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‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Review: “Boy Parts”

American Horror Story Coven Boy Parts
FX

Tonight’s new episode of ‘American Horror Story: Coven‘ is a bit of a step down from last week’s premiere episode. In “Boy Parts,” Zoe and Madison try to bring Kyle back from the dead in a riff on the classic Frankenstein story, while Fiona continues her mission to acquire the power of immortal youth, and Cordelia reluctantly uses witchcraft to play God.

After the plot-packed craziness of “Bitchcraft,” “Boy Parts” sort of pales in comparison. At times, the episode feels like a really messed up version of ‘Gossip Girl,’ with Zoe and Madison chatting in their bedroom together before being interrogated by two police officers. Wait, what? How could the cops even think that these teen girls would have the time or know-how to rig the brakes on a huge frat boy bus? But no worries, Fiona uses her magic to get rid of the cop problem and the girls run off to a morgue to try and bring Kyle back to the dead. Madison has the brilliant idea of making a Frankenstein’s monster version of him, using all the best boy parts available.

This leads us to the best stuff in an otherwise tepid episode — and I say “tepid” loosely, considering that on a scale of one to the typical WTF bonkers of ‘AHS,’ this probably still ranks at a seven or eight. But ‘AHS’ is always best when it’s cranked straight up to 11. No, the best stuff in the episode isn’t Fiona’s meeting with Marie Laveau, though watching Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett snipe at each other is pretty great. And it’s not Kathy Bates’s ‘Encino Man’ plot as Madame LaLaurie struggles to get used to modern society (cell phones are terrifying!). The best stuff this week is with Lily Rabe’s Misty Day, who has been living in the woods and worshiping Stevie Nicks. Misty brings gators back to life to devour poachers, and finds and helps Zoe when Madison ditches her with a half-cooked Kyle. Rabe had a lot of fun on ‘Asylum,’ relishing in the evil Sister Mary Eunice role, but Misty Day is a whole other level of fascinating. She’s a light and airy backwoods earth mother, and so far, her intentions seem to come from a really good place.

Ryan Murphy has hinted in interviews that Fiona’s supremacy would be challenged, and I’m going to go ahead and guess (as it’s pretty obvious) that the new Supreme is Misty, whose powers seem to stretch a bit beyond resurgence.

Also pretty fun — in a freaky/sexy way — is Cordelia’s story, involving her inability to conceive children with her husband (played by Josh Hamilton — so awesome). As he explains to her, using her powers so they can conceive a baby isn’t playing God any more than the doctors with their in-vitro fertilization practices. It’s just a different kind of playing God. So Cordelia sets up a crazy sex ceremony involving blood and snakes and candles, which may be one of the better visual sequences this week.

Speaking of which, the cinematography in this week’s outing is a bit lackluster in comparison to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s astounding, dizzying work in the premiere. Michael Rymer, who has directed episodes of ‘Hannibal’ (one of the most cinematic and visually sumptuous shows on television), directs “Boy Parts,” which features a lot of tilt-shift photography, often blurring most of a character’s face as if there’s an unwelcome smudge on the camera. The jittery editing didn’t bother me as much (though it did feel less calculated and more sloppy and slapdash) as the smudgy, soft shots that often obscured the details — details which are really great and shouldn’t be obscured.

There’s also not a whole lot of forward momentum this week — there’s an odd flashback scene to show how Queeny’s powers got her in trouble and landed her at the school, and as previously mentioned, the scene with Lange and Bassett is a real delight. There’s also one creepy moment with Bassett later on involving her old lover, still wearing the bull’s head, but we’ll have to wait another week or so to see any real action as a result of this week’s table-setting.

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