Helpful Household Hints With Wilson Appleby, 14th President Of FOWAWA, Friends Of Witches And Warlocks Anonymous
Greetings, FOWAWA fanatics! It’s October, and you know what that means. Autumn’s in the air, and all you consorts of the Great Mystery will have that added spring in your step. It’s an ideal time for hot apple cider, pumpkin pie, and ritualistic animal sacrifice. Remember: Get your sacrifice buddy today. No one wants to be the gloomy Gus who gets trapped without a bloody buddy when Samhain rolls into town!
Now, I don’t know if you’ve been watching the latest FX program on the old television set, but I have been, and American Horror Story: Coven contains numerous hints for all of us who like to dabble in witchery but don’t really understand the whozits and whatzits. So quit your hemming and hawing and check out this excellent and not-at-all-biased-against-witches-so-quit-yer-yammerin’ program post-haste! As an extra and added bonus, all of today’s helpful household hints are drawn from this week’s new episode, “Body Parts.” Thanks to FX for providing us with this conversation piece and all those advertising dollars!
Helpful Hint #1: The swamp is full of things you need to revivify your resurrected corpse boyfriend. Like alligator dung! Have you ladies out there ever found yourselves with a dead boyfriend after your new best friend flipped the bus he was on with her magical telekinesis? (If any of you fellas out there have been in a similar situation, no need to speak up. Just give me the ol’ wink and nod.) Well, no matter how justified Miss Madison was in her actions, Miss Zoe is right to mourn the death of Kyle, the love she could never have. That is, she was right to mourn him until an awkwardly timed confluence of events—involving a resurrection spell and the arrival of Misty Day (played by friend of FOWAWA Lily Rabe)—returns him to life, all stitched together like that big ol’ lunk Boris Karloff played in the movies.
Anyway, this is all good fun, mostly because it means that Evan Peters never has to talk, and he seems to enjoy playing a resurrected frat boy as someone woken from a very deep sleep who’s feeling rather homicidal about it. There’s actually a nice little moment there where he takes Zoe’s hand and rubs against it like he doesn’t want her to go or like he’s a cat and he wants a nice skritch behind the ears, but the best thing about this is that it puts Rabe and Taissa Farmiga alone together in a cabin to just shoot the breeze for a while. Having these two become besties could be a promising path for the season to take, and your humble columnist already likes this relationship better than the one Zoe has with Miss Madison. Anyway, the big takeaway here: If you’ve got a resurrected, stitched-together corpse sitting in your living room right now, just stinkin’ everything up, Mother Nature has ways of healing those wounds! Go down to the swamp and dig up some swamp muck today. It has rejuvenating powers, and it’ll also get scratch marks out of your coffee table.
Helpful Hint #2: Need to deal with a mortal enemy? Giving her immortality, then locking her in a box beneath the Earth, is always a solid method for dishing out revenge. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m just loving that Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau, immortal voodoo queen who manages to transcend even the slight eyebrow-raiser that is her running a salon with the word “Cornrow” in its name. The more this season turns itself into a battle for power among Bassett and Jessica Lange, the more I’m going to be paying attention. The best thing this show can do is realize it has a bunch of great actresses who love nothing more than chewing a little scenery, then let them chew scenery in each other’s general direction for an hour every week. And oh boy, was there plenty of that this week! Supreme Witch Fiona going to visit Marie at her salon was my favorite scene of the week, particularly when she closed it out by sniping at Marie that maybe in another hundred years, she’d have two shithole salons. Fiona so far doesn’t seem to have the range of Lange’s season two character, but she’s still having a ton o’ fun with this kooky lady.
Not to be outdone, though, is the little taste we get of the time Marie sent Madame LaLaurie to an early burial alive after giving her that potion of immortality. Bassett really owns Laveau’s power in that moment—a power that’s made her a near myth in New Orleans, as the show readily indicates—and Kathy Bates sells how defeated and impotent LaLaurie feels in that moment. Having this old madwoman as someone just living at the School for Exceptional Girls feels like the kind of thing that could pay off grandly or just peter out eventually. We’ve all seen enough of this show to know where this is going. And, yeah, there’s a confusing racial component here that reminds your humble columnist of the fact that his position in this country is based on centuries of systemic oppression, but there’s also a man-o-taur, so what are you gonna do?
Speaking of impotency…
Helpful Hint #3: Looking for a way to spice up that marriage? Try snakes! Turns out that Cordelia’s been married all this time and just never told us. Her husband’s name is Hank, and the two of them are very sad they can’t seem to have a baby. The storyline tries to sell us on the idea that Cordelia doesn’t want to use magic to conceive—the thing the both of them want most in the world—but this is something your ol’ pal Wilson has always had trouble buying. Why, if Wilson had as much power as Cordelia, he’d go around turning his problems into puppy dogs. But that’s neither here nor there. Maybe Cordelia’s seen season one of this show and knows what happens with magical pregnancies. That would be a better explanation than she just doesn’t want to use magic because she doesn’t want to turn into her mother, a notion that sort of makes sense on an emotional level but doesn’t really work on a practical one. Isn’t Cordelia more limited in power than her mother? Hasn’t she already successfully cordoned herself off from that level of limitlessness? This sort of conflict is generally more interesting if it’s about two magic users who use that magic to very different ends, not if it’s about one magic user urging others to hide away their power. It’s a false conflict—I learned that phrase in Introduction to Screenwriting—because we out there in the audience wanna see the sparks fly. We don’t care about not using magic. That’s boring.
Fortunately, Cordelia gets on our side right away, as she and Hank cast a spell to conceive, and it makes for an eerie little sequence with the two sitting in a circle of ash that starts on fire and then snakes crawling all over them. It’s a little reminiscent of Daenerys and her dragons at the end of season one of Game Of Thrones, but that’s no matter because just think about what Ryan Murphy would do with that show! Oh, it would be borderline incomprehensible but so much fun. (I should let you know here that this week’s episode was scripted by Tim Minear and directed by Michael Rymer, and the both of them find a much better, more sustained tone than last week’s episode did.) Anyway, we all know magic babies are bad news, but we also know that dangling deadly snakes over a naked lover, preferably hung from the bedroom ceiling by rapidly fraying dental floss, makes for fun sexy times. Consider that a helpful hint within a helpful hint!
Helpful Hint #4: If you are a screenwriter and introduce flashbacks into your TV show, make sure they’re motivated. For some reason, we find out all about how Queenie came to live at the witch school this week, and while it’s helpful information—possibly—it also seems to sort of have nothing to do with anything, outside of the episode’s general theme of body horror. (And that’s me being awfully charitable to Mssrs. Murphy and Falchuk.) Flashbacks that came out of nowhere and revealed bizarre information like the fate of the Lost Colony were a plague of season one and were less of a problem in season two. Let’s hope that the show sticks to just giving us a handful of secret origins and doesn’t try to do too much else in this regard. Remember: When you’re plotting out a flashback, it’s best if it comments on the main action in some regard, not if it’s just kind of there flopping around like a dying alligator. Speaking of which…
Helpful Hint #5: When killing hunters, make sure to do so with their own prey. It’s only polite, and it makes for the most ironically satisfying death when the alligator they just killed drags ’em back into the swamp muck.
Confidential to Misty in Louisiana: I don’t know how to kill it once it’s been made undead either. Shot to the head? That seems to work on some other programs.
Helpful Hint #6: You can get those chicken blood stains out of your carpet with only water. Remember: Just because it’s sacrifice season doesn’t mean it can’t be preparedness season. After you’re done summoning whatever spirits you meant to summon, spritz that bloodstain with cold water while it’s still fresh. It can be lifted up with a wet-dry vacuum. Then set down a fan on low for the next few days to make sure it dries out.
Helpful Hint #7: Stevie Nicks was a powerful white witch, and if you recite the lyrics to “Rhiannon” while staring into the piercing gaze of the full moon, you will find your destiny in your dreams. Well, it’s true.
Grade: B for Body parts, part of a nutritious alligator breakfast.