TV Review: AMERICAN HORROR STORY - COVEN Episode 4 'Fearful Pranks Ensue'

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

So, have you recovered from the incest-filled, inter-species-erotica-ridden, messed up piece of TV that was the least episode of American Horror Story: Coven? Don’t worry, there’s nothing quite as shocking on the agenda this week – well, for the most part, at least.

Fearful Pranks Ensue seems to centre on the growing war between the Salem witches and the voodoo believers. As we’re first taken back to the early 1960s to witness a young black boy hung for seemingly going to an integrated school, we see that Angela Bassett’s Marie is there to survey all of the tragedy. Fast forward to the present day, and we find Marie becoming even more at odds with Jessica Lange’s Fiona, the ‘Coven’, and Kathy Bates’ Madame LaLaurie. Present day Marie seems to be enjoying a spell of relative happiness, until a special delivery kills her mood. From then on out, the shit is well and truly on.

In the meantime, we get to see the aftermath of Emma Roberts’ Madison being offed in the last episode. Whilst this mess is being dealt with, we also find out that Gabourey Sidibe’s Queenie is most definitely suffering after trying to seduce the Minotaur that appeared towards the end of the previous episode. As Madison’s death is being covered up and Queenie is seemingly on her deathbed, the ever-judgemental Council turn up on the Coven’s door to take issue with several matters, mostly revolving around Fiona. And we’re not just talking modern-day matters, but also we’re taken back to yesteryear, as it’s revealed just how the young Spalding (Denis O’Hare) came to lose his tongue. That itself does pose the question, though, as to why the Council have waited several decades to finally ask him to explain this mutilation in simple writing.

Although brief in appearance in this episode, we’re also brought up to speed with Evan Peters’ Frankenstein-like Kyle in the aftermath of bludgeoning his mother to death. Here we get to see Taissa Farmiga’s Zoe begin to see the severe repercussions of having brought Kyle back from the dead. And he’s not the only one, as there’s certain elements of this episode that have just a hint of The Walking Dead to them. Yes, we’re talking zombies. That means we’ve ticked off witches, a Frankenstein-inspired being, a Minotaur, and now reanimated corpses… all within the first four episodes of this latest season of American Horror Story.

If the continuation of those previous arcs weren’t enough to hold your interest, there’s also some developments in the lives of Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) and Hank (Josh Hamilton), with things taking a rather dark and sinister turn for both of them in differing ways. Oh, and we get to find out just exactly what happened to the dead body of Madison after her throat was sliced in the last episode.

Another stellar episode from Coven, with the escalating battle between Marie and Fiona looking set to come to a head sooner rather than later. Again, it seems as if American Horror Story has to always have something extra up its sleeve to surprise its viewer with. If it finally answers the question you’ve been scratching your head over, it won’t hesitate to throw another batch of questions your way straight after in order to keep you on your toes. That’s the same principle that’s in place here, with characters portrayed as relatively dull beforehand given new layers and wrinkles.

As a huge fan, my only major reservation with Fearful Pranks Ensue is an absence of the fantastic Lily Rabe in her role as Misty Day. Guess I’ll have to get my Stevie Nicks fix somewhere else this week.

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0 #2 Jack Bottomley 2013-11-20 22:44
@Elisabethneveu x I agree entirely, this was a superb episode and I am vastly enjoying Lange's character more than ever here!
+1 #1 Elisabethneveux 2013-11-07 14:15
I would have given a 9 out of 10, as it was perfectly orchestrated, with its hommage to Zombie movies...there is also some great character developement (and Im happy to know more about the Butler :) ), and Angela Basset is almost stealing the show to Jessica Lange! wonderful special effect, and well, finally Dwankie is converted and is eagerly waiting for next episode!

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