‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Breakdown: ‘Fearful Pranks Ensue’

AHSC Fearful

(SPOILERS AHEAD, so witch your step, Coven fans!)

Season Three, Episode Four: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

Written by: Jennifer Salt, Directed by: Michael Uppendahl

AHS always does a Halloween episode (and rightfully so), but this week’s installment is focused more so on the investigation into Madison’s “disappearance” than trick-or-treating. Heading the investigation is the Council of Witchcraft that we keep hearing about. Plus, war is coming to New Orleans, as Laveau goes into full vengeance mode.

Quick Breakdown

This week’s horror opening takes place in 1961 when New Orleans was fighting against integration. A gang of white men hang an African American boy, and an enraged Laveau summons the dead to massacre those awful men. (Maybe Laveau is responsible for The Walking Dead?)

In the present, we see Spalding enjoying a nighttime tea party with his dolls. But he hears a disturbance downstairs and stumbles upon Fiona’s murder of Madison. She makes him clean it up, reminiscing about how much she enjoys conversing with him — although, for once, this seemingly biting remark may actually be somewhat complimentary.

She is soon drawn to another disturbance – out in the greenhouse. She finds Queenie brutally injured. The minotaur lurks behind her. Suddenly, she’s summoning Cordelia to make a potion to heal Queenie, while also breathing life into her. By the next morning, Queenie is awake and recovering.

At the salon, Laveau receives a large package. Inside she finds the minotaur’s head. She takes this as the declaration of war she’s been itching for and breaks the truce that she had formerly negotiated under Anna-Lee’s supremacy. Once again, she draws her symbols and plays with snakes and summons the dead to do her bidding.

The Council of Witchcraft arrives to investigate Madison’s disappearance, having been alerted to the issue by Nan who cannot sense Madison. Myrtle Snow heads the Council while flanked by Pimbrooke (Robin Bartlett) and Quentin (Will & Grace’s Leslie Jordan). They learn a lot about Madison via interviews with those in the house, and Myrtle feels she has enough evidence.

She is on a literal witch hunt to convict Fiona. Back in 1971, they were both students together, and Myrtle suspected Fiona of murdering Anna-Lee. She bewitched Spalding’s tongue to make him tell the truth about the murder, but he cuts out his own tongue after proclaiming to Fiona his love for her. When called to “testify” in the present, Myrtle makes him write down which witch mutilated him; he writes down Myrtle’s name.

Furious, Myrtle casts all her aspersions against Fiona. She believes that Fiona murdered Madison, fearing she was the new Supreme. But Cordelia steps in to defend Fiona, saying that Madison was certainly not the new Supreme. Supreme’s have impeccable health, and Cordelia knows that Madison was hiding a heart murmur. This newsflash unsettles Fiona.

With no hard evidence, it seems the investigation ends. Fiona takes Cordelia out to the bar for some drunk confessions, trying to discover whom Cordelia believes to be the new Supreme. Cordelia, too, tries to elicit confessions from Fiona, quizzing her about why she hates Hank and if she murdered Madison. But Cordelia can’t hold her liquor and vomits in the bathroom. A cloaked figure emerges from the next stall and throws a glass of acid(?) into Cordelia’s face.

Back at the house, Luke swings by with some thank-you cookies for Nan. He manages to get inside the house before the zombie figures of LaLaurie’s daughters come trick-or-treating. The camera pans out to reveal a large horde of zombies descending on the estate (not unlike the final shot of this season of True Blood).

Rating

A-

While not too Halloween-y, this is a solid episode advancing the backstory for the world of the witches and Fiona’s own past. Plus, we see that the “good” witches’ true enemy will be Laveau, who brings war against them this week. Murphy and his team are showing that they can indeed advance the story at a steady rate (unlike some of the more wayward story advancements in seasons past).

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

Zoe has a quick moment with Kyle where she tries to feed him rat-poisoned tuna salad, but he disappears from the house before she can give it to him.

Hank makes an appearance again, this time having “monstrous” sex with his secret lover Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge) before shooting her in the head with a silencer. What’s up with that?

Is the minotaur’s unseen decapitation the last of the monster? AHS usually has a monster lurking in the shadows and wreaking havoc for much longer. Is Hank, perhaps, the true monster for this season?

“I think Halloween gives people the permission to be who they really want to be.” – Kaylee

“Myrtle Snow, look at you! Developing a sense of style when no one was paying attention.” – Fiona

Spalding didn’t bury Madison’s body. Instead, he took it up to his room to keep her as one of his dolls.

In the flashbacks to a far more populous Robichaux’s, I got a definite Harry Potter vibe (intended or not).

“Who’s the baddest witch in town.” – Fiona to herself in the mirror.

Lingering Questions: Will Madison be brought back to life? Is this the end of Emma Roberts? Who is the next Supreme? What’s Misty up to?

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