The second episode of American Horror Story: Coven began with a recently deceased alligator biting into the neck of a poacher and dragging him kicking and screaming into the bayou. The swamp was shot to look exactly like the Devil’s Bayou in The Rescuers, and last night’s episode becomes even better if you choose to believe that the vengeful undead alligators were actually Brutus and Nero. (The Rescuers is so scary, you guys.)
While the poacher died a horrible death of simultaneous drowning and decapitation – or drowncapitation as it’s called on the whiteboard in the American Horror Story writers’ room, where the staff famously spends every Monday afternoon innovating exciting new ways to kill people, before their evening ritual of drinking goat’s blood and watching Funny Face – another recently deceased creature looked in with vengeful timidity. The first time we met Lily Rabe’s Misty Day, she was an innocent backwoods babe-in-the-woods who brought a pretty bird back to life and burned to death. Now she haunts the bayou. She found the poachers’ den filled with skinned crocodiles (caught, in a great piece of tourist-book detail, using jerk-chicken traps.) She was angry. “This is wrong, all wrong,” she said. “Why would you kill God’s innocent creatures? So they could be made into shoes?” Note that phrase: innocent creatures. When the poachers held a gun on her, Misty had no qualms about watching the poachers die ugly. Our little Bayou Angel appears to have a genuine moral code. Presumably, that code will begin corroding starting now.
Meanwhile, at Miss Robichaux’s, Delia was rousting everyone for their morning lessons. The ladies were slow to come downstairs. Zoe was investigating the dead Kyle, the saintliest frat dude ever, who apparently spent his summers volunteering for the United Way. She couldn’t understand why Madison was so flip about killing him – how she could be such a bitch. “Because I understand people,” said Madison. “That guy would’ve happily taken a turn on me if he had the chance.” Although Madison and Zoe are roughly the same age, Madison has much more experience than her roommate in the world of men – and specifically in Hollywood, where men generally have the emotional intelligence of randy 12-year-olds discovering the internet while their parents aren’t home. To Madison, Kyle was as bad as any other guy; he would’ve died anyhow, if he got too close to Zoe.
Meanwhile, a few rooms down, Fiona was having some words with her new roommate: the Madame LaLaurie, recently exhumed from her own grave and currently tied up like a bad guy on 24. Fiona called Madame LaLaurie, “Miss Pittypat,” a reference to Scarlett’s spinster aunt from Gone With the Wind, shown here in a mugshot after her arrest on multiple counts of arson. (Kidding, kidding. #NoDisrespectToAuntPittypat). “How is it you’re still alive after all these years,” scream-whispered Fiona. The light chirping of an iPhone ringtone frightened the Madame. “Jesus, woman, it’s a cellphone,” Fiona said slapfully.) Important Note: On my AHS screener, the music that played over this scene sounded a bit like/was maybe-probably taken directly from Cliff Martinez’ marvelous score for Only God Forgives, which in hindsight has a lot in common with American Horror Story. (Kristen Scott Thomas basically plays Jessica Lange.)
There was a quick flashback to Detroit, 2012, where we learned that Queenie was an A-student working at a local fast food joint as a manager. A mouthy customer demanded an extra piece of chicken. When she refused, he called him a “stupid fatass.” So she stuck her hand in boiling water and – using her power of pain transference – just about boiled his arm off. Queenie had no idea about her witchy ancestry. “I grew up on white-girl s— like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenaged Cracker,” said Queenie, disappointingly overlooking the fact that although The Craft is one of the all-time classics of White-Girl S— Cinema, it also features the immortal scene where Rachel True makes evil-racist-blonde Christine Taylor’s hair fall out.
Queenie, it turns out, comes from a line of black witches: “I’m an heir to Tituba, a house slave in Salem, the first to be accused of witchcraft.” Tituba was a real person who is also a basically mythic entity at this point. Very little is known about her – which hopefully means that she’ll show up in the season finale of Coven as a chaingun-toting cyborg angel played by, oh, let’s say Rosario Dawson. Tituba does have a big role in Coven’s mythology – more on that later – and it was interesting to see the show bring up such a fascinating figure in the racial and sociological history of the American experiment. This being a Ryan Murphy show, one second later Queenie responded to a Madison quip by exclaiming, “Bitch, I will eat you!”
NEXT: A visit from the local constables