American Horror Story: Coven "Fearful Pranks Ensue" Review: ENTER ZOMBIES! (PHOTO RECAP)

By Price Peterson

Oct 31, 2013

American Horror Story S03E04: "Fearful Pranks Ensue"

Whoever invented that phrase "Don't judge a book by its cover" was not only VERY bossy (don't tell me what to do), but also very wrong to an insane extent. The whole reason that we evolved eyeballs was so that we could check each other out and make so many snap judgments. The very survival of our species relies on our ability to look at a person and either say "That person probably played Ultimate Frisbee in college and seems very chill in general" OR say "That person seems mad at me and also looks a lot like a Great White shark and oh no it IS a Great White shark and I am going in its mouth goodbye everybody"! These are all visual judgments we need to be able to make right away. Without this role, our eyeballs are just slimy orbs taking up too much real estate in our face holes. If we're being real (and I insist we should be, just please do me this favor of being real), you can tell a lot about someone's personality from even the subtlest of clues. Their shoes. Their hair. Their style of dress. The way they chug blood that is ON FIRE while holding an albino python and resurrecting the undead. Any of these things will give you a pretty good picture of just what kind of person you're dealing with. What I am trying to say is, if you ever come across a book and on the cover there is a person sipping flaming blood while holding an albino python and resurrecting the undead, feel free to judge that book. That is probably a good book. Buy that book.

Don't be shocked: I really liked this week's episode of American Horror Story. "Fearful Pranks Ensue" definitely kept up the insane momentum of the previous three episodes. WHICH-- How is it possible that we're only FOUR episodes in right now? Doesn't it seem like so much has happened already? EVERYTHING has happened already. But I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth (what is a gift horse & why would I do this?), I am just going to just keep being so happy that this show exists. But here's something I realized this week, and tell me if you agree: Angela Bassett's character is the best? Angela Bassett's character is the best. For one thing, Angela Bassett's character is played by Angela Bassett, so that's a big advantage when it comes to my ranking system. But also WOW. Everything Marie Laveau does is just so compelling and righteous and angry and I am ROOTING for her despite also rooting for her enemies. I am rooting for most people! That's the sign of a good show, when it makes you constantly change your allegiances. But at least for now, and in this episode, I am SO INTO Angela Bassett and her character. BRB need to write tons of fan letters to Angela Bassett. (Just kidding I'm not allowed to use the U.S. mail system anymore, long story.)

Hey do you want to talk about "Fearful Pranks Ensue"? TOO BAD I'M GONNA.

I don't know what to tell you about this opening scene except that, hey remember when everyone was all "Season 3 of American Horror Story is lighter and more fun than previous seasons"? I remember those days but it is a distant memory because this season is NOT light. In four episodes we've been confronted with some truly terrible shit, guys. And now we get to add racially motivated child-lynching to that list!

So yeah, back in '60s-era New Orleans a bunch of dudes in a pickup chased after a little boy on a bicycle and then tracked him into an alleyway. 

At the same time in Marie Laveau's salon, she was looking like a Supreme (get it like the singers? I sort of get it) and in the middle of a scenario that could be classified as "dramatic irony." In this case she was NOT comfortable with a co-worker's decision to send her son to a newly desegregated public school. As it turned out those concerns were justified.

This was one of those scenes that American Horror Story stumbles onto every now and again, where the concept and execution are just too powerful to even pretend to find funny or campy. But the shot of Marie Laveau looking SO ANGRY as the distraught mother cradled her dead son gave me chills in a pretty pure way. Like, I know this show is a live-action cartoon designed to gross us out and make us feel good by making us feel terrible. But sometimes it's also just plain powerful. I don't know. The subject of how entertainment can or should comment on atrocity is a difficult one and you deserve someone smarter to get into it. But personally, I like when entertainment "goes there" even if it is slightly dumb or offensive. That seems better to me than just pretending something didn't happen, and unfortunately those seem to be the only two options we're ever presented with.  So yeah, I guess I'm pro-Difficult Subjectmatter in Pop Entertainment. In a way, this entire Marie Laveau plotline feels like a spiritual cousin to Django Unchained. You know, where a sincerely ugly and unthinkable era of American history is used as fodder for a cathartic revenge scenario. But personally I think it's healthy for us to work through some of our feelings toward evil racists via voodoo revenge. I am not normally a pro-voodoo person (sometimes I think it might not even be real?), but if voodoo MUST be used, then this situation seems like a pretty good excuse! (Sorry for all these words and sentences, I am just mashing keys at this point.)

So, next thing we knew, Marie Laveau was chanting and chugging blood that was ON FIRE and murdering snakes and in a general sense causing zombies to bust up out of their graves! And it was exactly as awesome as that sounds. VOODOO REVENGE ZOMBIES.

Oh, this whole thing was just the best. Those racist murderers got torn apart by zombies! And the zombies themselves looked excellent, very disgusting. Plus there was a flapper zombie and a Confederate soldier zombie. Just a very diverse crew of zombies. Now, I don't know much about voodoo zombies or how they differ from rage virus zombies or comet-dust zombies, but I HAVE seen Weekend at Bernie's 2 in which Bernie's corpse is reanimated using voodoo but he can only walk around when marimba music is playing. So I half-expected there to be some kind of marimba element to these zombies, but no dice. Oh well, maybe next season? American Horror Story: Zombies Walk When Marimba Music Plays.

Uh, this was insane. After a ton of closeups of a bunch of deranged and scary-looking dolls, we come to find out they all belonged to the creepy mute butler Spalding! And he throws tiny tea parties for them. Which honestly makes sense. Can't fault him there.

Then we got a rehash of last week's big murder, but this time from Spalding's point of view. Yep, still disturbing!

The best part was when he immediately got to work rolling up Madison in the carpet like it was just one of his normal duties that he deals with all the time. And then Fiona complimented him on how much smarter and more thoughtful he seems with his tongue cut out. In my opinion that was a back-handed compliment, but oh well.

Then there was a clatter in the greenhouse! Fiona ran out and found Queenie sort of rolling around on the ground, the unmistakable scent of lust still hanging in the air.

Then the minotaur walked up behind Fiona and the scene cut away like it wasn't important to let us know what happened next. Nope, next thing we knew Fiona was waking up Cordelia and they were using their best abilities to save Queenie's life.

At some point Queenie stopped breathing! It wasn't clear what exactly the minotaur had done to her, or if maybe she just wore herself out from masturbating so much in front of a minotaur. But she was technically dead! Then Fiona bent over and used some of her precious and finite life essence to revive Queenie. Which was a legitimately great moment. That's just like this show, to tell us that Fiona is the type of woman who would murder a teenager in cold blood only to turn around and heal another. Such a good contradiction. Such a good moment. Anyway, Queenie came back to life!

Meanwhile at Marie Laveau's salon, she was having a perfectly pleasant afternoon doing pro bono hairstyling for an elderly woman (and then slipping her some cash afterward too) because when she's not having an outright supernatural war with people, Marie Laveau seems like a pretty good-hearted person? I would totally hang out with her. Anyway, then this happened:

HAHA THAT is what happened to the minotaur! Fiona ripped its head off and mailed it to Marie Laveau, Se7en-style. My favorite part was the nice blanket/throw pillow the head was resting on. My second favorite part was when this happened:

WHAAAAAAAT! That head was alive still? Man, I am no minotaur physician, but that is some unusual anatomy right there. Oh well. Rest Remain Awake In Peace, minotaur. 

Marie Laveau was NOT happy. Remember, that minotaur was her ex-boyfriend! So yeah, this turf war was about to go wild.

Meanwhile Kyle was having a perfectly pleasant morning sitting on the bathroom floor banging his head against the bathtub. I guess he was probably still a little freaked out after having bashed apart the skull of his mother/primary sexual partner. Then Zoe came in and dabbed blood off his face and he told her he wasn't Kyle. So, uhhhh. That killed Zoe's boner I guess. Obviously it was time for her to have yet another terrible idea:

Oh, Zoe. Fortunately for not-Kyle, he disappeared before she could shovel poisoned tuna salad into his mouth.

Phew! Honestly, he deserved better anyway. Where was Misty Day at?

This was a funny scene in which Madame LaLaurie and Fiona discussed the differences between modern Halloween and Olden Times Halloween. That's why the title of the episode is "Fearful Pranks Ensue". Because that's olden-speak for "tricks". Also because fearful pranks ensued. But this part where Fiona put on a witch hat and strutted out was so good and so irrelevant to the rest of the episode. It's like this scene was put in strictly for the trailers. "Jessica Lange in a witch hat? DONE. Cut. Print. That's a wrap." She looked good though.


Holy moly. Yes. LOOK AT HER. So, this was a flashback to a time before Fiona became Supreme asshole of the coven. Her predecessor had actually signed a peace treaty with Marie Laveau, including drawn borders on a map of New Orleans where they'd each preside. 

Again, I love how reasonable and chill Marie Laveau seems when she's not being f*cked with. And now that we've seen her in at least five different wigs, she is officially the best dressed woman on this show if not on all of television. Amazing.

Elsewhere, Cordelia's husband was off making sweet love.

TO SOME OTHER LADY. Specifically he was having gross sex with the maid from Season 1, or it was the same the actress I mean. The character was just some small-town trick he'd lured to a hotel room after meeting on a Thomas Kinkade message board. (Seriously.) So yeah, Cordelia's husband did not seem like a very good guy! Especially when she told him that people reveal who they really are on Halloween, and he replied that last year he went as a "monster." Uh-oh.

Yep, he stone-cold murdered this lady! Oh great, that's just yet another thing that Cordelia has to deal with. Her husband is now most likely a serial murderer whose M.O. is meeting smokin' hot babes on Thomas Kinkade message boards and then murdering them in expensive hotel rooms with very shiny silencer-equipped handguns. Typical serial killer stuff.

I liked this moment: Madame LaLaurie sooooorta expressing gratitude toward Queenie for Queenie intercepting the minotaur and masturbating in front of it.

I really hope these two become best friends by the end of the season. That is on my wish list for sure.

So then we got to the main plotline of the show, which was basically a witch version of Law & Order. Three witch elders showed up at the academy, including Myrtle and a warlock version of Truman Capote. What a bunch of characters! Anyway, after Cordelia blurted out a few things about having had a run-in with Marie Laveau, it became clear that these three were not there because of that, they had only arrived because they'd heard about Madison's disappearance.

Obviously Fiona played it off like it was no big deal. Just straight up murdering 1/4 of the student body was, to Fiona, the perfect crime. Unfortunately the disappearance of 1/4 of the student body did not go unnoticed, particularly when there was a legit psychic in the house.

Nan! Nan is amazing. Nan apparently had stopped hearing Madison's inner chatter and immediately contacted the authorities. Imagine that! She made a rational conclusion and followed her instincts. I mean Nan is obviously the most responsible person in that house, but if everybody was this reasonable there wouldn't be a show. Or any shows. 

Then Spalding set up a scarecrow on the front lawn and hugged it.

This was what's known in "the writing biz" as foreshadowing. (Spoiler)

Then the inquisition began and everybody in the house was questioned. Cordelia and Zoe pled ignorance, obviously, because they were very ignorant.

Queenie just used the occasion to trash-talk Madison while enjoying a healthy green smoothie. Nan, though, alerted the elders to the fact that Madison had developed the ability to set fires, which meant she was probably a candidate to become the next Supreme, which meant that Fiona probably ganked her.

It turned out there had been a lifetime of bad blood between Myrtle and Fiona, ever since Fiona totally murdered her predecessor and Myrtle totally knew.

As we saw in the flashback, Myrtle had devised a scheme to out Fiona as a murderer before Fiona could pass all the tests to become Supreme. Specifically, she enchanted Spalding's tongue so that he couldn't lie, and so theoretically he would be forced to attest that he'd seen Fiona murder the previous Supreme. Perfect plan right?

NOPE! Spalding's tongue ended up tasting some bathroom tile later that night.

So then Myrtle felt that all she had to do was tell Spalding to write down the name of who'd cut out his tongue AND THEN she'd be able to confirm that Fiona would be guilty. But she didn't see THIS twist coming:

That's right, Spalding wasn't just some abused stooge that Fiona had mutilated. He'd done it to himself out of his undying LOVE for her!

So yeah, he had been very happily covering up Fiona's murders for years and there was nothing that Myrtle could do about it. And she was STEAMED.

So for the time being it looked like Myrtle wasn't going to have much of a case against Fiona. And then her case fell apart even further when Cordelia testified that Madison couldn't have been the next Supreme because she'd had a heart defect.

I guess Supremes always have perfect health? So then how did Madison have multiple powers then? Or was Cordelia lying? Either way, it looked like she'd actually helped her mother out for once. How touching.


Wowowow. Spalding still had Madison's corpse up in his bedroom and he was going full-on "Mary Jane's Last Dance" with it! Poor Madison, that looked very unfun. (The underwear part. The dreamless sleep part actually looks VERY appealing to me right now.)

Meanwhile at a bar, the Goodes were getting liquored up and bonding over their recent court victory. In a classic game of Truth or Truth, Fiona admitted that she hated Cordelia's husband because he's a creepy liar (score one more for Fiona), but then she lied about murdering Madison when asked directly. Still though, the fact that Cordelia asked her flat-out means that Cordelia pretty much suspects it's true right? Like, duh.

So then Cordelia puked her guts out and then this happened:

A cloaked person splashed acid in her face! HOLY MOLY. Now, I couldn't help but laugh so loud at this. I'm sorry, I know having acid thrown in one's face is not a laughing matter. But it was so funny? I think at this point so many terrible things are happening to Cordelia that it feels like comedy. She had ONE tiny moment of triumph in the episode where she got her mom off the hook, and her reward was a face full of acid! Amazing. I wonder who did it? The witch council? Probably not Marie Laveau, she had a more important activity to deal with.

Yep, the revenge-zombie equipment was back out of storage! Things were about to get interesting.

Later on, the neighborhood hunk came by with some cookies for Nan and this was how Zoe reacted:

LOL at that hat. LOL at that face. Classic Zoe!

So then there was a particularly loud and sloppy knock on the door, and guess who it was?

Madame LaLaurie's dead daughters!

And they'd brought friends!


Part of me was hoping we'd get a shot of Madison suddenly waking up and biting Spalding's throat out, but maybe next week. Man I am loving this turf war between Fiona and Marie Laveau. These ladies are SERIOUS. Although I will be honest, I'm concerned that Angela Bassett is still listed as a "Special Guest Star". Does that mean she's not long for this world, or is it just a matter of not getting her contract signed in time to make the opening credits? I don't know. But right now I love her character so much that I will be legit bummed if anything happens to her. Seriously, everything she does or says, every outfit she dons, every hairstyle she wears: All of it perfect. Be my new mom, Angela Bassett.

I liked "Fearful Pranks Ensue" a lot. Deal w/it.

*cue marimba*



... What has been your favorite Marie Laveau moment so far?

... Will Madison become a zombie?

... Does Cordelia's husband seem like a bit of a creep to you?

... When was the last time you had acid splashed in your face?

  • Comments (159)
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  • marcusj1973 Apr 30, 2014

    "Angela Bassett's character is the best? Angela Bassett's character is the best. For one thing, Angela Bassett's character is played by Angela Bassett, so that's a big advantage when it comes to my ranking system. But also WOW. Everything Marie Laveau does is just so compelling and righteous and angry and I am ROOTING for her despite also rooting for her enemies."

    Yes...she is, end of story! I'm also cheering for Jessica Lange, but mostly because I want to see the epic witch thunderdome battle that's surely coming. And as much as I love me some Jessica Lange, I LOVE me some Angella Bassett even more.

    "Spalding's tongue ended up tasting some bathroom tile later that night."

    Worst tongue removal scene, Spalding and a straight blade or Otto from Sons of Anarchy biting his off? A draw it is...both highly disturbing.

    "So then how did Madison have multiple powers then?"

    A witch can have multiple powers and not be the supreme.

    "I'm concerned that Angela Bassett is still listed as a "Special Guest Star". Does that mean she's not long for this world"


  • figmented Nov 06, 2013

    Marie Lauveau gonna send some red neck zombie eatres woohoo...can't wait for the next episode

  • CarlyChristen Nov 06, 2013

    Sure, Marie Laveau is great and all, but creepy doll tea parties? Random scarecrow huggings? Spalding is clearly the best character on this show.

  • FilmFanatic Nov 05, 2013

    I love this season so far! My only concern with this episode is whether or not Emma Roberts' character is dead or not. Will she still be on the show? (Be resurrected of some sort) cause if I am not mistaken she is in the opening credits as one of the regulars.

  • alayax Nov 05, 2013

    what is the name of the song when Cordelia's husband kill the gril.please tell me

  • pa-tan Nov 04, 2013

    1.- My favourite Marie Lauveau moment is when she gets poor psycho racist killer in a coffin.
    2.- Damn I jope Madison becomes a bitchy zombie pretty please
    3.- Cordelia's husband seems like normal guy who cheats and murders beautiful redheads, you know it is so evident.
    4.- Acid on my face? pff can't remember like a week ago? you know people love to prank that way.

  • BranislavIvkovi Nov 03, 2013

    ..i think y'all agree - no one wants emma roberts back. there. i said it.

  • xheroesx110 Nov 06, 2013

    Well I don't agree.

  • figmented Nov 06, 2013

    yea she's annoying so hopefully she's gone for good

  • ianbillings92 Nov 04, 2013

    Stop pretending you speak for everyone. Coz you certainly don't speak for me!

  • crecksue Nov 03, 2013

    hey price, i usually read the reviews you guys make but I rarely comment, though I will this time

    first off, do you really dont know the meaning of the saying of the horses? I know it in spanish and it makes more sense "a caballo regalado no se le ve el diente" it's because if you look at the teeth of a horse you can know how healthy he is, so it means that when you are gifted with a horse you shouldn't check its mouth in order to look at the teeth, it would be ungrateful

    mhmm my marie's favourite moment her argument with fiona on ep 2

    I don't think Madison will become a zombie because Marie doesn't have any piece of clothing of hers and it seems that's needed for the raising of the dead, im guessing misty day will have something to do with her

    Hank seems a really nice guy to hang out, could be a really cool buddy, like if I was bloody face and we could exchange murder stories over a cold beer

    I got tired of acid on my face a long time ago, now a days I bathe in it

    I'm gonna call it and say that Zoe is the next supreme, I know everyone is rooting for Nan but I feel that she's gonna be like the next Myrtle, it would be a far better role for her to play out in my opinion, and come on please like having killer lady parts cant be zoe's only power like what can you do with that? become a black widow? ok the other option could be Misty Day for supreme but she's cukoo

    I really liked the homage to season one when Kyle/not-Kyle escaped from the poisoned tuna salad and people were in their costumes and the guy in the skeleton costume passed by glaring at Zoe, looked like the make up Tate had when he did the school shooting, I think there also has been a season two homage somewhere but I haven't seen it, maybe it's in another future episode

    on the preview of next week it looked like fiona was setting on fire a white dressed witch, I really hope it isn't marie cause that would totally suck, I bet its going to be some other voodoo witch just to fuel up marie's hatred towards fiona

    by the way, as a guy who completely freaks out with snakes, this show's marie's scenes creep me out of my skin

  • priceiswrong Nov 04, 2013

    I did NOT know this. Thank you!

  • katiealana3556 Nov 02, 2013

    Would love to know how Kathy Bates even recognized her daughters in their zombie awesomeness? Wow, I'm a little late to that party because I couldn't even put 2 and 2 together.

  • dahogginme Nov 03, 2013

    There was a "flashback" to one of their faces to indicate she recognized her.

  • LOST-TWD-PP-GOT Nov 02, 2013

    Question: Why did Madison have more than one power, if she was not the next Supreme?
    Answer: We were told in an earlier episode, that it was not unusual for a powerful mature witch to have four or five powers, but only the seven wonders makes one the Supreme or heir. So Madison having two powers isn't that surprising. She wasn't mature yet, but was obviously powerful.

  • priceiswrong Nov 04, 2013

    Ooh thank you. Okay.

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