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The Breakdown

This week’s episode began with some back story about Fiona. We see a young Fiona, pre-Supreme, hanging out in the witch portrait-room/lobby of the school. In classic AHS style, a year flashes on the bottom of the screen: 1971. That’s a long time ago! Fiona thinks so, too. Her memory of the event ends with her slashing her mentor’s throat, the previous Supreme, before Fiona was promoted to the position. Also in the flashback, there’s some talk about how a Supreme can master the seven wonders. Then we see Jessica eying the portrait, remembering all these good times.

The ReplacementsHow will Fiona grapple with getting older? Not in a good way, I’m sure.

We cut to a nightclub scene. I guess part of Fiona’s youth involved picking up young hotties, because she reflects, sadly, how “I never knew that one day the dance would come to an end.”

Then she’s in the plastic surgeon’s office and crying because he’s showing her images of how precisely he’s going to rearrange her face to make her look younger. In my opinion, totally not worth it! Embrace your age girl! But we soon find out there are more detrimental factors at stake. Fiona is dying.

In the meantime, Zoe pays a good natured visit to the deceased Franken-Kyle’s mom. The poor mother is a wreck. She just talks about what a great guy her son was and tokes incessantly from her glass piece. I never knew weed made you feel better in grief. I always thought it made you paranoid. Like maybe paranoid that your dead son would come back home mangled and demonized on your doorstep. I don’t know.

The ReplacementsKathy Bates’s LaLaurie is more miserable than ever. She’s just discovered that the President is a black man. This tongue-in-cheek scene is pretty funny; the show’s self-awareness casts a humorous light on the otherwise gruesome show with equally gruesome characters.

Fiona hates racists. She assigns LaLaurie a position as house-maid, and in a turn of racist events, LaLaurie berates poor Precious and is demoted to be her personal slave. Serves her right! Her bigot-driven hell never ends.

Misty Day has healed Kyle in her swamp-shack, and Kyle looks good as new! Not really. But he’s well enough to go home. Zoe is taking him away, and Misty Day is not happy about this. She’s on the verge of a tantrum, and I have a feeling that we don’t want to see this woman angry.

The ReplacementsWe jump to Madison. She spots a hottie! It’s the ah-shucks new guy next door and his Bible-thumping mother. I guess Bible-thumping mothers have a knack for sniffing out witches, because as soon as Madison stops by the house with her baked goods, an argument ensues and Madison telekinetically thrusts a knife and burns down their living room. Not exactly the best way to get on your future in-law’s good side.

This is a clever turn of events for the show. Now the aging Fiona recognizes great powers within Madison. Conjuring fire out of nowhere? Pretty powerful magic. Could Madison be the new Supreme? Fiona seems to think so.

The ReplacementsThe plot gets pretty disturbing from here. We find out Kyle has been molested by his mother. I know. Ugh. Oh my god. Everyone go hide and pray and clean themselves from this horrible unnecessary twist. I mean, it’s kind of unnecessary. But it becomes more relevant when Franken-Kyle freaks out and bludgeons his mother to death. This shows that a) he retains some deep-seated memories of his past despite being dead and b) when Zoe stumbles upon the carnage, having had a benevolent impression of his grieving mother, we totally understand how she can feel… like she created a monster.

The ReplacementsBack to civilization (kinda), Sara Paulson’s Cordelia visits Angela Basset’s Marie for witch advice on how to conceive. Angea Bassett is going to help her! All she has to do is make a bon-fire, conjure some voodoo cronies, boil some, um, substance… and kill a goat! Viola, Cordelia will be with child. Oh wait, Marie HATES her mother. It was all just a big, cruel joke.  She vows to never help her. This devastates Cordelia, and perhaps sparks even more resentment regarding her mother. How will this pan out, I wonder?  The entire scene pretty much establishes that Marie is a beast at being a witch. The trailers were right: She did mess with the wrong witch.

Our episode ends with a shocker. Thus far it pretty much (excellently) set up some plot twist regarding Zoe, Cordelia, and LaLaurie. But now…well a major character “accidentally” gets killed. The whole time we thought Fiona was trying to help the young starlet in becoming an even more bad-ass witch. Nope.

The Analysis

If I was left with one impression from last night’s episode, it is this: Jessica Lange is a fantastic actress. The last five minutes of the show were a theatrical demonstration of old school soliloquy combined with modern feminist concerns of identity and regret. Until now, the full extent of Lange’s range and ability to convey the pain within her character had not been fully demonstrated in the show.

As mentioned before (last week), it appears as if AHS is maturing into a more serious drama from a less of a gimmicky horror series. Next week is Halloween. Could this be the climax of Ryan Murphy’s passion project?