American Horror Story: Coven/Season 3, Episode 3

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Where to begin???

Let’s start with the weird slanted “Batman” camera angles.     What was that all about?

And secondly, wasn’t this, the third installment of this third season ripe with  naughties?

We begin in Misty Day’s bayou boudoir.  She’s the Stevie Nicks wanna be witch who’s a wiz at necromancy.    And for those of you wondering what’s the connection between Misty  and Stevie?   Well, I seem to remember reading somewhere that  La Nicks believes she is a reincarnated witch…or something like that.  Her hit song, “Rhiannon” is supposedly about a Welsh witch….or Danish….Huguenot, maybe?    I can’t remember.  But not only is the banged, curly-haired  look a full on copy, but the twirling around with the lace scarf poised at mid-body is vintage Stevie.  Plus, almost every time Misty is on-screen, a Nicks song plays.     Something tells me we’ll be hearing a lot from the “Rumors”  album this season.

Anyway, Misty is playing nurse maid to Kyle, the Human Quilt/Golem that Madison and Zoey witched and stitched back together in the morgue last week.   Her elixir is that good ol’ “loosiana’ swamp mud,  where magic and mudbugs  thrive, and is capable of healing all his body part attachment  stitches to eventually  resemble mere cat scratches.  Virtually scar free.    Now, he still can’t talk and just sits there, zombie- like.    Zoey arrives at Misty’s and takes Kyle with her, much to Misty’s dismay.   They’re heading to Kyle’s home, where sheThe-Replacements paid his Mama a sympathy visit  earlier and knows  that  she’s   just   a missin’ her boy somethin’ fierce.    Mom is   played by the talented, but currently paunchy Mare Winningham, who can dress down to crack pipe smoking white trash level better than any actress currently in Tinsel Town.       Zoey takes Kyle to the porch, knocks on the door and runs to hide behind a tree to witness the reunion.   Since Kyle is still unsteady on someone else’s feet , he loses his balance and does a header into the center pane of the glass paneled front door.     Mama answers it , rejoicing that her baby is back.  He stumbles in her arms.

She welcomes him in and life resumes as normal.   She doesn’t even seem to mind that he hasn’t uttered a word since he arrived.

He takes a shower, but Mom throws  opens the curtain to offer him a towel, stares down at his silent manliness and creepily admits she can tell his body is ‘different’.        In the next scene, they’re in his bed together and

BOOM,  THERE IT IS!!!!!

Incest.

Just when you thought last season was as weird as it could possibly get—-naaaaaaaah.    But wait, it gets even worse.

Or better, if these are the kinds of things that get you through the night.

Onward…

patti-lupone-denis-ohareThe girls are on the shool’s second floor balcony and the spy some fresh meat below.   A  handsome lad sans shirt is in  the yard next door.   He and his very  buttoned up mother played by Patti Lupone, who I swear is wearing almost the  exact same blue striped the dress worn by  Bobbi Mohan Culp ( half of the untalented   duo  that teaches music at Altadena Middle School  in that bobbi mohannow famous skit on Saturday Night Live).  The  pair has just moved to the neighborhood.   Mom senses evil and can because she’s a hard-core Christian.       Madison, the former child actress coke whore  witch, likes what she sees in Sonny Boy, so she and Addie from Season One (can’t remember her character name) bake a cake and decide to be neighborly by taking it next door to  welcome the new fam to the block.    One thing leads to another and Mama Neighbor  announces she and Sonny are about to head to  their weekly Bible Study which  enrages Madison and a fight ensues.   Words are exchanged a knife mysteriously sails across the room and gets lodged in the wall,  thanks to Madison’s witchery, which was previously limited to Carrie-like telekinesis.   Mom orders them out of the house but not before Madison mentally sets ablaze the absolutely hideous dark velveteen living room  curtains.     Seems fire starting and a discerning decorating style are two talents she didn’t know she had.

Fiona (Jessica Lange) has a confrontation with Mama Neighbor who’s LIVID   that these tarts are even breathing and she informs Fiona  of Madison’s fiery exit.   The reigning Witch Supreme  senses that  something is happening, within the Coven and within herself.  She feels weak and earlier,  while seeking yet another face lift,  is told by the surgeon that  she has inoperable cancer with maybe  one year to live.

So, witches aren’t immortal.  They apparently die in ways beyond drowning and burning at the stake.

Fiona is dying and part of the reason why is…….Madison.    

As we learned earlier in this episode in a flashback scene from 1971,  Fiona was ascending to her position as witch Supreme in her nubile 20′s,  just  as the current Witch Supreme (played by Christine Ebersol)  was dying.     Diabetes, high blood pressure, anal warts, you name it.     But instead of waiting to assume the position in the natural process of succession by natural  death,   power-mad Fiona speeds up the process by greedily cutting the throat of the reigning Witch Supreme and becomes head honchette  way too early in her career.   She’s too immature,  too vain, too mean—all the things that a good Witch Supreme aren’t supposed to be.      So  now all these years later, she starting to feel she’s being usurped, the same way her predecessor did, thank you, Madison.

More on that in a bit.

Meanwhile, back at Incest Manor,  after seducing her boy yet again, Mama calls Zoey , telling her Kyle isn’t dead, but very much alive, but also very different.   Zoey  heads over.     In the meantime, Mom goes to Kyle’s room and says she knows its time to give up her control over him and end their taboo relationship–but not without one more romp.   So, she rubs up against him, he gets angry and screams NO!!!!! , then grabs a nearby Emmy that neither will win in 2014 and beats her head in, leaving her lying in a bloody heap on the floor.      Zoey will find the corpse later, entitling Mare Winningham to a one episode  SAG credit.    She’ll discover an equally  bloody Kyle standing in a darkened  kitchen later on.

Cordelia, Fiona’s daughter and the school’s headmistress, is told by her doctor that not only is she not pregnant, she never will be.   So a forlorn and desperate  witchC goes  to the Ninth Ward hair salon that we  were introduced to last week and meets with its owner,angela-bassett-ahs-coven   Marie “Voodoo” Laveau, played by the stunning, Angela  Basset.  She’s  in a backroom, sitting one leg over the arm of her thrown, surrounding by witchy things and playing solitaire on her Ipad with a tragically gorgeous set of French tips..    Cordelia knows of  a very powerful fertility spell that only Laveau can perform and is willing to shell out 50 grand for the honors.   It is, as the Voodoo Queen explains, very involved.      Then, we’re  treated to a  foreshadowing  ritual scene.

It’s someone’s back yard, illuminated by a large fire.   Cordelia is dressed in a red negligee bearing in her hands–as per instructed–a Mason jar filled with her husband’s (and I quote) “baby gravy”.   It’s then put directly on the fire.    This is happening as painted- faced drummers are drumming and women are gyrating to the beat.    Marie is dancing hypnotically too and eats a hot Roma Tomatoes,  straight off the grill or so it seemed from my vantage point.    I enjoyed this part because of the costume design.    Marie and the whole lot of voo-dooers were  dressed in these fabulous white Vera Wang cotton outfits, with stunning turquoise necklaces and what have you.    LOVED IT!!!!

Well,  once the jar o’guy gak  starts to boil, Cordelia lies down  on  the ground and pulls up her gown, exposing a bare, but somewhat pixilated mons pubis,  while a goat with graffiti written all over it is held above her.   It’s neck is slashed and there she is, writhing around on the now scarlet  earth, while  rubbing her nasty bits with the blood.

Or rather, that’s how it WOULD have gone down , but Marie refuses to help Cordelia because she knows that she’s Fiona’s daughter and she hates Fiona and feels a witchy turf war is about to begin.   Plus, she hates Fiona and knows she’s harboring something.

Or someone.

If you remember, Fiona unearthed the  buried, but very much alive  early 1800′s New Orleans socialite and sadist , Madame Delphine Lalaurie (again,  lovely last name) and is now holding her hostage  at the school.   Fiona is dying (literally) to know what it is that has given her eternal life.   Delphine knows only its something that Marie Laveau had given her in retaliation for killing Laveau’s then boyfriend,  Sebastian, the House Boy  for sexing up one of the Lalaurie daughters.   Delphine takes him to the murderous  basement en Le Maison Lalaurie,  ties him up and kills him while  making him where this odd black cow head mask thing.

You see, Delphine is a product of her early American environment and a racist (she tortured and killed every slave she ever owned) and in one scene we see her watching an Obama speech on the TV or as she calls it “that magic box”.    Well, Delphine is appalled that a “Negro” is president.    As she sits there thinking, “there goes the neighborhood”, Fiona walks in and announces that because she hasn’t yet learned all she can from Delphine (played by Oscar winner, Kathy Bates who’s contract probably runs the full season anyway)  so for the   foreseeable future, she’s  the new maid.   ahs e covenThis means serving meals to the students, one of which is Queenie ( portrayed by Oscar nominee, Giborey Sibide), the school’s token African-American  witch who loves love, but hates whitey crackers as much as Delphine  hates darkies.      So, Delphine finally reckons with her  fate as a servant and is in the kitchen with Queenie who learns that she’s the infamous Madame Lalaurie, re-purposed by Fiona.     So as they converse about history and Peach Cobbler,   Delphine catches a shadowy glimpse of something just outside the kitchen window.   She looks out.

Good lord, its Sebastian, the House Boy now as this  Minotaur- like creature;   bovine head, man’s body, snorting, hooves….the whole nine yards.     Delphine is terrified,  convinced he’s back for revenge.      Queenie tells her to hide, she’ll  care of the situation.

She confronts Sebastian in the back yard and then remembers the story that Delphine had told her about the reasons behind his murder .   Queenie thinks this cow man is just misunderstood and craving lovin’ as she does, so what does one do when confronting an angry, vengeful  Minotaur in the backyard of a Garden District Greco Roman manse on a foggy spring night?    You hike up your skirt and  and start  to diddle yourself , which is exactly what Queenie does.     Sebastian is watching thisy and like any horny creature in Roman mythology, he positions himself behind her.      Just  when we think the shock of mother/son incest will be replaced by partial bestiality, he puts a hoof over her face……and the damn thing goes to commercial.

In the meantime, a very jealous Fiona takes Madison to a pool hall and they drink a lot.    She keeps seeing herself in the young witch and you can just tell there’s an assload of jealousy building up.  They go back to the school where Fiona tells Madison she knows she’s the next Witch Supreme and should kill her as she did the Witch Supreme she replaced back in the sixties.   Fiona gives her the same knife, there’s a struggle, Madison doesn’t want to kill or be the new Witch Supreme and  thank you O.J., Fiona slits her throat.   Intentionally.  The young witch falls dead on the floor.    Really?  Emma Roberts’character Madison killed off in the third episode????   Her agent must suck!      

Fiona it seems, will remain  the Witch Supreme.

This pleases her.  She ain’t going nowhere.   She starts to feel her power and life being restored as Madison lies there, oozing life.     She doesn’t care.

Fiona makes this clear by closing out the show with this bit of pithy dialog:  “This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, just a new rug”.  

Yeah, baby.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY III: Coven Episodes 1 & 2

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Let me describe in my own words, what I think of season three of the AHS saga so far:    style over substance.

I can take that one step further by admitting I fell asleep twenty minutes into this past Wednesday episode.

While still better than last season’s bouillabaisse of silly badness (Nazis, aliens, zombies, serial killers, sadistic nuns, Anne Frank, homosexual rehab sessions, demonic possession,  microcephaly, evil Santas, caning,  murder, suicides, asylums and more gore than any politician named Al) I still find it in dire need of ……in need of….well, I’m not quite sure.

But with just two episodes in, I’ll give it till Halloween to win me over.  I am nothing if not fair.

It’s got a great premise:   it’s all about black magic and witches in the witchiest city of all–New Orleans.   And acting wise, its got major star power.  Jessica Lange is back, this time as the Witch Supreme.   Sarah Paulsen returns (she was Lana the Lesbian Reporter last year.   Taiisa Farmiga is back.  She was Violet of the Bad Attitude in season I.  This go round she’s a witch, with a killer vagina.

Literally.    More on that in a bit.

Evan Peters returns.  He played Tate in season one and an accused wife killer last season.  In reality, wifey had been inducted by aliens in episode I and returned later just in time for the season ended. I don’t know.  Season II was largely forgettable.    This time, Evan plays a Tulane frat rat named Kyle, with a fairly decent portrayal of an Orleanian diphthong,  BUT….he dies in a horrific bus accident in the first episode.     But like Frankenstein’s monster, he’s returning for more action.    As we learned in episode II, this was a horrible, horrible accident.    He was terribly dismembered, as was the rest of the occupants.     They were in a rented party bus hightailing it away from a mixer at the Frat House after gang banging Madison, an actress witch with telekinetic powers (played by Emma Roberts, daughter of Eric and niece to Aunt Julia).  When  revived from the Roofie  she’d been given, Madison ran  out to the street and willed the bus to crash, killing all the rapists, including Kyle who never touched  her.    In fact,  he was the only who attempted to stop the assault and was dragged on board the bus prior to the escape to keep him from ratting out his randy brothers.

Taiisa Farmiga’s character Zoe, fell for Kyle earlier at the party.  Because Madison killed her boyfriend in the crash,  she promises to do Zoe a solid, so they  break into  the morgue and found the section where the dead frat boys were kept on ice and realized that the victims had all been terribly dismembered in the accident.   So, like an old fashion quilting party, they decide to create the perfect boyfriend, using the best parts of each victim. Kyle’s head, someone’s bitching torso, another guy’s arms, legs, hands, etc. and  and other parts I’m sure and they sew all the bits and pieces together, while performing  an ‘incant’ over him and voila!    Kyle is slice once again—-Uncoordinated and mono syllabic as hell, but alive.

Mary Shelley would be proud.

And Addie is back.    Jamie Brewer, the Texas actress with Down Syndrome is back this season playing Nan, a witch with incredibly well honed psychic powers.  Hats  off to the writers and producers for allowing this actress to just portray your basic witch with all knowing abilities. No mention of her “handicap” in terms of this role.  Nicely played, Hollwyood.   Dennis O’hare was Burned Guy is season one.     He’s back this year as Spalding,  the school’s mute butler/man servant/factotum with long, stringy  Edgar Winter-ish hair.

Lilly Rabe returns.    She was Mrs. Montgomery is season one, the possessed nun last year and this go round, she’s a witch with the powers of necromancy.    She brings the dead back to life.   A re-animator, if you will.    Lilly has always been one of my AHS stable of actors.     She’s spunky.    Plus, her mother was none other than the late,  great  Jill Clayburgh.    A talented

actress who’s star rose and fell in the late seventies, early 80′s.    Back then she was most ubiquitous.  In every movie, or so it seemed, paired up on theater marquees with Burt Reynolds and other A-listers of the era.    Her stock fell in the early 90′s.   Yes, she had the gall to age and well, Hollywood frowns on natural body processes. Her last film was “Bridesmaids” in which she played Kristin Wiig’s mother.    She died from a lengthy bout with cancer shortly after the film wrapped.

Kathy Bates joins the cast this year who plays New Orleans socialite Madame LaLaurie (love the last name, by the way),  a very real New Orleans character who back in the early 1800′s, treated her slaves and servants with a form of sadism that would make Dr.  Mengele cringe.   I like La Bates in most roles and hope she can pull this off.

Angela Bassett is given a co-starring role as well.  She comes on board as Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Apparently, Voodoo and witchcraft are like big rival union bosses in the magic underworld of New Orleans, so we can expect lots of story lines about pins stuck in dolls vs. bubbling cauldrons.

Speaking of Bassett, she has never looked better.   She’s absolutely stunning in this role.    The woman’s skin is incredible.   Still beautiful.

Gabourey  Sidibe rounds out the cast as Queenie.    Remember her from the movie, “Precious”?    She too is a witch,  and her powers involve being a human Voodoo doll.   She can shove her arm into a frying pan filled with breaded shrimp just a bubblin’ away and she wouldn’t feel a thing—but her intended victim would.   His arm would–out of the blue–turn beet red and blister up.   Next thing you know, it’s goodbye arm, hello charred cinder stick.       As for the others, Zoe kills during the act of mating.    Nan is psychic,   Madison has telekinetic powers (you know, like Carrie)  and Cordelia (Sarah Paulsen) is the school’s Headmistress.   She’s a witch too but so far, her only power seems to be having a green thumb.  She’s a bad ass gardener. We’ve yet to see her mojo. Cordelia is also the daughter of Fiona (Jessica Lange), the witch Supreme, who possesses all the powers combined, including some pretty bad ass saliva.

Queenie is a direct linear descendant of Tituba, the slave girl was the very first person in Salem to be accused of consorting with the devil.    She was arrested and jailed for her crimes, but never convicted.    After she was released from prison after squealing on several other young girls in the community who were tried and executed (read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible or watch a few episodes of “Bewitched” circa 1972…the season which they learn son Adam also has powers) everyone lost track of old Tituba.    It was never really discerned if she was actuslly practicing witch or not, but I think every time the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots have a bad season, the answer becomes clearer.   Payback’s a bitch.

In fact, all the young sorcereses have connections to the first American witches in Salem circa the late 1600′s.   After the first few were executed, the sourcing witches remained anonymous as best they could before seeking the safety of asylum in New Orleans. Behavioral problems forced the families of these young women to end them to a very special private boarding school in New Orleans.  It’s like a Hogwartz for girls to help them use their powers wisely and to perpetuate witches and witchcraft for posterity. Seems like in being born a witch was an abortion stimulus in the world of Coven:  Season III.   Self-hating witches  wanted the buck to stop with them so they either elected not to procreate in the first place or aborted the babies before being born, named Tabitha and given the chance to turn a toy horse into Thomas Edison, thus forcing daddy Darren to convince a potential  client AND boss man, Larry Tate that their firm,  McMann and Tate had their best  advertising interests at heart and should be given the account.

Lilly Rabe’s  character, Mist Day,  will eventually join the girls at the school.   Just for bringing a pigeon back to life in the middle of some uber religious strychnine drinking service outdoors, she was  burned by her fellow church members.  Guess she did a number on herself lilly and mombecause she was popped up and surprised Zoe after she piled Mr. Piecemeal Kyle into the car  to escape the morgue.    They had to because shortly after Kyle came back to life, he and Zoe were  discovered in the morgue by an employee.  A fight ensues with grunting and screaming and bing, bang boom,  Zombie Kyle suddenly becomes a murderer facing 20 to life.

But Misty Day can  bring Khim back to life where he’s able to speak and walk and the best part of all?    If he and Zoe decide to date, sex will be a breeze because he’s already dead!!!

In other AHS Season III news, Madame Lalaurie kills a slave who happens to be a boyfriend of Marie Laveau, so with the help of a lynch mob of current and former slaves,  she drugs Lalaurie with a potion that gives her eternal life.   She’s then wrapped in chains, placed in a coffin and buried alive  on the Lalaurie estate.   She lived through wars, racism Katrina and Huey long!!!

Back to present day…

On a field trip with the young witches, Fiona (Jessica Lange)  takes them on a tour of the notoriously haunted Lalaurie House.   Nan looks down psychically under some bricks and realizes there’s a casket buried below.     Fiona, who’s obsessed with eternal life and beauty, realizes it must be Madame Lalaurie down there somewhere.    She hires some guys to exhume the coffin and when it’s opened, out plops a very alive, but very dirty Madame Lalaurie.    Fiona wants to know what her secret for eternal life is.  So she kidnaps Lalaurie, takes her back to the school and ties her up and gags her.    I’m not sure why this is important to Fiona.  In the opening sequence of episode I, you can see her in the crowd at a witch’s execution in 1692 Salem.     I’m no  Pythagoras,  but wouldn’t that make her something like…..321 years old this year????  She still looks pretty good to me.

Then there’s a scene from episode II that pits old rivals Marie Laveau and Fiona exchanging words on a battle field that that comes in the form of a black hair salon in the Ninth Ward.     Fiona goes there, perhaps seeking a process, and perhaps, seeking chance encounter with her old nemesis, Marie Laveau, who just happens to look great in cornrows AND also owns the shop.

I’m leaving out a lot and this review is rambling.  My apologies.

In closing,  I’m not in love with season III.   Not yet, anyway.    I’ll give it a few more episodes,  but it better hurry and congeal into a solid form of entertainment.    I don’t think I’m asking for much.   I’m just a viewer who likes a cohesive script.  I hate Swiss Cheese story lines, those with gaping holes that lack logic. Especially the ones that are never addressed.  In season I, we never learned why Murder House had become Murder House and why dying on property guaranteed your ghostly return.    In season II, we never knew the reason why the Nazi doctor created the zombie creatures that lived in the woods behind the asylum or the relevance of the aliens being in the story line or why they abducted hot chicks only to return them pregnant before the season ender.

Wait…that might actually be fully explainable.

This  year,  I’d like to see less of Fiona’s version of Krav Maga.   When pissed or threatened, she can body slam people by teleporting them against the wall. Not impressed. I want more intrigue.   And more magic that makes sense.    Thank God for special affects.   If we are to witness magic performed in Coven, I for one, am most grateful that  special effects have improved   since the days of flying ash trays courtesy of very visible fishing lines in the days of  “Bewitched”.

We shall see what the coming weeks will bring and I will continue to bring to you my take on the latest episodes of the newest season of American Horror Story.      But if the producers and writers really want to make me happy, insert a character like Aunt Clara from Bewitched.   You know, an older, kind hearted, but eccentric witch who’s magic has run a foul, a victim of her years.    Well kids, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get my wish.  I have a feeling that perennial AHS actress, Francis Conroy (she was milk-eyed Moira the Older maid in season I and the black winged Angel of Death in season II)  will fill that bill.     She had a brief part in the first episode when she (in a carrot orange wig wearing Dark Shadows chic) was in the scene when Zoe was taken by black-suited Albino thugs in RayBans and forced into admission at Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans,  set at a lovely, very large, all-white Greek Revival home adjacent to the tracks of the St. Charles line, who’s front gate some friends and I tee-tee’d near, one very drunken night while partying in the Garden District of New Orleans.

A streetcar named Pissoir.

Indeed.