american horror story synopsis

American Horror Story /Coven: Episode Four

American-Horror-Story-CovenWe begin with scene of a young African American male child, barely in his teens riding a bike on a nice, residential street in New Orleans.

So????

This was New Orleans in 1961 and based on the racial issues that existed back the , the reasons why this was a scene destined to end horribly are as clear as black is black and white is white. He’s pursued by a truck full of white men, obviously racists, who are hell bent on keeping this lad from riding his bike in what appears to be a white, middle class neighborhood. A couple of the fellows look like inbred rednecks, the other is a Jack Ruby Fedora wearing clone. The teen takes an unfamiliar sidewalk In an attempt to lose Whitey, but finds himself trapped by a dead end.

The next scene is in black and white and it’s a large tree in some field. Anyone with any knowledge of America’s more tragic history knows as sure as a Jim Crow flies, this is a lynching. The large noose confirms it.

His mother runs to the body of her boy and in the crowd stands a very angry Marie Laveaud. Apparently, the child’s mom works for her at her Ninth ward hair salon. This lynching has just been made even more personal.

An angry voodoo queen is a dangerous voodoo queen. Marie goes to the back of her shop, and starts drawing on the floor (we now know that means something bad is about go down) she starts convicting a potion, then sets it on fire in this lovely Horchow urn. She slices and dices up a few snakes, chants as drummers drum and the next thing we know, corpses reanimate from their graves and respond to her revenge spell. They find the lynch mob and kill them all in gruesome ways. And the best part about these AHS zombies??? They’re armed. In fact, they rose from their graves with weapons AND murderous intent. There are zombie farmers with pitchforks, confederate soldiers with muskets, an unscrupulous accountant with a Ponzi scheme.

Well apparently, this starts a ten year war between voodoo witches and the members of the coven, who are all, in some way, direct linear descendants of the original witches who lived in Salem circa 1692.

Then, we go back to last week when Fiona murdered Madison, but this time, we sit unfold from Spaulding, the mute butler, who minutes earlier dropped the needle on his Victrola, so he and his massive doll collection could enjoy tea with background music. He hears a noise, heads downstairs and witnesses Fiona turning Madison into a human Pez dispenser. As he roles up the young witch’s body in a area rug, Fiona hears a noise and goes into the backyard to investigate. It is a very injured Queenie lying in the grass with a bloody, gasping stomach wound. I’m thinking she was gored in the gut by the rutting Minotaur she tried to seduce last week. While still lucid, Queenie rats out her attacker as his silhouette rises out of the ground with ample backlighting and Fiona seems to know what it is and what to do with it without even looking in its direction. She knows it’s Sebastien, Delphine Lalaurie’s slave/houseboy who she killed for bumping stinkies with her horny daughter two centuries ago and Sebastian just happened to be Laveaud’s boyfriend. The Voodoo Witch sent him to the school where Delphine has been staying, working as a maid, in order to exact revenge.

raggedy ann and andyThen there’s a knock on the door and in a hat tip to bewitched, in walks a odd looking trio that comprise The Witches’ Council. They only assemble when there’s trouble brewing in the coven. The council is lead by Mert, played by whacky fashionFrancesConroy_Sml designer, Betsey Johnson. The hair is a chili powder red, rarely seen outside the Raggedy family. It’s actually the actress known as Francis whose last name is something Irish sounding, who portrayed Moira the Older in season one and the black winged Angel of Death last year.

We learn that the council isn’t happy with Fiona in her role as Witch Supreme. She’s a drunk, flakey, vain, self centered and lousy at her job. They believe she had something to so with Madison’s disappearance, just as she did with the missing Supreme she replaced (nice way of saying murdered) in 1971.velma

As it turns out, I believe I am to assume that based on camera dissolves between past and present, Mert and Fiona were classmates at Miss Robicheaux’s school back in 1971. Back then, Mert was mousy, bookish and homely, not unlike Velma, from “Scooby Doo”. She and Fiona don’t like each other and that’s made crystal clear when it’s announced that the old Supreme is missing and presumed dead, Fiona will assume the throne, providing she can pass seven special tests, based on each power a Supreme is supposed to have. At dinner with a menu no doubt consisting of braised bat wings, tangy toad tandoori and eye of newt, young Mert tells a fellow witch seated to her right that she hates the way Spaulding dotes on Fiona and feels sure he knows that Fiona is involved in some way with the former Supreme’s disappearance. So after dinner Mert goes to her room and recites Latin on coins and ultimately, places a spell on Spaulding’s tongue, rendering it incapable of uttering a lie. This will help Mert in her pursuit of the truth since the next morning, the butler is supposed to testify in front of the Witches’ Council investigating the formers Supreme’s whereabouts.

Spaulding overhears this and later that night, summons Fiona to the bathroom where he tells her, his last words will be that he loves her. He grabs a straight razor and cuts out his tongue. There, problem solved. A tongue can’t lie when it ‘s no longer intact. Now we know why he never speaks and why he seems so mindlessly devoted to Fiona.

We also find out what Fiona did with the Minotaur. She cut off it’s head and sends it, a la Don Corleone, to Marie Laveaud. She opens the box, and screams , especially when the the bloody, severed bovine head winks at her. This gets her crazy mad and once again, she goes to the back room and starts drawing on the floor, chanting, slicing snakes and in the end, sends a well- armed militia of zombies to stand and sway ominously in the front yard outside Miss Robicheaux’s school holding everyone inside captive.

At least I think the blinking cow head was the Minotaur….or it was Elsie, perhaps????    Not sure.

Episode four ends back in Spaulding’s room, an audience of dolls witness him in drag, wearing an antique peignoir and night cap. He goes to his closet and pulls out a very old wedding dress that Vera Wang would HATE, and takes it over to the corner where Madison, in a very advanced state of rigor mortis, is seated in a chair, holding a team up.

What comes next? I’ve nary a clue.

A FEW THINGS OF NOTE:

1) Cordelia’s husband is out of town on business. He picks up a chick who he meets on Craigslist, they have sex, he howls upon climax and then in the middle of a post coital of vending machine soup, he shoots her in the head with a very shiny gun. He’d did tell her that he went as a monster last

ahs spaulding

Halloween. Perhaps he’s reprising that role this year. Not all monsters have gills, tentacles, sharp fangs and eight clawed hands. Not sure what any of that was all about.

2) Spaulding was in the front yard decorating for Halloween. He was assembling what looked like an homage to the Burning Man bonfire mascot. He hugged it after adding the arms, and well, call me a romantic, but I thought that was how he took care of either Madison’s body or that of the Minotaur. Well, in the end we found out that it wan’t Madison under all that burlap.

3) After getting pissed drunk on Maker’s Mark at a local bar with mummy, Cordelia excuses herself and goes into the bathroom to yak. As she’s washing her hands, a very short Druid in the next stall exists with a glass in hand but it contains acid, which is thrown in Cordelia’s face. Huh?????? A voodoo warning of disfigurement????

3) But before the acid attack turns her face into a Dali painting, Cordelia tells her mother and the Witches’ Council that Madison might be missing, but it’s not because she’s the next Witch Supreme. Apparently, the new head witch has to be in perfect health which Madison ain’t. Madison had a heart murmur she mentioned to no one. So, who is the next Supreme? Don’t count out Queenie. Remember when she was in bed, bloody and gored and Cordelia lost her pulse? Fiona breathed life back into her and felt very weak afterwords. The big deal about the transition between Supremes is that the old one feels her power weakening. Keep an eye on Queenie in upcoming episodes. Nan, (Addie from season one), as well. Cordelia could be the right full heir to the throne. Spaulding too.

4)  Zooey goes back to Incest Manor and finds Kyle the Human Quilt still bloody and zombie eyed from kill his mother lover last week, so he’s banging his head against the toilet.    She decides that’s a fine time to go in the kitchen and make him tuna salad.   Just as she’s adding enough Hellman’s to make it nummy, she looks up and spies a big ol’ box of rat poison.    She will kill the very thing she helped bewitch and stitch together.   When she brings him a bowl of the tainted tuna, he’s gone.  She runs to the front porch and sees nothing, just a bunch of people   in costumes.   It is Halloween, after all.    Kyle will just fit in with everybody else.

5) And lastly, why were the members of the Coven dressed in various shades of black and white throughout the entire episode? Was this to stress the age old concept of good (white) versus evil (black) and that each member can at any given time, possess their share of both traits???

See ya next Wednesday for episode five. As previews indicate, there’s a lot at stake for one witch….literally. She’s tied to one and Cordelia looks poised to light it, with a cigarette. Please oh please, let the ciggie be a Salem.

Another Season of AHS Bites The Dust

Well, it’s over.

And it ended as it began but I for one, still have about 148 questions.

It’s the present day and we meet Lana and her new sapphic squeeze, an opera singer or performer of some sort, as she’s being interviewed  by a TV news crew and Lord, did the make-up people work on her face, to give her a necessary seventy or eighty year old look.   Apparently, she’s an accomplished author with six–count ‘em–six best selling novels and not only that, she’s apparently, a TV personality too;  an investigative reporter and host of her own  TV show, you know the kind–that  of the crime solving genre.  She’s also about to be honored at the Kennedy Center.

Apparently, her ambitious need to expose Briarcliff as the hell hole it is, is what catapulted her to such success.     The expose began as a documentary.  She and a camera crew sneak into Briarcliff courtesy of that secret tunnel that Sister Satan introduced to at the very beginning.     We hear how she demanded to see Sister Jude who according to Lana tells us, is still there, lo those many years later.

We treated to a scene of Lana and company entering Jude’s cell, dark and dank and dirty, and on what was once a bed–I think–sits a clump of humanity with wilder than wild hair.   The camera lights prove it’s Jude, who was left in Briarcliff and forgotten.   Jude was the only source left that could prove how the Church (when it owned the asylum)  had looked the other way with regards to mistreatment and scientific experiments.

But is it really Jude?  Nah, that was either Lana’s poetic license…OR…..really bad editing.

We learn that Kit actually rescued Jude and took her home to live with him and his two kids.  The Sister Wives are no longer part of the equation.   His mulato wife killed grace with a couple of ax whacks in the back.    Jude’s name is now Betty Drake.   Kit said he did it–took Jude into his home–as his way of forgiving and forgetting all that crap that happened to him at Briarcliff.    Taking care of Jude, he felt, was his redemption.

He conveys to Lana that it was rough going for a while.  After a lengthy detox, Jude was sedated for years.   She’d forget where she was from time to time and think she was back at Briarcliff and scream and carry on, yelling at Kit’s kids mostly.  She couldn’t understand why there were kids around her.  There was no children’s ward at Briarcliff.

Years later while in the midst of a swing dance lesson, Jude develops a bloody nose.    I’m thinking leukemia    We see her on her death bed, whispering life lessons to Kit’s kids.

To the son: Don’t take shit from the man.

To the daughter:  Never let men dominate you.

The kids are sent out of the room and Jude sees the Angel of Death making her last appearance in the corner of the room.   There she is, decked out in black, wings fully extended  and all puckered up to give Jude that final kiss that’ll take her up, up and away.

Or down, down, down, if you believe the Old Testament.

So, by 38 minutes into the season finale, Jude dies and we’re whisked back to present day.  Lana accomplished her goal and closed down Briarcliff.     She decides to take on the Monsignor–now a Cardinal in New York.   She says he knows about Dr. Arden, the experiments…the cruelty, etc., and we learn that he offs himself in a bathtub.    Slit wrists which are oozing life, turn the bathwater to a deep crimson.

Lana then tells the reporter that  she carried Bloody Face’s child to full term and gave him up for adoption.   His name is Johnny.    We’ve met him before.  Dylan McDermott’s character is genetically programmed to grow up to be the be Son of Bloody Face and all that that implies.   His made an effort to pick up where his father left off.    We saw evidence of that.

Anyway, Lana continues on with the interview and expresses regret for giving him up, but felt she had no other options.    And wouldn’t you know, Johnny seemingly part of the  camera crew.   He even hands her some water during a break in the interview.    Somehow, she knows it’s her son.    After the camera crew leaves, she gets up to make herself a drink and knows he stayed behind. She  implores him to finally come out of hiding to ‘get this thing over with.”  She knows he’s about to kill her.  Johnny is a psychotic sure, but he’s also an angry whack job, which never bodes well.    He was a screwed up kid, in and out of Juvie and now here he is, 48 years old and wanting to whack his mother for giving him away and killing his father.

He pulls a gun on her, but she turn the tables and sweetly convinces Johnny that he’s not only a part of his maniacal father, but he’s also a part of he That means he has at least half the capacity to be a decent human being.     He relinquishes the gun and she takes it away from him, only to point it at his forehead and shoots.

Bang!!!!

Like father, like son.

The show segues back to the very first show, when Lana was desperately trying to gain access to Briarcliff to get an exclusive with Bloody Face.  She gained access to Jude’s office through a ruse.    She claimed she wanted to do a fluff piece on the asylum’s bakery which apparently makes a dandy bread.   Jude escorts her to the front door after learning that the all she really wanted was an interview with Bloody Face who was supposed to be brought to Briarcliff for mental assessment.   She reminds Lana how difficult life can be for a woman with lofty goals and ambitions.  This was 1962.    The last thing we hear; the last thing we see are these two women facing each other with glares that had laser-like intensity.    This was how the first scene with Lana and Jude ended 51 years ago, when Jude realized Lana only wanted to interview Bloody Face.   Jude tells her that whenever you look into the eyes of evil, evil looks back at you.

Then, Lana leaves and Jude turns around as the  camera pans to the face of  a shiny, glossy statue of the Virgin Mary which stands in Briarcliff’s foyer.   The head is tilted as if glancing in the nun’s direction.    Gee, no hidden anti-Catholic sentiment there, huh?

I suppose it’s safe to say that Lana’s stint in the snake pit that was Briarcliff didn’t turn Lana into some cold, emotionless bitch with ambitions large enough to choke a whale.   Lana entered Briarcliff that way and walked through its doors unchanged.    Sister Jude recognized that right off the bat and in her special, ‘no holds barred’ manner, told her so.    She wasn’t predicting Lana’s life per se, but she certainly called it.   Lana didn’t have what Jude or Kit had:   at least a small period in life where there was peace and normalcy.

If I’m right, then I’ll give the writers a rate-a-record score of 79 for adding a smidge of pathos, but was it enough?   Not for me, then again, I’ve come to expect a certain shoddiness with AHS..

Characters were killed off too soon.   There were more holes in the plot line than in Bonnie and Clyde’s ambushed car.   We didn’t get to spend much time in Johnny’s head.   I could’ve used an episode delving into all of his angst.    What about that evil little girl who killed her friend and then her whole family?    What happened to the crazy ass serial masterbator????  And Kit’s alien space babies?    The ones that were so ‘special’?     One grew up to be a doctor, the other a lawyer.    Hhhhh’mmmmm, do those two occupations in this day and age really make them all that ‘special’?   Well, for a Jewish mother, maybe……

Lana was the only major character who survived.   Sister Satan and Dr. Arden were burned to death in the asylum’s crematorium.  Threadson was shot in the head several episodes back.    The Monsignor/Cardinal committed suicide. As far as I’m concerned, all three deaths happened prematurely and allowed a season finale that was anti-climatic.   In the finale, Jude died of cancer and so did Kit, although he was abducted by the same bright white light that became an obscure third or fourth level character on the show this season.   Why wasn’t this connection to space beings expounded  upon?  Why did those space freaks murder and mutilate all those women?    What happened to Pepper the Pinhead???     And why couldn’t we learn more about the forest dwelling  critters that Arden created?   And soooooo much more could’ve been done with the satanic angle, but nooooooooo!!!!!!

Season two jumped the shark so many times that poor thing’s dorsal fin was sheared off.

Anyway, I wasn’t as colossally disappointed as I was when season one ended.  And while I have questions, I think  that the unscripted dangling participles that I swat away like slimy tentacles are supposed to make me  come up with my own answers; my own conclusions.   Whenever I encounter endings like this in books, TV shows, movies and such,  I hearken back to a press conference I attended back in 1993.  girl coat

Directing wunderkind, Steven Spielberg came to Houston on a press tour promoting his boffo hit, “Schindler’s List.”     This involved filling a theater with local   high school kids, have them watch the movie then he would take their questions about the flick.   All members of the press could do was watch and at least in my case, learn.

One astute young woman asked Herr Spielberg about the little Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto who had worn the pinkish red coat;  the only bit of color in the black and white film.   Her question focused on the coat color and what that  was supposed to mean.

He responded without missing a beat, “It means whatever you need it to mean.”

That day, I learned that poetic license was a tool that the story teller could use at his or her discretion and it’s one that sometimes, an audience member has to employ as well.

scoobydoo_02And in spite of my many criticisms, I can’t wait for  Season 3.

Seriously, I can’t.

As for plotlines, I’m thinking a family of vampires moves into an abandoned but still ‘hot’ nuclear power plant and the fun begins when genetic mutations run amok while angry neighbors who complain, mysteriously after a  mod painted van called “The Mystery Machine” filled with four hips kids including one beatnik lookin’ cat named Shaggy who pals around with his  giant, snack eating, running in place while bongos play, talking dog with a speech impediment, arrives on the scene.

And here I’ll be at my keyboard poised at the ready in the  minutes after the  finale ends, closing the curtain on yet another fakakta AHS season.  That’s when and where  I’ll hold writers/creators Ryan Murphy and Bryan Falchuk  responsible for series of shows that leave more questions unanswered, throw logic out the window and could have been/should have been so much better.

And because of that, I’ll fully expect one or both to appear on camera and admit that they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!!!!!