'American Horror Story: Coven' recap: 'Fearful Pranks Ensue'

For The Baltimore Sun

"Who's the baddest witch in town?" -- Fiona

Fiona may be the baddest witch, but her time on top has left a trail of dead people in her wake. And as she ages and her powers wane, she seems more ready than ever to play fast and loose with people's lives, even going so far as to recklessly end a decades-old truce between herself and Marie

The result is an episode of "American Horror Story: Coven" that sees nearly every character acting in their own best interest, consequences be damned.

We flash back to 1961 to open the episode. Marie was in the salon business, even then. One of her employees' children is hung in a tree. Marie retaliates against the killers by sending a group of zombies from a nearby graveyard after them. This establishes that Marie can raise the dead.

In present day, we catch up with Fiona and Spalding in the aftermath of Madison's murder. We see that Spalding has not only a longstanding devotion to Fiona, but also one of the creepier doll collections of all time. Fiona hears Queenie screaming from the greenhouse, but arrives too late to stop the minotaur from forcing himself on her. But Fiona uses some of her waning power to kill the beast.

Fiona takes Queenie inside and calls for Cordelia to help restore her health. Cordelia blames her mother for the attack on Queenie, noting that it had to be some voodoo that would bring a minotaur to life. I should hope so.

In turn, Fiona blames Cordelia for showing weakness and going to visit Marie in her quest to have a child. Delphine is still stunned after her brush with the minotaur. She's grateful, and a little surprised, that Queenie saved her.

Fiona has the minotaur's head severed and delivered to Marie at her salon. Of course, this means war.

Zoe is still at Kyle's house. The monster -- uh, Kyle, that is -- is becoming self-aware. Really, I'm all for this character being use for comedy relief for the rest of the season. As Kyle is coming to, Zoe starts to consider the ramifications of bringing a dead guy made of cobbled-together boy parts back to life, and thinks about killing him with rat poison. Before she can, he escapes. Thankfully, it's Halloween, and he should blend right in for the next 12 hours or so.

We then catch up with Hank, who says he's out of town on business. If by "business,"  he meant "a ginger mistress he met in an online community dedicated to Thomas Kinkade's beautiful artwork," then technically he wasn't lying to his wife.

"To think, I found you in an online community dedicated to collecting Thomas Kinkade paintings," Kaylee the mistress says, in the best line of dialogue ever written. Oh, Hank ends up shooting Kaylee. What a bad dude he's turned out to be. What was the point of this?

Back at school, The Council has arrived; Nan called for them once she stopped "hearing" Madison. The Council asks questions of Cordelia,  Nan and Queenie, trying to determine whether or not Fiona had a hand in Madison's disappearance. Queenie has a very colorful explanation for what might have happened to Madison, one that I'm too afraid to write here.

We learn that the same Council suspected Fiona had a hand in Anna Leigh's disappearance 40 years earlier. In a series of flashbacks, we see that Spalding cut out his tongue all those years ago, rather than testify against Fiona before The Council. Now that's devotion. I mean, I wouldn't even get a tattoo for someone, let alone cut out my tongue.

Myrtle, the head of The Council, is eager to finally nail Fiona down after all these years. But thanks to an assist from Spalding (who tries to turn The Council against Myrtle) and Cordelia, Fiona is exonerated.

"I do,  I do think I'm very clever," Fiona says. I didn't find The Council scenes all that compelling, and a lot of this seemed like filler to me. We have two witches, ready to do battle with each other, with zombies and minotaurs and voodoo! Turn them loose! Don't give us this bad courtroom stuff.

Cordelia and Fiona go out for drinks to celebrate. Fiona tries to warn her daughter that Hank is bad news, while Cordelia tries to get her mother to admit that she killed Madison. Neither is very successful.

Cordelia excuses herself to use the restroom, and has acid thrown in her face while there. The war is on.

At the school, Spalding drinks tea with his dolls and Madison's corpse, which he did not dispose of, while Delphine passes out Halloween candy. Delphine answers the door for Hot Neighbor Luke, who has brought Nan some candy. Then, she answers the door and sees her zombie daughters there sent by Marie. The zombie daughters were just the beginning -- a whole gang of zombies rushes the school as the episode ends.

The action picked up at the end of the episode, and now that we have some zombies in the mix, I can't imagine what might happen next. That's not hyperbole; I really mean that I can't possibly imagine what might happen next.

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