Tagged Coven

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 – Apocalypse, Episode 2: “The Morning After”

Michael Langdon begins interrogating the survivors at the outpost. A familiar face(/mask) from Season 1 returns.

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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 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.

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.