Last week we assembled the coven, so this week it’s time to start casting spells: two of them in fact. Plus: Fiona (Jessica Lange) gets her hair did.
Let’s bitch it out…‘Boy Parts’ is written by one of my favourite writers, Tim Minear so I went into the second episode of Coven with some fairly high hopes. Unfortunately it’s not quite the success story that I was hoping for, possibly because there’s still too much groundwork to be laid.
After two episodes, I’ve figured out that there’s another factor limiting my enjoyment of the show: location. Unlike the Murder House of S1 and Briarcliff of S2, Coven doesn’t have a fixed location (or it has a less tangible one) and I’m beginning to wonder if the freedom to move around is affecting the show. Thus far I have yet to create a good sense of the geography of this world. How far away from Miss Robichaux’s Academy is Misty Day’s (Lily Rabe) cabin in the swamp? Is Marie Laveau’s (Angela Bassett) hair salon in the same neighbourhood as Madame LaLaurie’s (Kathy Bates) home? It’s important to know because the plot is still jumping all over the place as different characters do different things, but they seem to be operating in completely different worlds. I appreciate that AHS is no stranger to non-linear storytelling, but this is different: it feels like we’re actually watching an anthology of different stories within a single season as everyone goes off on their own completely unrelated adventures.
For example, after casting the resurrection spell at the New Orleans morgue, what happens to Madison (Emma Roberts)? She leaves Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) behind so that boring McSnoozey can check on Kyle (Evan Peters), but then Madison isn’t seen again for the remainder of the episode. Ditto Queenie (Gabourey Sibide) who gets brained by LaLaurie and similarly also disappears from the remainder of ‘Boy Parts’. Whole plotlines are seemingly taking place on their own and while one explanation is that time operates differently for witches, a lot of this simply smacks of poor storytelling. (Side Note: Another explanation is that the episode breaks themselves are coming are random moments, so there’s a lack of closure, meaning the episode simply ends – no closure, no anticipation for next week)
Thankfully the crazy is still driving this tale and there’s plenty to go around. Between the hasty decision to make a brand new perfect boyfriend from a variety of parts (plus pledging fidelity to Satan!), a charming pregnancy spell involving black eyes and snakes in dirty bits and letting a notorious murderer like Madam LaLaurie wander around town without restraint, the ladies of Robichaux are acting like a bunch of damned fools. At this point only Fiona (Jessica Lange) and Nan (Jaime Brewer) seem to have their heads screwed on right and that’s just because Fiona can spit or toss people out of her way in any situation (Nan is clearly just awesome because she’s so matter of fact).
My issue – and I recognize that this may be premature given that we’re only two episodes in – is that I have no idea where any of this is going. I’m not talking about narrative twists and blindsides; I’m talking about seemingly directionless storytelling. We know that witches are being hunted, but is that just in the general sense (a la Misty Day’s burning by fearful locals) or is it a more concerted effort to extinguish the witch line? From Fiona’s (bitchily delicious) conversation with Laveau, there’s a clear animosity between witches and voodoo practitioners so is this where we should anticipate conflict is brewing? At this point it’s just not clear what story AHS: Coven wants to tell, or even what themes it wants to explore. All I know is that cray-cray stuff is happening, the younger cast alternates between annoying (Zoe) and impulsively stupid (Madison) and Sarah Paulson seems stuck in some discarded plot from Lifetime’s guilty pleasure witch drama, Witches Of East End.
Basically I want some of this to pull together. Or maybe for Fiona to trip out and dance. Clearly Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac is a popular choice….
- Minear often has a penchant for catchy dialogue and ‘Boy Parts’ is no exception. Check out my favourites below, or just rewatch the entire scene between Lange and Bassett, who either look ready to set each other ablaze or get into a catfight worthy of Dynasty. Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate that this scene is set in a shitty hair salon? Because awesome
- I’ll admit that I was not expecting the Minotaur to still be kicking around in the present day. I’m intrigued to see how he’ll play into things
- Angela Bassett’s entire modern day voodoo wardrobe is 80s inspired and I LOVE IT. That bright blue jumpsuit? Yes, please!
- Side Note: Was anyone expecting Fiona’s hair to come out when Laveau was working on it? I was sure we would see a physical representation of Fiona’s desperation to stay young, although I guess she did just eat the doctor in the premiere
- This week we find out the remainder of the backstory between LaLaurie and Laveau: The voodoo priestess cursed LaLaurie to live forever without her family, whom Laveau kills. Everything about this part of Coven is strange because it’s unclear who we should root for. LaLaurie is clearly a despicable person (this is actually verbalized by Fiona who suggests that if even 10% of the stories are true, LaLaurie deserved everything she got). And yet, Laveau isn’t exactly sympathetic either. And Fiona is basically treating LaLaurie as a slave, ordering her back to Robichaux’s wth disdain and contempt. None of these women is particularly cheer-worthy
- While I can’t say I’m particularly invested in either the resurrection story or Cordelia’s inability to get pregnant, both plots are refreshing if only because they’re basically anthems for “women doing it for themselves.” Sure Cordelia needs to be talked into doing the spell by her husband (boyfriend?), but both situations are essentially women taking control of sexual situations with their “magic” (read into that symbolism what you will, though the fire and serpents in Cordeia’s sex scene don’t require Freudian levels of interpretation to figure out). Just to be clear both of these spells are destined to become epic clusterf*cks. It’s just a question of which is the bigger screw-up
- Finally, our “how you came to Robichaux” flashback this week belongs to Queenie. We learn that she deep frieded a belligerent customer’s arm when he argued with her at a fast food venue in Detroit. I prefer the Bon Qui Qui response myself, but then again if I were a human voodoo doll, I might be inclined to dig up a few deep fryers myself
- Queenie (to the group): “I grew up on white girl shit like Charmed and Sabrina, the teenage cracker”
- Fiona (to Zoe, about the cops): “I couldn’t toast a piece of bread with the heat they had on you”
- Fiona (eating chicken while LaLaurie relates her family’s murder): “I’m sorry for your loss.”
- Fiona (leaving Laveau’s): “Maybe in another century you could have two shithole salons”
Your turn: are you yearning for a bit more unity in the storylines or am I off track? Who are you cheering for: Fiona, LaLaurie or Laveau? Do you wish Zoe would crawl under a rock? Which is going to cause the most trouble: the resurrected Kyle storyline or the serpentine pregnancy? And why wouldn’t Zoe just invite Misty Day to join her at the Academy since she’s clearly so desperate for company? Offer your thoughts below
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX