Note: Do not read on unless you've seen "American Horror Story: Coven," Episode 2, titled "Boy Parts."
It hurts to say it. Literally every fibre of my being is fighting against the urge to write this, but here it is: There is an entire segment of "American Horror Story: Coven" that isn't quite working. Maybe it's because we have such a super-strong older cast knocking it out of the park every week, or maybe it's because Taissa Farmiga (Zoe) and Emma Roberts (Madison) are both rather demure, unassuming actors, but either way, when the camera focuses on the teens my interest wanes considerably. (That's not to knock their acting ability -- they're obviously both very talented -- but in the bigger, grander picture that is "AHS," we need pomp, we need pageantry, we need insanity.) It's not a good thing that in the two quick scenes where we see Gabourey Sidibe (Queenie) and Jamie Brewer (Nan), they're infinitely more appealing than any lengthier scene with Roberts and Farmiga. Even Jessica Lange's Fiona points it out (literally, she points at Farmiga): "You're soft."
So when Zoe and Madison head to the morgue with an ancient resurrection spell in hand -- to bring back/sew together poor severed-in-many-places Kyle (Evan Peters) -- I was worried about how it would turn out. Sadly, it ended up being worse than I had anticipated. Earlier in the episode, Queenie chides her upbringing, saying how she was raised on "white girl shit," TV shows like "Charmed" and "Sabrina, The Teenage Cracker." In the morgue, it felt precisely like that: an episode of "Charmed," albeit with more gore. The swirling camera, the chanting, the screaming. I was just waiting for Alyssa Milano to come into the foreground. And then the ultimate ... the thing that should never, ever be included in any movie or TV show ever again: the kiss that brings a dead body back to life.
When Madison took off and left Zoe in the morgue by herself and she approached Kyle's still-lifeless body, in my head I said, "No. NO. Ryan Murphy wouldn't let that happen. He wouldn't. HE DID," as Zoe leans over and kisses him, tear on her cheek. Ugh. For those who deny "Coven"s penchant for teenage sappiness, here it is, full bore. After FrankenKyle resurrects and somehow takes care of the morgue worker, Zoe steals his car and they take off. FrankenKyle cannot speak at this juncture, so all we hear are grunts. Thankfully, we're saved by Misty Day (Lily Rabe), who reappears, seemingly alive, in the car's back seat.
After emerging from the swamp and killing some alligator hunters for ... erm ... hunting alligators, Misty, in her best '80s garb, starts roaming through the bayou until she's "called" to Zoe's side. Having seen Rabe play the sadistic nun in "Asylum," it comes as no surprise that she absolutely nails this role, too. Misty was once innocent and kind with her powers, but we can see now that something is not quite right with her; we can't quite trust her. Not yet. Especially when she takes Zoe and FrankenKyle to her creepy bayou shack, and then offers to "keep him" there. That's when the alarm bells go off. What is she up to? And aside from rubbing alligator dung on his cross-hatched wounds, what more can she do? Misty's powers might come in handy for a certain Supreme looking to maintain her youth. Time will tell.
Fiona spends much of the episode playing "mom" to the teens at the Academy and to her kidnapped, stinky prisoner, Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). As I said in my Episode 1 recap, LaLaurie is due for some punishment, but it seems she was already severely punished by Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), who hanged all three of LaLaurie's daughters and her husband, too. Laveau also made LaLaurie immortal, which explains why she's still alive and (relatively) fresh as a daisy. LaLaurie has spent the last 180 years underground thinking of her dead family, and is poised to think about them for a lot longer. She deserves this punishment and more, but isn't it such a delight to watch her suffer? This whole episode could be Marie, LaLaurie and Fiona exchanging barbs, and I wouldn't mind at all.
Similarly, watching Fiona and Marie rip each other to shreds with squinting glances and sharp tongues is enough to make me come back for more every week. What a display! The two women discuss the beginnings of witchcraft in New Orleans, and how it came from Salem; Marie counters that it all originated in Africa with her ancestors, and Fiona's people just stole it. (Also interesting: Marie Laveau is a real person, apparently skilled in the arts of voodoo and witchery. She also actually owned a hair salon with a rich and powerful clientele.) Fiona offers a deal: in exchange for Marie's never-ending youth, she'll hand over Madame LaLaurie ... or so she says.
Fiona's daughter, Delia (Sarah Paulson), is also grappling with her physical limitations. Her husband wants her to use her witchy powers to get pregnant (since for whatever reason she can't conceive naturally), but Delia has ethical problems with it -- for about two seconds. After a plodding conversation, suddenly the couple is writhing in bloody coitus, surrounded by fire and snakes. I'm guessing she's pregnant now, but with what? (Her child in "Asylum" was quite the charmer.) Whatever she carries in her womb will undoubtedly bring out the fire in Paulson's character that "Coven" so sorely needs right now.
If only we could take the Misty scenes and graft them to the Fiona, LaLaurie and Marie scenes, to craft the perfect episode. Sadly, I am not a witch.
Witch, Please: (every week I'm going to award the witchiest witch of them all) Mainly because she didn't really have much competition (USE YOUR POWERS ALREADY, LADIES), this weekly award goes to Fiona again. She erases two police officers' memories -- with spit in a glass, no less, hurls Madison and Zoe against the wall (thank you!), intimidates Marie and lights her wigs on fire.
Other Random Thoughts:
- Gabourey Sidibe cannot escape fried chicken.
- The Minotaur is still alive, too, and living with Marie. Wouldn't you ask your lover of nearly two centuries to kindly remove the bull's head from your body? Just sayin.'
- Listen to the way Angela Bassett says "hair extensions" in the salon scene. If you don't smile, you're made of stone.
- "I couldn't toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you." - Fiona
- Last week: Fiona sashaying to In A Gadda Da Vida. This week: Misty grooving to Edge Of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks. I wholeheartedly approve of the musical choices on "Coven" thus far.
- To go along with that, the scene where Misty and Zoe are talking about Stevie Nicks and Zoe refers to her as "the woman who was on 'American Idol,'" and Misty looks at her, incredulous, highlights perfectly the generation gap between the cast members.
- Don't worry, Madame LaLaurie, I jump at iPhone ringtones too.
- I could be totally wrong about Zoe and Madison, and they might end up being the most badass of all the witches. I mean, c'mon, this show has thrown crazier curveballs. I remain optimistic.