A review of American Horror Story: Coven
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f there’s one thing to love about American Horror Story, it’s the fact that your horror is served up with a cold hard slab of drama. Oh, and lots of ick.
Episode 3, the aptly named Replacements, plays out like a love letter to the passage of time, and this week we are visually treated to some wonderfully nostalgic flashback scenes. Whilst the young witches grapple with their developing powers – and hot untouchable Christian boy moving in next door- Fiona is seeking every method possible to stay young.
Jessica Lange displays her acting prowess once more with an opening monologue staged in a Bourbon Street Jazz Club which sees Fiona lamenting her love for ‘the dance’ and the men she’s danced with over the years. As the heady fast-paced Jazz escalates to climax, the realisation that the men in the bar no longer want to dance with her, and instead with the youthful women next to her, leaves a sombre bitter taste in her mouth.
We learn in a flashback that Fiona was once a promising young beautiful witch at Miss Robichaux’s. Her mentor encourages Fiona’s aspirations to develop her powers until Fiona explains that she knows in her bones that she is the next Supreme. Turns out that as a new Supreme gets stronger, the old gets weaker and begins to die; thus being replaced by the new. Fiona decides to speed things up a little, murdering her mentor in front of Spalding, hinting of course that’s why our dear creepy butler – a combination of Riff Raff and Lurch – has no tongue.
Unsurprisingly, back in the present day Fiona’s quest for youth is hit by the realisation that she is getting weaker and sicker leading to her belief that the next Supreme is rising within the Coven. Quite surprisingly, her main suspect is Madison. Oh and we all thought it would be Zoe! When Madison involuntary sets fire to the house of their Bible-bashing neighbour, Fiona sees it as a display of her increasingly strength and decides to take Madison for a night on the tiles.
Meanwhile, Madame LaLaurie is having trouble adjusting to the 21st century, hissing in disgust that the United States has a black president. It’s a funny thing; American Horror Story takes a brave stab at tough subjects like racism and even in the most shocking ways, manages to get away with it by hitting home a subconscious political commentary. As punishment for her refusal to serve Queenie at lunch, Fiona assigns her as Queenie’s personal slave because ‘there’s nothing [Fiona] hates more than a racist’. Apparently, there’s also nothing she loves more than irony.
As Cordelia’s estranged mother opts for surgery, Cordelia is crushed by the news she can’t have children. Whilst this does finally give a bit of depth to the mostly underused Cordelia we’ve seen so far, the old ‘struggling for a baby’ storyline is beginning to feel like a tired one, even in a radically unique series like AHS. Likewise, Kyle’s recovery from a grunting Frankenstein creature is getting dull, quickly. Evan Peters still isn’t being given much to do and borders on the irritating with his dumb glazed look when Zoe comes to reclaim him from Misty – who it appears has a bit of a psycho streak.
This is the point in the episode where my stomach starts to give. Chopped up dead people, I can deal with, but when Zoe returns Kyle to his trashy mother to say goodbye, I suddenly have recollections of Zachary Quinto popping up a la series 2 Asylum to start babbling about ‘Baby needs colostrum’ all over again. Coven has certainly upped its game, because this is much worse.
You know what’s weird? Someone trying to get it on with a dead guy. You know what’s even weirder? When it’s his mother.
Yes, poor Kyle was sexually abused by his mother in life and even for AHS, this ‘make up’ scene leaves you quite nauseous. “Your body, it’s someone else’s,” she says. That still doesn’t make it okay when she starts making the moves on her own son. Controversial and unsettling; there is always some true horror when it comes to this show.
Likewise with Queenie’s bizarre sexual experience with the Minotaur. I know Ryan Murphy is letting his freak flag fly in a way he can’t with Glee, but come on Ryan?!
Unsurprisingly, the final scenes see Fiona take care of the future Supreme in an all too familiar way; slitting Madison’s throat after she refuses to kill Fiona and hiding her body in the Oriental rug. Alas Fiona has bought herself some time… but for how long?
Best Scene: Flashback of a young feisty Fiona at Miss Robichaux’s
Freakiest Scene: Kyle’s mom getting freaky with her sewn-together resurrected son. Ew, ew. Please, make it go away.
What to look forward to next week: Whether we’ll see Madison return and what vengeance Fiona has in store for being set loose at the school
What not to look forward to: More grunting from Evan Peters. More use of racial slurs just to make the whole theme of racism more obvious.