“American Horror Story: Coven”: Mother Monsters


American Horror Story was back last night with another plot-heavy and sort of scattered episode loaded with ugly sex, backstabbing (well, neckstabbing, technically) and general bitchery.

Let’s dig in!

Fiona (Jessica Lange) tosses and turns in her Supreme Suite, eventually reaching for pills and water – sorry, did I say water? I meant bourbon. She washes the meds down with a swig (they sound like M&Ms rattling against her teeth) and has a flashback to another time long ago when she raided that same liquor cabinet as a student of Professor Xavier’s School for Witches Who Can’t Spell Good. Her mentor, a kindly witch played by Broadway legend Christine Ebersole, chides Fionette gently for not joining her sisters at a feminist rally (Fiona clearly isn’t interested anyone but herself) and says that when she was young she knew she was the new Supreme when she had “mastery of the Seven Wonders.” Let me guess: Stevie, Bread, Woman, Wheel, Showzen…

Fionette calls Glinda on the carpet: she knows that the old gal is losing her powers because she is the new Supreme. Glinda slaps Fionette, calling her “a vicious little gash,” which is something I’ll admit I never thought I would hear come out of the mouth of a multiple Tony-winner. Apparently not a fan of her Grey Gardens, Fionette cuts her mentor’s throat with a curved blade, just as Spalding (Denis O’Hare, younger but just as creepy!) enters the room. They make a silent agreement to keep this a secret. Back in the present, Spalding (grey) is standing in the same spot. Fiona hisses, “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”


At a local bar, Fiona sits and rhapsodizes about how she used to be able to bag any bro in the joint as nightmarish jazz blares and the camera whizzes about as though it were a balloon that has just come untied. I half-expect that Judy from AHS: Asylum is about to sing a set. Fiona is clearly upset that she can’t pull as much man-tail as she used to, so she visits a plastic surgeon about getting a facelift. Before she agrees to go through with it, she demands that he show her a video of the procedure. He does, and she makes a face that is exactly the face I make if I ever accidentally stumble across a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond. (Fun fact: Everybody, in fact, does not.)


Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), meanwhile, journeys to the Lower 9th to visit Alicia, Kyle’s mother – who for some reason is played by Mare Winningham, the virgin from St. Elmo’s Fire. Her current fire of choice is the bowl of Kyle’s weed that she is sparking as she mourns her son. (Atta girl!)  She reveals that she was literally just about to hang herself in anguish when Zoe called, so thanks for that. Zoe promises that Kyle isn’t gone forever.

Back at Hogwarts, Nan (Jamie Brewer), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Madison (Emma Roberts) watch as a new family moves in next door – specifically, the insanely hot son, who takes off his shirt in a moment straight out of a Diet Coke commercial from the ’90s. But Patti LuPone (Patti. Motherf*cking. LuPone.) – apparently his mother – barges in to shut down the peepshow.

We then join Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who is watching President Obama making a speech and crying openly at the sight. Okay, that’s pretty hilarious. When Fiona enters Delphy tells her that the tiny box is lying, because there’s no way a black man could be president. Fiona says that she voted for him twice and that there are lots of black people in public office, to which Delphy hisses, “LIIEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!” Thanks, ladies – the scenery has been totally devoured, let’s break for lunch so we can reset.

Fiona tells Delphine that she will be the new maid, and Delphine isn’t having it until Fiona threatens to put her back in the box if she doesn’t cooperate. She throws a maid’s uniform at her. This is gonna be fun.


At breakfast, LaLaurie serves the girls as they discuss who’s a virgin (Queenie is, Nan sure as hell ain’t). When LaLaurie refuses to serve Queenie, they have a moment, which Fiona defuses by making Delphy Queenie’s “personal slave.” My my my. Payback’s a bitch, eh?

Out at Misty’s Gator Shack, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) and Frank-N-Fratter (Evan Peters) listen to Fleetwood Mac’s “Sarah” as Misty rattles on about Stevie Nicks not finding her voice until she found her “tribe” (this week’s Secret Word). She adds that she’s still looking for hers, which I’m sure won’t be important later on or anything. Zoe pops by and they inspect Kyle’s wounds, which Misty has done a great job on. The scene, with an inanimate, mute Kyle lying there as two women run their hands all over him, is a bit disturbing. Zoe wants to take him to see his mom, because nothing would soothe her grief better than the sight of her son as a grunting Build-a-Brah ghoul. Misty doesn’t want them to go, but Zoe drags him off anyway, leaving Misty to cry “We’re connected – you can’t just replace me!” and then to throw on her best bit of crawfish netting and spin around like the main event at a Lindsay Buckingham pool party. She’s casting a spell, right?

Nan bakes the new neighbor – Luke (Alexander Dreymon) – his favorite cake, and Madison takes the opportunity to try to mount him in his own living room. He’s not biting – he has no idea that she’s a celebrity, as they have no TV or Internet, and he clearly can tell that she’s a total bitch. I like him already, even with his shirt on. His mom, Joan Ramsey (LuPone), enters on a thundercloud and tells him that they are going to church. Zoe puts her Jimmy Choo in her mouth regarding religion, and then when Joan tries to take the cake knife away from her, Mad makes the knife fly across the room. On the way out, she sets the curtains on fire, surprising both Nan and herself.

Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), meanwhile, is at the doctor, whom she tells that she tried something else (the bloody snake sex) but it didn’t take. He says that he’s sorry, but there’s no way she can have a baby, period. Fiona, meanwhile, is told by her doctor that plastic surgery isn’t an option because her immune system is failing.  Uh-oh. Sounds like there’s a new Supreme in town, and she’s a total brat!

Zoe drops FrankenKyle off at his mom’s, leaving him leaning face-first into her door like a careless Edible Arrangement deliveryman. His mom screams in horror upon seeing him, then embraces him and drags him in. As he’s being dragged, Kyle shoots a very curious look of terror over his shoulder at Zoe. Again with the uh-oh.


Spalding brings Joan into see Fiona, grunting an introduction. Fiona isn’t terribly bothered by the fact that Madison made a knife nearly miss Joan’s head (“She’s gotta work on her aim!”) and tells Bible-toting Joan that all religious nuts are closet perverts. But when Joan mentions fire, Fiona’s ears perk up. After dismissing Joan, Fiona has Madison light her bitchstick with her mind. “Who knew I could do that?!” Careful, girl…

Kyle and his mom reconnect, by which I mean she molests him. Oh dear God. Yes, Alicia is a baby-raper, and she could tell after Kyle took his shower that all his parts weren’t really his. This. Is. Vile. She does bad things to his bathing suit area as a helpless Kyle cries at the ceiling. GAHHHH. Is it just me or is this show rapier than SVU?!


Cordelia visits the hair salon to meet with Marie about fertility treatments. The girl at the reception desks yells, “Mambo here?” Sure enough, Mambo is – they lead Cordelia back to a room full of curiosities in which Marie Motherf*cking Laveau (Angela Bassett) sits upon a throne made of bones… playing iPad Solitaire. What – she’s on break!

Marie tells her she can’t help and Cordelia tells her to cut the crap, she knows about the ritual, which they then envision together as a scene straight out of a 1960’s drive-in movie about voodoo witchcraft: Cordelia is brought into the spell circle, where painted witches chant and play drums and dance. It’s kind of an embarrassing throwback and kind of awesome at the same time, I have to say – but when Laveau starts doing her thing, she’s amazing. The mason jar full of Hank’s “baby gravy” that they had her bring starts to boil in the fire just as Marie slaughters a goat above a prone and half-naked Cordelia, covering her in blood.

Sorry, I thought this was how ALL conceptions happened – am I missing something?

After this lovely daydream, Marie laughs and says there’s no way she’s doing this ritual for Cordelia, because she’s her arch-enemy’s daughter. Cordelia balks. Marie insists that she’s “in the wrong tribe” (DINGDINGDING) and Fiona poisoned the well by marching into her salon and trying to lay down the law. Cordelia is PISSED.

Fiona takes Madison to brunch (neither of them touch their food, as though this were a scene from The Hills) and tests her on a new power: mind-persuasion. Madison passes with flying colors, oblivious of what Fiona is up to. Madison then talks about her own mother, Dina Lohan.


Back at the school’s kitchen, Queenie orders Delphine to make her a peach cobbler. Delphine makes some disparaging comments about Queenie’s weight, and Queenie says she eats to replace the love that she never got. Suddenly, the Minotaur is outside – Delphine yelps, “It’s the houseboy!” and Queenie asks what she did to him. She then remembers the museum tour and realizes who she’s dealing with here. Delphine begs Queenie to protect her, and Queenie cuts her arm with a knife and catches the blood with a dishtowel and sends her away before venturing out into the night. She finds the Minotaur and lures him into an alley with the blood, where she then starts masturbating. Wait, what?! She tells him that she and he both just want love and that no one understands them so they should totally just bang, right? Okay, that was… sudden. And I mean, sure – the guy’s totally ripped, but there is not a bag big in the parish big enough to cover that face. The Minotaur moves behind her – his horn caressing her throat – and suddenly his hoof is over her mouth.

Alice tells Kyle that while the forced incest has been great for him, too, they really should stop – and then rubs herself all over him like a pat of butter on hot corn. Understandably, Kyle snaps – and beats her face to a pulp with what looks like a high school trophy. Go Mathletes!

Fiona and Madison, meanwhile, play pool and get loaded at a local honkytonk, with Fiona seeing her young self in the increasingly blitzed starlet. Fiona is notably pacing herself, and when they get home we see why: Fiona launches into a monolog about her own mentor, whom she killed, and tells Madison that she’s the new Supreme and that Fiona’s days are numbered. She pulls out the knife and begs Madison to put her out of her misery, and a confused (and drunk) Madison refuses. In the struggle, Fiona slyly cuts the girl’s throat, and she falls to the floor. Well-played, FiFi!

Spalding arrives right on cue and she tells him to bury Madison somewhere deep that won’t ruin the grass. She sits and remarks, “This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, it needs a new rug.”


Notably Dead: Madison, Alicia, Christine Ebersole

Notably Absent: Hank Foxx, Whatever the Hell Frances Conroy is Playing

Shriek of the Week: I gotta give it to Marie Motherf*cking Laveau for bringing down the house at that Voudou house party. Slammin’!

Blood – 10/10

Between the blood-soaked fertility rite, Fiona’s pen-knife butterfingers and Frank-N-Fratter’s MVP moment, this was a bloody riot.

Beasts – 9/10

Give it up for the goat, y’all! Plus, poor Bastiane looks to be equal parts beast and man, at this point.

Buns – 5/10

Okay, no actual bunnage, but let’s all give Luke a round of applause for that heapin’ helpin’ of upper haunch. Plus, poor Kyle was objectified left and right, though it was pretty grody on a number of levels.

Constance Comment of the Week


I think the closing line pretty much did it for me – and it’s a shame, because that rug really tied the room together!

Witchslap of the Week

Let’s just go ahead and make this a permanent installation:

I seriously hope they’re not planning on making Zoe the heroine of the season, because it’s a loooong road back from Stupidsville, where she has been vacationing for several episodes now.

Random Thoughts:

  • So while this is so gross that I hate to linger on it any more than necessary, I wonder: If Kyle’s parts aren’t really his, was his mother technically molesting someone else? I only ask in the name of science.
  • The Queenie business was all very sudden and unmotivated and strange and confusing. I really hope they clear that up.
  • Do all hair salons have a bone throne room in the back? You ladies and your secrets!
  • While it was great to have a little more insight into Spalding and his role at the Academy, one grunt really ain’t gonna cut it. They do realize this man has won the Tony, right?!
  • While I did call that Emma Roberts would be the first of the ladies to die, I actually don’t think that she’s gone yet. So far almost everyone who’s died on this show has come back in some form or another.
  • How awesome would it be if Nan and Luke end up together?
  • And I’m gonna call it that Misty is the new Supreme, if only because I like the idea of the Queen of the Witches being able to pull off a flawless “Stand Back” at karaoke.

All in all a bit of a kitchen-sink episode, but I liked it. How do you guys feel about murderous Fiona, bad-to-worse Kyle, horny Queenie and dead Zoe? Sound off in the comments!

In 2003, Brian launched the world's first website devoted to horror film from a gay perspective (CampBlood.org), mining an untapped (and occasionally unintentional) source of entertainment and bringing together a huge and colorful population of gay horror fans and filmmakers. When he's not pulling skeletons out of closets, Brian writes reviews for horror megasite Bloody-Disgusting.com, general film site Freezedriedmovies.com, and can be found on the ever-informative RottenTomatoes.com. Brian is also a filmmaker, having produced, written, and directed two shorts (the dark romantic comedy An Apple a Day and the eerie suspense piece Two Story House) that have played at film festivals worldwide and left audiences generally uneasy. A born-and-bred Midwesterner, Brian studied Mass Media and Film at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (I know – crazy, right?) before fleeing the district for the warm and occasionally stinky shores of NYC. Brian is a proud member of the Online Film Critics Society, loving husband to illustrator Andy Swist, and benevolent overlord of their two cats.