American Horror Story recap: Build a Better Boyfriend

Zoe and Madison pull a Frankenstein, while Delia explores alternative fertility treatments. Plus: Jessica Lange vs. Angela Bassett, Round One.
Ep. 02 | Aired Oct 16, 2013

REQUIEM FOR MISS PITTYPAT National treasure Kathy Bates, shown here mournfully pondering seven different ways she could kill you. Go ahead, make a joke about Harry's Law. She dares you.

Michele K. Short/FX

Delia was in her garden, putting together everything needed for the ritual. Her husband -- who seems like such a genial, understanding guy that you have to figure he's going to be a murderous sadist by episode 7 -- asked if she needed help. They set up an elaborate ritual. Candles, large eggs, a circle of ash on the floor, cutting each other's fingers open and drinking the blood: You know, date night! Then they had sex, and the ash caught on fire, and snakes hatched out of the eggs and crawled up around Delia. (The key to a successful marriage is shaking things up in the bedroom every now and then.)

Not to get too weird here, but there was a radical shift at the end between what appeared to be happening magically and in reality. In the magic-world, Delia was on top -- and, as we all know from the Paul Verhoeven Rules of Onscreen Sex, the "cowgirl" position is symbolic of female empowerment and male fear of female empowerment. In reality, they were using the old-fashioned missionary position -- which, again according to the Verhoeven school, is symbolic of hetero-normative behavior and the male patriarchy. Baseless Theory Alert: Delia's character arc this season is going to be about her "breaking bad," becoming a wilder person, possibly because she will have a symbolic devil growing inside of her.

Meanwhile, Zoe attempted to calm down the reanimated Kyle, who was going full-Karloff in the car. She was assisted, quite unexpectedly, by Misty Day, who was "drawn" to Zoe and Kyle. She explained that she had been "called" while she was in the woods. "I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had to follow. And it was you, Zoe." Misty took the two kids to her shack in the woods. She seemed so happy: She knew that she was not alone. While she healed Kyle up with a mixture of Spanish moss and alligator dung, she played "Rhiannon."

Zoe asked who sang that song. "Stevie Nicks!" said Misty. "My hero!" Zoe: "That's Stevie Nicks from American Idol?" Misty, not even understanding the words coming out of Zoe's mouth: "That's Steve Nicks. The White Witch. the only witch before you I've ever known." They listened to the song by way of demonstrating Stevie Nicks' powers. (ASIDE: "Rhiannon" has a whole tangled history that speaks directly to the themes of Coven. It was inspired by a novel about a woman who is possessed by her dead cousin Rhiannon -- a possible reference to Misty's own resurrection. But that novel was, in turn, inspired by the Welsh mythic figure Rhiannon, a figure who was variously a sexualized entity and a kind of Earth Mother, which long story short means episode 10 of Coven will feature a flashback to 5th Century Wales, where we learn that Rhiannon was a warrior-witch with an archery fetish who fell in love with her own son and was also a cannibal -- Rhiannon in this case played by, let's say, Catherine Zeta-Jones. END OF ASIDE.)

"Doesn't it just penetrate your soul, and tell the truth about everything you ever felt in your life?" asked Misty, who really looked thisclose to kissing Zoe, and Zoe in turn didn't look totally disinterested in that. But Zoe stood up and stammered that she had to leave, and Misty promised to heal up Kyle until Zoe came back. So the door is open this season for a romantic triangle between a resurrected swamp-lady Fleetwood Mac fangirl, a reanimated fratboy Frankenstein, and a teenager with a death-vagina. Which is not a sentence I will ever get to write about Mad Men.

Madame LaLaurie was broken out of her restraints by Nan, who didn't like how loud the immortal mama was thinking. Nan appeared to be meditating in front of a painting that looked a lot like Frances Conroy, although given how focused Fiona is on immortality, it seems unlikely that Conroy's character -- who didn't appear this week -- is that old. Unless she's somehow a different kind of witch? Also, Denis O'Hare Update: Denis O'Hare didn't do anything this week. This concludes your Denis O'Hare update.) Madame LaLaurie called Queenie a slave, leading Queenie to say: "Who you calling slave, bitch?" Then LaLaurie knocked out Queenie with a candlestick, lending credence to the theory that that this season is secretly a Clue reboot.

Side Note for Minotaur: Apparently, the Minotaur is still alive and well, shackled inside of Marie's house somewhere. Apparently, he is still a Minotaur, since he made lots of animal noises. End of Side Note.

Fiona found the Madame outside of her house. LaLaurie was not happy to see that her home was a part of history, a museum of horrors. Deadpanned Fiona: "You're not remembered fondly. But I guess that beats not being remembered at all." LaLaurie tried to argue that she was "a woman of my time." Fiona cackled. "You've got a mean streak wider than your backside. If ten of the hundreds of things I've read about you are true, then you deserved every minute under the dirt."

But Madame LaLaurie made a plea for understanding. "They took my babies, hung 'em in a straight line. My husband, too. Him I didn't care about. Planning on killing him for weeks, poisoning his buckwheat." She didn't care what anyone else thought of her: "I loved my girls, in my own way. Even the ugly one. The moment she came out of my belly she was a shame to me. She had the face of a damn hippo. But I loved her, just the same." To me, this is the essence of an American Horror Story moment: Taking a character who is A) absolutely terrible and B) quite ridiculous, and then asking you to feel some kind of sympathy for them. It helps when the monsters are played by Kathy Bates, who closed out her soliloquy with dark words: "Hell is real. I've seen it, down in that box." LaLaurie did horrible things, and those horrible things were avenged upon her; now she, in turn, seeks vengeance for that vengeance. Round and round forever.

LaLaurie asked Fiona if she would kill her. Fiona said maybe, at some point. But first, she threatened her: Run away again, and it's back in the box for you. And so the two mass-murdering psychopaths strolled down the street together. For a moment, I thought I heard them whisper, "We're friends through eternity. Loyalty, honesty. We'll stay together, through thick or thin."

Fellow viewers, what did you think of the latest episode of Coven? Are you intrigued to learn more about the history of the show's witching world? Will Misty ultimately join the witches at Miss Robichaux's, or does she have a weirder/darker trajectory ahead? If you could build your perfect man, which celebrity's arms are most Frankenstein-worthy? And who, in your opinion, won this week's Queen Ultra-Badass Superbitch of the Cosmos prize? I give the edge to Bassett, although Lange was neck-and-neck, while Bates and Roberts also put up a decent showing. Lastly: How long until American Horror Story features a unicorn that defecates hundred-dollar bills?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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