‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Recap – ‘The Replacements’ [Spoilers]

The year was 1971, and Fiona Goode (not yet Jessica Lange) was younger, and not nearly as deliciously fabulous/Jessica Lange-ish. Don't get me wrong, she still had a devilish streak. Instead of shipping off to burn her bra with the other students, young Fiona stayed behind for a little one-on-one session with the reigning Supreme, Anna Lee. Less-fab Fiona felt she was ready to take over as Supreme, but Anna Lee didn't quite agree. Fiona then was every bit as strong-willed as Fiona now, and she didn't take too kindly to not getting her way. So she reiterated her intentions, except this time she underscored her enthusiasm with a knife right across Anna Lee's throat. The Supreme is dead, long live the Supreme!

LuponeBack in the present, there's a tall drink of water moving in. Luke Ramsey (played by the hella handsome Alexander Dreymon) is unpacking the truck and taking off his soaking wet shirt and just generally being a literal handsome boy-next-door when his Bible-thumping mother, Joan (Patti LuPone), comes out to remind him to cover up and ruin all of our fun. Clairvoyant Nan (Jamie Brewer) does exactly what I would do if I was a psychic, and reads Luke's mind to find out the perfect dessert to bring over as a welcome gift. Of course, Madison (Emma Roberts) has to be a cake block, and invites herself along to deliver it. Madison comes on a little too strong, upsetting Joan's good Christian values and getting both girls quickly booted from the Ramsey home. On their way out, Madison sets the curtains on fire. But with her mind. (Note: This is the second bit with curtains this season. In the first episode, Myrtle Snow [Frances Conroy] remarks on the drapes in Zoe's house. Not sure if this is a clue, a metaphor or if Ryan Murphy just has a thing for window treatments.)

Madison manifesting new powers means she's at least a very talented witch, but it also could mean she's the next Supreme. That's not good news for the old Supreme. Fiona's recent cancer diagnosis all but confirms that the new Supreme is out there and already draining her power. So, Fiona, realizing the time has come to pass the torch to the next promising young woman, decides to graciously acquiesce her throne and assume the role of advisor and tutor for Madison as she takes her rightful place as the new Supreme.

Just kidding! Fiona gets Madison wasted and then slits her throat in the exact spot with the exact knife she used to kill Anna Lee 40 years ago.

Then she utters one of those perfect Jessica Lange lines as Madison bleeds out on the floor:


It's not only Fiona who struggles with change. Madame LaLaurie (Bates) is having a hard time accepting a black man as President of the United States. She sobs and wails and vows to obstruct any of his proposed legislation and, when that doesn't work, she shuts down the government, but Fiona doesn't tolerate racists. If LaLaurie wishes to remain above ground, she will not only serve as the new housemaid, but she will also be the personal slave of Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe).

Left alone at home one night, LaLaurie catches a glimpse of the Minotaur milling about outside the house. Queenie is all I GOT THIS, and sends LaLaurie off to hide. Queenie lures the Minotaur away, and you think it's because Queenie can't be harmed (right?), but she's got something else in mind. She gives the Minotaur a pretty random speech about not being a beast and just needing love and pick me, choose me, love me and all that sort of nonsense. Then she starts to touch herself Divinyls-style and seduce the Minotaur, who slips behind her before suddenly reaching a hand around her mouth. Oh, no!

Meanwhile, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) still wants a baby, so she visits Laveau (Angela Bassett) for help. Cordelia is all "Hey, buddy, want to do me a solid and conduct a super intense fertilization ritual for me like a real pal?" And Laveau is all, "Sure, I'll totally help you, even though you're the daughter of my sworn enemy who just the other day came in here and burned up all my fancy wigs. Just bring me a mason jar full of your husband's 'baby gravy,' I'll eat a super hot pepper and then slit a goat's throat over your lady business, and you'll be all set." And Cordelia is like "Really?" And Laveau is like "No, dummy, of course I'm not going to do that." So Cordelia's out of baby-making options, and tensions between the Salem witches and the Voodoo witches continue to mount.

In other obviously bad ideas, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) reaches out to the mother of recently undead Kyle (Evan Peters). She goes over for a little visit, and there are a few red flags. Most notably, Mama Spencer is real quick to tell this relative stranger and grieving teenager how she was about to kill herself right before Zoe called. Instead of immediately distancing herself from the emotionally unstable mother of the boy she barely knew, Zoe thinks the best course of action is to trot out the reanimated corpse of her son. Great plan!

Zoe's off to the swampy home of Misty (Lily Rabe) to pick up Kyle, who's been healing up quite nicely. He's still not speaking, but his outward appearance is much improved. Misty is sad to see her snuggle buddy go, but Zoe is convinced he just wants to go home. So, home they go, promising to come back to see Misty real soon, honest. Zoe leaves Kyle like a big ol' present on his front porch, and his mom is just so happy to see him!

Maybe a little too happy? She climbs into bed WITH HER SON and then proceeds to makeout with him. OK, definitely too happy. But then, what? Wait. What is she doing now? No. Nononononono. Noooooo. Ho boy. Yeah, she's definitely giving some … manual stimulation … TO HER SON. Yikes, Ryan Murphy, come on.

Of course, these aren't all Kyle's original parts, and I guess that's pretty noticeable. So Kyle's mom phones up Zoe to tell her something is off about her son (I guess in addition to all the scars and inability to speak). But, by the time Zoe arrives, Mama Spencer tried to rape her son again, and, this time, FrankenKyle bashed her head in while shouting "NO!"

Yowza, you guys, this episode was a doozy. Incest? Pseudo-beastiality? The Death of Madison? I got to say, I'm not convinced Madison was really the next Supreme. They made a point to tell us that to become the Supreme you need to have mastered seven skills, and we only saw Madison utilize a few powers. I like the idea that Fiona could be so frantic about the threat of a new Supreme that she misses the true Supreme blossoming right under her nose — Zoe.

There are lots of easy ways the writers can bring Madison back from the dead, but I'm hoping they don't go that route. A true death adds considerable danger to the show, and, if Madison was not the next Supreme, such a massive miscalculation on Fiona's part could be a great start to her undoing.

Next week: Fiona tries to pin Madison's murder on Laveau, plus the return of Frances Conroy!

What did you guys think of this episode? 

(American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX.)


  1. Dastius Krazitauc says

    It was a great episode, so well written. I just found out the writer was James Wong, who wrote my favorite,”X-Files”, episode, the twisted/campy, “Home”.

    But I think LuPone was miscast. With all the amazing acting going on in this show, you have LuPone just delivering lines. I didn’t feel there was anything behind them character-wise. What if they had added Sissy Spacek to the mix, instead of LuPone?

  2. Lucas H says

    This is my favorite show at the moment, BUT…
    I thought a couple of these scenes were almost laughably silly. Precious and the Minotaur? HAHAHA! Misty Day sadly spinning around to more Fleetwood Mac? HAHAHA! And then the gross-out factor with Kyle and his mom…yuck! But otherwise…
    I loved how we hear Fiona talk about her struggle with getting old, from that jazz scene in a bar to the plastic surgeon’s office. Loved seeing Cordelia get laughed at by Marie Laveau. Loved Madam LaLaurie freaking out over a black President.
    I guess it just wouldn’t be American Horror Story if it wasn’t ridiculously over-the-top at some points. Oh and…that NEIGHBOR! HELLO, neighbor!

  3. RayJackonsMS says

    This episode was slightly better written than the last two but this season just isn’t near the level of the first two. It certainly isn’t most of the actors fault. They’ve been given nothing to work with. Lily Rabe is working the most magic with her character. You occasionally see glimmers of the old Jessica Lang, especially in the last episode. However, no one else has anything to work with. The only two likeable characters are Nan and Misty. The only cohesive story seems to be all witches are born spoiled homicidal brats.

  4. Paul R says

    Lange is remarkable in every scene, but it was such uber camp that I can’t even recall every scene. Because every scene just pushed it so far. That scene with the virgin and monster was too much for me. Who cares, it’s TV.

  5. jersey says

    I suggested this show to coworker of mine last week, after Precious used her buttery fingers to knead her dough I’m afraid my coworker will take me to HR and file a sexual harassment comaint against me.

  6. Moz's says


    the virgin and bull man scene though a scene in a tv show (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar) ……….is symbolic of very old mythos & religions predating judeo-xtian mythos

  7. WHATWHAT says

    This season is getting weaker with every episode, last night’s derailed big time.

    The frankenstein b-storyline is ATROCIOUS, there is no where interesting they can take this. They shoehorned Peters into this season and Farmiga is so weak/annoying and just a dead end character. She kills people with her vajayjay, oooooh, how interesting. Jessica Lange is playing beyotch again, that doesn’t automatically make her fabulous, her character is grating on my nerves so far. Completely unlikable to me and not the kind of villain I want to root for. Paulson is being wasted as well, I don’t care about her fertility problems. The minotaur is stupid and last night’s scene with Precious fingering herself is one of the most embarassing things I have ever seen on television. And the Mare Winningham chester molester mother was equally dumb. Just because it’s shocking doesn’t mean it’s interesting. There’s no context or story, just added for the shock value. Rabe has taken a HUGE step down from her amazing work last season, Misty may become more interesting though, we’ll see. And another one note ridiculous unbelievable character was added last night with Patti Lupone. The dialogue is so obvious and beat you over the head “religious” I couldn’t take anything she was saying seriously. Even the cinamatography and editing is so poor in places. The episodes don’t flow, the tone is off, everything is so scattershot.

    I hope Emma Roberts isn’t dead, one of the few fun characters on this show. Sure, she’s basically playing spoiled brat, but at least she has good lines, unlike the other girls in the house who are all wasted. The highlights so far? Kathy Bates, Emma Roberts, Angela Bassett and Jamie Brewer always livens things up when she’s on screen.

  8. woodroad34 says

    The Kathy Bates/Obama thing was funny…but it was Jessica Lange’s response to Kathy’s hand wringing that I loved…
    “I voted for him…twice”, while lighting a cigarette. And of course, “we don’t need new Supreme, we need a new rug” was just campy horror. I’m waiting for a scene ala “Dream Girls” where everyone is singing like the “Supremes” and Jessica plays the Diana Ross character. And I have to note…Jessica Lange’s sociopathic character is much more nuanced than Jane Lynch’s “Sue Sylvester”, whom I can’t stand to watch and ruins Glee for me.

  9. woodroad34 says

    Oh, and I forgot, I’m waaaaaiiiiting for Patty Lupone to show her true colors. She has to be in the show for a reason — what with Jessica, Kathy and Angela all chewing scenery, Patty’s got to come in at some point and tag-team that wrestling match.

  10. Zlick says

    I’m still enjoying it … but it sure is looking like the weakest season so far. I’m not going to judge the whole thing by 3 episodes, but I hope things pick up soon.

    The tone of uber-obviousness and everything over-the-top was more suited to the asylum thing and does not work as well for me this year, imo.

    I enjoy Jessica Lange, but her character seems just a bitchy repeat of her first season go-round. Oh, and there’s not a single likable character for me so far … so there’s that. Still – – it’s all good fun.

    Oh, yeah, not a bit scary, though. Seems the horror has been slowly draining out of American Horror Story.

  11. William says

    We love Coven more than the others by far, if only for Kathy Bates who is amazing. Asylum was just too dark. Literally. We couldn’t see a damn thing. Totally agree that Sissy Spacek would have been better than LaPone who reminds me of Rosanne’s sister on “Rosanne.” The Stevie Nicks music is HILARIOUS….very curious why that witch stays in the swamp. Zoe’s character is just too stupid for words and that might be the weak link. Frankly, if it was just Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates we’d be riveted with Coven. So much material with witches, New Orleans, etc. Love it.

  12. abie says

    Well, of course Madison will be back.
    There’s a witch on the show who can revive the dead, so we can expect that anyone will come back, especially if they are in the main title credit sequence.

  13. Alfred says

    This season is finally back on par with season 1. The story is unfolding and gripping. It is not too convoluted; there seems to be a direction of where it is going. Hopefully it’ll all come together in the end.

  14. MArk says

    Queens will never be pleased *tsk,tsk,tsk*; I love this season by far, the first one was interesting, the second was poop, but this season, wow, every episode is awesome, the set, the atmosphere, and you can tell there are oscar quality acting skills, nobody can’t deny that, to see it on tv. is a luxury period

  15. Betty Treacle says

    This is my favourite season so far. New Orleans looks amazing – the storylines are the right mixture of camp and twisted, and I love Fleetwood Mac.

  16. Steve says

    –They’re spending a fortune on the rights to Fleetwood Mac songs
    –“This coven doesn’t need a new Supreme. It needs a new rug.” by FAR the best line of 2012 anywhere
    –Who was inspired to think of having Wendy Beamish from St. Elmo’s Fire molest a zombie Kip Noll
    –hey propmaster, we’ll need an exploding jar of baby gravy for this scene
    Call it “Psycho Biddy”, “Hagsploitation”, “Hag Horror” or “Grande Dame Guignol”, you know we love it

  17. scrufff says

    I agree with whatwhat, none of this makes sense, just cuz its shocking doesn’t make it a good story line or good TV.
    The only thing i’ve found interesting in this season is the lonely swamp witch (Sara, you’re the poet in my heart.) Hope her story line becomes a major plot point.
    Nevertheless, i will give it the benefit of the doubt and watch ever episode and hope for the

  18. says

    It’s fun but the “horror” quotient has dropped, I think. I only have the first season to judge by, I haven’t watched the second season yet, but this seems more “grande dame guignol” ala’ Whatever Happened To Baby Jane than actual horror.

    It’s fun, I’m enjoying it etc, but there doesn’t seem (IMO) to be much of a “creep factor,” unsettling stuff that stays with you later.

  19. JSE says

    Best. Season. Ever. And I wish I had the power to magically take just certain parts of some of these middling critiques and meld them into one review that made some sense out of the season’s weak points. Patti Lupone should be Sissy Spacek? Hmmmph.

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