American Horror Story: Coven: “Fearful Pranks Ensue” (Episode 3.04)TV Reviews american horror story
When this season of American Horror Story started, I thought that maybe it wasn’t going to be as insane as past seasons. Yeah, it was nuts from the beginning, but that was when the show only had witches and minotaurs. But in time for “Fearful Pranks Ensue,” Coven’s Halloween episode, the show has basically become the television equivalent of “The Monster Mash,” cramming in as many different creatures as possible. Any show that tried to be this crazy wouldn’t be able to succeed at it, but this is American Horror Story. All bets are off.
So in addition to the witches’ coven and the Frankenstein frat monster, we learn more about the speech-impaired butler Spalding, who has an affinity for lining his living space wall-to-wall with dolls. It’s been assumed that Fiona had cut off his tongue; however, he cut off his own tongue after witnessing her murdering the last Supreme. Spalding was and probably still is in love with Fiona, so this act was a way of protecting her, you know, instead of just pretending he didn’t know anything…
While there isn’t any connection between seasons, I do appreciate how certain actors are placed into a role that is familiar in every season. For example, in the first season Denis O’Hare played a disfigured man who long-harbored a love for Jessica Lange, never being able to act on his desires. There’s something fun about this connection, almost like the show is creating alternate universes where the story may change but the characters stay largely the same.
Also in season one, Evan Peters and Taissa Farmiga played two kids in love who were kept apart by death and secrets. Now they’re also having their troubles with being together, as Kyle has run away from his house after killing his molesting mother, leaving Zoe to search for him on the streets during Halloween.
Frances Conroy has always played a sort of caretaker throughout the seasons, first as a maid for the murder house and in the second as the angel of death, bring eternal peace to those who ask her for it. This season, Conroy is Myrtle Snow, who looks like a combination of Carrie Donovan (the lady with the giant glasses in old Old Navy commercials) and Didi Pickles from The Rugrats. She’s a member of the witches’ council, who are at the school to investigate the disappearance of Madison. Conroy is brilliantly crazy here after seeing her play relatively cool in the first two seasons. It’s like she’s getting three seasons’ worth of insanity thrown into this character, and it’s amazing.
While the council can’t find Madison, it turns out Spalding has taken her to his living space to be his own doll…which…okay. I find it hard to believe that in this show where people keep coming back to life and Emma Roberts’ name is in the opening credits, that she won’t return to the world of the living. My theory is that Angela Bassett’s Marie Laveau will resurrect her to help her fight against Fiona.
But while Madison was murdered because she was thought to be the next Supreme, Cordelia lets it slip that she wasn’t actually the Supreme, as she had a heart murmur and Supremes can’t have such weaknesses, I guess? I assume that means that Queenie also can’t be the Supreme since she almost died after being attacked by the minotaur last week. She almost dies, but Fiona brings her back to life, somehow finds the minotaur, cuts off his head, then sends it to Laveau, who finds the head still blinking.
Laveau is sort of like an insanity hydra though; you cut off one of her creature’s heads, you get twice as much craziness in return. Laveau goes Walking Dead and resurrects the dead into powerful zombies, including Madame LaLaurie’s daughter. I’m very excited to see what happens with these zombies, since at the beginning of the episode we see how vicious they are, almost unstoppable and incredibly destructive, tearing men limb-from-limb like it ain’t no thing.
If that all wasn’t enough for a jam-packed episode, we also see more of Cordelia’s husband, Hank. While away, he meets up with another woman he met online over their mutual love of Thomas Kincade, then after sleeping with her in the most aggressive way possible, shoots her right in the head during breakfast. He hints that last year he was also a monster, however no detail is given as to what he means by that.
All of this wonderfully wacky stuff would have felt completely out of place in any other show. I mean, imagine if some other series was just like, “guess what? Now we’re going to have zombies too. Out of nowhere.” It would be ridiculous. But on American Horror Story, the forward momentum of craziness is what makes the show so watchable and fun. Now we’ve got witches, Frankenstein monsters, decapitated minotaurs, borderline necrophilic doll play, zombies and other monsters that aren’t quite identified yet. If by the end of this season, we also have vampires, werewolves and who knows what else, it won’t be shocking; it’ll be expected at this point.