"The Replacements" is the third episode of the third season of the anthology television series American Horror Story, which premiered on October 23, 2013, on the cable network FX. This episode is rated TV-MA (LSV).
This episode focuses on Fiona (Jessica Lange) taking on Madison as a protégé (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) tries to give Kyle (Evan Peters) his life back. Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, and Patti LuPone guest star as Marie Laveau, Queenie, and Joan Ramsey, respectively.
At Miss Robichaux's Academy, a young Fiona (Riley Voelkel) is approached by Anna-Leigh Leighton (Christine Ebersole), headmistress and reigning Supreme. Fiona begins questioning Anna-Leigh as to when she knew she was destined to take the throne. After she explains to her that in order to become the Supreme, a witch must master and be able to perform the "Seven Wonders", Fiona responds that she is ready and wants to show off her skills to the Council of Witchcraft. Fiona points out that according to witch mythology, as the new Supreme begins to flourish, the old one begins to fade, noting Anna-Leigh's numerous recent medical disabilities. When Anna-Leigh dismisses her once more and swears that she will never take the throne of Supreme, Fiona cuts her throat, killing her.
In present day, Fiona (Jessica Lange) visits her resident plastic surgeon for a last-ditch attempt at retaining whatever youth and beauty she has left, only to be told that a problem in her immune system raises concern for him. She begins to sense that this means there is a new Supreme on the horizon and her time may be running out.
Back at the school, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Nan (Jamie Brewer) observe Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon), the new neighbor, moving into the house next door. The next day, Madison (Emma Roberts) and Nan visit to welcome him to the neighborhood with a homemade cake. As Madison attempts to shamelessly flirt with the boy, his mother Joan (Patti LuPone) mentions that the family is very active in the church. Madison responds by mocking the woman's religion, which prompts her to become angry. Madison uses her Telekinesis to fling the knife across the room, narrowly missing Joan's head. Joan throws Madison and Nan out of her house, but Madison angrily lights the curtains on fire with her mind as she does, displaying a previously unknown Pyrokinesis.
Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) continues to struggle to adapt to modern life. She is told by Fiona that she will assume the role of the maid in order to blend in. When she gets into an altercation with Queenie, Fiona makes her act as Queenie's personal slave as a punishment for her racist behavior. Later on, Delphine is making Queenie dinner and they hear frightening noises outside. LaLaurie is horrified to realize that it is Bastien, who has survived in his Minotaur form all these years. Queenie goes outside to confront him, and ends up identifying with him, as she went through a similar ostracizing, saying that they both just wanted love and got called beasts in return. She begins to make sexual advances toward the Minotaur, and is snatched up by it.
Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) visits Kyle's (Evan Peters) mother Alicia (Mare Winningham), who reveals that she was so distraught over her son's death that she was just about to commit suicide before Zoe called and asked to meet with her. Zoe visits Misty (Lily Rabe) in her swamp home, who has fixed Kyle's wounds and nursed him back to health to retrieve him. Eventually Zoe is able to convince the lonely and attached Misty to let Kyle go with her under the promise that she'll return. She returns him to Alicia, unaware that she is sexually abusing her son. Later, Alicia tells Kyle that she invited Zoe for dinner, and when she makes sexual advances toward him, he beats her to death with an athletic trophy. When Zoe arrives, she sees only Alicia's dead body and Kyle covered in blood.
Meanwhile, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is told by her doctor that she will never be able to get pregnant, so as a last effort, she pays a visit to Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and begs her to perform a voodoo fertility ritual on her. Laveau mocks Cordelia and turns her away, telling her that she will never help the daughter of her sworn enemy, and that there is a war brewing between her Coven and the voodoo practitioners.
When Joan confronts Fiona with the news of her argument with Madison, Fiona ignores Joan's fanatical rantings but is perturbed by the fact that Madison lit her curtains on fire with her mind. She begins to suspect that the fact that she is displaying new powers means Madison is next in line to become the Supreme. Fiona takes Madison to the same bar that she frequents, and gets her drunk. When they arrive back at the school, Fiona tells Madison that she (Fiona) has cancer and will be dead in less than a year and Madison offers her chemotherapy but she refuses. She also explains that she is dying because there is a new Supreme getting ready to take the throne, and she thinks it's Madison. She brings Madison to the exact spot where she murdered Anna-Leigh, where she seemingly begs Madison to put her out of her misery before cutting Madison's throat and leaving her to die on the ground and then stares at Spalding (Denis O'Hare) telling him to clean up the mess and hide the body.
"The Replacements" received a 2.1 18–49 ratings share and was watched by 3.78 million viewers.
Rotten Tomatoes reports a 100% approval rating, based on 13 reviews. The critical consensus reads, ""The Replacements" focuses on the weird and the wonderful as it tackles taboos and a shocking death." At Vulture, Rakesh Satyal praised Angela Bassett for "straight-up killing it" and offered praise for the comedic subplot involving LaLaurie. Stating that the episode "upped the ante", he awarded it a full five out of five stars. Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B rating for "The Replacements". Matt Fowler from IGN gave the episode an 8/10 rating, calling it a great episode and Madison's "shocking" death "the best thing Coven's done so far". He did however say, "I don't mind things that are batshit nuts. Not at all. But I'm also not going to emotionally invest in those things as much as I will more centralized themes."