Readers, I’m worried about our show.
How shall I write this? How can I aptly convey my feelings about the current, falling trajectory of the third season of American Horror Story?
Here goes nothing.
After a long and unnecessary four week long hiatus, Coven returns with few surprises, less chills, and even more drawn-out and useless plot points.
Let’s begin from the beginning. Angela Basset’s Marie Laveau is visited late at night by someone who is clearly an evil and demonic spirit in need of some payment. Assuming the persona of some immortal red-eyed rasta man, he says he wants what’s coming to him. Every year she must pay the price.
So she visits a nursery at the hospital and abducts a little baby, after blowing some magic powder in the face of the nurse, thus rendering her powerless and subservient. She takes one of the babies, is confronted with the police outside, and warns them to stay back. She casts some magic spell which turns her eyes white, and the cops shoot one another, allowing her to leave with the kidnapped infant.
Credits. We open with Fiona, Cordelia, and Marie in the house, watching news reports of a shoot out in the 9th Ward, the one in which Cordelia’s husband was responsible. Marie explains how Hank was a witch hunter whom she hired him to kill them all. Instead of getting mad at Marie, Fiona lashes out at Cordelia, telling her daughter that she is “willfully blind” and “ brought a viper into this house”. Marie explains how there is an ancient order of men whose sole purpose is to rid the world of witches. Of course this is the high-profiled company, Dephi, that Hank’s father owns, and Fiona decides that they have to “target the hive, not the worker bees”.
So now we have all our witches bound together against a common cause, which is fine. But then we also have a digression of astronomical sorts with Fiona giving Misty Day some sort of “skeleton key”, which is a special treat for witches, and for Misty Day, this involves running into Stevie Nicks, her hero, playing herself, and also playing piano in the parlor.
What ensues is a lengthy montage of Stevie Nicks singing and everyone is so delighted and it’s all so baby-boomerish I want to scream.
But Madison is angry. She tells Fiona she wants the skeleton key, too, but of course Fiona shuns her and we just know Madison has some nefarious plot hidden away up her sleeves. She no longer has a heart murmur, since she’s technically dead (and she doesn’t look dead) and she thinks this qualifies her as the next Supreme.
Meanwhile, Cordelia, Marie, and Fiona decide that in order to defeat Dephli they must destroy it from within, which means cutting off its supply of money. So, get this, they cast a spell with mice in a maze (literally) that summons the FBI into the multi-billion dollar corporation, which pisses them off. Oh, and before this happens, Fiona calls Cordelia worthless again (even though they made up in the last episode), which gives no continuity whatsoever and only subtly hints at a plot point later to come (Fiona willing to cripple her daughter for immortality).
Then we are back to Nan and Zoe visiting Luke in the hospital. In the elevator, they mention something about how awesome it would be if Nan was the next Supreme because she’s so nice and “doesn’t have a mean bone in her body” (hint hint foreshadowing). But when they get to the lobby, they find out Luke is dead, and Nan is very upset and… ugh do we still care at this point?
Fiona still wants secret to eternity. Marie says she can’t have it because she’d just be bald and cancer-like forever. She tells Fiona the story of how she became immortal. She explains how she thought she was the shit back then, back in the 1800s, having just come into her prime. She gave birth to a baby and thought herself invincible, but then “Papa” came, since she had sold her soul to him, and took her little child away. Ever since then, he returns once a year to claim another baby, her price for everlasting life. She ends by telling Fiona that if she wants him bad enough, he will come.
In a pretty awesome New Orleans funeral procession scene, Madison and Misty Day have a little heart to heart (of which the details are not worth mentioning) and Madison proceeds to take a brick and whack Misty Day on the head and lock her up in a casket for all eternity.
She was jealous of her necromancy and the general attention she received from the Coven, you see.
Nan forces Luke’s mom to drink bleach because she killed Luke with the pillow. It’s gross and also pointless.
Myrtle’s still alive. Can’t anyone just die in this show? She plays a Theremin. I had to look up what this is. Cordelia becomes angry because Myrtle says she must live in Fiona’s shadow, and this must be a challenge. Cordelia feels like a failure, and breaks a bunch of pottery shit in anger.
The corporate guys at Delhi have lost all their money, and the head of company (Hank’s father, who mentions nothing about his dead mass-murdering son), tells another guy that there was nothing natural about this. It’s time to deal with some witches.
The Papa comes to Fiona as she does some coke. He says doesn’t give a “wet donkey shit” about her “Supreme” title; he only cares about her soul. Fiona, shocking or not, promises that she will cripple her daughter and murder an innocent for immortality. They shake on it, but then Papa says the deal off because she doesn’t even have a soul. This means she’s already too old and evil to be of any worth to his demonic curse. Fiona is sad. The Axeman comes back. She tells him, “Haven’t you heard, I have no soul! I’ll just kill them all.” Hm.
Nan hears the crying from the baby that Marie kidnapped. She goes into her room and finds the little innocent babe. Marie gets angry. Fiona makes her give it back. Nan says they both have blood on their hands. But Papa is coming and needs the soul of an innocent, so they drown Nan (?!) in the bathtub as an innocent. Papa is not pleased. He says he doesn’t take any substitutions. Then he takes Nan, as a ghost, to the other side and she leaves, as a ghost, happily.
Ok. What the hell is going on? The introduction of Papa is fine, as it explains Marie’s past and this much desired immortality, but at a certain point, it’s impossible for any narrative to sustain itself with so many different characters being constantly introduced. Case in point: where is Kathy Bates and Evan Peters? Another huge problem is that so many awesome plot twists were set up, only to be stripped away completely, rendering characters back to their original, boring, static state. Cordelia is no longer blind (it’s like she never was), Fiona’s cancer is gone, Myrtle is still alive and worthlessly lingering around the Coven, and Queenie is dead and no one really cares.
And Delphi, the huge witch-hunting organization, has suddenly burst into our show with no clear motive or characterization behind it at all. And if we were provided with such an empowering series featuring strong women characters, was it really necessary to introduce a male dominated central plot to distract us from that point?
The biggest problem is that Zoey was the central character from the beginning, and poor Taissa Farmiga has been relegated to a passive observer with little backstory or character development.
Friends, I am very disappointed. And we still have three more episodes! I am curious as to why the show was extended to late into the season (for it premiered before Halloween), because I haven’t been able to find information as to why it’s been drawn out so long. But that’s exactly what it feels like. Drawn out. The show should have ended shortly after Fiona was dying of cancer. She should have enacted revenge, and what a climax that would have been.
Hey, but at least the episode ended with Stevie Nicks?