Witches, bitches! (As the late, great Jesse Pinkman might have said)
So we’re back, with Coven episode two after a frankly spectacular season première. The intriguingly named “Boy Parts” returns to witchy New Orleans with some big boots to fill. I’m conscious that there will be a lot of people who won’t have seen this (or “Bitchcraft”) yet, so no spoilers above the line, but if you want a tantalising little taster, just look at the opening credits for this season:
(0:21 — what in the name of merciful God is that?!)
But anyway, onto “Boy Parts”. When we left, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) was turning her lethal girl parts on a rapey frat boy (in a delicious, but apparently controversial plot development), whilst Fiona (Jessica Lange) exhumed a seemingly immortal Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates).
We’re straight back in the thick of the action here, with the consequences of the previous episode’s bus incident revisited as Madison (Emma Roberts) and Zoe attempt to stitch togethher various parts of the frat boys (geddit) into a “perfect boyfriend” with Kyle’s (Evan Peters) head. The resurrection spell is the first glimpse of real magic we’ve seen in the show, and in typical AHS fashion it’s very stylised. Sudden cuts, with graphic imagery as the girls literally stitch limbs together and chant in latin.
It’s definitely atmospheric.
Meanwhile, Fiona’s daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is apparently struggling to conceive with her husband. So more magic, as they use an odd fertility sex ritual involving blood, fire and snakes coming out of eggs. Again with the stylised, and again with the sex. They’re really going for that this season, and I have to say they’re doing it well. The ritual is less erotic than…creepy, with a bit of exciting mixed in. I’m also sensing that the whole pregnancy issue may be slightly reminiscent of Murder House.
And Fiona is still on her quest for immortality, following LaLaurier’s leads to Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). The scene between the two of them in the hair stylist’s simmers and crackles with electricity. There is some great acting talent in this show, and I’m very much looking forward to getting Lange, Bassett and Bates in the same room together.
Interestingly, we got a bit more of the mythology too. The history of the witches seems bound up inextricably with Salem, and there’s some great racial tension issues tied up in there as to where magic comes from. It’s also setting up a rivalry and conflict between Fiona and the witches on one side and Laveau and her voodoo troupe on the other.
Also: apparently LaLaurie’s slave (Bastien) is still knocking about — unsurprisingly — and is a genuine minotaur? I didn’t see that coming, and I hope that we get some further explanation on that front. Particularly given that LaLaurie isn’t a witch, something I missed last episode. She’ll just be a psychopath then.
In other news, Lily Rabe’s whimsically named Misty Day is back. As if there was any possibly she wouldn’t be. Her performance as Sister Mary Eunice in Asylum was a show-stealer, and the groundwork was already laid in “Bitchcraft” with her resurrection powers. We didn’t see much of her this time, but she seemed tantalisingly unbalanced. A little unpredicatability to enter the mix later in the season?
Overall, the tone of this episode was a little calmer than “Bitchcraft”. I think that’s a product of an outstanding series opening rather than any defect with “Boy Parts”, but it was an episode built around tying up ends, following up the consequences of what happened last time. It wasn’t as explosive, but there were a lot of excellent moments, particularly in terms of characterisation. I still maintain that this is set to be the best American Horror Story to date.