What. A. Horror show. And to be clear, I mean that in the bad way. I didn’t’ really expect this season to avoid the pitfalls of the last one, but let the record show that I actually liked the first two episodes of Coven. I didn’t dismiss them merely because they are the product of Ryan Murphy’s brain, against the advice of a few commenters. But AHS does seem to have some common ground with Murphy’s other work in its ability to accrue goodwill simply for the purpose of throwing it back in viewers’ faces, actually punishing them for liking the show.
This week takes us back to 1971, when a young Fiona was just coming in to her powers. And in a way I feel sorry for the actor they got to play the youthful version of Jessica Lange, because anyone would suffer by that comparison. But the dialogue isn’t doing the actors any favors either; it is a cringe-worthy combination of hackneyed melodrama and exposition.
What we learn is that, when one Supreme comes into power, the one preceding her fades and dies. So young Fiona slits the throat of her Supreme to take the throne. The only witness to her crime was the mute butler who grinned creepily at the proceedings.
Back in the present day, Fiona goes to a bar to try and pick up some men—whom she refers to in her inner monologue as “primitive, beautiful animals”—and is shocked to discover that she has lost the ability to magnetically attract the sex slave of her choosing. Her next stop is a plastic surgeon’s office, where she requests the full Joan Rivers.
In the Ninth Ward, Zoe goes to visit Kyle’s bereaved mother (Mare Winningham, my all-time favorite actor whose name sounds like it belongs to a cartoon horse). She lights up a bowl and reveals that before Zoe called, she had been ready to hang herself by her own little braid. Desperate to comfort her, Zoe promises that she will be reunited with her son once more.
Back in the Garden District (the fashionable neighborhood in which Miss Robicheaux’s resides) new neighbors are moving in. The family matriarch is Patti Lupone, playing waaaaay against type as a Bible-thumping killjoy. Her son is a sculpture made out of graham crackers, and his physique appeals to the tastes of Madison, Queenie, and Nan. Madison and Nan head over to welcome him, with Nan offering a freshly-baked cake and Madison offers a mostly unblocked view of her boobs. But the Gingerbread Boy is really only interested in Nan, because he can only see inner beauty. His mother’s vision is less impaired, and she orders Madison to leave the house at once.
Mady responds by lighting the drapes on fire with her mind, a power even she hadn’t known she possessed until now.
Upstairs, Delphine LaLaurie gets caught up on current events via TV and learns the horrific truth of modern society: a black man is the president AND they cancelled Firefly after only one season.
Fiona orders Delphine to dress up as a French maid and be Queenie’s personal slave because “there is nothing I hate more than a racist.”
Back at the Swamp Shack, Misty is reading her unauthorized biography of Stevie Nicks to Kyle, but has only gotten as far as the recording of Fleetwood Mac when Zoe bursts in and takes Kyle back to his mother. Misty is devastated, left all alone with only her mud and her scarves to comfort her. Zoe, meanwhile, drops Kyle on his mother’s doorstep, rings the doorbell, and runs away, which is the appropriate protocol for a Valentine or a bouquet, NOT SOMEONE’S ZOMBIE SON.
Elsewhere, Cordelia and Fiona go to their respective doctors to get some bad news.
Fiona’s doctor: I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a face transplant. Your immune system seems to be in some sort of freefall brought on by Patriarchal Notions of Women’s Value.
Cordelia’s doctor: I’m sorry, I can’t help you get pregnant. I found snake scales and an Evanescence album in your vagina and I no longer feel comfortable letting you produce offspring.
Cordelia: Looks like I’m going to the witch doctor.
Fiona: Looks like I’m getting plastered.
That night, Kyle’s mom comes to his room and tells him that even though he is clearly now a zombie made from the spare parts of rapists, she still loves him. And the whole time, watching this scene I was like “isn’t it funny how we always imagine there’s a weird incestuous vibe in TV families?” BUT NO. WE ARE NOT IMAGINING ANYTHING, BECAUSE KYLE’S MOM GIVES HIM A HANDJOB.