American Horror Story: Coven
“Fearful Pranks Ensue”
October 30, 2013
A young African-American kid is riding his bike through a suburban neighborhood (Metairie? Lakeview?) when he is suddenly trailed by pickup truck filled with angry white men. The men chase him into an alley, which is when we cut to Marie Laveau’s salon. There, the boy’s mother is telling Marie Laveau and the other women that she’s nervous about Henry going to De La Salle now that it’s integrated, but that they must have faith in the future. Marie Laveau is skeptical.
And rightly so, because the Awful Angry White Men have, in fact, lynched poor Henry.
And so, Marie Laveau, having had ENOUGH of white people terribleness, grabs her salt, some snakes, makes with the hoodoo and raises the dead — including a Confederate soldier for bonus irony points — and sends them after Awful Angry White Men for a little brain-noming. NOMNOMNOM.
Why, look who has a not-at-all creepy interest in dollies and tea parties: Rat’s Nest, a.k.a. “Spalding.” He’s entertaining some dolls over a pot of Earl Gray when he overhears the fight between Fiona and Madison, and manages to walk in just in time to see Fiona not accidentally slash Madison’s throat. Fiona orders Rat’s Nest to deal with the Madison mess, adding that she’s always enjoyed their talks together since he lost his tongue — it makes him seem more thoughtful. And that’s when Fiona hears a crash from outside.
Investigating, she finds Queenie collapsed and bleeding, moaning that she couldn’t stop “it” and that “it” hurt her very badly. THE MINOTAUR! IT’S BEHIND YOU, FIONA!
But apparently, it’s no match for our Supreme, because she manages to go back inside and wake Delia up without being gored. The two witches help an unconscious Queenie into a bed where Delia performs some ineffective magic over her. As Delia smashes some herbs and stirs a paste of some sort, Fiona explains that Queenie was harmed by a “Hell beast” summoned by Marie Laveau. This leads to a screaming match between the two women about whether or not Delia should have sought out Marie Laveau’s fertility help. WELL, THANKS FOR BASICALLY ANNOUNCING TO MARIE LAVEAU THAT HER MAGIC IS STRONGER THAN FIONA’S, DELIA. GREAT JOB, DELIA.
Queenie stops breathing for a moment, so Fiona has to pause her tirade to breathe life back into her (good trick!) before insisting to Delia that they not take Queenie to a hospital — the last thing they need is for the Council to show up and start asking a bunch of pesky questions. No thank you!
A long day of killing and reviving students behind her, Fiona retires upstairs where she finds Mme. Lalaurie hiding in her closet. Mme. Lalaurie is stunned that Queenie saved her and concerned that Minotaur will come for her again. Fiona assures her it will not, before shooing Mme. Lalaurie away.
And indeed, Mme. Lalaurie needn’t worry, because, in fact, Fiona has lopped off Minotaur’s head, packed it neatly into a box and had it shipped over to Marie Laveau as a little “va t’empaler encule” gift. “ACCCK!” says Marie Laveau. “ACCK!” and “GET THE SNAKES.”
R.I.P. Bullman, 1834-2013.
Marie Laveau breaks out the salt, snakes and hoodoo while her assistant tries to talk her out of waging war on the Salem witches/exposits about the truce Marie Laveau and Anna Leigh made before Fiona came along and started slashing everyone’s throat. Marie Laveau does not care about this truce and is going to do what she is going to do, thank you very much, Exposition Lady.
The next morning, Mme. Lalaurie helps Fiona get dressed on her favoritest day of the year: Halloween. Mme. Lalaurie urges Fiona to light the bonfires and set out food offerings to keep the evil spirits at bay, lest the dead rise from their graves and “fearful pranks ensue.” Fiona is all, “PFFT. Now tell me how young and pretty I look,” before donning her awesome witch hat and heading out. Somewhere.
While Fiona goes out gallivanting around, Delia and Mme. Lalaurie tend to Queenie who wakes with a start, believing she’s dead. While Delia fetches Queenie a fresh towel, Mme. Lalaurie thanks Queenie for saving her life. And that’s when Nan walks in and announces to Delia that “they” are here.
“They” are the Council, made up of Myrtle, Pembrooke and Quentin, and They are here on Very Important Business. Delia immediately begins explaining everything: Queenie was assaulted, but everything’s cool now, so no big deal! The Council is surprised to hear this, but adds that they’re here about something far more serious and Delia’s immediately begins confessing about visiting Marie Laveau, but promises that she wasn’t trying to break the truce. And Council is like, “Yeah, that’s pretty interesting, actually, but no, try again.”
Fiona swoops in, sneering at Myrtle and cozying up to Quentin who giggles that Fiona is a “caution” when she suggests she’s responsible for his current spot on the bestseller charts. (Mentally filing that one away to use when I am reincarnated as Truman Capote.) Greetings out of the way, Fiona demands to know what this nonsense is all about, and Pembrooke explains that they were summoned here by Nan, who is concerned because she can’t hear Madison’s thoughts anymore. So? Where is the little witch?
Delia testifies in front of the Council that Madison is a “spirited” girl and that since they don’t actually teach any classes at this “school,” she hasn’t seen Madison since the day before. Delia adds that they were working on helping Madison control her powers, not developing new ones, which is when she notices that her rug is missing. Zoe testifies that Madison had that movie star “thing,” which doesn’t seem like a particularly helpful piece of information to share. Queenie calls Madison a stone cold B with a taste for hard drinking and boys, and that if she’s dead it’s because she got herself into some kind of trouble. And Nan adds that Madison had lots of powers, including pyrokinesis. “O RLY?” The Council asks. “WHO ELSE KNEW THIS?”
Fiona is brought back in before the Council so that Myrtle can berate her for her lack of interest in the busy work of being a Supreme. Instead, all Fiona wants to do is jet around and be fabulous and neglect all the TPS reports that are piling up, until all of a sudden, out of the blue, she shows back up at the school, trying to act like she’s in charge. Fiona, bewildered, wonders if she’s a terrible Supreme because she stayed away from the school or because she came back? But Myrtle doesn’t have an answer for that, Miss Smart Aleck, she’s more interested in the curious fact that for the second time in the history of the coven, someone has gone missing and Fiona was the last person to see them alive.
Young Fiona is in front of the Council, sobbing that Anna Leigh has to be alive, she just has to be, while the Council assures her that none of them can detect Anna Leigh’s life force, and they have to assume the worst. So, can Young Fiona remember anything Anna Leigh said or did the last time she saw her? Young Fiona comes up with a story about how Anna Leigh headed out with a nice bottle of wine that she was calling a “peace offering,” and the Council lands exactly where Young Fiona has lead them: OOOH, THAT MARIE LAVEAU. ~fist shake~
In happier news, the Council has brought Young Fiona in front of them to tell her that she has been named Anna Leigh’s successor, and she will be performing the 7 wonders for them soon enough, hooray!
Not pleased with this development is one Young Myrtle Snow who knows, just knows that Fiona got away with murder.
And, she explains to a fellow classmate whose witchy power is serving as a repository for exposition, Young Myrtle is going to prove it by putting an enchantment on Rat’s Nest’s tongue. Because he is going before the Council in the morning to discuss Anna Leigh’s disappearance and Young Myrtle just knows that Rat’s Nest knows something. Somehow.
“Hocus pocus, tell the truthus,” and boom: enchanted truth-telling tongue.
But that night, the girls awaken to screaming and rush to the bathroom where they find Young Fiona, Rat’s Nest, and Rat’s Nest’s tongue which is decidedly not in Rat’s Nest’s mouth, but, instead, on the floor, where it most certainly does not belong. Insert Miley Cyrus joke here.
Myrtle is fairly certain she’s got Fiona this time and she can’t wait to dole out the punishment for witchicide: to be burnt alive at the stake. (I know someone who can help with that if someone has Carol’s cell number…) All that is left to do is have Rat’s Nest testify before them, he just has to write the name of the witch who is responsible for his tongue being on the bathroom floor that night. So he does and hands it back to Myrtle to read.
Surprise! It was MYRTLE SNOW.
See, because what happened was Young Myrtle was all, “AND THEN I’M GOING TO PUT A SPELL ON RAT’S NEST’S TONGUE AND HE’S GOING TO HAVE TO TELL THE TRUTH!” in front of Rat’s Nest, while he was serving her dinner!
So, Rat’s Nest has Young Fiona meet him in the bathroom where he declares his love for her and then Van Gogh’s his tongue with a straight razor, yikes.
“BLARG!” yells Myrtle. “YOU KILLED THE SUPREME BEFORE YOU AND THE SUPREME THAT WAS TO REPLACE YOU AND YOU ARE THE WORST AND I HATE YOU AND I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!”
Delia notes that actually, technically, Madison was never going to be Supreme, because Supremes have to be in perfect health and Madison had a heart condition that she kept secret, so case dismissed, Myrtle. And Myrtle doesn’t have the wherewithal to point out that if it were a secret condition, then perhaps Fiona didn’t know about it either and killed her mistakenly? Instead, Myrtle glowers.
To celebrate, Delia and Fiona head over to Cure on Freret St. for celebratory drinks and a fun game Rick Grimes calls “three questions.”
Over a glass of Maker’s Mark neat, Delia goes first:
- Why does Fiona hate Delia’s husband
HankDarrin, is it because she’s attracted to him? HA! Durwood? Nope! She doesn’t like him because he “reeks of minotaurmerde.”
- Did Fiona kill Madison? Fiona insists with a straight face that she did not.
But before Delia can get to her third question, Fiona jumps in with her own questions:
- Who does Delia believe is the next Supreme? Delia refuses to answer, noting that Fiona is obsessed because she feels her powers weakening.
And that’s it! That’s all of the game we get! No third question from Delia, no second and third questions from Fiona. NO FAIR. Instead, we follow Delia into the bathroom where she is revisiting her Maker’s Mark. As she washes up, a hooded figure emerges from the stall next to her and throws a jar of something, acid? a potion? some lemon-scented water to help her freshen up? at Delia’s face. It sizzles. OUCH! NO! BOO!
Meanwhile, over in the 9th Ward, Marie Laveau has been busy with her snakes and salt and hoodoo, raising the dead again.
At Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Girls, Mme. Lalaurie is acquainting herself with 21st century Halloween traditions: passing out candy, welcoming hot shirtless neighbors bearing cookies for Nan, and barring the doors against her zombified daughters and their friends. No, I would not give you false hope on this strange and mournful day, but the mother and child reunion is only a motion away, indeed.
And upstairs, while Nan, Queenie and Zoe debate whether or not Madison is dead, Rat’s Nest, wearing his prettiest nightgown and bonnet, is getting ready to shove Dead Madison’s dead body into a nightgown of her very own for their own, horrific, rigor mortisy tea party.
Over in Baton Rouge in our B storyline, Darrin is on a business trip, and his business is getting it on with ladies he met on a Thomas Kinkaide collectors forum, sharing vending machine soup with them and then shooting them in the head. What the what, Darrin?
And as for Frankenkyle, Zoe finds him bashing his head against his bathtub. When she calls out for him to stop, he replies, “Kyle? No Kyle.” This gives Zoe a guilty for sewing his head onto a bunch of other body parts and then bringing him back to life, so she decides to make him a big bowl of tuna fish seasoned with a dash of rat poison. But when she goes to serve him his big bowl of “And Stay Dead,” Frankenkyle is gone. And when she goes outside to look for him, all she sees is someone in a Tate costume drive by.
We’re going to keep this one short, witches. For one thing, I’m late (as usual), but for another, there’s not that much to really go on about in this episode? Stuff happens, plot moves forward, sure, but there aren’t that many thematic issues to work through, and I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say.
We can talk a little about zombies, though. While zombies are currently having something of a pop culture moment, it’s important to remember their history. Long before George Romero came along and turned zombies into brain-eating hordes in Night of the Living Dead, they were a part of West African and Haitian Vodou beliefs. Vodou practitioners believed that shamans could reanimate and control the dead through magic. Once brought back to life, the dead no longer have wills of their own, but instead are constrained by the Vodou priest. Thus the stumbling undead Marie Laveau unleashes against her enemies — and who, curiously, seem to be armed, suggesting that they have less of a taste for flesh than their counterparts over in Georgia. (Although, who knows. We didn’t see exactly what the zombies did to those rednecks, so.) It also explains why the zombies are singularly focused on the lynch mob and on Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Girls: this is not a zombie apocalypse, it’s a zombie vigilante group. They have one job: get Mme. Lalaurie.
There is an insightful statement on this site regarding Haitians’ attitudes towards zombies: “The few who do see zombies as concrete reality do not fear the zombies themselves (who are only mindless and pathetic); rather, they fear becoming a zombie under the wrong circumstances and against their will.” This sums up what these zombies are; they not the insatiable, contagious end of humanity that we have come to associate with zombies in recent years, but rather the shambling embodiment of Marie Laveaus’ will, rage and vengeance. But the statement also reminds me of Frankenkyle: while he still seems to be in some sort of control over his own movements and behavior, he was brought back to life under the wrong circumstances, certainly against his will. I’m curious to see if there will be some interaction between Frankenkyle and Marie Laveau, especially since her beauty salon and his mother’s house are both in the 9th ward — it just seems they must intersect at some point.
It’s also interesting that Marie Laveau uses the zombies for a specific purpose: to avenge racially motivated deaths. Now, one could argue that Minotaur is hardly as innocent as the young boy who was lynched for the crime of going to school: Minotaur did gore Queenie, after all, and practically killed her. But the larger point, Marie Laveau’s point, is that the Minotaur is no more to blame for being turned into the creature that he is than the child was for being black — they both died as a result of what color their skin was, hunted down by the true monsters: racists.
Hokay! Now we’re done! Enjoy this brilliance below, and I’ll see you next week!
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.