It’s always exciting to see how a sophomore episode of a season fairs, especially one that follows a solid premiere. “Boy Parts,” the second episode of American Horror Story: Coven stepped up to the plate this week with precisely that challenge, but what resulted was a surprising swing-and-a-miss for a series with very few clunkers.
As viewers of last week’s episode might have guessed based on the “next time on American Horror Story,” the title of the episode is taken from Zoe and Madison’s somewhat twisted storyline: Madison, as a way to rectify killing Zoe’s love interest (Kyle) in the bus accident, brings Zoe to a morgue with the intent to resurrect the poor frat boy with a spell. Instead, all they find is a bunch of dismembered limbs and disembodied heads, which Madison decides they will use to build “the perfect boyfriend.” Thus, Franken-Kyle is born, complete with muteness and uncontrollable seizures. The perfect boyfriend, indeed.
Meanwhile, Fiona is keeping Delphine LaLaurie hostage after digging her up in the previous episode. In awe about how she is still alive after 180 years, LaLaurie recounts how Marie Laveau cursed her with immortality before burying her alive. This conversation leads Fiona to Marie’s “shithole” salon, where the two break the world-record for the most intense haircut conversation (the sharp dialogue and impeccable acting in this scene is one of the episode’s few main highlights).
Cordelia struggles with her fertility issues, and after her husband convinces her to use magic to help her become pregnant, the two have very passionate sex surrounded by fire and covered in snakes. And Misty Day (Lily Rabe), who was burned alive in a brief scene from last week, is somehow back and using her necromantic powers to kill a few gator poachers before her “witch-sense” tingles and she intervenes to help Zoe deal with Franken-Kyle.
As a whole, the episode feels like a birthday-party grab-bag filled with toys that are only interesting for a few minutes before becoming completely forgettable. In the episode’s worst moments, the police somehow decide that Zoe and Madison are suspects in making the bus crash, and when Zoe blurts out that they are all witches, Fiona conveniently makes the officers forget everything, later threatening the two girls with the episode’s cringe-worthiest line of dialogue: “The only thing you have to fear… is me!” A scene or two later, Madison is seen using a lock pick, which seems a bit too conventional for someone with the ability to flip buses. Misty spends an awfully large amount of time talking about singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks. And a confusing, and arguably irrelevant, Queenie flashback does little for the episode besides give the actress some screen time.
Though “Boy Parts” functions on the thematic basis of life versus death, the episode itself is highly fragmented in terms of its structure. Things often seem to be a bit too convenient or tangential, and at this point, it seems there are not enough “likable” characters with clear-cut morals. Perhaps it is Coven‘s intent to draw parallels between its characters and the morally-ambiguous historical context of “witches,” but at this point, any cohesiveness is lost before reaching its audience. The next episode of American Horror Story: Coven, “The Replacements,” airs Wednesday, October 23 at 10/9c, only on FX.
Later reviews will begin to analyze episodes of Coven on its more technical aspects. Take a look at this video that goes behind-the-scenes on the cinematography of the premiere episode: