I am loving this season of American Horror Story but I have to be honest. After last week's assault on what felt like every one of my senses I wasn't sure I was ready for another episode a mere seven days later. Thankfully I was wrong because this was a great hour of television and I feel only mildly traumatized by watching it. With that glowing commendation lets get into talking about “Fearful Pranks Ensue”.
This week's compilation of nasty things we love to watch opens in 1961 New Orleans with an African American teenager going for a pleasant cycle down a suburban street. A truck rides his tail until he is forced into an alley cornered by these upstanding gentlemen in their very fine hats.
We leave the alley for a visit to the most happening voodoo salon in Louisiana (I actually cannot back this claim up, there could be one two blocks over with an infinitely better vibe) where a hairdresser named Cora is explaining that her son has just started at a newly integrated high school. Marie Laveau does not feel like this is a great plan. Cora remains an optimist with Kennedy sure to be a long-serving president and the future looking bright. Her outlook risks alteration after finding said child hanging from a tree.
You lynch one child and some people will just start losing faith in humanity you know? It was actually really horrible and sad but Marie Laveau isn't one to mope. No, she's a woman with a plan and her plans involve snakes and chalk with somewhat alarming regularity. Also bongos! Where exactly does she find these tribal drummers to assist in spells? We have to remember this is before Craigslist people. Drumming aside, the spell results in some pretty feisty zombies with a hankering for racist blood. I'd like to know if this spell raises all the dead nearby or if she can be selective because bravo on the revolutionary soldier buried with his shotgun and the flapper. Laveau understands that great voodoo is about details. After the bloody dismemberment of the hat team that will be missed by nobody it's straight into the opening credits of doom which are so great this season. There is just so much witch dancing there.
Because it's been almost 20 seconds since the last nightmarish image it's now time for the world's worst tea party with Spalding and his dolls. As he considers napkin etiquette he is distracted by shouting from below. We have the immense pleasure of reliving Madison Montgomery's untimely throat-slitting from the butler's point of view. A brief monologue from award-winning-actress Jessica Lange and Spalding is left to clean up. Speaking of which, Madison's shoes made my night. If she doesn't return a hot mess in these sparkly glimpses of a better world I am done.
Fiona heads outside to find the storyline we've all been waiting to get back to: Queenie and the Minotaur (coincidentally also the name of my band). What exactly transpired since we last checked in is unclear but it seems safe to say that Queenie's creative approach to battling the minotaur was unsuccessful. If we learn only one thing from this show, or anywhere, let it be that aggressive masturbation in the face of an ungodly hell-beast is unlikely to save your life. I repeat masturbating at minotaurs is NOT recommended. I cannot be too clear on this point.
After an ominous glance at the minotaur, who is probably feeling pretty weird about how his evening has transpired, Fiona finds Cordelia to work some magic medicine. Unfortunately painting Queenie's neck with one small stroke of something white and goopy is insufficient to keep her breathing and Fiona has to work some reverse succubus magic to resuscitate her. This is basically how this would have played out in a real hospital so I can see why Fiona is reluctant to seek actual medical advice.
The next stop on Fiona's tour of the house is her own room, where Madame LaLaurie is lurking in the wardrobe indulging in a little crisis of faith after Queenie took on the minotaur that had been destined for her.
Next we catch up with modern day Cora getting her hair done for the mayor's ball which is an event I wish we got to attend with her. Madame Laveau seems a little confused about how payment works and slips Cora a handful of bills. This kindly behavior is rewarded immediately by the delivery of her beastly boyfriend's severed head in a comically large box. The head itself looks a little troubled by this turn of events but not enough to ruin his game as he still gets his wink on at the distraught voodoo leader. Mostly I get the feeling this head has SEEN THINGS.
Speaking of things that make us want to tear out not only our own eyeballs but maybe a friend's as well, it's time to catch up with FrankenKyle (or FrankenKyle's monster if we're being accurate) and Zoe. Having killed his mother, Kyle is getting back to some more normal teenage behavior like banging his blood stained head against a bathtub. He informs Zoe that he is in fact not Kyle and she decides to spike his delicious meal of canned tuna with some rat poison. I hate to be super judgmental of everything Zoe does (don't get me started on her leaving Misty Day hanging) but is rat poison really likely to be an effective method of reconstructed dead boyfriend murder? I can't help but wonder if stopping his blood from clotting will bother the guy who has died with every appendage severed, been put back together by a teenage starlet and then resurrected by witches with some pretty questionable skills. Sadly this mystery remains unsolved as when Zoe returns to the bathroom of head banging Kyle has left through the front door and disappeared into the hordes of trick or treaters on the streets. It seems safe to say that Zoe is questioning some of her earlier decisions. If you asked her now whether she'd like to resurrect a boy from parts she might at least have pause.
Back at the school Fiona and Madame LaLaurie have an almost sweet exchange about Halloween traditions then and now when LaLaurie warns they must take precautions against demons rising lest “fearful pranks ensue”. She also mentions outdated ideas like the harvest as if farming is still a thing!
Award-winning actress Jessica Lange dons a black witch's hat and utters a line for the promo in preparation for the coming costumed masses.
At team voodoo headquarters Marie Laveau begins fetching her revenge snakes while one of her minions, Chantal, offers wig-filled exposition about Laveau previously negotiating a truce with Fiona's predecessor to settle the blood feud between their voodoo salon and the coven. Chantal pleads with Laveau to keep the peace but the snake urns have already been fetched and it looks like there's no turning back.
Cordelia takes a moment out of her busy teaching schedule (LOL) to call her husband in Baton Rouge and express discontent at his absence on a work trip. Hank seems less disturbed by the space, instead having a steamy rendezvous with the sexy maid from season one. This time she plays Kaylee, a sweet young thing who he found on a Thomas Kincaid message board. I just learned a little more about art appreciation and a lot more about this husband who had seemed pretty vanilla until right now. Aside from the attempts to make a snake-induced witchcraft baby.
Queenie and Madame LaLaurie share a nice moment where LaLaurie struggles to offer thanks for the life-saving masturbation effort and Queenie mostly just glares. I'm really hoping this turns into a spin off where these two are best frenemies and travel the countryside solving crime together. Ryan Murphy, if you're reading, I'll give you that idea for free.
This beautiful moment of reconciliation is disrupted by Nan announcing cryptically that “they're here” and Cordelia assuming she means the half of her entire student body who are currently absent. She is not in fact referring to Madison and Zoe but the oft-mentioned Council on Witchcraft which appears to be the prosecutorial arm of the witch justice system. The Council's arrival induces a bout of verbal diarrhea in Cordelia which is only dammed by Fiona's entrance and the reveal that Nan summoned the council to investigate Madison's death. The clairvoyant can no longer hear Madison's thoughts so has called in the big guns.
What follows is this odd little moment of greatness where Spalding puts the finishing touches on a scarecrow and gives it the type of hug we'd all love to get from a tongueless butler. I guess this guy just really loves inanimate, vaguely human-shaped objects. I can't imagine this means anything weird.
The Council continues their investigation, explaining that burning to death is the only punishment for murder of a fellow witch. Cordelia shows a total inability to read her audience when she asks if the Council read TMZ and acts as though misplacing a quarter of the student body is no big deal. Frances Conroy gives us more of the exciting Myrtle character we glimpsed in the first episode and Nan again demonstrates she is the only one paying attention by mentioning Madison's new fire starter skills.
Over in Baton Rouge Hank and Kaylee exchange some cute banter about food (sushi is weird!) and traveling the world (he's been all the way to San Diego!). She is clearly smitten and did they mention she's from a small town? It's all going pretty nicely until he straight up shoots her in the head and goes about his day. I'm going to come right out and say it now. I'm not sure he's such a good guy.
The Council continues to question Fiona and Myrtle tells it like it is about the supreme's poor leadership, general absence aside from during times of murder and we are treated to another young Fiona flashback. It's 1971 and she is putting in an admirable performance as a young witch devastated by the loss of her leader and attempting to throw the Council's suspicion towards the voodoos. Young Myrtle is less than thrilled by the announcement of Fiona as supreme elect (“elect” seems a loose term in this situation) and utters the line “I am a guardian of veracity in the vernacular,” which really explains her overwhelming popularity. The Council announces that Fiona is shortly to undertake the “tests of the seven wonders,” hopefully an experience we will have the pleasure of witnessing in coming weeks. My favorite thing about this entire series of flashbacks is when Myrtle mentions the classes they take. Do they even have classes at the school now? There was even more than one teacher back then!
Flashback Myrtle hatches a plan to out Fiona as a murderer by enchanting Spalding's tongue to speak only truth prior to his meeting with the Council. This seems foolproof until the butler becomes separated from the aforementioned tongue. In the present day Myrtle implores Spalding to write the name of the witch who dismembered him but it turns out the joke is on her when he puts her own name. Another helpful visit to 1971 is all it takes to reveal that Spalding used his last words to express his love to Fiona before amputating his own offending tongue. Today's Myrtle loses her barely there control and screams her accusations at Fiona until Cordelia butts in with the new (possibly imaginary?) information that Madison had a heart murmur which is apparently enough being a supreme. From a medical standpoint this raises questions for me but I'll remember that this is the show where a bus flipping over severs EVERY limb within and let this one slide.
Marie Laveau is now in her full undead-summoning, snake-wearing glory as the cemetery begins to show a little more life.
I'm having some serious concern about how adorable I found Delphine LaLaurie in this episode you guys. Remember how she tortured and murdered all those slaves? Called her children ugly? Was basically the worst human to ever exist? It turns out I will forgive all of this simply by seeing her refer to candy-grabbing children as “hooligans.” But this recap is about the show not my issues!
After the remaining three students and Zoe's ridiculous hat debate whether or not to search for Madison we are treated to another visit with Spalding's house of dolls. This time he is attired in a very becoming bonnet and dressing gown and is preparing a dress for the once again underwear-clad Madison Montgomery. He's done a very nice job of making her up as a doll and possibly missed his calling as an undertaker.
Fiona and Cordelia celebrate their victory with some shots and Cordelia makes up a game that really sounds a lot like an interrogation.
Fiona truthfully suggests that Hank is not a good guy and untruthfully declares that she did not murder Madison while trying to goad Cordelia into revealing the next supreme's true identity. Cordelia instead opts to drink until vomiting and encounters a new friend with some ideas on how her face should be arranged. Mostly the mysterious robed figure feels that more corrosive acid would help.
Madame LaLaurie has mastered the art of handing out candy to hooligans when the cute boy from next door brings baked goods to repay Nan's cake. It is clear that his slightly unhinged, frighteningly religious mother did something right. If the writers won't give me Zoe and Misty Day I will ship this couple. Begrudgingly. This cute moment is interrupted by a slightly more forceful knock which LaLaurie answers to find her previously-hanged, now-zombie children. Hi Mom! They have brought friends with them who proceeded to spread throughout the front yard when the end title card appears.
All in all I thought this was a great episode. Plot lines continue to move at breakneck pace with a high likelihood of actual neck breaking and we're only four episodes in! Did we really need the addition of zombies? Can the team behind this show pull everything together coherently? I don't know but I can't wait to find out! Thanks for letting me step in to talk about such a fun and horrific show this week.