American Horror Story: Coven, Episode 304: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

“Fearful Pranks Ensue” offers a lot of setup and a notable lack of unsettling incest. That being said, the show’s familiar themes of life, death, and rebirth all feature predominantly in this episode despite Misty’s absence and Kyle’s limited screen time. This week, we really get to see what Marie Laveau can do. Oh, and we get to see that Spaulding is potentially into necrophilia and has a delightful collection of dollies, teacups, and at least one bonnet.
 It is pretty clear at this point that Marie Laveau has some nasty tricks up her sleeve, but single-handedly resurrecting hoards of long-dead cemetery patrons may be her best trick yet. Of course, zombies and voodoo go together like love and marriage (which go together like a horse and carriage), but for some reason it never occurred to me that the undead would play a role in Coven. Now it is clear that the both Marie and the witches are capable of restoring life to the dead, but the resulting reanimates do not seem to be of the same caliber. Marie is at a disadvantage, because her choice group of dead people have been dead for quite a long time; furthermore, they lack a certain awareness that is clearly emerging in Kyle. According to Benjamin Radford’s article, “Zombies: The Real Story of the Undead,” zombies are typically created to serve a specific purpose. Radford writes:
Haitian zombies were said to be people brought back from the dead (and sometimes controlled) through magical means by voodoo priests called bokors or houngan. Sometimes, zombification was done as punishment (striking fear in those who believed that they could be abused even after death), but often zombies were said to have been used as slave labor on farms and sugarcane plantations.
FYI – if you Google “Voodoo and Fertility” or “Voodoo and Resurrection,” you will be treated to a plethora of personal pages offering to perform a variety of spells, charms, and rituals with a “30 day money-back guarantee.” Seems legit.
So, these “walking corpses” are not resurrected to ease the pain of mourning families or to restore the person that once was; these poor entities are just a means to an end. This just isn’t the case with Kyle. Sure, he’s not quite the person he was, but he is learning. He can utter a few words, he can display intense emotion, he can seduce Zoe by caressing her face with his bloody paws. Moreover, he has advanced significantly since the moment of rebirth. His progression thus far mirrors that of Frankenstein’s creature, who is initially much like an infant. The creature’s narration begins:
It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being; all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct. A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.
The creature’s first memories are of being bombarded by his senses, which is what it must feel like to be a newborn. Kyle behaves similarly. He is gradually grasping the art of walking and he is picking up on his vocabulary skills. He is not just a mindless body, he is thinking and adapting. Marie might prove to be capable of this sort of resurrection, but thus far it seems that the witches are superior in this department.
Marie also claims to have a handy fertility ritual that could help Cordelia. Cordelia attempted to use black magic herself to remedy the issue, but to no avail. It is hinted at that this spell is at least sometimes successful, but in this instance, it was not. Conversely, Marie boasts of a “100% success rate” with her method, which thereby seems a tad bit more reliable.
Marie can resurrect the dead and create life in the infertile (at least according to her). However, her reanimated corpses lack the personality that is slowly emerging from Kyle. I’m not sure if this has to do with the fact that Kyle’s full rebirth was the result of combined efforts from black magic and Misty’s more intrinsic abilities, but he is definitely a different type of being than Marie’s zombies. Having an aware being might not pay off in the long run, though. If Marie and the witches are ultimately going to face off in battle, a hoard of mindless killers might be more useful than a sensitive reanimated being.
For Benjamin Radford’s article, “Zombies: The Real Story of the Undead,” please visit: http://www.livescience.com/23892-zombies-real-facts.html
For the full text of Frankenstein online (and completely free!), please visit: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/84/84-h/84-h.htm
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