Due to our ridiculously busy schedules, Sydney and I were unable to keep up with our weekly recap of American Horror Story. This may have been for the best as the show descended into a pretty big disappointment. Ryan Murphy, where did you go wrong? I tried to condense all my feels into four main points. We’ll see how that goes.
1. We Need Some Rules
When they first started dropping hints about Season 3 toward the end of Asylum, I sent prayers to the voodoo gods* for a focus on witchcraft, voodoo and New Orleans. I guess the old saying is true – you don’t f**k with voodoo. Clearly, wishes always come with a catch or I should have been more specific.
Coven was rife with possibility, but what Ryan Murphy doesn’t understand about horror is RULES ARE IMPORTANT. In fact, rules are essential. Coven should have set the rules for its world in the first two to three episodes.
There seemed to be some structure within the witch world, but it was never clearly outlined for us. Rules that were seemingly established were broken with little to no explanation. By the time we got to the finale, which revolved around who was the next supreme, I frankly didn’t care. Plus, despite the fact that they had stated rather bluntly that each witch had one main power with a couple of others possibly manifesting for very talented witches, it seems like every candidate for supremacy could easily perform every task, but one. Also, if Madison wasn’t such a bitch, would she have been like the Vice Supreme or something? It just seems like there should be a consolation price of some kind for a witch that could do six of the seven wonders except reading a bunch of pebbles. Also, after Zoe was resurrected wouldn’t she have been reentered into the race? I’m pretty sure we saw her do all of the seven wonders at some point. Is she the next supreme after Cordelia? Nevermind, don’t care.
2. So Many Missed Opportunities
There were so many times that I got excited, because the show seemed to be going in new and exciting places.
For a while, I thought the larger story arc was going to be about the voodoo community and the coven uniting to defeat the witch hunters, but then they had the least interesting male character (and that is saying something in a season with Kyle and whatever Nan’s boyfriend’s name was) kill off practically all the voodoos and the witch hunters were defeated in about two episodes with, to quote Fiona, about as much effort as it takes her to make a Rob Roy.
LaLaurie started out as one of the most interesting characters. As her storyline progressed, she became almost sympathetic. I liked her and I felt bad about it, because of all the awful things she had done. But then all of her progress was thrown out for seemingly no reason. It would have been much more interesting had Delphine learned the error in her racist ways, but perhaps couldn’t overcome her lust for blood. How would Queenie have reacted if she had found her new friend (assuming that they got back to being friends and Queenie didn’t just carry her around on a leash) gleefully torturing a white man?
I could probably run through every character this way – Zoe never really became more than a doe-eyed Mary Sue type, Madison who showed early potential to actually evolve as a character was stuck as the quick quipping Mean Girl, Myrtle became more and more a character of herself, etc. – but I think the most tragic missed opportunity is Cordelia.
I have been Team Cordelia since Day 1. She started off so sad and meek with the worst powers. When she was blinded it seemed like she was starting to come into herself, embracing her powers and moving forward on the road to supremacy. And then she just…didn’t. She reverted back to her pathetic self until a very random feeling last minute twist.
I got exactly what I wanted, but I was completely dissatisfied, because it wasn’t EARNED. Thanks a lot, Ryan Murphy!
3. Just Because You Can Do Something Doesn’t Mean You Should
Look, I’m fine with the first Stevie Nicks cameo. It actually (kind of) made sense with the plot. It should have been shorter, but whatever. It’s the second cameo that really drove this home. You do not need seven minutes of Stevie Nicks “singing” about the Seven Wonders in the episode where you need to WRAP EVERYTHING UP. You need every precious second of your finale and this was just a waste.
4. Cut your darlings! (Or integrate them)
Patti Lupone almost falls into category 3, but thinking about it I think she fits better here. With both Patti and Mare Winningham it was clear that Ryan Murphy wanted to work with them more than had a clear idea of what their character would be and how it would function into the story as a whole. Winningham made for a fantastic unexpected villain who got about half an episode. That’s totally fine if the consequences of her actions had any bearing what so ever on the rest of the plot. Sadly, it didn’t. So I say cut it.
Lupone (who full disclosure I do not like at all) could have added an interesting outside element for the coven to battle – religious fundamentalism. There could have been interesting commentary on religious tolerance or religious hypocrisy. Instead she gave her son an enema, sang off key, killed her husband with some bees, killed her son with a pillow and was promptly choked on some bleach. Had Nan not died a few minutes later, perhaps her actions would have had some bearing on the plot. Wouldn’t it have been so much more interesting had Fiona and Marie thought Nan was innocent, but when they tried to offer her as an innocent soul Papa Legba rejected her, because she killed Lupone? Serious, any connection to the rest of the plot would have helped.
But what’s done is done. I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted (expected) to.
Time to say goodbye (or good riddance) to Coven and brace ourselves for Season 4.
* This is false. I am a good New Orleans girl and I would never mess with voodoo for such silly reasons.