It was teased on EW’s recent American Horror Story: Coven cover but last night we saw Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) literally lose her head. Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) lopped off her archenemy’s noggin and sent it in a box to Fiona (Jessica Lange), payback for the death of her minotaur boyfriend. But that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of dramatic events. Joan (Patti LuPone) gave her son a toxic enema. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) cut out the heart of a homeless man. And Fiona wore some really fabulous turbans. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about the latest AHS: Coven developments, including more Stevie Nicks!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide to chop off LaLaurie’s head? Was that decided from the beginning?
RYAN MURPHY: Well the interesting thing about that story was basically we’ve established that LaLaurie’s punishment is that she can live forever so she’s a character who can’t be killed. So at a certain point, as she even says in the episode, she learned like, “F*** you. You can do whatever you want.” So you’re like What could Marie do to her that would be heinous? And then what could we follow with that to make it even more heinous? So when we came up with the idea that she would definitely cut off her head, we decided that wasn’t enough and that Gabourey Sidibe had to do something that would make it even worse. Then we came up with that which is one of my favorite things we’ve ever done. Then we came up with a whole episode which is the winter cliffhanger called “Head” where we follow the travails of Kathy Bates’ head and things happen to other characters’ literal heads or intellects or brain power. She’s such a villain yet Kathy’s so empathetic so it’s become this weird thing where I’m shocked that people are rooting for Madame LaLaurie. I think what happens in the winter cliffhanger “Head” is beyond hilarious.
Do they like prop her up on the mantle and she talks? Does Fiona carry her around in a bowling ball bag? How do they deal with her head?
Well the funny thing is Fiona certainly doesn’t want her head in the house. It’s just sort of like one of those bad Christmas sweaters that keeps getting passed from person to person. Ultimately you’ll see what happens with Gabourey Sidibe but it’s my favorite thing of the year—well that and Stevie Nicks.
The other thing is I think this episode, “The Sacred Taking, is it’s Jessica’s best episode of the year. I think she’s so amazing in it and I think she approached it with such bravery. And damn does she look good in a turban!
It’s very Big Edie/Grey Gardens![Laughs] I never thought of that!
I just love the idea of Kathy Bates as just a head acting opposite people.
And you know the great thing about Kathy Bates is she has been so great and game for everything. When we had to call her and say “You’re going to be a head.” She was like “Great!” I made her do something for one of the last episodes and she sent me a text this morning of her doing it, flipping me off in a selfie. [Laughs]
That’s the thing about this show is you gotta be game for everything, like you may be just a head.
Well it sounds funny but ultimately where that winter cliffhanger gets to is incredibly moving and very dramatic and it’s about something that I think is very profound. You’ll see.
In her sickness, Fiona finally gets a friend in Spalding. Will we see more of them plotting together?
Yes. You’ll see more of Spalding and more of Spalding with other characters as well. Now that he’s a ghost in that house he can really watch over them. He has his favorites.
At the end, Fiona and Cordelia sort of have a truce. I love that Cordelia plotting her mother’s murder brought them closer. Will that continue?
No! They’ll never be on good terms. That’s one of my favorite relationships on the show. I think just when you think Cordelia has forgiven Fiona, something comes up, Fiona tries something else. Cordelia in the last four episodes in January finds out something even darker about her mother that turns things upside down. This isn’t Gilmore Girls. We don’t have a mother daughter relationship that you love.
There are some bad moms on this show.
Some of them redeemed. Keep watching.
Speaking of bad moms, Joan went full throttle crazy with her enema bag. She died and came back from the dead. What will she be like resurrected?
In the next episode, Joan is alive and her son is in a coma. She finally has to deal with the fact that the ladies next door are witches whom she hates but who can help her, particularly Nan who is a clairvoyant. Also, we give the nation and the world Patti Lupines singing a spiritual, which is a great moment for her. I think “Head” is my favorite episode of the season. What Patti LuPone does. The return of Myrtle Snow. There’s some great stuff—Jessica stuff, Sarah stuff, Emma stuff. I’m really excited for people to see that winter cliffhanger because it’s pretty amazing. Angela stuff. Gabourey. It’s some of the best work of the season.
Speaking of Gabourey, Queenie went really dark killing the homeless man in the beginning. Will she continue down that path?
Well she’s clearly aligned herself with the voodoos. You saw she doesn’t have Marie’s sort of vengeance. I love that she was bringing Kathy Bates hamburgers. She’s trying to figure out where she fits in. She has a really big arc and a really big thing that happens that turns everything around for her in “Head.” Can these two sides get along? Or is Queenie leading the tipping point?
The witch hunter storyline really ramped up too. Will that progress in “Head?”
Yeah. There are a lot of deaths in “Head.” I had to make the fateful calls. It really sort of turns the season on its ear and sort of sets up the last four episodes in a very clear, interesting way.
Well people die on the show and come back to life on the show all the time. Are these more concrete deaths?
Well if you die you want to die near Misty Day. If you don’t have Misty Day around and that’s not one of your powers, you’re kind of f***ed. So yes some of them die and don’t come back.
I was on set for this episode and I heard some actual witches came in and helped with the choreography for the Sacred Taking.
Yeah. We’ve had some very interesting advisors on the show to say the least.
And the tension between Zoe, Madison and Kyle will continue to mount?
Yeah I was really shocked at people’s reaction to that. I thought the audience would really enjoy that both girls would have the monster. But I was shocked at how many people want the Taissa/Evan duo from season one. But yes that continues on in a rather disastrous way that I think is very entertaining.
You had mentioned that you wanted Stevie Nicks to come back. Is that gonna happen?
We have Stevie for another. Stevie will be in episode 10 and then we have Stevie for another one, doing an idea that she came up with that I thought was too perfect to say no to. Hilariously, Stevie read some of the scripts and called up and said “Are you aware that one of the things you’re doing I actually wrote a song about?” I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Then I remembered the song. We have something cool that was her idea.
Can you say what song it is?
No it gives it away!
Have plans for season four changed at all?
No that’s in stone. I’m already coming up with titles.
And you’ve started figuring out which cast members would be right?
Yeah I invite people when we have a character for them. People should never read into that just because some of your favorites haven’t been announced doesn’t mean anything. It’s a slow build and I keep adding on. Angela is coming back hopefully. Kathy is coming back hopefully. Jessica, Sarah, Evan. Franny Conroy we want to come back. We have a great part for her. And new people too! I love an actor I did The Normal Heart with, Finn Wittrock.
Tim Stack / Entertainment Weekly / Wednesday, December 5, 2013