Alice Rush reviews the fourth episode of American Horror Story: Coven…
Halloween episodes of American Horror Story have always proven to be some of the best. I guess there’s something about this time of year that perfectly fits with twisted tales of horror and gore. This week’s episode ‘Fearful Pranks Ensue’ proved to be a true gem in the show’s gilded crown as we were treated to a typically frightful and eventful Halloween and it finally felt like Coven is starting to hit its stride.
Most of the episode was concerned with the outfall of Madison’s death at the hands of Fiona as we saw last week. Having lost her ability to hear her thoughts, Nan summoned Myrtle (Frances Conroy) and the rest of the witching council to the Academy and they began interviews attempting to get to the bottom of what happened. Interspersed with this action were flashbacks to 1971 which showed a parallel of the council interviewing a young Fiona about the death of Anna Lee and proclaiming her the new Supreme. Suspecting of her lies and deception, a young Myrtle is shown to have bewitched Spalding to speak the truth about Anna Lee’s death, but it transpires he cut his own tongue out to ensure he could keep Fiona’s secret. Cute, but also kind of creepy, especially as we see later on in the episode that the doll obsessed butler has actually kept Madison’s corpse in his room for his own devices. Yikes.
The council meeting also provided the platform for Cordelia to come forward and admit that Madison was not in fact the next Supreme, as the new leader must have perfect health and Madison had a heart condition. So this leaves the door open for a new Supreme to show herself. Zoe seems to be the obvious choice, but I’m hoping for more twists to come in this story.
The feud between the coven and the voodoo witches at last reached a new level of danger this week with Fiona decapitating Laveau’s minotaur after it attacked Queenie and sending her the severed head. Completely disgusted and offended, Laveau shatters the truce we saw her make with Anna Lee in the past, and concocts a powerful ritual to raise the dead and wreak havoc upon the Academy. It finally feels that the show is starting to pick up the pace, and the scene is being set ready for the inevitable show down between the warring witches.
Off the main storyline this week was Zoe’s continuing helplessness over what to do with Kyle after we saw him murder his mother last week. At one point in the episode she even considers poisoning him to put him out of his obvious misery, until she finds out he has escaped the house and is loose on the town covered head to toe in blood. Well, at least he’ll fit in with the Halloween festivities.
Another random off shot storyline was Cordelia’s husband who is revealed to not only be an adulterer, but also a murderer. We see him meet up with, seduce and then kill a girl he met online, which begs the question; where did this come from? Even though I support American Horror Story and all its craziness even this seemed a bit out of left field. Is this something he does often? Was it linked at all to the failed fertility spell him and Cordelia tried out? Hopefully we’ll get some answers soon.
Regardless of this, ‘Fearful Pranks Ensue’ was definitely the best episode of Coven yet, and felt like a triumphant return to form for the horror show. Finally it feels as if its picking up speed and finding the true conflict at the heart of the series, and the cliff hanger ending showing Laveau’s army of dead surrounding the unprotected Academy left hearts pounding and the promise of more terrifying treats to come.