and his bros at a tattoo shop, back before they were smashed to bits after most of them gang raped Madison (Emma Roberts). Kyle rocks out to Toto, deflecting awkward jokes about his mother – who we now know molested him – as well as shares his aspirations to be an engineer. And that’s why he does not want to get a tattoo: “I got one life, and I’m not wastinit.” Even as a man with tattoos, I respect him for that, wanting to go into a particular career path and wanting to do everything as straight and narrow as possible. Particularly it’s admirable because he wanted to get away from his mother, who caused him terrible pain. Then we flash to the now Frankenstein-like Kyle; he wails after finding the tattoos of his friends on his newly pieced together body.
But will he live much longer? Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is armed with a gun in hand coming down to the basement of the academy. And it looks as if she intends to put poor Kyle out of his misery.
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-14-51-pmMadison is back. She doesn’t seem too pleased, though. In a voice-over, she talks about the Generation of Entitlement, supposedly, the Millenials. There is a great sadness in watching her sort of haunt the halls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy, trying to find a way to not “look like Marilyn Manson anymore.” She can’t feel anything, holding a lighter under her palm as it fries. Not a thing, not since coming back from the dead.
Downstairs, Zoe tells Kyle: “You know how this has to go, right?” And he sort of does, cowering at the sight of the gun. The sad part about this is that Zoe doesn’t have any idea what Kyle’s mother did to him, she thinks he’s just gone crazy and that coming back from the dead like this made him into an animal. But deep down she doesn’t want him gone, she doesn’t want him to die.
One of the funniest scenes in this season yet comes when Delphine (Kathy Bates) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) go to a fast-food restaurant. The way LaLaurie reacts to the drive thru speaker is a crack up. More than that, the way LaLaurie talks about Queenie never being a real part of the coven because she’s black, it resonates with Queenie. You can tell this is going to start causing some problems.
Worse problems yet are the ones Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) plans on bringing. He has a ton of guns, he’s drinking. Will it be absolute savagery? Or will someone prevent a massacre?screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-15-42-pmMeanwhile, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) runs into Madison in the halls and discovers Fiona (Jessica Lange) was the one who killed her. Bam. But her dear mother is still with the Axeman (Danny Huston). They’re back at his place listening to some music, having a drink together. Despite being a brutal mass murderer, this guy has style; how could he not, played by Huston? I love him and Lange playing off one another in a scene. They are two incredibly respectable actors in their own rights. To see them as a pair onscreen is like a treat, one of a magnitude we rarely see on television. Plus, it’s interesting to see where this new relationship is headed. To what end will the Axeman’s character play a part? He’s got bodies in the bathtub, she’s the reigning Supreme, a murderer and cancer patient.

Love transforms

Zoe is trying to teach Kyle to talk again, almost as if he were an infant. They use little cards like a child might. But he gets angry, smacking them out of her hands. He’s frustrated, naturally. I love the interpretation of the Frankenstein type story of Kyle, how he learns to be a person again after coming back from the grave. Because there’s a juxtaposition with others who come back to life, in particular Madison. Whereas she has her own troubles, Kyle is really fucked up because he’s only partly himself; other bits are made up of other people, friends he once knew sadly. So I thought this was great writing, the way each person depending on how they died/how they come back has a different sort of disposition. We’ll see more of this to come with another character.
Over at the hair salon, Queenie shows up to see Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). Of course more of the racial divide shows up now, with Marie stoking the flames – as well as making what looks like awesome gumbo. However, she makes sense at times. While Queenie isn’t exactly mistreated over at the academy, nobody truly appreciates her. She takes a backseat to the other white witches, when I’m sure Marie could easily integrate her into the house of voodoo she has going over there. Still, might take more than that to completely convince Queenie. You can see she wants to go. Yet some reservation, though. Either way Marie wants her to bring Delphine back to her. Not saying why, or what she’ll do. But she wants that old racist woman in the palm of her hand.


Cordelia’s new sense of sight has brought her more assertiveness. She and Zoe have a frank chat, as Cordelia tips a bit of liquor in her own tea. A little more of a lax type Cordelia now. With all the threats to the coven, and from Fiona no less, she’s finally making sure these young witches are ready for what comes next. Or what’s coming for them. Then there’s more tension between the witches, after Zoe finds Kyle violently humping Madison. Two walking corpses having sex, wow.

Kill her once. Kill her good. Kill her dead.”

More romance for Fiona and the Axeman. He reveals to her how long his admiration has been growing. Ever since Fiona was a little girl, he watched her in the house and looked out for her. His fondness for Fiona began so long ago, now the Axeman grew out of a fatherly sense of love for her into one of romantic intention; seeing her become a gorgeous young lady, a bonafide woman, he had to have her. So in a sense it’s an eerie, creepy type of voyeur relationship on his part. At the same time, he doesn’t creep on her. He is very charming. Especially considering she’s at the end of her days, Fiona might consider this a good thing. Only she takes it all as insult, as if he “watched her grow old.” Though, he tells her in such a loving way. But she believes he haunted her life.
Up in the attic of the academy, Zoe seems to have found a tongue – belong to, of course, Spalding (Denis O’Hare). Now she has him tied up to his bed in that creepy little room he keeps, his tongue back in working condition. In fact, it was in a box belonged to the recently crispy Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy). Only Myrtle couldn’t bring it back. Zoe’s powers are stronger and she managed to put it back in place; a very neat and weird little sequence, which I loved. Except after the tongue is back in Zoe compels Spalding to say only truths, looking for information, and he gives it up – Fiona killed Madison. Then he gives up his life. Not willingly, though.


Queenie asks Delphine what the worst thing she ever did was, which prompts a story about one of the slaves who used to serve in her home, back in the day. Turns out LaLaurie had an unfaithful husband whose extramarital affairs involved a servant. A super unsettling moment where Delphine has a new batch of bloody makeup, revealing exactly where it came from to her frightened servant girl; this prompted the poor girl to commit suicide the next morning, jumping off the balcony. Hearing all this, as it would, disgusts Queenie. LaLaurie tries to justify it as being in a “different time” and a “different world.” She genuinely seems to be repentant in how she talks to Queenie, but still. She did atrocious things.
Then there is the new problem between Zoe and Madison. Although, Madison doesn’t seem attached to Kyle. She only wanted to have sex, I guess. It makes her feel something, as opposed to nothing else making her feel anything, at all. She proposes they share Kyle. He’s basically meat in this season, which is fine. There’s always a great powerful female vibe in each season, but I dig how Coven most of all has a very female-centred plot and how the men sort of play these peripheral, yet at times important roles. Overall, it’s all about the ladies and I find it refreshing.
The episode’s end comes with a finale that shocked me, in a great way. Queenie brings LaLaurie out on the town – dressed in a hilarious bedazzled tiger shirt – except they end up at Laveau’s place, in the salon. Now we can see Queenie is giving herself over to the voodoo queen. There are genuinely terrible things about to happen to Delphine, not that I can say she doesn’t deserve it. She does. But it’s sad to see her and Queenie fall out, I thought somehow, some way, Queenie might take a higher road. All the same, I don’t blame her really. Further than that it makes things interesting heading into the next episode. Where will this lead? What more intensity will this bring? Well before the episode finishes, Laveau is applying her own bloody makeup, made from the drained essence of LaLaurie herself. How the tables have turned.screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-19-39-pmStay tuned with me for the next episode, “The Sacred Taking.”

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 6: “The Axeman Cometh”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 6: “The Axeman Cometh”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Douglas Petrie

* For a review of the previous episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Dead” – click herescreen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-02-39-pm
This episode begins with a flash to 1919 in New Orleans. We hear the voice of Danny Huston, undeniable. He types a letter, and talks about being the titular Axeman. He tells everyone via his letter that anyone playing jazz will be safe on a specific night, everyone else will be murdered. The girls at Miss Robichaux’s Academy plan to make sure the Axeman does not kill anyone else. They’re witches, they’re tough, and plan to make their Salem ancestors proud.
No jazz plays on the street around the school. The Axeman walks through the neighbourhood, eventually making his way inside the big plantation style house. Upstairs, one of the witches listens to classical opera. The Axeman does not like that. The trap is set and all the women of the house stab him to death on the floor against the firelight.
So if he died in the house, will his spirit linger? I’m sure we’re going to find out now with new young witches boarding at the academy.
screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-9-03-34-pmZoe (Taissa Farmiga) picks around through the old belongings of Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). In the process, she finds old things belonging to the previous schools of witches, as well as a Ouija board – or a Spirit Board. First, to Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), she brings up the fact the number of witches have gone down progressively each year. Now there’s only three of them. So they make a pact over absinthe, agreeing to watch one another’s backs. The three young witches play a game with the board. Soon, they come in contact with – you guessed it – a spirit. It writes out: AXEMAN. Quickly, the whole thing is stopped by Queenie, who knows better than to mess around too hard with the board.
Fiona (Jessica Lange) is having troubles. Taking chemotherapy alongside other patients, she suddenly has the gift of mind reading, attributing it to the medication. It’s all too much for her. A doctor manages to sit her back down, but clearly Fiona does not want to do it for herself, only for Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) who actually needs her for once in a lifetime.
Zoe wants to release the Axeman in order to find out what happened to Madison. Although, nobody else is at all keen on the idea. But Zoe’s stuck on witches banding together, no matter what the consequences. She goes downstairs with the Spirit Board again, except by herself now. Dangerous things at play here. And then, she’s finding her way into the attic where Spalding (Denis O’Hare) keeps his play things: both porcelain and deceased. The air is thick with a deathly reek, dolls lining the shelves. And finally, Zoe uncovers Madison’s body. Only Spalding intercepts her.
Meanwhile, Cordelia is back at home, walking cane and glasses and all. Hank (Josh Hamilton) can’t touch her without flashes in Cordelia’s head of his infidelity; all she can see is the woman he cheated on her with. She has a “different kind of clarity,” as if she’s experiencing the memories firsthand when they come to her. Strong woman, eyes and face burned yet still not afraid to stand up for herself.
Up in the attic, the young witches interrogate the “twisted tea-serving necrophiliac” Spalding, whose arms and legs are tied to a chair. Zoe scalds his chest with a metal spatula, left over a hot burner. He boasts about his first sex was with Madison; disgusting. This whole scene is nasty, in so many ways. But a great, gritty part to a larger story.

 


Over at the camp of Misty Day (Lily Rabe), there’s a nice big flower bed planted, she’s watering it and making sure it’s tended. Underneath stirs Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy). And out of the blue, Franken-Kyle (Evan Peters) turns up, mumbling, filthy and needing a bath, scared as usual. Misty gladly takes him back in, helping him get clean. But memories of his mother come back, he trashes the place and throws things around, smashing the little music player Misty kept. Luckily, though, Zoe shows up – able to take Kyle, also needing Misty.
Zoe chains Kyle up down in the basement, and shows Misty the corpse of Madison. She wants Misty to bring the girl back to life. Although, poor Madison’s been dead for ages. Still after a bit of work, Misty and Zoe manage to pull her back from the afterlife and into the world of the living once again.
Big surprise: Hank is in cahoots with Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). His wife’s new second sight is causing problems, threatening to reveal their working relationship. We get a flashback to Cordelia meeting Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), the one Hank killed after having sex with earlier in the season; she was, in fact, a witch. Hank’s helping to kill all the descendants of Salem, a job done in conjunction with Laveau. But now, she wants all the witch bitches dead, their heads for trophies.

 


The girls are trying to bring Madison back to consciousness. She can’t drink anything properly, even ginger ale. All she remembers from before death was a red blur, nothing more. And at the same time, Cordelia is confronted in her bedroom by none other than the Axeman himself. He wants release, he doesn’t want to be trapped inside those “four ugly walls,” not any longer. He’s been promised release by Zoe, but nothing has come yet. He is one mad jazz-man. Hearing Cordelia’s screams, Zoe, Nan and Queenie rush to help. Stupid Zoe, she’s the one who did this with her lies. Then she finds a spellbook, releasing the Axeman from the house back out onto the streets. Is this any good, at all? To have this maniac out wandering New Orleans? Especially when jazz isn’t exactly as prominent, even in the South, as it once was back in his day.
At a bar where Fiona is lamenting her illness, literally pulling off a handful of hair, the Axeman sits down for a drink. Will there be vengeance to come? And for whom?

 


Next episode is “The Dead”, directed by Bradley Buecker.

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 3: “The Replacements”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 3: “The Replacements”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Boy Parts” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fearful Pranks Ensue” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-36-44-pmThis episode starts with a Fiona (Jessica Lange) who’s getting sicker with each passing day. She subdues all the pain with medication, prescribed and otherwise. Little drop of liquor here and there to take away the edge.
Nice flashback to Fiona’s younger days in 1971 New Orleans, during her time at the academy. Young Fiona (Riley Voelkel) has a conversation with the Supreme during her time, Anna-Lee Leighton (Christine Ebersole). We get more information about what the Supreme is, who she can be – turns out, witches can exemplify many powers at once, but that does not a Supreme make. What it takes is mastering “the Seven Wonders,” supposedly. Furthermore, we get insight into Fiona’s current life. Why she is so afraid of getting sick. It’s not just death: she is being succeeded. The stronger a new witch gets as Supreme, the more strength is zapped out of the current one. So naturally, Fiona is worried about being overtaken. Plus, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) witnesses a young Fiona kill Anna-Lee, so there’s a deep connection between them stemming from those old days. Something we’re without a doubt going to get a deeper explanation for at some point. For now, intrigue. Excellent opening.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-37-06-pmEven past the credits we’re still following along with Fiona. She is an important character. More than that, she has much to do with the storyline of this season. Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk & Co. are going into themes of the old relinquishing power to the young, something always evident in society from one generation to the next. So Fiona is naturally a great example of that: like some of the more ignorant Baby Boomers, for instance, she refuses to go into the long night quietly.
Watching Fiona listen to her doctor about surgery options is almost heartbreaking, except there’s already only three episodes into this season not much sympathy for her character. She seems very cold. We’ll find out more as the episodes wear on.
Then we find our way back to Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) who ends up tracking down the mother of Kyle (Evan Peters), Alicia Spencer (Mare Winningham). She’s pretty broken up about her son dying, though, a call from Zoe was able to save her life; she had her head almost in a noose at the time. Not sure how her character will work into things, but soon enough we’ll find out (I actually know because I’ve watched every season already; just playing the part for now).
Over at the academy, Madison (Emma Roberts), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) check out a handsome man moving in next door with his mother – Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon) and the uptight, religious Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone).
Inside it’s another story. LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is their maid, weeping over Barack Obama on the television, hating having to serve Queenie, a “nigress” her food. Then eventually Fiona shows up to put things into perspective for racist Delphine: she’s now Queenie’s personal servant. Ouch for the old racist bitch.
At the same time, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) lies in bed with Kyle back at her shack. He’s been healing pretty damn well, though, the scars are evident in his skin. Still, the guy looks a lifetime better than he did in the previous episode. He doesn’t have the Frankenstein’s monster look going on anymore, just a bit of a rough exterior. Then there’s the fact he doesn’t speak much, or at all, outside of a little grunting and groaning. Kyle has a ton of rage issues, now a reanimated brain in a totally different body than he once inhabited. Of course he’s going to be slightly messed for a while.


Nan brings a cake over to the Ramsey house, along with Madison who sluts it up once they meet Luke. He seems incredibly impressed with Nan, as well as the cake. Madison, the famous stuck-up bitch, is not impressed with this at all for her part. Then mother Joan shows up, flaunting their religion at the witches. Very fun contrast seeing a bit of witchcraft dropped in contrast with the religious nature of the Ramseys. On their way out, Madison discovers a new power: lighting things on fire. Pyrokinesis. Interesting – does this mean she may start vying for the spot of Supreme? Or just a red herring?
A nice sequence cuts mother-daughter duo of Fiona and Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) back-to-back. Each of them receives bad news from their doctor, each with their respective problems – Fiona basically dying, Cordelia unable to have a child. It’s all sad. Though, I feel worse for Cordelia who only wants a regular life, but has been burdened with the fate of being a witch. It’s certainly not all that they crack it up to be in the brochure.
Reanimated Kyle is dropped back at his mother’s doorstep. But a dreadful look on Kyle’s face speaks wonders, as dear ole mom brings him inside: should Zoe have held onto him, maybe left him with Misty? We’re soon going to discover what it’ll be like for Kyle, and his mom, now that he’s back to… normal.
Distraught over the “long term effects” of Madison’s choice of dress while visiting their home earlier, Joan Ramsey talks with Fiona, who obviously does not care much. This brings the current Supreme together with Madison. Uh oh. I can see where this is headed. Just the look in the eyes, the way Fiona stares at the young and virile witch in front of her, you can tell she is up to no good calling Madison over to sit down and hang with her at the table.
The trouble for Kyle starts at home, not long after his arrival. Mom clearly has no trouble opening the shower curtain on her naked son. Then she climbs into bed with him, commenting on his body. She snuggles up to him, a little too closely, then plants a more than motherly kiss on her son. So that earlier fear we saw in Kyle when she brought him inside, it had a heavy, horrible weight to it. Something Zoe could never have known. But it’s no wonder he didn’t like what his frat brothers were doing at the party; he knows the other side of assault and rape.


Cordelia’s gotten desperate enough in the quest for fertility she finds herself over seeking the help of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). There’s a sly conversation between the two. Cordelia wants a fertility spell performed. We get an awesome cut to a wild sequence. It shows us the ritual – including the husband’s “baby gravy,” two ounces to be exact. Plus there’s a ton of dancing people, unbelievably hot peppers, blood, and Bassett giving her all as a shaman-like voodoo conjurer, dancing around a fire, bringing out the spirits. The entire thing is pretty awesome, maybe the best large sequence yet so far in Coven. Because it’s not the typical witches dressed in black stuff. Something more akin to Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow than to a traditional witchcraft film. But this is only imagery: Laveau will never perform the spell on a daughter of Fiona Goode, Marie’s “sworn enemy.”
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-40-11-pmElsewhere, Fiona is drawing out the powers of Madison who is oblivious to the older witch’s true intentions. Can we be sure Fiona won’t do the same thing to Madison as she once did, in 1971, to Anna-Lee?
Lots of spooky business at the academy. Queenie eats in the kitchen while LaLaurie cooks. But the old woman sees the Minotaur outside, growling and lurking in the shadows. He’s come back for Delphine, let loose by his eternal master Marie Laveau. Now, he’s laying siege to the house trying to get in, smashing his horns against the door to hopefully bust in. LaLaurie reveals herself to Queenie, her true identity, and tells her how Fiona brought her back; naturally, a strong black woman such as Queenie isn’t too impressed with this immortal racist. And yet still she tries to defend the woman, offering to have a hand at confronting the Minotaur. Outside Queenie tries talking gently to him, and lures him out into Cordelia’s greenhouse building. Instead of calming the Minotaur, she has a violent sexual encounter with him.
At the Spencer house, things with mom and son aren’t exactly right. No surprise after what we’ve seen so far. Mom is sick, she’s not only attracted to him but has a strange love for him, real romance. It’s nasty. She doesn’t expect what’s coming, though. After trying to turn him on – gross – Kyle ends up beating her to death with a trophy off his shelf. Lots of bloody flying, wet, smacking sounds against the meat of her dead body. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve it.


Speaking of unsuspecting, Madison is out on the town with the older version of herself, Miss Fiona. They’re both having a great time. Only not so much for the older of the pair, she sees how men are drawn to Madison, almost like magnets. There’s a great edit where Fiona sees Madison morph into the young Fiona, right before her eyes. Just another great instance where the editing in this series is spot on, something you can easily see throughout any given episode.
The finale was a shock to me when I first watched this one, back as it aired the first time. Now, I still enjoy it. Such a brutal and great scene between two excellent actors, each of their own generation; two strong women. Lange and Roberts compliment one another so well, this whole episode with them together is a treat, but especially at the episode’s close. I won’t spoil it any further, most of you will have probably already seen it, anyways. Just a solid finish for “The Replacements”, a full, grim circle of an episode.


Next episode is titled “Fearful Pranks Ensue“, directed by Michael Uppendahl.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”
Directed by Michael Rymer
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Bitchcraft” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Replacements” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-13-21-pm“Boy Parts” begins with Misty Day (Lily Rabe) apparently risen from the grave herself. A couple gator hunters come across her in the swamps, Steve Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” playing in the background. She’s dancing and lamenting the killing of the beautiful creatures – gators hung from the trees, gutted, being skinned. When the hunters threaten her, she brings a gator back to life and then another comes out of the swamp, so bye bye hunters. Chomp chomp. I love that she’s back already, I thought we might have to go an episode or two before Misty cropped up once more. But here she is. Lily Rabe has been a revelation since the second season and I cannot get enough. Hopefully her character has lots to do coming up.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-16-01-pmBack at Miss Robichaux’s Academy, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is waking all the girls up, readying everyone for a meeting. Poor Madison (Emma Roberts) is obviously still reeling from her gang rape, like any sensible young woman would. Then there’s Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), whose feelings for Kyle (Evan Peters) are obvious; he died, yet she knows he wasn’t a bad guy, he tried to do the right thing after he discovered what happened with his frat brothers.
Most intriguing, Fiona (Jessica Lange) has Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), fresh out of the living grave, tied and gagged in her room. What’s the rub here? I’m so interested to find out where this is headed.
Flash to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) back in 2012, where she worked at a fried chicken place called Chubbie’s – a guy is giving her shit about not having enough pieces in his basket. Instead, she jams her hand into the boiling fat behind the counter, voodoo dolling the jackass yelling at her. Flashback to the young witches sitting around, talking to Cordelia and each other about where they came from before the academy.
Up show the police looking to talk with Madison and Zoe about their presence at the frat party. Things are getting tense. Even worse, Zoe gets awkward and nervous and breaks down, telling the police everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! Yet luckily, she is a witch. Among witches. After things go awry, Fiona struts in to undo it all with that sweet feminine magic. Or straight up devilish magic, either way it works. Then she goes back to the girls’ room, tosses Zoe and Madison at the walls and lays down the law about how things are going to go from here on in: shape up, or ship the fuck out.

I couldnt toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you

To try mending Zoe’s sadness over Kyle, the usually hateful Madison has a plan to help. She takes them to the city morgue, in order to return the favour of Zoe killing the guy who raped her. In one room there are the pieces of all the guys killed in the crash. Kyle was dismembered terribly, so they’ve got to mix and match a few pieces in order to get him back together. The title of this episode “Boy Parts” comes to bear on their process, as Madison decides they’ll find the best pieces then top it all off with Kyle’s head: the ideal Ken doll.
Meanwhile, Cordelia and her husband Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) are trying to put together their own boy, or girl – they want a baby, no matter what. However, Cordelia can’t seem to get pregnant. Her womb has troubles, for whatever reason. Hank seems supportive, but wants her to use the witchcraft to make things possible for them. Cordelia’s against it, not wanting to turn into her own mother; someone who has taken the shortcuts of life at every turn.


Finally, LaLaurie has to come to terms with what Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) did to her all those years ago.
We flash back to after Delphine first took the vial and drank it. She wakes up to find her worst fears coming true: her family is killed, while she’s been given eternal life. They were all hung. Now, Delphine is left by Laveau to spend life in a box underneath the earth, never to die. Only Fiona has dug her back up and let her free. Well, not free. She’s essentially under the slavery of the Supreme for now.
Over at the morgue, Madison and Zoe have a Kyle Frankenstein monster put together. They’re gearing up for some type of witchcraft ceremony, in which they intend to bring him back to life again. Things don’t go exactly as planned, though.
Kyle comes back to life, all right. He just doesn’t come back like he was, at all. He is more similar to Frankenstein’s monster than ever before.

Did we just barter with the Devil? ‘Cause I don’t know if I’m down with that.”

Nan’s psychic powers lead her to find LaLaurie upstairs tied in the closet, which starts a bit of chaos. First, Delphine cracks Queenie over the top of the head, knocking her out. But Fiona is across town at the home base of Marie Laveau, they’re having a bit of a head-to-head confrontation. They drop a bit of knowledge on us about shamans, necromancy, Haitian voodoo and such. Plenty of history in a few minutes of dialogue between Lange and Bassett – another classic pairing we’re able to enjoy courtesy of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk & Co. Though, the offer Fiona brings for Laveau is turned away before anything else happens. We’ll get more of this later on. Not too long afterwards, we see the Minotaur is still under care of Marie, who unchains him for “business” they have to take care of soon.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-19-05-pmCordelia and Hank are busy trying to do freaky rituals in order to get pregnant. They have kinky sex with black candles, a circle of black sand or something, and all that kind of wild stuff. Oh, and blood. I suppose being a witch can offer a bit of kink in the love life. This whole sequence is pretty creepy and full of sensual imagery. The sex, a snake egg cracks, fire ignites in the circle around them. Then as they finish, everything goes back to normal. Will it work? Who knows.
Zoe is busy rushing Kyle away from the morgue. The poor dude is having troubles, coming back to life is obviously not a walk in the park. Kyle smashes his body around in the car, as Zoe drives them off. She’s upset, trying to do her best and feeling she did the wrong thing bringing him back.
Luckily, Misty Day turns up in their backseat. She knows how to help Kyle transition back into life appropriately. Zoe brings them back to Misty’s shack, out in the swamps. Misty wipes dung all over Kyle, great healing properties she says. Leaving him with the resurrected witch, Zoe is conflicted about what ought to be done with Kyle in his newly living state; he looks monstrous, Evan Peters does such a fantastic job performing this character, amazing work.


A good conversation between Fiona and LaLaurie, as the latter laments now being above ground, her family dead and gone, everything changed and new to her completely. Lots of interesting things happening between these two. Cannot wait for more of their relationship to come out! And also just having LaLaurie’s presence around, in a day and age very far socially from where she was in the early 19th century. Exciting thematic things will unfold.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-29-31-pmThe next episode is called “The Replacements”, once again directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

American Horror Story – Coven, Episode 1: “Bitchcraft”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 1:
 “Bitchcraft”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the next episode, “Boy Parts” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-56-12-pmThis season, Coven, begins with Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) in 1834 New Orleans. If you don’t already know who she was, then saddle up.
Quickly there are shots of Delphine brushes blood all over her face. She complains the blood isn’t fresh, though. But even worse, there’s been indiscretions on the part of one of her daughters; the young girl slept with a black man, the help. Madame LaLaurie was viciously racist. But Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk & Co. have taken it up a notch – or twelve. In a spooky attic, LaLaurie has her slaves all in various states of torture. Most disturbing is when a young black boy brings in a stag’s head and she has it placed on the man who had sex with her daughter, Bastien (Ameer Baraka). She explains it’s all inspired by the Minotaur in Greek mythology. One of the most unsettling openings to any season, what a brutal start.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-56-50-pmWe’re introduced now to Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga). She brings a boy home, they sneak upstairs making out. Of course it goes to the next level. But then the guy’s nose starts to bleed. Everything bleeds, and he goes into shock.
Cut to Zoe on a train. Headed elsewhere. She’s come to discover her lineage is that of witchcraft; her grandmother had the same affliction. Nice little sequence with Zoe reading a book about the Salem Witch Trials, a few brief black-and-white clips. Zoe’s mom ends up shipping her off, bound for a school where she’ll be taken care of appropriately. Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) has facilitated the new shift in life for Zoe. She’s headed to New Orleans – Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.
Upon arrival, the other girls already there decide to have a bit of fun at Zoe’s expense. There’s young, famous & bitchy Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), sweet little Nan (Jamie Brewer) and the ever so chill Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). At first it’s as if they’re about to sacrifice her – only a joke. Sort of an initiation, I guess. Why not? They’re a bunch of witches. It’s Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) who runs the place, though. Along with the help of perpetually silent servant Spalding (Denis O’Hare).
We get lots of tidbits on the Murphy-Falchuk witches. There are regular witches, then there is, once a generation, a Supreme – who embodies ALL the possible powers of witches.
Even better is a short scene with Misty Day (Lily Rabe), who has the ability to resurrect the dead. Certainly the Southern folk who witnessed her abilities were progressive enough to hang her out in a field, douse the poor girl with gasoline and light her on fire. So this is how Cordelia explains witches as “being under siege” and advises them to “know this or face extinction.” Sets up lots of great societal style tension, which will no doubt come up more and more throughout this season.


Finally, Jessica Lange!
She’s back once more as Fiona Goode. It seems Ms. Goode is getting ill, or has been ill anyways. She has a doctor named David (Ian Anthony Dale) working on a cure, but the race is on. Immediately there’s a suspense about her situation. You can even just see it right on Lange’s face in the performance. But right afterwards there’s a glimpse into Fiona, who she is and how she deals with things: booze, coke, dancing. And it is obvious her witch power is strong, the way she deals with David. Such an amazing scene with the lights, how Fiona shuts the doors and lights her cigarette, throwing David around – all while “In a Gadda da Vida” by Iron Butterfly rocks in the background. Love this entire sequence because you get such a great deal of Fiona and her character in this one big introduction.
Then there’s an awesome dinner table scene with the young witches. Nan is clairvoyant, Queenie is a “human voodoo doll.” But then poor Zoe gets roped into hanging out with Madison, whose high class bitchiness knows no bounds. They’re headed to a frat party later, and Zoe looks positively thrilled. Slash not.
Fiona Goode is actually Cordelia’s mother. Over at the academy they reunite. We get more information now, such as the fact Fiona is also the reigning Supreme. Plus there’s a ton of tension between daughter and mother. Doesn’t take much exposition to figure out Fiona has been, most likely always, a neglectful mother. There’s a war coming, according to Fiona, so she wants to come back to the academy and help the young witches harden. On the contrary, Cordelia prefers more peaceful, quiet, subtle ways of witchcraft. We’ll see lots of them butting heads this season. Always love the acting pair of Paulson and Lange, they’re fantastic together onscreen.
screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-03-51-pmAnother series regular, Evan Peters returns as Kyle Spencer, a sort of decent jock who takes a sober night in order to look after all his dudebros ready to party. He ends up at the party where Zoe and Madison head for the evening. In fact, Kyle finds his eye on Zoe, but she’s naturally – due to her witchy death vagina – a bit apprehensive.
But it’s Madison who needs to watch out. A couple of the frat guys set their eye on her, not in the gentleman-like way. She treats everyone like shit. This doesn’t make anything that happens to her appropriate. However, unknowingly her attitude makes the piece of shit frat guy even worse than he’d already been. Popping a pill into Madison’s drink, he drags her off into a room after she gets lightheaded and wobbly.
After a gang rape upstairs, Madison and Zoe are outside while the frat idiots jam into the bus. Trying to do the right thing Kyle gets knocked out and taken along with them. Although, Madison takes charge – out in the street she flips the bus, smashing it to bits and crushing a load of the guys inside to death or to bits. Pretty wild, and deserved. Except for Kyle, I feel bad for him being lumped in like that.
Back at the academy, Fiona has all the girls dress in black for a field day out on the streets of New Orleans. She knows all about what Madison has done, just like psychic Nan. She wants to teach action, but also needs to instil in the girls a sense of subtlety.
She takes the girls over to a museum dedicated to Madame LaLaurie. Y’know, for a little tour. We get a few flashbacks to LaLaurie’s methods of staying youthful, draining the blood of her slaves for skin cream. Also, there comes an introduction to another excellent character – Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). She comes into LaLaurie’s life promising more ways of staying young. Except hers isn’t some quick fix, nothing cosmetic. No, Marie has an eternal method, which she cons Delphine into with a vial of sweet tasting liquid. A more existential torture came for LaLaurie, we’ll see more on this later.
It’s Fiona who is interested in all this – she brought them to the museum in order to find where Delphine was finally buried, something no one else has ever found out. Nan, with her abilities, is able to track down the exact spot. What is Fiona up to?
Zoe heads to the hospital where the frat guys, some of them anyways, are in rough condition. When she finds one of the guys who raped Madison, there’s some nastiness in store. She uses her deathly sex to make sure he doesn’t ever recover, nor will he ever assault another woman again.


Pretty savage, intense finale to the episode with Zoe at the hospital. Tops everything off with Fiona having LaLaurie dug up, bringing her back out of the ground. Delphine was given the gift of immortality by Marie Laveau, then buried alive it seems. So with this resurrection of sorts, what does Fiona stand to gain?


We’ll continue on with the next episode, “Boy Parts”, so stay tuned!