By Meryl Gottlieb| email@example.com| @buzzlightmeryl
Look for the next installment of American Horror Story in October on FX
Overall Season Rating: 4/ 5
This is it, folks. American Horror Story: Coven has concluded. This has been my favorite season so far for reasons I’ve listed quite a few times. The most important of these is the lighter tone this season took. There was non-stop sass in every episode that was coupled with regular humor and darkness. It was a great mix that allowed for a much easier viewing process than past seasons. I now cringe at the thought of re-watching Murder House or Asylum for fear of having terrible nightmares and/or never sleeping ever again.
Overall, I enjoyed this season. The performances were spectacular and the dialogue was sharp. However, it wasn’t as perfect as it may have initially seemed. I took a few days to reflect on the finale and the season to see how I really felt about the character arcs, development and ending. Let’s get to it.
The finale began with a new music video for Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders.” Yup, Stevie Nicks — top hat and all — returned one final time and sang the surprisingly applicable song. I actually really loved this. I think this was a MUCH better usage of Nicks than “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” episode. That was such a clear-cut example of the writing staff’s play it by ear mentality. There was no point in having Nicks in that first episode. She didn’t advance the plot in the slightest. I would much rather her have just done this sequence. Obviously, I’ve now been listening to “Seven Wonders” on repeat.
Everyone at the academy has a “last supper” together for all the girls — Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Misty (Lily Rabe) and Madison (Emma Roberts) — are going to attempt to perform the Seven Wonders.
My biggest problem with this season is how inconsistent they were about the witches’ abilities. At first, each witch had her special gift and it seemed to be a big deal when Madison could suddenly do two things. Later on, however, each witch could essentially do just about all of the Seven Wonders. Thus, my apathy for the trials. I’m not impressed by their ability to do these tests since I’ve seen at least one of the girls do them multiple times already. If they really wanted this episode to make an impact, they should have made these powers actually seem important.
After a small glitch at first, everyone completes the telekinesis task. The actual entertainment kicks off when they attempt concilium/ mind control. Misty and Queenie both make the other attack herself because why not? I don’t actually think these two would be so petty to just do that but it’s a smaller argument I’m willing to let go. I really enjoyed Madison and Zoe’s “duel.” Madison forces Kyle (Evan Peters) to kiss her; Zoe does the same then Madison makes Kyle choke Zoe before Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) makes the catfight end.
I cannot get over how awkward filming this season had to be for Peters. He has to look in pain when he makes out with his real-life girlfriend then make out with his on-screen girlfriend in front of his real-life girlfriend. I feel like Ryan Murphy just loved messing with this odd dynamic.
Next up is descensum/ going to hell. Queenie goes in and out like a pro. Madison returns from her hell, which brilliantly consisted of her starring in a network live broadcast of The Sound of Music (yaaaassss. I LOVED this!). Zoe’s hell was Kyle saying he wanted to break up and that he never loved her. That was so sad. They never really developed their relationship this season like they did in season one with Tate and Violet, but this at least showed us there is love there.
Unfortunately, descensum claims the first victim: Misty. She is unable to return from her hell and turns to dust. Her hell consisted of her constantly reviving and then being forced to kill a dissection frog in a science class. This was a really surprisingly dark end for Misty. Her character symbolized life — it was her power and her beliefs — and now she is forced to kill for all of eternity. Nothing is harder to imagine than Misty screaming in that class forever. Her ending really goes to show you how AHS is still a horror show. Just because this season was overall more light-hearted doesn’t mean everyone is going to get a somewhat happy ending.
Queenie, Zoe and Madison decide to have fun with the next task: transmutation. They commence a game of tag in the academy and the front yard as they disappear and reappear tagging the next person. The antics end once Zoe ends up impaled on the fence spikes.
Madison and Queenie are rushed to perform Vitalium Vitalis, but Queenie is unable to do so, meaning she is out of the race for the supremacy. Madison is able to revive a fly but refuses to bring back Zoe since she’s now won and bringing her back would only continue race.
Myrtle (Frances Conroy) finally has more to do this week than provide the sassy one-liners and occasional scene transition role. Except, all she did was encourage Cordelia to attempt to perform the Seven Wonders as well. She babbled on about all the power inside of Delia and how all her life she’s been holding it in and now the time has come to let it go.
Thus, cue the montage of Cordelia breezing through the Seven Wonders that were already tested. My favorite moment was when she made Queenie do some sweet jazzercise moves. That was a great little moment. Unsurprisingly, her hell was her trying to gain Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) approval.
I’m not going to rant again but I’m really annoyed that the rules about powers are so flimsy. Are you really telling me that Cordelia can suddenly feel all of this power and perform all of these tasks? I understand her character was held back but I still feel cheated. Before, all Cordelia could do was botany. Now, she can levitate a piano.
But I digress. The next trial is divination. Cordelia easily finds the hidden item after reading some stones — I especially don’t understand this method — but Madison doesn’t find it so easy. She gets frustrated over her failure and goes upstairs to pack.
Kyle meets her and yells that she let Zoe die. This is of course after he broke my heart as he cried over Zoe’s body, asking why she left him when she promised she would never leave him. My poor baby. But now, he’s less than pleased and wants to know why she left Zoe in that dark place they both had been to and hated. Madison claims she did it because she loves him, but he replies, “You’re not that good an actress.” He then strangles her to death.
He strangled his real-life girlfriend on camera. I can’t say it enough but Ryan Murphy must love messing with their relationship. I think Roberts actually did a good job this season. I was really rooting against her when I first found out she was cast, but her performance proved me wrong. She was great in the role even if the role wasn’t always well written. I just found it too meta to have a love triangle between her, Farmiga and Peters.
It’s important to remember Cordelia’s vision last week. Zoe was hanging up on the wall, in a similar state as her intial end. I believe Misty was just lying on the floor/piano, and she ultimately did just lie down and die. Madison was shown bleeding from the neck, and Kyle ended up strangling her to death. They essentially told us what was going to happen.
Spalding (Denis O’Hare) helps Kyle around the whole murder thing and sets up a plan to make it look like she had left since she had already started packing. Except, instead of burying her we all know she’s going to be his creepy dead doll again.
At the same time Kyle killed Madison, Cordelia performs Vitalium Vitalis on Zoe and brings her back to life. Because why not, right? I’d prefer Zoe to live, but I’m annoyed with the endless back and forth with life and death in this season. Cordelia passes out after reviving Zoe, and I instantly think that she’s gone. However, she awakes — fresh and regular eyes and all — as Myrtle crowns her the next Supreme.
I can’t really see the show ending any other way. I never felt like any of the younger girls deserved/ should be Supreme. Cordelia fits because she seems like the only logical choice. Also, Cordelia hadn’t really done anything this season except gauge her own eyes out. There was a useless side storyline for her trying to get pregnant and the kind-of storyline with Hank, but suddenly now she’s the most important character.
Quickly, she turns into Lana Winters (Paulson’s character on Asylum) and is in a full media blitz and she talks about how witches shouldn’t be in hiding and how Miss Robichaux’s is open to everyone, just “call, email or come to New Orleans.”
While she deals with expanding the witch network, Cordelia also has to deal with Myrtle’s plea to be burned at the stake for killing the Council. Even with Cordelia’s pleading and refusal, Myrtle insists and is burned. Her final word is Balenciaga, a designer.
Cordelia’s day got even busier when she had a visit from Fiona. YUP. Fiona put the memory we saw in the Axeman’s (Danny Huston) mind so that she could wait until everyone figured out who the next Supreme was themselves. I always thought Fiona would seriously just kill everyone and the ending would just her being her sassy, bitchy self. In reality, she’s about to die — for real this time — and doesn’t want to be bald anymore so she wants Cordelia to kill her. She refuses and forces her mother to finally live and experience being a human, not a divine being. Fiona dies in Cordelia’s arms after they finally had embraced. But we see Fiona one more time as we see her wake up in hell: She’s living with the Axeman in the farmhouse in the country. This was an ending to Fiona’s story that I never expected. I’m also really surprised Fiona didn’t end up stabbing Cordelia so that her powers could be restored. I sitting anxiously waiting for that to happen.
Cordelia opens the doors of the academy to the ridiculous amount of girls lined up outside. Honestly, where are they going to put everyone? With Zoe and Queenie as her council, she announces, in the last scene of the season, that witches are no longer going to just survive; they’re finally going to do more. They’re going to thrive.
The season ending on a concise, less bleak note was a breath of fresh air. Murder House ended with so many questions unanswered (what’s going to happen with the demon baby?!) and Asylum was just confusing (did Lana imagine the whole thing?!). Coven, on the other hand, gave us closure and hope, and I can appreciate that.
My final thoughts on Coven:
- Even though it was a much smaller role and oftentimes forgotten about character, Peters was amazing this season. For a majority of his arc, he didn’t speak but his grunts and groans were just as effective as one of Lange’s monologues. I still am annoyed they never explained what happened when Kyle ran out of the house on Halloween. Fill these gaping plot holes!!
- They should have given Cordelia more than being blinded. As I said, her character did nothing essentially all season and now she’s Supreme. It was way too quick and rushed.
- I want to point out the bad decisions made for LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). For quite some time, we saw LaLaurie learning and repenting. Then in one monologue, everything was erased. They should have thought out a clear path for the character instead of just flip-flopping.
- Why did they never explain Spalding’s weird obsession with dolls? We deserved something.
- The first teaser released for the season actually revealed EVERYTHING about the ending. It shows tons of girls marching up to the academy, led by Zoe, Queenie and Nan — Nan is in black while Zoe and Queenie are in white, aka she died — as Cordelia opens the doors. Kyle looks on from the upstairs window (he’s now the butler). It ends with Fiona, Marie and LaLaurie revealing themselves from behind black masks as they all wear long black gowns. I’m not kidding when I say everything was revealed in this video. EVERYTHING.
- Lastly, I’m going to miss the sass.