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.
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.