Author Archives: Sam Sciarrotta
Was “The Sacred Taking” American Horror Story’s weakest episode of the season? Probably, but given how strong Coven has been this season, the weak link still held its own. It felt a little jumbled, but it certainly helped set up the series’ five remaining episodes and next week’s last new episode until 2014. Let’s take a look at what went down.
The episode opened with what I initially thought was a flashback. Queenie is wandering around a shoddy area late at night and completely alone – until she’s approached by a man who threatens her with rape and murder. Our girl is scared, but not for long. She picks up a board with several nails pushed clean through and jabs it into her hand, incapacitating and confusing the man long enough for her to overpower him. She’s stopped, though, as Zoe and Madison show up. This was also the moment I realized that this was a present-day incident and not one that took place in Detroit. They want her to come back to Miss Robichaux’s, but Queenie is on a mission. Her encounter with the homeless man was no accident. Marie Laveau sent her out in pursuit of an evil heart, and this man just happens to have raped a number of young girls. The heart is an ingredient in a potion Marie is supposedly brewing to make Queenie a stronger voudon, something Queenie suggests Fiona would never do for the other witches. She’s right, as Fiona is wont to do pretty much the opposite. Queenie cuts the man’s heart out and holds it up, still beating, as she lets the girls know this town ain’t big enough for the both of them. It’s war.
Resurrection is running wild on American Horror Story: Coven, even without the inimitable Misty Day. In the fittingly-titled “The Dead,” Kyle and Madison get it on walking dead-style, the Axeman is back, and Zoe brings back Spalding’s tongue from beyond the grave – all while Queenie leads the recently exhumed Madame LaLaurie straight into Laveau’s eager arms. Let’s see how we got there.
The episode opens with Kyle discovering exactly who (or, rather, what) he is by taking us back to a tattoo parlor at an unspecified time. We see one brother get some ink on his leg, while another gets a tattoo on his arm. Both of these limbs, we learn, are now attached to Kyle, who notices the irregularities and cries out. He examines his body and holds up to his face his hands that appear to be just a smidge too large for his body – a nice touch, whether it was done intentionally or not.
It was all about the past on last night’s American Horror Story: Coven, and boy, not much has changed in the lives of these ladies since the 60s and 70s. “Fearful Pranks Ensue” opened and closed with a new AHS addition: full-on, limb-tearing zombies, courtesy of Marie Laveau. Back in 1961, she used a spell to exhume the bodies of the long-dead that forced them on three white men who murdered the son of Cora, one of her hairdressers. Needless to say, each man died a painful, violent death. Back in the present, she starts preparing the same spell after receiving Bastien’s still-blinking head in a box, presumably from the gang over at Miss Robichaux’s. Exactly how they managed to decapitate him, we don’t know. Anyway, Marie wails, overcome with grief and anger and bitterness. One of her hairdressers tries to convince her to stay true to the pact she signed with Annalee a few decades ago, but that truce, Marie said, is over. They’ve moved into life-or-death territory. The zombies – including the body of one of Delphine’s daughters – rise and surround Miss Robichaux’s. Marie sure does revenge well.
It turns out Fiona and Myrtle Snow, played fabulously by Frances Conroy, have some history, too. After Annalee’s murder, Fiona was examined by the witches’ council. She cried and cried and fashioned a story about the former Supreme leaving with a fine bottle of wine, perhaps as a peace offering; she’s trying to throw Marie’s name into the suspect ring, and she succeeds. She also receives some news: Fiona is the new Supreme, but she already knew that, of course. When it’s announced in front of the rest of the school later on, Myrtle is not happy. She knows what Fiona did, and she has the perfect plan to expose her. Spalding has a hearing with the council scheduled for the next day. He’s always “cleaning up Fiona’s messes,” so Myrtle is sure he knows the truth – and she makes it impossible to reveal anything but by casting a spell on his tongue. Somehow, though, he knew. He has Fiona meet him in a bathroom, where he says he wants his last words to be a declaration of love; he cuts out his own tongue so as not to betray Fiona.
I watched the most recent episode of American Horror Story: Coven, “The Replacements,” about an hour after it aired. Prior to that, I noticed several Facebook/Twitter/what-have-you posts that all echoed the same sentiment: “WTF did I just watch?!” So I prepared myself for a doozy and settled in to watch. Everything seemed relatively normal and I thought, “Hmm, this isn’t so bad,” but halfway through the episode, the freakout began.
Kyle is back at home after Zoe moved him from the second coming of Stevie Nicks’ cabin to his own home where she felt he’d heal better under his mother’s care. Misty, undoubtedly lonely in the woods, grew attached to Kyle and is not totally ready for him to leave, but Zoe takes him anyway. Back at Kyle’s, Mommie Dearest greets him in bed. Earlier, she walked in on him in the shower and noticed his new body parts. Wait, did she just glance down south? Back in the bed, she kisses him and kisses him some more and OH MY GOD THIS IS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE. SHE’S REACHING UNDER THE COVERS. OH. OKAY. So, Kyle’s mom has been sexually abusing him for an undisclosed amount of time, which is something Zoe might have known had she actually, you know, known him. This continues later on in the episode, giving us Kyle’s first words since his resurrection: he screams “No” over and over again while beating his mom’s face in with an old trophy.
Even though there’s a recall election, the Leslie Knope committee is still campaigning in full force, complete with farting dolls for the kids. Leslie’s only down four points in the most recent popularity poll. Her fellow council members, though, want the gap between her and her opponents to grow. They get the perfect opportunity in “Gin It Up” when Donna accidentally sends a wonderfully racy tweet from the parks department Twitter account. Let’s see how they got there.
Leslie and Donna
Jamm, Dexhart, and the other councilmen are trying their hardest to delay all of Leslie’s bills, including cutting their meetings short to prevent her from even presenting them. Just after Jamm straight up tells her he wants her recalled because he doesn’t like her, Chris drops in and to tell her there’s a problem: Donna sent a tweet including the phrase “Hope you like tongue baths, you big nasty fireman” – with eggplant emoji, of course – from the parks department’s Twitter instead of her own. Jamm, of course, found out immediately and called a press conference, promising to blow “Twitter Watergate” way out of proportion.
This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Coven opened up against a classic Louisiana landscape: the bayou. Two poachers hunting gators are hauling a catch up to their camp when they noticed a woman we know as (the recently burned-at-the-stake) Misty Day wandering around. As Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” served as the background music, Day, looking very Nicks-ish herself (more on that later), examines several of their previous kills and lets the hunters know how she feels about their hobby. Given her power of resurrection, it was easy to see where this was going. She brings all of the gators back to life, and they decimate the two men, guilty of murdering innocent creatures for their own personal gain. When we last saw Misty, she was called a necromancer and burned by her God-fearing peers. Now, she’s mentally and physically reborn.
Back at the school, Cordelia gets the girls up and ready for the day. Zoe is still mourning Kyle, but Madison feels he’s just as guilty as his fraternity brothers. Zoe can’t accept that, but Madison assures her he would have died anyway because of Zoe’s power. Fiona, meanwhile, has Madame LaLaurie tied up and gagged in her room. Fiona warns her not to scream, but of course she does. I’m still not exactly sure what she thought this would accomplish. She obviously wants to be helped, but I’d imagine it would be difficult for someone who’s been buried alive for 180 years to navigate the present.
Early Leslie Knope was not always pleasant. She was sometimes selfish, a little narrow-minded, and always allowed her passion to cloud her judgment. Her semi-temper tantrum after Ann revealed her plans to relocate in “Doppelgangers” definitely hearkened back to that. This is not to say I don’t love Leslie because believe me, I DO LOVE LESLIE. But girl needs to think before reacts sometimes. Ann, smartly, tried to absorb the shock with waffles and a shirtless photo of Joe Biden before she confessed, but Leslie saw right through it and stalked off on a loyalty tangent. She’s actually kind of intolerable for much of the episode, trying to force everybody to sign legally-binding friendship contracts after other Pawnee employees hinted at leaving because “No one around here understands loyalty.” After (another) enlightening conversation with Ron, though, she realizes her mistake and tells Ann she’s ready to talk.
After American Horror Story’s disjointed, cluttered second season, I wasn’t too sure I’d be back for season three. It took such a nosedive after a stellar inaugural season that I didn’t think recovery was possible. I changed my mind with the release of each 15ish-second preview and after the cast was announced. It looked creepy, fresh, and fierce – and it acted the part in “Bitchcraft,” the premiere episode.
The show opens in 1834 New Orleans. Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) hosts some kind of formal gathering in her home. Once all of her guests leave, she heads upstairs to start her nightly beauty routine: rubbing a mixture of blood and a human pancreas on her face like any self-respecting woman would. She’s disrupted, though, when she learns that her daughter was found copulating with a servant. Furious, she has him taken to the attic, where slaves are kept in crates in various states of torture; one man’s eyes and mouth are sewn shut, a woman’s skin has been peeled from her face. Delphine has a child bring in a bull’s head, which she puts over the slave’s like a mask because she’s “always loved the minotaur.” Later, she receives a visit from Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), a priestess claiming to have a potion for Delphine that will curb her husband’s craving for younger women. She gladly takes it but soon discovers it’s poison. Marie sought revenge against Delphine, as her lover was the one who was fitted with a new head. Delphine died, and her body was never found.
After just over a week’s worth of reflection, my mind hasn’t changed. I still think the Breaking Bad finale was perfect, and I’m hardly alone. It was tight (TIGHT. Tight.), concise, and exactly what we needed. This show has never been about broad, unanswered questions or making a spectacle of itself. It was about as realistic as a show centered around a dying chemistry teacher’s meth empire could get. It had its share of over-the-top moments – Gus straightening his tie with half of a face, hydrofluoric acid and an assortment of body parts burning through a bathtub – but they took away nothing from the plot. Gilligan did the inevitable, tying up every loose end in the process, and presented it in a nice, neat package wrapped with a crystal blue bow.
And there has still been some blowback. Some felt it was boring and too orderly, others felt that not enough happened. Some went out of the way to craft intricate alternate theories, like Norm MacDonald’s “Walt died in the car” idea. The problem with things likes this is that they discredit the creator’s intentions. MacDonald’s theory is implausible not because of facts, but because it directly contradicts the show’s structure. It has never been vague or open-ended. Before “Felina” aired, it felt almost impossible to hear about the episode without mentions of shows like LOST in the same breath. The two shows had brilliant endings, but they were vastly different and appropriate for their respective genres. There’s no reason to combine the two because a flexible LOST-like ending would never work for a show like Breaking Bad.
For me, there’s nothing more satisfying television-wise than seeing something come full-circle. Nods to early episodes and closed plotlines fill me with so much (probably too much) joy. Maybe Walt blamed Gretchen and Elliot for much of this mess. We don’t know exactly what happened with him and Gray Matter, but something tells me he likely wouldn’t have had to pursue drug manufacturing to pay his medical bills and take care of his family if he were as wealthy as the Schwartzes. So to him, paying them a visit before the final showdown was his way of attacking the root of the problem, even though he didn’t hurt them – nor did he ever intend to. The show’s last scene was even more gratifying. He’s in a lab, probably thinking about how it pales in comparison to their previous workspaces, and he leaves a bloody handprint on a piece of equipment, a physical component of himself left on something that used to be his livelihood. All of this on top of Jesse escaping, Walt admitting that he wasn’t in it solely for his family, and the total destruction of some of the baddest bad guys we know, made it the perfect ending to a perfect show.
We may not ever experience a television show like this again. I’m honestly okay with that. Breaking Bad completely altered the way I look at television, films, books. It set a new precedent for other writers, other creators, and they’re constantly going to be upping their standards to catch up to it. I miss it already.
Leslie Knope would sooner give up waffles at JJ’s before making peace with Eagleton, Pawnee’s wealthy, Michael Buble-listening archrival, but in “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic,” that’s exactly what happened. Let’s go by character to see how we got there.
Leslie, Ben, and Chris
Leslie is one of the most lovable characters on television. She’s kind and tactical and loving; when it comes to her nemeses in Eagleton, though, she tends to throw all of that out the window. The episode opened with a press conference led by Leslie and Ingrid de Forest (Kristen Bell), her Eagleton counterpart. Deep in the trenches of the recall election, Leslie tries to win over her fellow Pawneeans in the only way she can: by cracking jokes at Eagleton’s expense.
Meanwhile, the dream team is back. Ben and Chris’ superiors over in Indianapolis enlisted the pair to help solve a budget crisis in Eagleton. AUDITING BROS! Leslie, who can’t pass up an opportunity to see Eagleton’s demise, tags along. The town is going bankrupt and Leslie likely hasn’t felt this much joy since meeting Joe Biden. She makes a great, predictable Good Will Hunting joke, and Ben seems to already be regretting his decision to let her join.