AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Recap – “The Replacements”

     October 23, 2013


Well, things certainly got weird this week on FX’s American Horror Story: Coven.  The previous two episodes of the horror anthology’s new season have already established the age-long war between practitioners of witchcraft and voodoo, but now we know that all is not well within the coven.  As the powers of the old Supreme wane, a young upstart is unknowingly encroaching on her territory.  Meanwhile, we also get to witness a new weird way to make a baby and one of the creepiest family reunions since Chinatown.  Hit the jump for my recap and to find out why this is still Jessica Lange’s dance.

american-horror-story-coven-jessica-langeAs the camera spins and swerves and dives to show Fiona dipping into her youthful tonic, we know that Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is once again behind the camera.  (Shout-out to our buddies in the comments, who love talking camera angles!)  For better or worse, the plot of this particular episode was stranger and more shocking than any visual hallucinations Gomez-Rejon could have dreamed up.  Let’s sort this mess out.

First up, we get a glimpse into Fiona’s past as an up-and-coming witch who will do anything to grasp power, including slitting the throat of the reigning Supreme in 1971.  Jumping back to the present, Fiona now sees her stranglehold on that power slipping away; as it does, it only serves to feed the growing strength of the one who might just be the new Supreme, Madison (Emma Roberts).  In addition to her talent for telekinesis, Madison shows off her newly found pyrokinesis powers during an altercation with the new neighbor, Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone).  After Fiona tests Madison’s powers further, she tries to get the youthful witch to take her place as the new Supreme, but winds up slitting the girl’s throat instead.  Byebye, Madison!

In an interesting parallel between both events in 1971 and the current time, Spalding (Denis O’Hare) watches with wordless obedience.  That clued me in to an interesting theme running through this season, and that’s: Mute men.  Spalding apparently has had his tongue removed sometime in his past, Kyle (Evan Peters) is unable to speak due to his body-swapped resurrection, some of Madame LaLaurie’s (Kathy Bates) mutilated slaves had their mouths sewn shut, and the Big Bad Minotaur is a House Boy who’s had a bull’s head slammed down onto his own.  Perhaps there’s nothing to this, but it’s an interesting thing to keep an eye on nonetheless.

american-horror-story-coven-the-replacements-taissa-farmigaSpeaking of Kyle, here’s where we get to the uber creepy parts. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), who means well in her wide-eyed innocence, steals Kyle away from the clutches of Misty Day (Lily Rabe) in order to return him to his loving mother.  Except in this case, Kyle’s mother is way, way too loving.  Incest seems to be in vogue on television lately (Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, Top of the Lake, The Borgias, etc), so it’s no real surprise that American Horror Story: Coven folded it into the plot.  At least this specific instance of incest has apparently run its course as Kyle went into a Frankenrage and smashed his overly affectionate mother’s head in.  As you do.

While Madison’s fate is likely sealed, we’re not sure what happened to Zoe after she found a blood-covered FrankenKyle.  We also don’t know with 100% certainty what happened to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), except that she was in the midst of arousing both herself and a misunderstood Minotaur.  Also left in the lurch was Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), who struck out at the fertility clinic and so decided to make a baby the old-fashioned way, with voodoo.  A visit to Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) resulted in a trippy dream sequence featuring Cordelia in a slinky red dress being escorted to a ritual campfire where a goat was sacrificed and its blood spilled upon her abdomen.  (Just the way our forebears got it done!)  Remember that age-old clash between practitioners of witchcraft and voodoo I mentioned?  Yeah, there’s no way Laveau is going to play it straight with Cordelia because of her lineage.  It’s plain to see, however, that Bassett is having the most fun out of everyone on the cast.

This episode might have shortchanged the plot in order to shock viewers with sensational moments, but if that was their aim they certainly achieved it.  Incest, possible beastiality and straight-up murder; vintage American Horror Story.

Rating: B-

Quotes & Miscellanea:

american-horror-story-coven-posterYoung Fiona: “They say when a new Supreme begins to flower, the old Supreme begins to fade. And you’ve been fading.”

Fiona to Spalding: “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

Fiona: “It’s my dance, and I have performed it with finesse and abandon with countless partners, while only their faces change. I never suspected the night would come when the dance would end.”

Nice parallel between Fiona’s visit to the plastic surgeon and Cordelia’s visit to the fertility specialist.  Two of the major themes we’ve seen throughout American Horror Story‘s history continue to persist in this season: obsession with youth and pregnancy and its complications.

Madame LaLaurie weeping over President Obama is one of the funnier moments from this season.

Madison: “What’s your story, Queenie? Who popped your chocolate-covered cherry?”

Fiona to Joan: “You know, I never understood you Bible thumpers and your hypocrisy towards sex. I know that behind close doors, you’re the biggest perverts of all.”

Joan: “Your student threw a knife at me. It missed my head by three inches.” Fiona: “She needs to work on her aim.”

Madison on Luke: “He’s so backed up, all I’d have to say is ‘panties’ and he’d jizz his jeans.”

Kyle’s Mom: “You’re still my beautiful boy. And we’re together again.”

Laveau: “You bring us two ounces of your husband’s baby gravy in a Mason jar.”

Cordelia on the $50,000 fee for Laveau’s fertility spell: “I’ll find it somehow. Borrow it, rob a bank … when’s the New Moon?”

Madison: “Doubt I’ll even graduate this shitshow. They won’t commemorate me.” Fiona: “Well they’ll have to, because you’re the next Supreme.”

Fiona: “I was a shitty Supreme.”

Fiona: “Bury her deep. God knows what all that shit in her body will do to the lawn when it comes up in the spring.”

Fiona: “This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, it needs a new rug.”