American Horror Story: Protect the Coven

Posted on January 16, 2014

Kathy Bates in FX’s American Horror Story: Coven

 

We can’t stop thinking about Chloe Sevigny.

Now granted, it you’ve ever read our celebrity or red carpet posts on the lady, you might not be surprised to hear it, but we’re specifically thinking about her character in last year’s American Horror Story: Asylum. Year-old spoilers forthcoming: Remember when she got mutilated and had her legs amputated and was found by traumatized children in a schoolyard? That was, for us, one of the more horrifying fates and images the show’s ever depicted. Now imagine if that had occurred in the middle of a string of scenes where people got mutilated but kept literally piecing themselves together. Imagine if a whole bunch of mutilations of main characters had occurred and in each instance, they all got better. Imagine if, by the third or fourth time this happened in the story, the writers simply gave up on offering explanations as to why and the viewer was forced to accept a reality where horrifying mutilations are only temporary states, like having a head cold. That scene in the schoolyard wouldn’t have been remotely horrifying if that were the case, would it?

When previously dead Queenie showed up for Nan’s funeral trailing previously decapitated Delphine with an explanation no more detailed than “Magic, bitches,” we checked out. This is terrible writing. There are no consequences and no explanations; just a series of vignettes that seem only marginally connected to each other. And yes, this is a world where magic exists, but any fantasy or speculative fiction writer worth her weight will tell you that an imaginary world needs to be built and explained for the reader to buy into it. If any character can accomplish anything at any time, based only on the whims of the writers, then what’s the point? We don’t care who the Supreme is. We don’t even know, after all this time, WHAT the Supreme is, because the various powers and power levels of the witches all change from scene to scene and virtually every witch character has displayed powers on par with Fiona’s at least once.

Don’t even get us started on the ancient brotherhood of witch hunters, an organization so vast and powerful that one dead guy with an axe could take it all down in a 3-minute scene. Or how we went from Delphine weeping over Civil Rights footage to Delphine gleefully murdering a black man. Or why we needed yet another extended flashback of her torturing a black person. It’s not like we haven’t seen the imagery plenty of times already in the story. And you really don’t want to get us started on the 200-year old Voodoo queen who can shrug off a knife through the chest but gets knocked unconscious with one blow.

The story and the characters are whatever the creative team wants them to be from moment to moment and they seem to think that A+ actresses doing good work is a substitute for writing. It’s not. We’ve enjoyed the camp and the cast, but if we were the types to give out letter grades, this episode – and the season overall, in fact – would get a big, fat F.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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