The mark of an excellent television show is when you can glance at the screen and see a reflection of your own life. All the shows I've ever loved have somehow tapped into something I've experienced firsthand or at the very least on an emotional level. So when American Horror Story: Coven first started I was nervous that the series was too outlandish or esoteric for me to personally relate to it. Sure, certain things it got right: I definitely grew up in a huge mostly white New Orleans manor surrounded by powerful women. My aunt was very badly burnt in a desert ritual. Our butler once cut out his own tongue and allowed it to lick the bathroom tile. But those were admittedly very basic details and almost every TV show has shown similar things. (I will never forget that episode of The Big Bang Theory when the entire cast masturbated in front of a minotaur.) But after having spent time with my family over the holidays, I came to realize just how spot-on American Horror Story: Coven has been with regard to reflecting my own life back at me. For instance, I have a complicated relationship with my relatives! Also, I have experienced heartache. And the eeriest parallel of all? Sometimes people I care about have faced danger. Just like on this show! Man, this show just GETS me.
This week's episode was entitled "The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks," which ordinarily would be all you needed to know about this hour of television, but NOPE. So much more happened than that! This was a truly unbelievable episode. Going into it I mistakenly believed the rest of the season would concern the battle between the coven and the witch hunters, but that part lasted about eight minutes total and the rest of the episode turned into what's shaping up to being a Battle Royale With Witches! They all want to be supreme now and Fiona wants to murder everybody! A total of three witches are now dead or otherwise neutralized, a fourth has probably thrown her hat into the supreme ring. Angela Bassett said "shut up" to a baby. Oh and hello, there's a VOODOO DEVIL walking around hassling people. Plus, you know, Stevie Nicks. That definitely happened. I want to live in this episode basically.
So now, feel free to lean onto a fainting couch with a wistful, tear-streaked smile as I sing you a ballad. Because I want to talk about this episode!
We picked up where the last episode left off: Fiona offering safe haven to Marie Laveau after Hank ran into Cornrow City and shot EVERYBODY. But instead of immediately planning some major revenge on the witch hunters, the ladies just enjoyed a mellow cup of booze tea and Marie Laveau admitted that this was the first time in a long time she'd felt powerless and that feeling was very embarrassing to her.
Because bad people turning friendly is one of my very favorite things that ever happens on a TV show, I obviously loved this scene so much. It was poignant as h*ck and filmed in one of those cool single-takes where we only saw Fiona in the mirror and whatnot. Basically we were only 30 seconds in and this episode was already high art.
And then the voodoo devil showed up to do coke and wake up Marie Laveau! Very typical behavior from the coke-snorting voodoo devil. That is honestly my main reason for not wanting to ever hang around the voodoo devil. Do NOT do coke and then wake me up. That is one of my main rules.
Oh and get this: The voodoo devil (whose name was probably Papa Legba but it was hard to tell because of how hard I was laughing anytime somebody said it out loud) was played by Lance Reddick from Lost and Fringe and this very fact just continued AHS' amazing streak of casting super respectable people (who don't really do comedy) for crazy comedic roles. I don't know what it is about seeing very serious dramatic actors do comedy, but they are usually the best SNL hosts and they also do the best job at playing voodoo practitioners on American Horror Story. I never in my life dreamed I'd get to see Lance Reddick in full-on voodoo devil garb snorting coke and stealing babies but just because you haven't dreamed a dream doesn't mean it won't come true.
Anyway, Papa Legba wanted something from Marie Laveau! So the next thing we knew she was at the hospital (their lightbulbs were already failing again, this hospital needs to fire its handymen for sure) and she was prowling around the newborn ICU with hungry eyes.
Haha we saw a bunch of new voodoo tricks and tactics in this episode. That blowing-powder-in-peoples'-faces one is the oldest trick in the voodoo book, I'm surprised we hadn't seen it yet. Anyway, so then Marie Laveau stole a baby.
But Marie Laveau's voodoo errands didn't exactly go as planned!
Two men showed up and tried to stop her. And then this happened:
That's right, Marie Laveau waggled her tongue at them and they shot each other! It was truly remarkable. Meanwhile baby was like, "Whaaaaat?"
No but for real, Marie Laveau said "shut up" to a baby. I don't know how this season will end but if it doesn't end with Marie Laveau running for president and winning I will be very disappointed. Marie Laveau gets it.
I also am not sure where Marie Laveau got all her outfits. Did she bring an overnight bag? Anyway, not important. The next morning she and Fiona and Cordelia finally put their heads together about what had gone down at the salon. Personally I had assumed that Queenie was still alive since we didn't get a definitive statement about that in the previous episode, but we didn't get one in this episode either. On the other hand, wouldn't Marie Laveau have known FOR SURE about who was still alive from the shoot-out, and if Queenie was still alive, wouldn't she have told Fiona and the others? But then again Marie Laveau is her own person and how dare I second-guess her.
I really loved this part:
HAHAH Marie Laveau admitted she'd paid Cordelia's husband to murder them all and Fiona got SO MAD at Cordelia. Which, honestly, fair enough. Fiona said what we were all thinking: Cordelia was a dummy.
I liked this tiny moment when Marie Laveau sort of intervened in this tussle and helped Cordelia up and told Fiona to chill. You know things are going great in the coven when a frequently reprehensible voodoo woman is the voice of reason.
So then we got into the main thing about this episode (and the rest of the season?): Just who the heck is the next supreme? I guess at this point everyone assumed it was Misty Day (LOL), so to reward her for this assumption Fiona arranged a visit from "the White Witch."
HAHAH OH boy. Part of me thought this whole cameo thing was kiiinda lame sorry, but it's true. Just so on-the-nose! Like, it was already funny that this show was implying that Stevie Nicks was a real witch, so to bring her in like this felt really jarring and obvious. But on the other hand, WOW. So fun. Stevie Nicks AS HERSELF singing both "Rhiannon" and "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" Sign me up. I would've preferred a full-on, bring-the-house down rendition of "Edge of Seventeen," sort of a centerpiece musical number like "The Name Game" last season, but oh well. I'll take what I can get.
Then Stevie Nicks gave Misty Day (LOL) one of her best shawls! Just a truly witchy moment. Also there was a bit where Madison, Zoe, and Nan came in and frowned at Stevie Nicks' old timey ways and Madison asked Fiona if she could get Eminem to come in next and Fiona replied "Marshall? You're not his type." A statement that was laced with just enough jealous glee that I have to assume Fiona has f**ked Eminem.
Anyway, then the remaining three students at the academy started bickering about which of them had the most powers (and might therefore become supreme) and Nan revealed that she could control peoples' minds.
I mean, yeah. This happened, this definitely happened. Nan almost forced Madison to shove a newly snuffed cigarette into her business. I'm telling you, Nan was a real rascal in this episode!
So yeah, at this point it became clear that suddenly EVERYBODY wanted to be supreme and now a battle was brewing. What was the old Alien vs. Predator tagline? Whoever wins we lose? This is like that but the opposite.
Haha okay, so here we go. Fiona and Marie Laveau finally teamed up to take down the witch hunters. It involved a maze (painted white obvs), live mice and TONS of cash. I guess I always knew that witchcraft was difficult but I had no idea it was also VERY expensive.
Meanwhile Fiona was still super steamed at Cordelia for marrying a witch hunter and it was clear that a rift was forming between them:
Whoops! Hadn't Fiona learned her lesson about creating enemies out of your loved ones? Cordelia was getting told off right and left in this episode. She did kind of deserve it, but on the other hand, maybe don't create a blood feud with another witch? That's my tip of the day.
Anyway, the Witch Mission: Impossible scheme went off without a hitch!
It was actually a very cool sequence, filmed in a very cool way, drawing a parallel between mice in a maze and also federal agents invading the witch hunter headquarters and stealing all their paperwork. I am not sure if that's a metaphor or whatever, but who cares. It worked immediately. The company lost all their money! The main dude immediately knew witches were behind it and he vowed to get even, but still. It seemed like the witch hunters were taken down super easily. Better luck next time you buncha goons.
Then Fiona collapsed because oh yeah, she's still dying. Classic Fiona!
So then here was another thing I forgot about over the holidays: Patti LuPone murdered her very attractive son! I only remembered this when Nan and Zoe showed up to bring him a single white balloon and the nurse had bad news.
I was so sad. But then I remembered that people on this show never die, and Nan remembered that too. She didn't even seem bummed at all, it was more a matter of finding that body (that body!) and letting Misty Day (LOL) do her thing.
I liked this part where Marie Laveau tried to nurse Fiona back to health using voodoo and, I don't know, pot smoke? She was really mean about it ("I'm not done with you yet") but I still felt very heartwarmed.
That's when Fiona finally asked about how Marie Laveau came to be immortal. And we got answers! It turned out that Marie Laveau was 300 years old and she'd become super powerful at voodoo and asked Papa Legba for eternal youth and Papa Legba was like, "Yeah totes" BUT there were strings attached.
So yeah, I guess Marie Laveau had had a baby once and Papa Legba totally jacked it. And now every year since then she owes him an innocent soul. I guess that partly explains Marie Laveau's 'tude, but I would argue she was also just born amazing.
I'm frankly shocked we hadn't gotten a full-on unbroken pan shot of a jazz funeral before this episode, but now we have! But the punchline was the best: Just two wobbly legged white witches eating barbecue and gossiping at the back of the line. What a weird combination Madison and Misty Day (LOL) were! Ever since we'd heard Madison declare war on Misty Day (LOL) we knew she was up to no good, but her plan ended up being even more hilarious than I expected!
First she woke up the dead guy:
And there you have it! Madison knocked Misty Day (LOL) in the head with a brick, pushed her into a casket, stole Stevie Nicks' shawl, and ordered the casket to be sealed in a grave. A perfect plan executed with utmost precision. Obviously Misty Day (LOL) will be back for a reckoning, but this scene was so hilarious that Madison definitely deserves her momentary victory.
But with every victory there is loss. And in the case of Nan, she discovered that she couldn't resurrect the cute boy next door because he had been CREMATED.
I mean, obviously Patti LuPone was very evil and terrible, so it was hard to feel too bad for her when Nan made her do this:
Meanwhile Zoe was pinned to a door just kind of half-heartedly trying to stop things. But please, nobody wanted to stop Patti LuPone from drinking bleach. Not after what she did to that sweet boy and his poor, poor butt!
This was one of those classic AHS scenes where you're just like, "I have no idea what is going on here and I hope it lasts forever." Myrtle was just playing her theremin in the garden room (?) and Cordelia was super sick of it and Myrtle told her to stop "being a hater." And then Myrtle REALLY ripped Cordelia a new one.
Hahaha ever since Myrtle came back from the dead she has not had a single f*ck to give, so in this case she basically told Cordelia to stop complaining about being useless because she just IS useless deal w/it. Obviously this made Cordelia so mad that she started throwing flower pots on the ground and crying, which in my opinion is not the best way to prove that you're good at life. But the takeaway for me was that this was what she needed to get her act together and finally throw her hat into the ring to be supreme. Right? I don't know. I miss Blind Cordelia, that character had a lot more pizzazz.
Speaking of pizzazz, Fiona was upstairs cutting lines of pizzazz in order to lure Papa Legba into her boudoir.
And it worked! He showed right up and started scraping up that coke with his coke nails. But when Fiona tried to cut a deal with him he informed her that it wasn't going to work out.
Fiona didn't have a soul! Whoops, that was quite an oversight. Where'd your soul go, Fiona? Did it slip between the couch cushions? Where did you last see it? Retrace your steps. Anyway, Fiona would not be making a deal with the voodoo devil this day.
Just when it looked like Fiona would be super bummed for the rest of the day, her boo showed up to say 'Boo'. Because he's a ghost.
And that's when Fiona had an A-HA! moment.
Haha yep, that's her new plan! The only way she can stave off aging is to murder everybody around her from now on. Just kill all the witches. It is a good and perfect plan and it'll probably go really well.
The next day Nan found a baby in the closet.
It was Marie Laveau's baby obviously, and she proved it by saying "check the skin tone." I know it's pretty difficult for a TV show to be nominated for an Oscar, but when the nominations are announced I hope Angela Bassett gets one for this show. She is doing everything right now. I heard that in all the acting classes everywhere the teachers just put on tapes of this show and sit quietly while the students LEARN. Angela Bassett is creating a better future is what I'm trying to say.
Anyway, she got the baby back from Nan and it seemed like her heart had softened toward the child, so she openly wished she could keep the baby and give Papa Legba some other "innocent soul."
OMG they drowned Nan! Nan probably should've known this would happen, but still. Farewell, Nan! Go find your hunk in voodoo hell. Because OH YEAH, she went to voodoo hell.
Man, was this crazy. First of all, just the sight of Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett teaming up to drown a woman with Down Syndrome was really something else. But then the voodoo devil shows up and leads her to voodoo hell? In my opinion this is a strange show, but then again, so is life.
Oh, and the whole time that was going on, Stevie Nicks was just chilling downstairs. WHAT was she doing? Probably looking up Lindsey Buckingham on Facebook or something. Oh, also singing Stevie Nicks songs on the piano, obviously.
The song was a very good and poignant rendition of "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" and I think we were meant to believe that Fiona has felt neglected in her life because nobody loves her or something. But then again she had just murdered a really nice person in cold blood and is rotten to her very core, but still. The sight of her just weeping on that fainting couch was extremely moving to me. I can't believe Jessica Lange only has one more season left in her. She is so good even in these tiny moments when she is overshadowed by on-the-nose cameos. So good.
"The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks" was a series highlight, trust me. It is one of the classics. It thinned out some subplots, it reduced the character roster, it galvanized everybody's motives, it introduced a voodoo devil, it featured Angela Bassett doing a voodoo tongue-wag scream, and also it featured Stevie Nicks as herself as a witch. That is some A+ with extra credit gold star work from American Horror Story. And most of it has happened to me for real! I'll explain later.
... Your current pick for next supreme?
... Will Fiona and Marie Laveau be best friends forever?
... How do you think Madame LaLaurie spent her day?
... But seriously, that baby needed to shut up, right?
AIRED ON 1/13/2016
Season 5 : Episode 12