I think what I love most about American Horror Story, and there's a lot to love, is the way the weirdest plot development from last week's episode is rendered utterly pedestrian by the end of the next. Oh, you thought the deaths-by-vagina that opened and closed the premiere were crazy? Here's a Frankenstein frat boy brought back to life by witchcraft (and Stevie Nicks). Here's snake-assisted sex with prodigious bloodplay. Here's PRECIOUS DESPERATELY TRYING TO VOODOO-JERK A MINOTAUR. If I've already gotten ahead of myself spilling the highlight of tonight's episode, I truly apologize. AHS:C just casts a spell on me.
Or, less succinctly: When Kathy Bates as a centuries-old serial-killing racist weeping over Obama's 2013 inauguration address is the least weird part of your show, you've really got something special.
"The Replacements" built on (and in some cases completely demolished) the various plot lines that have been percolating so far this season, which of course has already felt like three seasons of a "normal" show. Let's check in on all our favorite witches and witch-associates, shall we?
1. Sarah Paulson's witchy anatomy renders her baby-making efforts fruitless. What would voodoo?
Last week Cordelia and her unnamed (I don't take great notes) hubby tried desperately to make a baby, even going so far as to invite a snake into their lovemaking because hey, no one's said it doesn't work. After that didn't yield results, Cordelia went to the only place she could think of that would give quick fertility help with minimal nosiness. The voodoo priestess hairdresser's! Poor Sarah Paulson is the most boring character on the show and the lady just wants a baby, so I think we all felt her pain as Angela Bassett's Marie Laveau dangled the "100% success rate" voodoo-semen-goat-blood insemination method in front of her… then yanked it away. Anyone else feel like Sarah Paulson won't stay the most boring (or comparatively innocent) character for long? She could EASILY have murdered Kathy Bates by midseason.
2. "Get back to work before I smack you, slave," Precious warns Kathy Bates, in what's no longer just very specific fan fiction
One of the American Horror Story series' great strengths is the way it takes these talented and accomplished actors, from so many entertainment backgrounds, and just makes them eat shit. Remember Dylan McDermott cry-jerking in the first season? Already crazy and uncomfortable from our perspective on the couch, but from an actor's perspective? INSANE. Whoever would agree to that is either courageous or demented, and maybe some unholy combination of the two. This year plays host to numerous courageous/demented actors, but I'm really enjoying Kathy Bates' time-displaced, racist murderer-countess. She's just fun! Because Ryan Murphy and Co. had to give her something to do while we wait for the woman's really crazy shit to kick in, Madame LaLaurie was appointed Queenie's personal maid. Can you say #totesawks? Kathy Bates was just telling Queenie to lay off the sandwiches when a minotaur appeared at the door, rendering all their petty racial tension kind of silly. "I beg of you, show me mercy!" LaLaurie pleaded. And that's when Queenie headed outside to deal with the mythological beast.
3. In which Precious desperately tries to voodoo-jerk a minatour
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha oh brother
4. In which Zombie Kyle's mom tries to regular-jerk him, her son, who you'll remember is also a zombie
I hope I'm not alone in admitting that I did NOT see this coming, because that would mean, 1) I'm not as adept a TV viewer as I thought I was, and 2) YOU SICKOS WERE PREPARED TO WATCH A MOTHER GIVE A HANDIE TO HER ZOMBIE SON. Anyway — it happened, it made me feel weird, and I'm hoping we can just put the whole matter to bed. As friends!
The sexual politics of this show, my God.
5. Say hi to your new neighbor, witches — Broadway's Patti LuPone!
I'm not a gay man, and thus don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of Patti LuPone's theatrical history that would shed some light on where her character is headed. BUT I think it's safe to say she'll probably sex up her son just as hard as Kyle's mom did, and with added Christian fervor. Also of note: Voodoo priestesses are not the mortal enemy of your garden variety witch. Christian fundamentalists are. We are mere WEEKS from a stake burning, I promise you.
6. On American Horror Story, Old is Gold
That one I COULD have telegraphed. Not bragging or anything! Just saying — based on the first scene of the episode, in which the 40-years-younger Fiona coldly slit the throat of her coven's former Supreme, it was pretty clear that a prominent blonde witch was going to bite it by hour's end.
And it wasn't going to be Jessica Lange. Murphy & Co. LOVE older ladies. Connie Britton. Jessica Lange. Kathy Bates. Angela Bassett. Patti LuPone. Before you stone me to death — "older" by Hollywood standards. In its own mentally disturbed way, American Horror Story is as concerned with giving these non-ingenue actresses — all of whom still very much have it going on, including Kathy Bates — a platform as it is promoting its lurid brand of excess. Jessica Lange is officially the star of this season. On how many other shows is the lead a female antihero, and one who gets to drain the life of her hot young competition?
I love this show.