Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ Wrong

“It's my dance, and I have performed it with finesse and abandon with countless partners.” — Fiona Goode

“I always respect a good, hard slap.” — Fiona Goode

People, I have found the Seven Wonders, and they are all in this show. After two already-bonkers episodes, this latest installment — written by James Wong, who wrote “Home,” arguably the craziest episode of The X-Files — upped the ante even further, giving us at least three murders and a chance for every actress to shine bright like a cigarette. Let us proceed.

Whatever you do, do not show Fiona Goode an Activia commercial. Girlfriend is not having this aging thing. Her sleepless nights of black negligees, pills, and booze make her flash back to her own Supreme teacher, Anna Leigh Leighton — played by none other than Stage Priestess Christine Ebersole (in a costume that is half Grey Gardens, half The Secret Garden). Anna Leigh explains that she was pronounced Supreme “unanimously” upon performing the “Seven Wonders” for her predecessor, who is a dead ringer for Sally Bowles. However, the young Fiona, rebellious choker and all, is tired of waiting to be Supreme — a title for which Anna Leigh insists she is not ready. All the same, Fiona slits Anna Leigh’s throat and stares down a young Spalding with the best line reading ever of “Cat got your tongue?” (If you ever wanted to know what Denis O’Hare would look like playing Blaine on Glee, you’re in luck.) Also, where in God’s name is Alison Lohman? Because we all know from the movie Big Fish that if you’re going to get someone to play Young Jessica Lange, it should be Alison Lohman.

Woe to any girl who exhibits those Seven Wondrous powers — as our favorite Lindsay Lohan sheath dress collector, Madison, finds out the hard way. She, Queenie, and Nan watch as their new next-door neighbors move in: Theater Priestess #2 Patti LuPone as Joan Ramsey, in a patterned dress and clipped words (“Baked. Goods.”); and her son, Luke (hello, Alexander Dreymon), who peels off his shirt like the hottie in the “Call Me Maybe” video. Later, an adorably flirty (and, by her own admission, non-virginal) Nan welcomes Luke to the street with a cake she’s baked — and captures his attention. Meanwhile, Madison tries her best pick-up lines and falls hilariously flat. (The look that Nan gives Madison after her “package” double entendre is magic in and of itself.) Upset when Joan enters and tries to shoo them away with some Bible-thumping harrumphs, Madison first casts a knife at her, then, unwittingly, sets Joan’s curtains ablaze.

When Joan confronts Fiona about the attack, she waits a minute into the conversation before addressing Madison’s arson. Way to bury the lede, Joan. (“I always bring a copy of the Good Book whenever I come into someone’s house for the first time,” Patti says upon her arrival, and by “Good Book” I assume she means Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat.) Fiona, sniffing out her competition, then and there takes on Madison as a supposed “mentee.” 

Over al fresco mimosas, Madison reveals that her horrible stage mother was more or less something that rhymes with “Dina Lohan.” Then, Fiona tests her protégée’s powers of persuasion by encouraging Madison to lead an unsuspecting dude into traffic. When the attempt is successful, Madison wonders if it’s her powers or Fiona’s that worked — while Fiona gives the Death Stare to End All Death Stares. If I were Emma Roberts and had to act opposite that thing, I would hide under the table like a fourth-grader in an earthquake drill.

After getting Madison wildly wasted in a montage of billiards, buffoons, and pouring one out for the homies, Fiona takes her back home for a history lesson on Supreme portraiture — and on the “life force”–sucking fact of Madison’s proximity, which is causing Fiona to get cancer. Fiona produces the dagger with which she killed Anna Leigh, beseeching Madison to finish her off. But after the struggle that ensues, it’s Madison whose blood pools on the floor as Spalding stands by, déjà vu–style. “This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme. It needs a new rug,” Fiona says, just before asking Spalding to bury the body. Could someone just start a Twitter account and/or holiday quilt of Jessica Lange’s lines? Please and thank you. And although I lament Madison’s early passing, I have a feeling that she’ll come back in some fashion — literally.

Apparently, if you’re a dude, all it takes to have Zoe the Black Widow Killer, Misty the Stevie Nicks Fanatic, and Mare “Mama Alicia” Winningham lust after you is to be a patchwork monster of spare frat-boy parts. Zoe, after visiting Alicia and watching her spliff-smoke her sorrows, drops by Eat at Misty’s Love Shack and retrieves FrankenKyle — while Misty pleads in love and horror for him to stay. (Incidentally, that is exactly how I’d react if someone interrupted Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara,” the best song ever.) Misty, continually searching for her “tribe,” claims that Zoe won’t come back for her, then gloriously Stevie-spins. Meanwhile, Zoe deposits FrankenKyle back at his Ninth Ward hovel.

But this is, um, maybe not the best move, considering that Alicia — whose husband left years ago and who was just about to hang herself when Zoe called her — has been raping her son for years. In fact, she notices how much he’s changed only after she gets a glimpse of him in the shower. After Alicia tries grinding against him, FrankenKyle finally has enough and bludgeons her to death with a trophy. Zoe, just dropping by, comes upon the scene and tries to leave before running into a blood-drenched FrankenKyle. 

In the best comedic subplot thus far, “Delphine” is not, shall we say, adjusting all that well to the present day. She weeps at seeing footage of Obama’s second-term acceptance speech, and then, in what I assume is a genius nod to the Paula Deen fracas, is forced by an annoyed Fiona to serve as maid to the girls — especially to Queenie. “There is nothing I hate … more … than a racist,” Fiona deliciously deadpans. (Extra points are awarded for the recreation of Kathy Bates’s spectral appearance as an apron-wearing, cake-serving waitress at the end of Misery.) Delphine refuses, throwing Queenie’s plate of food against the wall, but things change once the Minotaur shows up …

Oh, you know the myth of the Minotaur, right? It’s Ovid’s classic tale of a slave-houseboy forced to wear the head of a decapitated bull who, 180 years later, plays Knock-Knock at a witch school and gets propositioned in an occult nursery by a masturbatory Gabourey Sidibe. Queenie, after hearing the reason for Bastien the Minotaur’s punishment (“He was a beast in life,” Delphine sneers), recognizes a similar outcast sensibility and tries to seduce him. But after seemingly accepting her advances, Bastien violently claps his hoof-hand over her mouth. I really hope that he is simply kidnapping her to join the House of Laveau — if not, I gladly volunteer to go in her stead — because we all need more Gabby Sidibe in our lives. (It’s a nice touch that we see Queenie’s reflection in Bastien’s eye during the attack; Fiona tells us earlier in the episode that seeing her own reflection in her father’s eye revealed her power over men.)

Speaking of the House of Laveau, how much is Angela Bassett straight-up killing it this season? “You want a Coca-Cola?” she says to Delia, while sounding like Britney Spears in “Work[,] B*tch.” Marie Laveau sits on her Goonies-like throne and plays Solitaire on her iPad as Delia asks for her help in conceiving. We then get a mind-boggling hallucination of a voodoo potion that looks like a revival of the musical Once on This Island directed by Rob Zombie. I didn’t even know that you could show the sight of “two ounces of your husband’s baby gravy in a mason jar” on cable TV. (You know that they totally sell this at Whole Foods in Brooklyn.) After last week’s serpent séance, Sarah Paulson clearly wins this season’s Weird Sex MVP Award, what with the deluge of goat blood poured on her in this sequence. 

Marie Laveau, however, is not willing to help even if Delia scrounges up the $50,000 normally required for such a procedure. In an extended laugh as ripe as a Mariah Carey melisma, Marie Laveau informs Delia that she already told off Fiona — something that Delia didn’t even know.

Overall, these grandes dames are reigning supreme, none more so than the Reigning Supreme. What did you think, dear readers? If you had to name the Seven Wonders, what would they be? When and how will Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone duet? Can anyone dress a swan song up in Chanel like Jessica “I Was a Shitty Supreme” Lange? And lastly, any guesses as to what comes up in the spring if you bury Madison Montgomery in your backyard? I don’t think it’s a Cabbage Patch Kid.

Bonus Round: Please post your favorite Fiona Goode line from this episode below.