A review of American Horror Story: Coven
Whilst episode one opened with an introduction to the mischievous young witches and dark voodoo powers of the series, episode 2 (titled Boy Parts) had the tough job of maintaining our interest, which is a mean feat in this day and age. For a series that prides itself on gripping ‘I can’t wait for the next one’ teasers, Coven prepared to , excuse the pun, work its magic.
Young witch Zoe is already in over her head and it seems we’re being taken along for the ride it, as her short lived romance is quickly addressed. If you recall, our last encounter saw spoilt teen idol Madison flip over a bus full of frat boys in a fit of revenge, thus incidentally killing Zoe’s new love interest Kyle. Zoe is still mourning when the cops show up to question the girls for witness statements about the accident, leading Zoe to vomit up the truth and Fiona to step in with her spooky psychic powers to clean up the mess. However, most fans will be aware by now that just because a character dies in the series, it by no means indicates that this is the last we’ll see of them, and we certainly see A LOT of Kyle in Boy Parts. His, mostly.
This week Madison, in a bid to make it up to her new BFF, steals a spell that can ressurect Kyle by piecing together parts of cadavers in true Frankenstein fashion. Pretty badass considering the circumstances, but the whole thing has an air of Charmed about it. Ridiculous, gross and completely crazy; yes. But American Horror Story has no qualms with the ridiculous, even if the sappy teen romances involving Peters are getting to be a bit of a bore by now. Newly reborn Kyle is kind of slow and weird and doesn’t say much, until Lily Rabe pops up doing her best Earth-mother Stevie Knicks impression, and volunteers to heal Kyle using her powers; powers that have apparently allowed her to survive being burnt at the stake no doubt.
Lily Rabe is vastly different this season as a vulnerable white witch whom Zoe befriends. With all the wickedness flying around it might be nice to see Rabe in a less villanous role, though we wouldn’t count on her character being wholesome or trustworthy just yet, judging by Ryan Murphy‘s track record of shocks and plot twists. Meanwhile, we discover a little more about Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) who, it is revealed, is trying for a baby with her husband despite some apparent physical limitations. A storyline we’ve seen a million times before, but when Witchcraft is an option, we could be seeing another other-wordly child yet on AHS. Cue bizarre salty sex ritual involving snakes and candles. American Horror Story really is obsessed with babies; we have little doubt that Cordelia will get her wish.
Cutting to the chase, last weeks finale also saw Fiona return to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Women, and dig up the immortal and evil Madame LaLaurie. And boy is her presence refreshing.
Seeing two veterans like Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates chewing scenery together is certainly worth tuning in for, and the camp humour between the two is fantastic. Bates adjusts to her new modern setting with some difficulty, expressing her complete disgust at President Obama, she comments on how the world has ‘deteriorated’ since she was buried alive and weeps. This is one great element of the series that seems to be persistent with American Horror Story; the juxtaposition of old and new, history and the present day and between young and old. FYI: The youth aspect is a big theme this season.
Alas, the extent of Marie Laveau’s punishment towards the Madame is also revealed in flashback sequence; her entire family hanged from the rafters of the home she shared whilst LaLaurie must endure an eternity alone. Ouch. No doubt, this conflict, whether it be racial or revenge, will soon take shape as Marie Laveau (Angela Basset) makes her second appearance onscreen. It’s only a matter of time before the two come to blows.
Speaking of coming-to-blows, Fiona decides to check out Marie’s hair salon in order to approach the voodoo priestess about the beauty tips that have kept her alive so long, but the feud that has raged for centuries between the European witches and African voodoo practitioners leaves Fiona empty handed as the two engage in a bitter exchange.
“Maybe in another hundred years you could have another shit-hole salon,” spits Fiona, as Marie cackles at her request. Unsurprisingly, Marie also refuses to help Cordelia in a fertility ritual when realising that she is the daughter of the Supreme, which indicates a whole lot more bitching (and witching) is to come.
Already Season 3 is gearing up for bigger things. So long as Murphy stays faithful to the plot and doesn’t decide to incorporate surprise mid-season deaths, aliens and, sigh, yet more babies, we might just have a good story on our hands.
Best Quote: “I couldn’t toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you”
Freakiest Scene: The beautifully shot sequence of Marie Laveau’s fertility ritual
What to look forward to next week: Kyle might actually stop grunting