'American Horror Story: Coven' Episode 4 Recap: It's War

Note: Do not read on unless you've seen "American Horror Story: Coven," Episode 4, titled "Fearful Pranks Ensue."

It's pretty much an all-out war in New Orleans. At the very least there's a big one brewing, and this week's episode pits multiple warring factions against each other: Fiona vs. Delia, Fiona vs. The Council, Fiona vs. Marie (OK, so it's mostly everyone against Fiona), and the voodoo witches vs. the Robichaux witches. Also the battle between the "living" and the dead -- but we'll see more of that next week.

To start things off in the ugliest possible manner, we flash back to New Orleans in 1961, where a young black boy is lynched and hanged by a bunch of white men. Marie is understandably pissed, especially after the boy's mother expresses her optimism for the future of racial integration. So it's time for snakes, blood and raising the dead, at which Marie is obviously very skilled. Did she just drink an urn of flaming blood? Yes, she did, and corpses tear out of their graves and attack the lynchers, ripping their limbs off and disemboweling them. Welcome to Episode 4 of "American Horror Story: Coven"!

After the flashback, we return right where we left off at Robichaux Academy, with Spalding unceremoniously rolling up the deceased Madison in the sitting room rug. It's priceless to see her sparkly high heels sticking out at the end, like some filling in a ridiculous corpse fajita. Fiona alleviates any possible guilt or remorse (which she probably didn't have much of) by saying that Madison would have made a terrible Supreme anyway -- and then proceeds to find Queenie almost dead in Delia's greenhouse. Never a dull night for the Supreme!

She shuttles Queenie up to a bedroom and literally breathes the life back into her. LaLaurie is grateful to Queenie for saving her from the Minotaur, and is absolutely beside herself, not knowing how to be kind to this black girl who she was calling "slave" in Episode 3. Power shifts are the best, especially when we know how vitriolic Queenie can be. Fiona has to wake Delia up and let her know about everything. I mean, honestly Delia, how did you sleep through someone getting killed on the floor below you, as well as a Minotaur attack? Fiona isn't far off when she says Delia is a useless headmistress; Fiona is usually drunk and traipsing around town, yet she has a better handle on things at the Academy -- and has a solid lock on revenge when she sends the Minotaur's severed head (still blinking) to Marie.

This, of course, does not go over well, and despite attempts by a fellow salon worker to get Marie to let it go, Angela Bassett's flared nostrils tell us exactly what she's going to do: gather up all those snakes and blood again, cuz it's time for another corpse raisin'! Things are also going from bad to worse back at the Academy, where The Council on Witchcraft has come a-calling. I was overcome with joy seeing Frances Conroy's Myrtle Snow sashay into the house, with that outfit. (There's nary an actress I enjoy more, and she is all aces here.) At her side are two fellow Council members, Quentin (Leslie Jordan), who specializes in sarcastic, witty rejoinders, and Cecily (Robin Bartlett), who appears to be the keeper of minutes. They conduct a series of interrogations of the Robichaux inhabitants, who basically perform as we expect them to: Delia spills every single bean (sigh), Zoe puts us to sleep with her testimony, Nan is straight-forward and inadvertently hilarious, and Queenie tosses it all out there, calling the missing Madison a stone-cold bitch.

Before Fiona takes the stand, we're treated to a delicious 1971 flashback, right after Annaleigh's death. It introduces us to the young, jealous Myrtle, who is willing to do anything to take down Fiona. As a "guardian of veracity in the vernacular," Myrtle is a defender of the truth. In the end, her scheming to trap Fiona ends up trapping her; on the stand, between cigarette drags, Fiona denies all wrong-doing, and sasses the Council. In the flashback, we learn how Spalding really lost his tongue (he cut it off to protect Fiona). Is it just me or was that actually really touching? OK, it was gross and extreme, but romantic in "AHS" terms. Young Fiona's look of shock when he does it shows that she's no monster, and there's at least a semblance of caring on her part. So when Spalding's questioned by Myrtle, he ends up implicating her instead of Fiona. So great -- and when Myrtle yells, "This will not stand!" I smiled, mainly because it's been so damn long since I've seen a Frances Conroy freak-out.

Other than the main plot, we're treated to two totally superfluous sideplots -- one of which is Delia's cheating husband, Hank, who we see is clearly unbalanced. His rough sex and weird sidelong glances tell us something is definitely wrong here. And when he breaks out a silenced pistol (which indicates he planned to kill his mistress all along) and shoots her in the head, I threw my hands up in the air. No clue what's happening there, and more importantly, why should any of us care? Secondly, we revisit FrankenKyle, who's slamming his head against the bathtub repeatedly. Sure, Zoe, go make him some tuna salad. That'll make him feel better. When she returns to the bathroom, he's gone, off into the night on Halloween. At least he'll fit right in. I guess it's wishful thinking that this is the last we'll see of FrankenKyle.

Thank goodness the final two scenes are both creepy and titillating, as LaLaurie's three zombie daughters show up at the door with a league of other zombies waiting on the front lawn. How is Fiona going to stop this insanity? (She's out drinking with Delia playing "Three Questions," and Delia is blinded by something in the washroom. Maybe this will finally bring out Delia's powers.)

I'll leave you for this week with a nod to (easily) the creepiest scene of the episode, which was Spalding having tea parties in a room filled with scary dolls. When he takes out that lace gown and brings it over to the chair and we see Madison's dead body holding a teacup, several thoughts rushed through my mind: Oh no, is this a necrophilia thing? Does he just play dress-up with her? Is he dressed like a baby? What. Is. Happening. I refuse to believe that Spalding is that sick -- for now -- and just hope that his unrequited love for Fiona is what's causing him to do it.

It's war now, "AHS" fans. Let's see how this thing pans out.

Witch, Please: (every week I'm going to award the witchiest witch of them all) Damn right a voodoo priestess counts as a witch, and Marie Laveau takes the crown this week. She spends most of her screen time writhing with snakes, blood and fire, so no one can really compare. Plus, raising the dead multiple times is a pretty amazing feat.

Other Random Thoughts:
  • Interesting that Madison wasn't the next Supreme (heart murmur!). Who is it, then? Nan? Zoe? Delia? So many interesting possibilities.
  • We now know two of the Seven Wonders: transmutation and pyrokinesis. Once we figure out all seven, we should be able to figure out who the next Supreme is.
  • Loved the "hot guy" neighbor showing up with baked goods for Nan. All together now: awwwwwww!
  • Myrtle's red leather gloves. Could any of you avoid staring at them?
  • Angela Bassett rocked multiple hairstyles tonight. From the braids to the afro, this woman is capable of any 'do.
  • Spalding's fingernails nearly made me puke. The poor guy needs a major overhaul ... though the creepy doll scenes helped me understand why no one screws with him. He also cut off his own tongue, so yeah.