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

Fiona and Marie decided to strike back against the Witch Hunting empire. Delia did some investigating. She found out about a man named Harrison Renard, the head of a company called the Delphi Trust. "They used to be carpenters. Now they specialize in private equity," she said, describing the Vatican the Delphi Trust. Key revelation: Harrison Renard is also her dead husband's father. She learned this by Googling -- I swear, this was onscreen -- "Harrison Renard and son." (Seriously: Hank was the worst witch hunter ever.)

Fiona knew how to strike at these guys. "They pray to one god. A green merciless god. Money." Delia wanted to help. Fiona had some words for her: "You can't help me. You can't help anyone. You're worthless, hopeless. If you had held the ball laces out, like you were SUPPOSED to, Ray would've never missed that kick. You should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell. Would you like a cookie?"

Marie and Fiona did some nifty magic which involved putting a mouse in a gigantic maze. For indeed, aren't we all just mice in the giant maze...of capitalism? The magic did the trick. Over at the Delphi Trust, the FBI stormed in, holding Search & Seizure warrants. It was bad business: Delphi lost 50 percent of its value in 10 minutes. Bernanke wasn't taking their phone calls anymore. In a matter of minutes, Coven basically restaged the 2008 economic crash, this time with more Orson Welles-on-funroids low-angle shots of big ceilings. Harrison Renard announced that it was time to kill those darn witches. It was just like Wall Street 2, except more realistic and not terrible.

Since they were spellcasting, male patriarchy-upending BFFs now, Fiona had to ask Marie a question. How had she lived for so long? What was the secret to eternal life? Marie revealed her origin story. How, three centuries ago, she was a witch just coming into her prime. How, at the moment she gave birth to her child, she suddenly understood the idea of her own death...and could not accept it. (On Coven, nothing is more frightening than the next generation.) Papa appeared to her, offering her eternal life for a price. That price: her baby. And every year another baby, it seems.

"Children ain't in the cards for you," said Papa. It's a line with deep resonance in this season of troubled mother-daughter relationships. Fiona had a daughter she basically disowned. Myrtle never had a daughter, so she raised Fiona's. When we first met Delia, she wanted so badly to have a child; that has gotten steadily less likely with every passing episode. And the daughters have gotten off easy: This has also been the season of FrankenKyle's Incest Mom and Neighbor Luke's Murder Mom. (Cross-reference with that famous Katharine Hepburn quote: "I would have been a terrible mother, because I'm basically a very selfish human being.") (To be clear: Katharine Hepburn rocks. She was like the Stevie Nicks of the '30s and the Jessica Lange of the '60s.)

Across town, Misty and Madison were processing behind a New Orleans funeral in the Second Line, which is a phrase I only know because of Treme. (This continues my running theory that this entire season of Coven is Ryan Murphy way of simultaneously apologizing for throwing shade on Treme while also proving that Treme would've been much better with witches.) I can barely remember seeing Misty and Madison in the same room so far this season, but their pairing had sparks. Madison played the cynical inside. She told Misty that the whole Stevie Nicks interlude was just a transactional experience: "Now you owe them both. Players only love you when you're playing."

Madison was getting into Misty's head. She was dressed like Cruella De Vil at a Royal Wedding-themed burlesque orgy. She told Misty that her shawl wasn't anything special: "She probably has a bargain bin filled with shawls in her basement." (Props to Stevie Nicks: She might have appeared on Coven as the onscreen incarnation of The Goddess, but she still let the show ever-so-slightly deconstruct her.) Some of what Madison said made a bit of sense, too. She brought a dead man back to life, and she pointed at the open casket, telling Misty: "Lose the shawl. Let the part of you that's just an imitation of some other witch die." Make your own path, Madison seemed to be saying. The world doesn't need another Stevie Nicks.

Misty held the shawl over the open casket. She thought about dropping it. But no, she would stay true to her soul. That was right about when Madison hit her in the head with a brick, knocked her unconscious into the coffin, and had the swamp witch buried alive in a mausoleum. Then Madison grabbed the shawl for herself, twirling away.

It was an awesome scene for all kinds of reasons: Because it announced Madison's final-act Heel Turn as a legitimate contender for the Supreme Throne, and because it served notice that the final endgame of Coven will decidedly not be all of our witches joining together in peaceful sisterhood.

NEXT: Chaos reigns

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