Warning: This recap contains major character and storyline spoilers for the "Boy Parts" episode of "American Horror Story: Coven." Proceed with caution.
"American Horror Story" fans have been starved for natural elements — you know, like trees and grass — in past seasons, leaving us trapped inside SoCal's Murder House in Season 1 and Briarcliff Manor in "Asylum," much like their tenants. Lucky for us, "Coven" has swept in on a broom just in time to seduce us with the beauty, charm, and mystery of Louisiana.
Best example ever: this week's opening scene. A vast swamp packed with mossy waterways, majestic cypress trees, croaking frogs, and alligators. Sure, there were poachers shooting the massive reptiles at point-blank range, but the scenery was stunning. And don't feel bad for the alligators; they get their revenge, and that scene tipped the scales on our terror meter.
Before we hash out our list of scares, spooks, and WTFs, though, let's give creator Ryan Murphy a shout-out for bringing the camp factor in spades this season! Yeah, we're only two episodes in, but it's just what the Dr. Frankenstein ordered.
OK, now back to business: the terror meter countdown.
Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) just couldn't keep her mouth shut about the string of awful incidents at last week's frat party. And who can blame her? The poor girl went from living a normal life to learning she was a witch and watching her friend (we use the term loosely) and fellow sorceress Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) flip a bus, killing seven dudes, including her crush, Kyle Spencer (Evan Peters).
When investigators came knocking at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, she cracked under the pressure and told them everything — including the fact that they're all witches and that she killed the jerk responsible for the sexual assault on Madison using her Black Widow power.
Well, outing a gaggle of witches to the authorities wasn't going to fly. Supreme Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) steps into the room to mess with the two cops' brains. And we mean "mess with" literally. Couldn't you just feel the guys' brains frying in their heads? One cop was particularly tenacious, refusing to drink a glass of water Fiona had spit in. He caved, though, and all the memories and information those two poor cops had on the case were wiped out.
Creator Murphy said it best:
Nobody's Badder Than Goode— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) October 10, 2013
We knew "Coven's" resident living voodoo doll, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), was going to reveal more of her talents soon, but wow, her origin story had us feeling the pain.
When working at a fried chicken restaurant back in the day, Queenie was humiliated by a customer who called her fat and stupid over a discrepancy on his order. She knew she was right, but he was relentless.
Too bad for him: Queenie stuck her arm in a vat of hot oil for what seemed like forever, and viewers watched his arm sizzle, fry, bubble, and blister — gives new meaning to "Ooh, burn!"
In addition to the real-life inspirations revealed in the premiere (Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau were real people!), we got a dose of historical realness this week courtesy of Queenie's backstory. The character is a descendant of Tituba: a real woman and a slave of Samuel Parris. Tituba was the first black woman to be accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials, and one of the first three ever to be accused. Unlike the other two women, she wasn't sentenced to death, despite finally confessing to the crime after being beaten by Parris.
Oh, Misty Day (Lily Rabe). We're so excited to see you back and more mystical than ever. After she was burned at the stake in "Bitchcraft," fans weren't sure if she'd return. Turns out, Misty's power of resurgence (bringing the dead back to life) is applicable to herself as well. Lucky us.
She's earthy. She's mystical. She's the hippie of the witch world with a theme song to match: Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." Has anything in "Coven" been more alluring and intoxicating than when it plays in the background, indicating Misty's nearby? We love it.
In the swampy opening scene, she is drawn to an area where two alligator poachers have gathered their many kills. "Murder," she says to them. "Why would you kill God's innocent creatures? So they can be made into shoes?"
They threaten her, briefly wondering if she's with PETA, but little do they know that they're about to get devoured by their meal tickets. Misty brings the alligators back to life, and they quickly seek their revenge by snapping the limbs (and one head) off the hunters.
the promo. Poor Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) and her husband, Hank (Josh Hamilton), have been trying to have a baby the old-fashioned way, but it just wasn't happening.
Even though she's gifted with a knack for powders and potions, Cordelia didn't want to go down the witchcraft path to conceive. Hank insists that it's the best way to make their dream of a family a reality, and she reluctantly goes for it.
The ritual includes giant eggs, a ring of fire, snakes, candles, black sheets, incantations, and blood. These two lovebirds get it on inside of the ring while licking each other's blood and smearing it on each other's lips and bodies. Something along the lines of "50 Shades of Red." The eggs positioned on the ring crack open, and snakes emerge, slithering their way onto the couple. So after all that, we're guessing she's preggers, right?
But before we break out the Diaper Genie, let's just say that pregnancy hasn't gone well in past seasons of "American Horror Story." Sure, Kit Walker's two kids turned out OK in "Asylum," but who can forget Vivien Harmon's (Connie Britton) evil spawn in "Murder House" and Lana Winters' (Paulson) serial killer son who carried on the Bloody Face legacy in "Asylum"?
"If I start using magic to fulfill my every whim, then I'm just Fiona. This kind of magic, it's dark. It's about life and death. I don't want to play God," Cordelia said before going against her better judgment.
All hail Frankenstein! Or should we hail Murphy instead for answering horror fans' prayers by adding a much-needed classic element to this modern-day tale of terror? (And camp!)
Poor Kyle died in that awful party-bus crash, but hope is not lost. The episode isn't titled "Boy Parts" for nothing.
The self-appointed "head bitch in charge" Madison takes Zoe to the morgue, where the victims of the crash are bagged up. Zoe is reluctant, but that's certainly not going to slow Madison down.
When Madison unzips the body bag with Kyle in it, Zoe breaks down and viewers went, "Bleah!" It was his severed head along with a slew of other body parts. Yeah, the crash was pretty bad.
Madison's solution to bringing back Zoe's lost love: Find the hottest boy parts from all the dead guys, stitch together "the perfect boyfriend," breathe in smoke, chant a resurrection spell in Latin, donate some blood to the ceremony, and voilà! Problem solved. (Insert evil laugh here.)
On the downside, the incantation required them to devote themselves to the god of the underworld. Zoe put it best: "Did we just marry the devil? Because I don't know if I'm down with that."
But wait — all that abracadabra didn't work. Kyle is still dead as a doornail, or so it seems. Madison is so over it (hair flip) and heads out, leaving Zoe to say bye. But a Sleeping Beauty (or should we say "Sleeping Beast"?) moment saves the day. Zoe kisses Kyle, and he comes back to life just in time to snap the neck of a morgue employee. Err, hopefully he proves to be as friendly as he was before dying.
Madison abandoned them, so the duo takes off in the dead man's car. Props to Evan Peters for revealing some of his physical acting chops! He beat himself up with his own hand, for goodness' sake.
The evil Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is alive and well. OK, maybe she's not well, but she is alive and will be alive forever unless Fiona eventually finds a way to break her immortality.
A flashback reveals that the potion given to her by voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) back in 1834 didn't kill her. It was something much worse: "What I gave you was life everlasting," Laveau told LaLaurie after showing the wicked socialite the hanged bodies of her brood and before sealing her in an unmarked grave.
LaLaurie actually showed some genuine emotion when seeing her dead family, but we're far from feeling bad for this serial killer.
Back in the present day, Fiona, who unearthed LaLaurie in the premiere, has the wicked woman — who, unfortunately, hasn't had the luxury of taking a shower yet — tied to a chair in her room at Miss Robichaux's. Clearly, LaLaurie is having some issues adjusting to 21st-century life — she freaks at the sound of a cell phone — but the reality of being immortal seems to be equally taxing.
Some snarky banter is exchanged between these two tough ladies, but it's still hard to pinpoint just where this tense relationship is going.
You know the "Minotaur" LaLaurie created in the premiere, when she crammed a bull's head onto one of her poor slaves, killing him? Well, he's not dead, thanks to his lover Laveau's powers, but nowadays, he is a real Minotaur.
It's definitely possible that this beast will end up being a hero, going after LaLaurie, but the terrifying image of him standing tall and growling while being released from his ankle cuff by a very-much-alive Laveau was enough to have us gasping for air.
Laveau discovered that LaLaurie had been freed from her tomb thanks to an unfriendly visit from Fiona.
[Photos: Goth-Inspired Gals at the 2013 Emmys]
After chatting with LaLaurie about her past, Fiona headed to the Ninth Ward, seeking Laveau, who owns a salon and is looking as hot as ever.
You could cut the tension with a knife as the confrontation between Fiona and Laveau unfolded. Fiona wants something from Laveau: her secret to looking so beautiful and young. In exchange, Fiona says that she has something Laveau wants. But the voodoo queen doesn't need Fiona to clue her in.
"You ain't never gonna believe who's back," Laveau later tells the Minotaur. "We got some business to attend to."
"American Horror Story: Coven" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.