‘American Horror Story’ 3.04 Recap: “Who’s the Baddest Witch in Town?”

‘American Horror Story’ and Halloween make a delightful combination. While last week’s Halloween-eve episode may not have pulled out all the stops (topping some of the craziness this show has previously unleashed is a difficult task), it sure did pull out a lot of them.

Did you realize that the creepy long-haired butler who’s stood around in the background of scenes this season was Denis O’Hare from Season 1 (most famous for playing Russell Edgington on ‘True Blood’)? Although I’d seen his name in the credits the last few episodes, I didn’t realize that he’d already been on. The actor is practically unrecognizable under the makeup and hasn’t said a word until now. Finally, we learn that the character has a name – Spalding – and a back story. I also have to say that his doll tea party is one of the creepiest things this show has ever done.

In episode ‘Fearful Pranks Ensue’, three members of the Council of Witchcraft – Cecily (Robin Bartlett from ‘Mad About You’), Myrtle (Frances Conroy) and Quentin (Leslie Jordan) – make a surprise visit to the academy to investigate the disappearance of Madison. They were called by Nan, who can no longer hear Madison’s thoughts and believes she’s dead. Fiona insists that Madison is simply a spirited girl who’s probably run off to do drugs or be with a boy. Of course, we know that Fiona has actually killed her.

Myrtle has held a grudge against Fiona since their younger days. After the death of their previous Supreme, young Myrtle suspected that Fiona killed the woman to take her place (which is true) and cast a truth-telling spell onto Spalding, who doted on young Fiona and would likely know all her secrets. Before he could speak up, Spalding was found with his tongue cut out. Myrtle was never able to prove Fiona’s involvement, and has waited decades for another opportunity to cast the hammer of judgment.

Unfortunately, when directly asked who was responsible for his tongue being cut out, Spalding writes Myrtle’s name on a piece of paper. In a flashback, we see that, after learning about Myrtle’s truth spell, Spalding met with Fiona, declared his love for her, and cut out his own tongue. He will do anything to serve her.

Elsewhere in the episode, we learn about Spalding’s fetish for dolls, which includes playing dress-up himself, and discover that he has clothed and posed Madison’s body as the latest acquisition in his collection.

Other Shenanigans
  • The episode opens with a flashback to 1961. After a black teen is murdered by racists for the crime of attending a newly integrated school, Marie Laveau casts a spell that causes corpses to rise from their graves and murder the racists. You can bet that this will be important later.
  • Queenie is left gravely injured after her encounter with the minotaur. When she briefly dies, Fiona is able to resuscitate her. Cordelia wants to send her to a hospital, but Fiona insists that they take care of this matter in-house.
  • Marie Laveau receives a package with the minotaur’s head inside. It blinks. Laveau declares that the truce between witch clans is over. This is war.
  • Having murdered his mother, Kyle bangs his head bloody against the bathroom tub. When Zoe tries to comfort him, he speaks his first words: “No Kyle.” I guess this means that he’s not Kyle anymore. Zoe offers to make him a tuna sandwich to calm him down, and contemplates putting rat poison in it to return Kyle to death where he belongs. Before she can serve him, he runs off.
  • Allegedly on a business trip out of town, Cordelia’s husband Hank has an affair with a girl he picked up on a dating web site. They have some disturbingly aggressive sex (that violent magic sex he had with Cordelia is apparently just the way he does it), and Hank basically acts like a huge creep. Despite this, the girl tells him that she’s falling in love with him. Hank returns the favor by shooting her in the head. Hank is not a nice man.
  • After making Myrtle look like a fool (again), Fiona delights in her victory for just a brief moment before Cordelia reveals that Madison could not have been the next Supreme. One of the signs of being a Supreme is robust health, but Madison had a heart condition. Someone else must be siphoning Fiona’s life energy.
  • The super-religious neighbor boy that Madison tried to throw herself at is actually into Nan.
  • A hooded figure tosses acid into Cordelia’s face. We don’t know what this is about yet. Will she be permanently disfigured, or can magic return her looks?
  • On Halloween night, Marie Laveau once again calls for zombies to rise from their graves. The episode ends with the undead swarming toward the academy – perhaps the most unwelcome trick-or-treaters ever.

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