Well, the third season of FX’s horror anthology American Horror Story is in the books. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story: Coven promised magic and mayhem (which we got in spades) along with a new Supreme by season’s end. They made good on both points, but also managed to muddy up the waters along the way. Powers were established and then thrown away, redemption was teased but rarely achieved, and characters died and revived so often as to lose any emotional impact. Still pretty entertaining though, even if the only purpose for the entire season was a song and a stance. Hit the jump for my episode/season recap and review.
As the title of this episode says, it was all about the Seven Wonders. Part of me is convinced that Murphy and Falchuk built the entire season around the Fleetwood Mac song “Seven Wonders”, which Stevie Nicks sang in a magical montage to open the episode. This opener sums up the entire season: not really necessary or saying anything deep, but it’s cool so let’s use it. There’s nothing wrong with this mentality for the soapy drama series which remains as entertaining as ever, but the show loses some emotional potency because of it.
In what should have been the most-anticipated sequence of the season – the remaining witches vying for the title of Supreme – was rather flat, mostly because the previous run of episodes established quite well that if you die, you can still come back through a variety of means. Because of this, death loses its punch and takes any emotional attachment with it. Madison dies at the hands of her zombie lover whom she spurned on many occasions – so what? Misty became trapped in the netherworld’s version of a middle school science lab and turned to dust in the real world; let’s face it, she was never the sharpest tack to begin with. While I’m glad Queenie and Zoe made it to the end, their characters, after being set up nicely early on, only managed to fizzle in the end.
The series teased redemption on a lot of levels – LaLaurie’s rampant racism, Fiona’s half-hearted attempts to be a good mother and Supreme, and even Hank’s attempts to find acceptance in his father’s eyes – but few of them ever really panned out. Some were left intentionally unfulfilled, as evidenced by the failure of both LaLaurie and Laveau to reconcile, damning them each to an eternity under Papa Legba’s control. Fiona’s finale was on the cusp of being redemptive, but ended up as only a teaser since she was doomed to an eternity living alongside an ax-murderer in a smelly cabin. The only clear winner here, at the end of the day, was Cordelia, who quite literally became her mother in terms of power, while maintaining her own sense of self as the new Supreme.
Cordelia’s decision to out the Academy and her fellow witches is another example of the hit-you-over-the-head social message that the show has employed in the past. While it could be stretched to encompass any minority group, Cordelia’s final speech was clearly a stand-in for the gay community. More power to them. I just wish the entire season would wrap itself around a cohesive and thought-out message rather than shoe-horning it in at the bookkends. Pretty damn entertaining nonetheless.
Episode rating: B
Season rating: B
Quotes & Miscellanea:
Madison: “Either crown me, or kiss my ass.”
Madison’s version of Hell was a direct dig at the live performance of The Sound of Music, but it was still a lot funnier than Zoe’s lame-ass “recurring break-up” scenario.
Madison: “I didn’t want to come here in the first place. It’s all just some jacked-up version of celebrity rehab.”
Madison: “I’m going back to Hollywood where people are normal.”
Kyle to Madison: “You’re not that good an actress.”
Cordelia: “We’ll always be targets for the ignorant. It is what it is.”
Fiona: “I’ll put something inside you.” Ax Man: “A young gypsy girl tried that once and I almost hit the ceiling.”
Fiona to Cordelia: “You took my power the minute I gave birth to you.”
Cordelia: “No powers, no magic, just a woman facing the inevitable. A divine being having a human experience.”
Who else was expecting Fiona to get one last literal back-stab in?
Ax Man: “You can’t put a clock on eternity.”
Fiona: “I can’t spend eternity here. It reeks of fish, and cat piss. What is this, knotty pine?!”
Cordelia: “We’ve survived. Up until now, that’s all we’ve done, but as I look at your faces, all of them beautiful, all of them perfect, I know, together, we can do more than survive. It’s our time to thrive.”