Well, things have most certainly gotten weird. Very, very weird. The previous two episodes of Coven have been relatively mild-mannered by the extreme standards of American Horror Story, but The Replacements has most certainly amped the weirdness up to 11.
Central to this episode is the ever-brilliant Jessica Lange as Fiona. The main arc of the episode again sees her troubled by her own mortality. Desperate for her youth back, she is looking at any and all ways to take herself back to her glory days. For the first time in the season, we get some flashbacks to the 1970s, where we see the young Fiona as an arrogant upstart witch who uses her feminine charm to the max. We also get to see how she came to be the ‘Supreme’ of the Coven, aka the top dog.
As well as Fiona’s struggles, which also see her taking a shine to Emma Roberts’ Madison and having to deal with the new “bible-thumping” neighbours, we get some further developments in the Frankenstein-like tale of Evan Peters’ Kyle’s return from the grave. Let’s just say, he’s grumpy, and his mother is a little too overjoyed at seeing him back. To tie in with Kyle’s return, Lily Rabe’s fantastically mysterious and crazed Misty Day gets some more moments to shine. It still feels like their holding back on the Misty character a little, but here’s hoping they’ve got a lot more screen-time planned for her down the line. Even if that’s not the case, I’m more than happy to just have her dance around to Stevie Nicks songs each week.
Whereas the last episode, Boy Parts, gave us a lot of scenes between Lange and Kathy Bates, this time out the pair don’t share all that much screen-time. That said, Bates’ Madame LaLaurie is again brilliantly played out. Struggling to get to grips with the present day, especially with things like the TV (“magic box”) and a black President of the United States, LaLaurie is forced to become a maid in the Coven household. That’s not all, as an old friend seems to have returned to pay her a visit: a Minotaur.
Generally speaking, having a Minotaur stalking a racist dug-up witch would top the weird scale, but this is American Horror Story we’re talking about. The Minotaur stuff barely touches the sides when it comes to the level of oddness and creepiness that this show produces. Here we get a further look into the voodoo nature of Angela Bassett’s Marie, as Sarah Paulson’s Cordelia seeks her assistance in getting pregnant. Again, that’s not the strangest going on. For the risk of spoilers, I’m just going to go out and say that Kyle has some mightily messed up scenes of his own, as does a certain case of apparent ‘inter-species erotica, fucko.’ Yes, that’s me quoting some Kevin Smith dialogue… but it’s mildly applicable once you’ve watched the episode.
As ever, the style of Coven is stunning. The tone, colouring, textures, and numerous shooting variations all add perfectly to each scene. Whether it’s to give a warm sense of serenity or to just cause unease and awkwardness, every moment of Coven is expertly shot and delivered. Oh, and then there’s the dialogue. I’m going to say that Coven seems to be featuring the best dialogue of any of the previous American Horror Story seasons so far. The highlight of this particular episode is when Christine Ebersole’s Anna-Lee turns to the younger Fiona and remarks, “you vicious little gash.”
Things have certainly gotten weird, but we expected that right? Seriously fucked up, but utterly compelling. Don’t fight it, embrace it, and get set for what’s promising to be another fantastic season of American Horror Story.