Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: American Horror Story: Coven "The Replacements"

Non Spoiler Review:
The Replacements finds Fiona considering her future as the supreme, and who might be the rising star that could displace her. Zoe tries to rectify the Kyle situation by visiting his distraught mother. The girls are intrigued by an attractive new neighbour. Delphine has difficulty adjusting to her new position.

The Replacements wasn't much scary this week, but more than made up for it with disturbing and icky scenes dealing with revelations about Kyle's home life. Who is getting replaced? That would be Fiona, who suddenly realizes her days as the supreme may be numbered. Zoe tries to replace Kyle for his mother. Patti Lupone joins the cast as an extremely religious potential adversary for Fiona. 

This was the weakest of the episodes to date, with two plot developments that could be seen coming right from the start. However, The Replacements was full of snappy one-liners and plenty of dark humour and still offered much to entertain.

Spoilers Now!
New Orleans, 1971. A younger Fiona chats with her predecessor Anna, asking when she realized she was the supreme. Anna explains that by the time she was Fiona's age she had already manifested multiple gifts, but the mastery of the seven wonders is what makes one the supreme. Fiona feels she's ready and wants to be tested, but Anna refuses. Fiona then points out that when one supreme begins to flower, the old one fades, and she can see that Anna is already growing older and weaker as she gets stronger. Incensed, Anna declares she's foreseen that Fiona will ruin the coven and vows to make it her mission to ensure she never takes the throne. Fiona cuts her throat, and finds Spalding watching from the doorway. In the present, Fiona muses over Anna's painting in the gallery, considering who might be her successor. She finds Spalding watching and asks if the cat has his tongue.

Zoe visits Kyle's mother, Alicia. The troubled woman asks to share something with her—she had been about to hang herself when Zoe called her and is grateful she came by. Zoe then heads to the cabin where Misty is still listening to Stevie Nicks and Kyle remains in a daze. Misty is pleased to see her and shows her how Kyle's scars have healed. He touches Zoe's hair but says nothing. Zoe needs to take Kyle home given his mother is a wreck but Misty doesn't want either of them to leave. Zoe promises to return, but Misty doesn't believe her. 

Delphine is still adjusting to the modern age, and is mortified that the magic TV box is showing a black president. Fiona inform her she's the new maid, unless she wants to go back in the box. When Delphine brings the girls their food she refuses to tolerate Queenie's backtalk. Instead she tosses her food on the floor. Fiona intervenes before Queenie can attack her and advises her Delphine is now Queenie's personal slave. There's nothing she hates more than a racist, she snaps.

Queenie, Nan and Madison watch some new neighbours move in next door, including the young handsome son unloading the truck. His mother shows up to tell him to put on a shirt. The trio show up at their house with a cake, greeting Luke who lets them in. Madison starts flirting right away, but he isn't as interested in Madison as she'd like him to be. His mother Joan arrives to tell them they're already late for Bible study and will take the cake to share. Madison informs them their religion is a crock, quickly enraging the devout Joan, who grabs her wrist holding the cake knife, which flies into the wall. She orders them out of the house, and as they leave the drapes catch fire, as much to Madison's surprise as the others.

Realizing her beauty is fading, Fiona reluctantly sees a plastic surgeon, insisting on watching the video of how they will cut her up. However when she has her blood work done up the results come as a shock. She's in no condition for any elective surgery and her immune system is in free fall. Meanwhile Delia is back at the doctor following the failure of her alternative methods. The doctor has reviewed her own blood work and breaks the news that she just can't have a baby. 

Zoe drives Kyle back home and leaves him on his mother's porch. Alicia screams and embraces him as she watches from afar. Later, Alicia puts him to bed but asks him how his body can be so different as she saw him in the shower. He looks like someone else and she doesn't understand how that could be. But that doesn't matter, she says, and proceeds to kiss him (!).

Back at the school Fiona is having a drink as Spalding brings in Joan Ramsay from next door. Joan offers her a Bible and isn't sure what her school is but two of her girls invaded her property. Fiona has no patience for Bible thumpers or their hypocrisy towards sex. Joan warns her she'll call the police next time and charge them with assault and arson. That piques Fiona's interest. Madison arrives and mocks Joan, but once she leaves Fiona asks Madison if she has a light. Madison is able to use her new fire abilities to ignite her cigarette. Fiona suggests they talk.

Delia visits Marie's salon with an appointment to consult about her fertility problem. She's led to the backroom where Marie sits on her alligator throne. Delia is well aware of the potions she's capable of and her particular fertility spell that is always successful. But it's no walk in the park, Marie explains, going into detail of the elaborate ritual. It must be during the new moon and will cost $50,000 cash. Delia is committed, but Marie just laughs at her—she has no intention of performing the spell given she's the daughter of her sworn enemy. The damage is already done, Marie explains. Fiona has messed with the wrong witch. Delia didn't know her mother was already there. 

Fiona and Madison have lunch. She asks if Madison has always known she was special. Fiona muses that she has so much to give and so much to teach, regretting being a bad mother to Delia. Madison wants to learn. Self-preservation is the most primal instinct, Fiona explains, and wonders what it will take to make someone disregard that. She gets Madison to enchant a pedestrian to believe he's safe in the street. The man walks out and stops as cars veer around him, but Madison doesn't know if she did that or Fiona. 

Queenie is enjoying Delphine's servitude when the older woman sees something in the window. She's horrified when she realizes it's Bastian, the minotaur. Delphine panics and locks the door and it bangs its head against it, frightening both. Delphine explains who it is and reveals her own identity. Queenie remembers her story from the house tour and is outraged at all the things she's heard about Delphine. Delphine begs her for mercy so Queenie tells her to go hide but first cuts her hand with a knife, taking some blood on a napkin. She goes outside with it. 

Queenie approaches the beast and leads him with the bloody napkin. She tells him he's not a beast. She's been called the same. Both of them deserve love like everyone else. Bastian comes closer and caresses her, then covers her mouth.

Zoe gets a call from Alicia, who explains Kyle is back, but it's not really him. She heads right over. Alicia tells Kyle that Zoe is joining them for dinner. Kyle is sitting on the floor in silence. Alicia admits she's possessive and it's time for Kyle to move on with his life and she's pleased he's met someone like Zoe. But she presses him about his new body. She knows his body, she maintains. No one knows him like she does. Kyle flips out and hits her with a football trophy, then proceeds to beat her to death. Zoe shows up to the dark house for dinner to find the door open and Alicia's body, then faces Kyle covered in blood.

Fiona and Madison play pool at a bar while attracting the attention of several men. Fiona can see herself in Madison's face. As Madison gets drunk, Fiona dumps out her glass, and when they return home and walk through the gallery, she advises Madison to get her portrait painted when she's young. She tells the girl that she is the next supreme, and Fiona's time is up. Madison is killing her—her powers are growing and Fiona is the source. Her life force is pouring out of her into Madison and now Fiona has cancer and will last a year at best. But she maintains she'll go out in style.

Fiona confesses she took her inheritance too soon and squandered it. She was a shitty supreme. Her mentor Anna was majestic and powerful and taught her everything she knew, but she thanked her by cutting her throat. And she's kept the knife, which she takes out. She gives it to a frightened Madison, telling her to kill her for the sake of the coven. A frantic Madison refuses, and Fiona continues to scream at her to do it, then abruptly cuts the younger girl's throat. Spalding watches from the doorway again as Fiona stares at the blood on her hands. He comes in with a handkerchief for her to clean up. Fiona tells him to bury her deep, and adds, "This coven doesn't need a new supreme, it needs a new rug."

The Verdict:
The Replacements delved into the more seedy aspects of matters, with Kyle's home life exposed, and Zoe's best of intentions leading to the inevitable death of Alicia. The same can be said for Madison, who had a target on her back the moment she lit Fiona's cigarette. I do like that the writers toyed with the audience by illiciting so much sympathy in the first scene with Alicia before showing the true horror of what Kyle's life has been like with her as a mother.

The Ramsays will likely shake things up a bit, but whether Joan can be anything more than their nosy neighbour remains to be seen. She's definitely more of a caricature than a character at this point.

Delphine's adjustment to modern life was hilarious, including her mortified first look at Barack Obama. Throwing her in with Queenie made for additional laughs, but I'm not sure if we're going to see any evolution in Delphine's temperament to make her more sympathetic or not. She's a wild card as to where she may end up as the series progresses. As for Queenie, I can see her being drawn over to Marie's side soon enough, unless her dalliance with Bastian puts her on Marie's bad side.

I don't recall Marie having such an over the top accent in the last two weeks, but she certainly got to have a juicy scene here. One wonders if Marie's tribe suffers the same passing of the torch as the Salem witches when it comes to the supreme, and if someone might be out to replace her too. Yet she's apparently immortal, so that may not be the case.

We're left with a few mysteries, such as what the seven wonders might be, and will Delia get to go through with her baby spell by perhaps betraying her mother? With Maddie gone, who is the new supreme-in-waiting? Zoe seems the easy choice, but Misty Day is a possibility.

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