“American Horror Story: Coven”: Ding-Dong, the Witch Is Raising the Dead


According to the license plate, Louisiana is apparently a Sportsman’s Paradise. In the case of 1961, the “sport” in question was chasing down black boys on bicycles. Ohhhhh dear…

At Marie Motherf*cking Laveau’s (Angela Bassett) beauty shop, one of her stylists mentions that her son is starting high school today at an integrated school. The other ladies argue about whether or not that is safe, and before you know it he poor kid on the Pee Wee Herman bike has been hung from a tree by a lynch mob. Good grief.


And bad grief, in the form of undead revenge! Yes, Marie breaks out the snakes, blood and pearls (every girl should have a fully stocked vanity, right?) and whips up some voodoo that makes the dead rise from their graves and rip the lynch mob to pieces.

Revenge, it turns out, is a dish best served by zombies. (With toast points.)


Creepy dolls and creepier fingernails – hey, it’s Spalding (Denis O’Hare)! And he’s… having a tea party? Okay, didn’t see that one coming.

Spalding joins Fiona (Jessica Lange) at the scene of the crime, where she sniffs that Madison would have been a terrible Supreme anyway, not that she’d know from experience or anything. Spalding rolls Mad up in the rug and pauses to pour FiFi a brandy, for which she thanks him by calling him a moron. Suddenly there is a crash, and Fiona rushes into the Suspiria greenhouse to find Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) on the floor and the Minotaur lurking in the shadows behind her.


Fiona wakes Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) – wait, does her husband live at the school, too? If so, where is he? – and they tend to Queenie, with Fiona literally breathing life back into the girl. Cordelia suggests the hospital but Fiona warns her that the last thing she wants is the Council breathing down her neck. Upstairs, Delphine (Kathy Bates) – hiding in the closet – marvels that “the black girl” saved her life. Fiona tells her to get it together and get out of her room.

At Marie’s salon, there’s talk of Halloween. (Yaaaay!) A package arrives amidst all the excitement and Marie is less-than-thrilled to see that inside is the still-blinking bull head of her half-animal undead lover, Bastien. (Booooo!) Now how did Fiona pull that off, I wonder? Literally?

Speaking of boyfriends with body issues, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) finds Kyle (Evan Peters) beating his head against the tub. She calls him Kyle and he replies, “not Kyle.” She does what any good friend would do: she makes him tuna salad. But wait, did she just reach for the rat poison? Or did she think it was Skinny and Sweet?

She comes back with the artificially sweetened fish slaw and Kyle is gone – and the streets are filling up with costumed trick-or-treaters. Ha! One clever shot of a young man in a skeleton mask seems like a callback to Tate’s skull makeup in Season 1. Also: thanks for coming to work today, Evan! You can pick up your check and a handful of Advil on the way out.

Fiona loves Halloween, because she can wear her pointy hat unironically. Delphine is very superstitious, and she probably should be.

Back at Marie’s, we learn that it was she who negotiated the truce with the Salem witches (Fiona’s dead mentor Glinda Ebersole, to be specific) but now the truce is over since her lover has been murdered – again. Which you can’t really blame her for – do you have any idea how hard it is to find good Minotaur help these days? Especially since they’ve gone union!

Meanwhile, Darrin Hank Fox (Josh Hamilton) is in Baton Rouge for business – and his business is apparently having crazy extramarital sex with Alexandra Breckinridge (who played young Moira in Season 1). She asks him what he was last year for Halloween and he tells her he was a monster. Hey, if the shoe fits…


Queenie wakes up and Delphine tries to thank her for saving her life, but Nan (Jamie Brewer) interrupts to tell them that the Council is there. Cordelia – and let’s call this “pulling a  Zoe” – spills the beans about both The Minotaur attack and her clandestine meeting with the voodoo witches before learning the real reason they have come: Nan summoned them because she could no longer hear Madison and thinks her dead. Interesting.

Fiona makes pleasantries with the Councilmembers, who are played by the fabulous Leslie Jordan (“Quentin, you vicious old queen!”), Frances Conroy (Grace Coddington-esque fusspot Myrtle Snow), and some brunette lady I don’t recognize. They ask where Madison might be and Queenie borrows Fiona’s joke writer for a moment to quip that Madison “liked hard liquor and big dicks, so if she’s dead she probably got wasted and offered the Grim Reaper a handjob or something.” This girl’s a real lie-down comic! Nan mentions that Madison was developing new powers…

Back in Red Stick, smiling-but-not-with-his-eyes Hank and Kaylee talk about vending machine food and Thomas Kinkade websites, which is where they met, and can someone explain to me why we are wasting perfectly good witch time on these two? Wait, does she not know he’s married? Or carrying a gun? Nope on both counts, I guess, as she shoots her in the head. Wait, what??!

Myrtle clearly has a bee in her Sideshow Bob wig about the fact that Fiona is the Supreme, as she has suspected her of the murder of her mentor for decades. Turns out, back in 1971 Myrt even enchanted Spalding’s tongue so that he couldn’t lie the night before his inquisition by the council about the headmistress’s disappearance, and the next thing they knew his tongue was cut out and Fiona was standing over him. Fiona, meanwhile, blamed “the colored witches” for the disappearance.


Myrtle tells Fiona that punishment for killing a Salem witch is burning, and she’s got herself a brand new book of matches and her boots were made for ass-stomping. She calls Spalding on the carpet (the rug is missing, after all) and asks him to write the name of the witch who cut out his tongue. We see that in the past, he cut out his own tongue rather than speak against Fiona, whom he loves. He writes “Myrtle Snow”, and she freaks out in classic Ruth Fisher style. Ahhhh yes. We’ve missed you, girl!

Cordelia chimes in that Madison couldn’t have been the next Supreme, because Supremes are healthy and Madison had a heart murmur. Whoopsies on you, Fiona!

Trick-or-treaters mob the hair salon, while in the back room Marie slips on her best python and gets to work raising the dead to avenge Bastien’s second death (but who’s counting!). Delphine, meanwhile, is not dealing well with the candy-grubbers.

Zoe and Queenie don’t believe Nan’s insistence that Madison is dead. In the next room Spalding is having another tea party – I hope it’s decaf! – and this time he’s slipped on a lovely sheer nightie and a fetching bonnet. He pulls a lace wedding gown out of his closet – who doesn’t have a spare just in case, right fellas? – and holds it in front of Madison’s (Emma Roberts) corpse to check the fit. Madison, it should be noted, is not enjoying her tea. (And thanks for coming to work today, Emma! You can pick up the rest of your clothes/teen queen image on the way out.)


At a gorgeous backlit bar (my guess is that it’s the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel?), Fiona gets Cordelia drunk in order to get her thoughts on who the next Supreme might really be, so that she can then kill her. Fiona admits that she doesn’t like Hank because “he reeks of bullshit.” And gunpowder. Fiona lies about killing Madison, and Cordelia takes a powder to throw up Maker’s Mark in the bathroom. Hmmm… drunk, or something else? Never mind, because someone in an all-black robe carrying a beaker of clear liquid steps out of the stall and throws it in Cordelia’s face.

Okay, WTF?! Was that a urine sample? Acid? Sierra Mist? Each is equally horrifying.  Cordelia screams, apparently in agreement.

Back at Professor Xavier’s Finishing School for Hot Witches, sexy nexty Luke (Alexander DreamOn Dreymon) drops by with cookies for Nan. I seriously am in love with this storyline. But when Delphine opens the door and finds her undead daughters instead of trick-or-treaters, things get hairy real fast. Z0mbie invasion!


Okay, let’s try to make some sense of this…

Notably Dead: Bastien (again!), a poor little black boy named Henry, a bunch of racists, Kaylee, Spalding’s chances at ever finding out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop

Notably Undead: Half of Louisiana

Notably Absent: Misty Day, Joan Ramsey

Shriek of the Week: Just because I’ve missed her so GD much, I have to give it to Frances Conroy for her hissy-fit upon Spalding’s holding his tongue for Fiona.

Blood – 10/10

Lots of blood, including the cold open’s gloriously over-the-top zombie attack. Too bad that the mopes over at Walking Dead have cornered the market on undead dismemberments, because this was classic zombie movie mayhem that would have been seriously groundbreaking TV just a few short years ago.

Beasts – 8/10

Snakes alive! And dead. And poor Bastien’s pretty cow head in a box!

Buns – 4/10

I’m pretty sure that Josh Hamilton flashed some mudflappage during that punishing sex scene with poor Alexandra, so let’s give them a 4. Again, I cannot believe that Grover from Walking and Talking is this season’s sex symbol. What would Otis say?!

Constance Comment of the Week

As mentioned earlier, this week’s Constance Comment is going to Queenie, because that line about big Grim Reapers dicks was CLEARLY intended to pass Miss Lange’s lips. Genius. Congrats, Queenie!


Witchslap of the Week

This week’s Witchslap goes to the writers, because I have no idea what the hell is going on and it’s clearly their fault and not the painkillers I’m on after my sinus surgery. Spalding hugged a scarecrow (he’ll miss him most of all!). Hank is an Internet serial killer. Cordelia is an idiot and also a lightweight – not sure which is worse. And zombies! This season they clearly have abandoned any pretense of coherence and are just trying to stuff as many WTF moments into each episode as they can – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, how else can you explain the fact that Leslie Jordan’s talents were utterly wasted for the first time in the history of his notable guest-starring career? (He did win an Emmy for it, you know…) What happened to Queenie? Eh… nobody bothered asking. What of Misty Day, the extremely powerful witch we last saw spinning her little heart out in her swamp shack? Eh, never mind. And how many Red Bulls does poor Marie Motherf*cking Laveau have to drink to replenish all the electrolytes that she’s constantly expending raising armies of the undead? She better check herself before she wrecks herself.

So yeah, big pawslaps to the folks behind all this nuttiness – both for making it so blithely incomprehensible and for making it so much fun to suffer through.

Random Thoughts:

  • My guess is that the short witch in the little black number hit Cordelia with some sort of potion that makes her see the truth, which will lead to her realizing that everyone in her life is awful and probably freaking the eff out.
  • I would like some of Luke’s cookies, please.
  • We all are on the same page that Fiona is singlehandedly responsible for nearly everything bad that has happened thus far, right? Bringing back Delphine, killing Bastien, killing her mentor, killing Madison… girl’s got some serious karmic penance to pay.
  • I’m hoping we get to see more of Angela Bassett playing solitaire and laughing maniacally and less Angela Bassett screaming at the rafters with snakes on her. That look is SO two episodes ago…
  • I would like to think that if we consider the Council in Harry Potter terms, Myrtle is Ron Weasley.
  • And am I the only one who CANNOT MANAGE an episode without any of Misty Day’s leather-and-lace platitudes and backwater charm? An episode without Misty is like a Fleetwood Mac song without Stevie Nicks  – you know, one of those gauzy Christine McVie numbers that you fast-forward through. This episode was like that. This episode was “As Long as You Follow”.

So what’d you think? Is this season’s flavor of crazy working for you? And how’s this Halloween gonna end?

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.