American Horror Story recap: Chicks With Nicks

The body count builds higher as the witches strike against their enemies and each other. Also, Stevie Nicks plays herself.
Ep. 10 | Aired Jan 8, 2014

WITCH LADY SINGS THE BLUES Stevie Nicks agreed to appear on American Horror Story, but only after the writers turned the entire season into a thematic adaptation of the life and work of Stevie Nicks. Also, during Nicks' appearance, there was an Eminem reference. And Ryan Murphy promised we'd start getting hints about next season in the final episodes. Yadda yadda yadda, the next AHS season will star Evan Peters as a Matt Marsh, a tormented young rapper from Detroit who marries his high school sweetheart (Emma Roberts) but doesn't realize her brain has been taken over by his mother (Jessica Lange). Kim Basinger has a guest-starring role in a flashforward, wherein she plays Matt Marsh's daughter. It will be called American Horror Story: Motherboy.

Michele K. Short/FX

Stevie Nicks was in the tenth episode of Coven. Stevie Nicks was the tenth episode of Coven. They named the episode after her, and she taught Misty the proper method for shawl-twirling. She sang "Rhiannon" and she sang "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You" and she talked to a character played by Jessica Lange. Which means you have to imagine being a fly on the wall when Nicks and Lange were on set together

That's a lot of showbiz history. And as we look back on Coven, three hours from the end, it's remarkable how much this season has asked you to consider the whole sweep of its characters' history. This is a show filled with women of a certain age who are suddenly, desperately aware of their own mortality. You like to imagine that, when you've lived long enough, you could look back over the course of your life and feel content. The tenth episode of Coven made a counterargument: Sometimes, you just want more.

The episode began with a beautiful visual of two old enemies now linked together. Recovering from the attack on her hair salon, Marie told Fiona that she was ashamed to show such weakness. The camera slowly zoomed into Angela Bassett's face, although Jessica Lange was there too, in the mirror on the wall. (Long Take, Mirror: Yep, this was a Gomez-Rejon joint.) I'll be honest: I was worried that this episode would be all about these two old enemies uniting, that the Coven endgame would see all the disparate witches coming together against a common cause.

Nope! The second Fiona left the room, Marie had a visitor. It was Lance Reddick, whose costume suggested an alternate universe where a very popular Halloween costume this year was Hugo Weaving from Cloud Atlas. Reddick was playing Papa Legba, an important Voodoo figure who is a kind of gatekeeper between our world and the spirit world. He demanded a payment from Marie, "the bargain that we made so long ago." (You can cross-reference Papa Legba with Frances Conroy's Angel of Death from Asylum. Seriously, keep track of these characters. It'll all pay off in eight years when they do the big mega-crossover season. American Horror Story: Crisis in Infinite Wombs.)

So Marie set off for a nursery, where she stole a cute little baby and then mind-tricked two poor cops into shooting each other. The baby cried. Sometimes I take for granted just how enjoyably amoral this show is, and then I remember that this is a show where Angela Bassett occasionally looks a crying baby in the eye and says: "Shut up! I'll give you something to cry about!"

Also, remember a couple episodes ago, when Fiona and Delia decided they would put aside their differences for the good of the Coven, and seemed like they would have a functional mother-daughter relationship? That's so 2013, bro! When the TV told them that Delia's husband was now a very dead witch hunter, Fiona slapped her daughter senseless. How could she bring such a viper into the house?

At the same time, Fiona seemed to be reaching out to a new surrogate daughter figure. Misty claimed she wasn't interested in being Supreme. She knew Fiona's game. But Fiona knew Misty's, too. She brought her downstairs to meet a White Witch. It was Stevie Nicks. "I'm Stevie Nicks," said Stevie Nicks. Misty fainted. "You owe me five bucks," said Fiona.

Nicks treated the Coven to an impromptu piano recital, performing "Rhiannon," the song about a Welsh witch-goddess. (According to legend, Nicks wrote the song before she learned about the myth of Rhiannon, but it still kinda-sorta applies.) It was a great little scene. The older witches sat on couches, watching Nicks play. Misty shawl-twirled. The young witches walked in late, and probably had never heard the song before, but they stopped, too. You can understand a reference, even if you don't quite know what it's referring to. (ASIDE: I'm not really up on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. And I still thought the two musical numbers were two of the most quietly profound scenes AHS has ever done. Kind of like how I enjoyed Inside Llewyn Davis, even though folk music usually makes me fall asleep and dream about punching folk singers. END OF ASIDE.)

Madison played off like she didn't care. "I'm more of an Eminem fan," she said. Responded Fiona: "Marshall? You're not his type." (The fact that Jessica Lange looks uncannily like some combination of Eminem's real mom and Eminem's Basingerized 8 Mile mom makes me wish that Eminem lived in the same galaxy as American Horror Story so he could drop by for a cameo.) Fiona noted that Misty would definitely pass all of the Seven Wonders. Game, set match: She was the new Supreme. Stevie even gave her a shawl. "This shawl has danced across the stages of the world. And now it's yours." And then they twirled together, twirling and twirling, suggesting an alternate universe where To the Wonder inspired a dance craze.

NEXT: And then everything went to hell


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