Celebrity chef Peter Rake has done some bad things. And now he's got to face them.
A look back at the past of the outpost, Michael Langdon, and a post-witch+warlock world.
Mallory harbours a secret. New arrivals turn up from out of the wasteland at Outpost 3.
Michael Langdon begins interrogating the survivors at the outpost. A familiar face(/mask) from Season 1 returns.
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 here
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.
Zoe (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.
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
This 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.
Finally, 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.
And 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.
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
This 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.
Even 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.”
Elsewhere, 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.
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
“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.
Back 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 couldn‘t 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.
Cordelia 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.
The next episode is called “The Replacements”, once again directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
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
This 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.
We’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.
Another 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!
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 1, Episode 9: “Spooky Little Girl”
Directed by John Scott (Nip/Tuck)
Written by Jennifer Salt
* For a review of the previous episode, “Rubber Man” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Smoldering Children” – click here
Cannot get over or stop raving about the opening 1947 sequence for Episode Nine, “Spooky Little Girl”.
Not only is there a fabulous, brief cameo by Mena Suvari, she plays the well-known murder victim Elizabeth Short – otherwise known as being associated with the Black Dahlia case. The whole thing is macabre, as yet another naughty doctor seems to be taking up residence in Murder House, even after the debacle concerning the Montgomery family (Matt Ross & Lily Rabe).
Turns out, the man who killed Short and left her with that gruesome, wide, bloody smile, cut in half in a field, is the doctor in ’47 working out of the new Harmon home. Highly creepy stuff! I love how American Horror Story incorporates a lot of real life events into its DNA, which is an essence of the show even as time stretches on – each season seems to have something linking it directly with real history, whether it’s the story of Anne Frank and Project Paperclip from Season 2 – Asylum, or the Stevie Nicks angle in Coven during Season 3, there are plenty of instances where true life horror stories come into their own in episodes of this series. Another thing to love.
Poor Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) can’t seem to catch a break. Everyone she cares about and loves seems to be slipping away. Even her beefcake boyfriend who is lured into sex by living dead Hayden (Kate Mara). She actually does more to drive him away than to keep him. Constance wants a family so badly to try and make up for how the first one was screwed up beyond belief and recognition that she lashes out and everyone around her. That’s all she needs, but it clouds her vision.
After an argument with her, the boyfriend goes back for another round with Hayden. Unfortunately for him, Hayden needs somebody to take her aggression out on and he’ll be spending the rest of eternity in Murder House with all the rest of the ghosts and demons and spiritual presences. This show has a great streak of morals concerning cheating; all the infidelity gets punished, eventually somewhere down the line.
This cheater’s body gets a Black Dahlia treatment, tossed half cut into pieces in a field somewhere. Nasty, grim business.
At the same time, Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) is confronted by Hayden’s sister Marla (Tanya Clarke), who believes he has something to do with her supposed disappearance. Then, out of nowhere, the ghostly Hayden shows herself. Naturally, inside the house – in La La Land, as she puts it herself – Hayden can do what she wants. Ben still doesn’t know the true nature of Murder House, so he believes she’s stalking him or playing games. Instead, she’s just another ghostly presence, a demon or spirit wandering around inside the walls of the Harmon home.
Then, even worse than Hayden, Ms. Elizabeth Short (Suvari) shows up, non-cut in half and without a giant bloody, sliced up smile. She needs a doctor to talk to, and certainly Ben can’t say no to a pretty face. There’s so much twisted stuff revolving around Dr. Harmon, it’s unbelievable. He’s constantly being seduced, and worst of all that now it’s mostly ghosts trying to lure him in; his wife hates him, which is clear and understandable, so the poor guy is susceptible to all this sexualised spirit influence around him.
Ben receives a call from the doctor, revealing his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) is having twins from two different fathers. Meaning she must have slept with someone else during the same ovulation cycle, something extremely rare. Though, we know this is most likely not intentionally the case, Rubber Man Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) did rape Vivien, or at least had sex with her under false pretence, and so we know what has actually happened. What this will do, though, is confuse Ben and send him into a spiral, believing his wife has given him ammunition to fight back saying “Well look what you did; I can’t be so bad” and using it as a way to justify and excuse his own unfaithful behaviour.
The story between Constance and her lost son Tate deepens in this episode. After Ben’s call from the doctor, Moira (Frances Conroy) lets Constance know about what happened to Vivien – that only one child in her womb was fathered by Ben Harmon. Constance confronts Tate; it’s obvious all she wants, above anything, is for him to get help. From his beginning as a troubled young child, she only wanted to help him. However, the older Tate became the more lost he wandered along the treacherous path of life. Now, he’s not simply a ghost, an entity, he is also a killer, a savage, a rapist. While Constance is no innocent herself in the long run, she certainly is nowhere near the level of Tate. I do pity Constance, in a way, because despite her own terribleness she seems to have had a truly tragic life.
Later in the episode, we come to discover it is in fact the ghost of Charles Montgomery who comes up with the solution for a dead Elizabeth Smart. Quite eerie and further plays into the history of the house. I like how this was the further explanation, as it would’ve been a throwaway to merely have the doctor at the start be the unknown Black Dahlia murderer. To have it be Dr. Montgomery, this adds an extra level of eeriness to Murder House and its long line of history involving murder and mayhem in Los Angeles.
Furthermore, he shows up again to help Hayden and the other ghosts get rid of Constance’s now deceased boyfriend. More of a wonderfully savage touch!
For all the idiotic stuff Ben Harmon has done, he genuinely at one point wanted to piece things back together. The house has twisted him, and everyone else inside/near it, beyond recognition. He thinks his wife is actually insane, that she has cheated on him, when it has been the haunted house in which they live making her seem that way. So there’s a part of me which pities Ben. Hard as he tried, failed as he might have at certain turns, there’s no hope whatsoever for him because the spirits in the house want him to feel a certain way, want him to act in a particular sense and do things they need done. There’s an end game, a long game, the house is playing and sadly for the family dynamic of the tragic Harmons, they are not included on the winning side. All that matters to them, the spirits and the living dead inside Murder House, is that they get the baby (now babies) inside Vivien, so that the lost mothers wounded by the house might have another chance at life, at love, at giving their lives to their children. Endless tragedy, it seems. A great part of why Season 1 has been so perfectly horrific in more than a superficial way.
What I loved is that finally in this episode Ben sees Moira as her true self – the older Frances Conroy. It’s a perfect moment, as she tells him that he’s finally “seeing this as they are” and he literally sees her for her true form. Amazingly poignant bit. Not heavy handed, it works in an eerie manner.
The end of “Spooky Little Girl” is especially creepy. We’re treated to a nice dose of that apocalyptic sort of religious feeling, as Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) visits Constance and they talk about the coming of the children to Murder House. Her story about the Pope’s box is unbelievably strange in the best sort of way, she recounts a story of The Room of Tears and how the box contains the supposed End of the World, describing how everything will come to a close. This all goes to speak to how Tate, a ghost, has impregnated a flesh and blood woman; Howard says this will spawn the Antichrist.
It is a really awesome little sequence to finish the episode. Personally, The Sentinel is one of my favourite horror movies; it’s an overlooked masterpiece of the genre from the late 1970s. I found this finale reminded me of something straight out of that film, particularly its opening sequence. Also has an Omen-ish vibe. Regardless of where its inspiration comes from in the end, I found this last piece to “Spooky Little Girl” to be one of my favourite moments out of the entire first season. It’s simply spooky, all there is to it.
Next episode is “Smoldering Children”, directed by Michael Lehmann (True Blood, Californication).