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Fearful Pranks Ensue

"Fearful Pranks Ensue" is the fourth episode of the third season of the anthology television series American Horror Story, which premiered on October 30, 2013, on the cable network FX. This episode is rated TV-MA (LSV).

"Fearful Pranks Ensue"
American Horror Story episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 4
Directed byMichael Uppendahl
Written byJennifer Salt
Featured music
Production code3ATS04
Original air dateOctober 30, 2013 (2013-10-30)
Running time44 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Replacements"
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"Burn, Witch. Burn!"
American Horror Story: Coven
List of American Horror Story episodes

In this episode, the coven is visited by the Council of Witchcraft after they are notified of Madison (Emma Roberts)'s disappearance. Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe guest star as Marie Laveau and Queenie, respectively. This episode was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie.



Racial tensions ride higher than ever in New Orleans as new hope for equality arises with President John F. Kennedy in office. As a 15-year-old black boy named Henry rides his bike home from his first day at an integrated high school, three white men chase him down a narrow alleyway and lynch him. Back in Marie Laveau's hair salon, his mother is an optimist with hope for a better life, to which Marie feels the opposite. After Marie and the boy's mother discover his dead body, she decides that retaliation is the key. That night, she performs a complex voodoo ritual that involves sacrificing snakes to call forth the dead bodies in a local cemetery. As Marie controls them with her mind, the zombies locate the men responsible for the murder and brutally kill them by eviscerating them alive.


Marie meets with Anna-Leigh and a truce is proclaimed between the Salem witches and the voodoo practitioners, ending a 10-year war between the two.

Following the death of Anna-Leigh, a young Fiona is questioned by the Witches' Council about her disappearance. Fiona makes up a story about Anna-Leigh leaving with a bottle of wine, hinting at it being the voodoo practitioners fault. When the council comes to the conclusion that Anna-Leigh has abdicated her position, they tell Fiona that she is to become the next Supreme, the youngest in the history of the Coven. In the week leading up to her test in which she will perform the Seven Wonders in order to prove she has what it takes to rise to the throne, all are celebrating for Fiona except for her rival: a young Myrtle Snow. She knows that Fiona killed Anna-Leigh, even though nobody suspects her. She decides that she will force the truth to come forward by performing a spell on the butler Spalding, who has been known to follow Fiona around and always clean her mess, by enchanting his tongue and forcing him to tell the truth with his knowledge of the murder.

Unbeknownst to Myrtle, Spalding heard her make her plan to make him implicate Fiona, and he calls her to the bathroom in private. It is revealed that he cut out his own tongue to protect Fiona, whom he admits that he always loved.


As Spalding prepares for his strange tea party dressed in a nightgown and bonnet, surrounded by dolls, he hears screaming and fighting. He descends to the foyer where he discovers Fiona and Madison arguing before Fiona slits Madison's throat, killing her. She orders him to get rid of the body, and he rolls her up in the rug. Fiona hears loud noises coming from the greenhouse and discovers a bloodied half dead Queenie just as the Minotaur appears behind Fiona. Fiona hauls Queenie up into her room and gets Cordelia. The two of them frantically try to save Queenie as she dies. She is quickly resurrected by Fiona as she breathes life back into Queenie. Fiona leaves the room, leaving Cordelia to care for Queenie. After Queenie awakes, Delphine LaLaurie thanks her for saving her life but Queenie rebuffs her.

As Marie Laveau and her friend Chantal work, a mysterious package arrives at the salon. Marie Laveau looks inside and discovers that Fiona had decapitated the Minotaur (Ameer Baraka) and sent his severed head (still alive) to her. Furious, Marie Laveau prepares for the same voodoo ceremony that she did in 1961 calling on the dead to exact revenge. As Chantal frantically tries to talk her out of it, reminding her of the truce between the witches made in 1971, Marie Laveau declares that the truce is over.

At Kyle's home, Zoe deals with the bloody mess. As she apologizes for her role in both his death and his resurrection, he appears confused, uncaring, and unimpressed. As she tries to comfort him, he tells her that Kyle is gone and he is not Kyle. Zoe goes to get him some food to calm him, and as she prepares a tuna fish salad, she sees rat poison also in the cupboard. She doctors his meal and brings it to him, only to discover that he has escaped the house. Because it is Halloween, Kyle fits in with everyone else dressed in costume.

Cordelia talks with Hank on the phone, as he is away on a business trip. After hanging up, it is revealed that he is not on a business trip but awaiting his mistress, Kaylee at a hotel. After rough sex with her, he appears to take an interest in soothing her in a calm loving manner. But when she confesses her true feelings for him, he coldly shoots her in the head without hesitation.

The Council of the Witchcraft arrives at the Academy to discuss the disappearance of Madison. At first, Cordelia is confused, admitting to both her knowledge of Queenie's attack and her visit to Marie Laveau. However, they explained that they were summoned by the clairvoyant Nan who can no longer hear Madison. As they interview all of the witches, Cordelia notices that her rug is gone and Nan confesses that she witnessed Madison lighting the curtains on fire just by looking at them. Alarmed, the Council interrogates Fiona who denies her part in Madison's death while sneering and smiling. After it is revealed that the Council knew that Madison was the Supreme apparent, Myrtle Snow (head of the Council) loses her temper and screams at Fiona acknowledging that she knows (but can't prove) that she killed the previous Supreme, killed Madison, and cut out the butler's tongue. Myrtle then instructs Spalding to “write the name of the witch who is responsible for severing his tongue.” After he does and hands her the paper, Myrtle reads it and sees that he has written her name and not Fiona's. He returns to his room where he selects a dress out of his closet. As he makes his way across the room, a dead Madison is propped up like a doll in one of his chairs. He never buried her.

A deflated Myrtle demands to know what happened to Madison, and reminds Fiona that the punishment for killing another witch is death by burning at the stake. Cordelia steps in to defend her mother claiming that there was no way Madison could be the next Supreme, as Supremes had to be superior – both in skill and in health. She reveals that she saw Madison monitoring her heart defect carefully but she knew Madison had a heart murmur. After the Council leaves, Fiona and Cordelia head to the bar to relax. They have a discussion in which they both ask for the other to tell the truth. Cordelia takes a bathroom break to throw up, but as she leaves the bathroom, a hooded figure dressed in black appears with what looks like a drink behind her. As Cordelia turns to face the hooded person, they throw the drink (which is acid) at her eyes, severely injuring Cordelia.

Back at the Academy, trick or treaters arrive in numbers. Their neighbor Luke comes over to see Nan, shortly before Madame LaLaurie's resurrected daughters appear at the door. The dead surround the house and prepare for an attack as the frightened Delphine LaLaurie, Zoe, Queenie, Luke, and Nan cower inside waiting for what may ensue.


"Fearful Pranks Ensue" received a 2.0 18–49 ratings share and was watched by 3.71 million viewers, winning its time slot.[1]

Rotten Tomatoes reports an 86% approval rating, based on 14 reviews. The critical consensus reads, ""Fearful Pranks Ensue" maintains the momentum of previous episodes while further developing emerging narrative threads – and taking full advantage of an outstanding cast."[2] Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+ rating, saying, "There is nothing I could say. I could literally write the greatest review in the history of television criticism, and it wouldn't matter. The Golden Corral of terror that is American Horror Story is open for business, and all who attempt to find meaning in it shall be shot."[3] Matt Fowler from IGN gave the episode an 8.2/10 rating, calling it a great episode, saying, "I'm still glad to see that, given the cliffhanger, Halloween night will continue. And that it looks like the best of the ghoulish evening is yet to come."[4]


  1. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 31, 2013). "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'American Horror Story' Wins Night, 'South Park', 'Key & Peele', 'Ghost Hunters', 'Preachers of LA' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  2. ^ "Fearful Pranks Ensue – American Horror Story: Coven, Episode 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  3. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (October 31, 2013). "Fearful Pranks Ensue". The A.V. Club.
  4. ^ Fowler, Matt (October 31, 2013). "American Horror Story: Coven – "Fearful Pranks Ensue" Review". IGN. Retrieved November 1, 2013.

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