American Horror Story: Fearful Pranks Ensue

Posted on October 31, 2013

AHS+S3E4+1Denis O’Hare in FX’s American Horror Story: Coven

As with any season of American Horror Story, it’s difficult to find the right person to root for in all the goings-on. Sure, we all default to falling at Jessica Lange’s feet like lovesick teenagers in front of a pop star, but in each season she’s played women who could rightly be called downright evil, even if she does manage to make each of them sympathetic in her own way. We loved them all because despite their evil, they lived in Jessica’s body and their words came out of her mouth. It’s an actor-specific kind of love. And while Marie Laveau’s motivations are probably the easiest to accept of all the characters this season,  because – unlike most of the other witches’ self-centered motivations (youth, power, beauty, baby, boy) they’re rooted not only in real grievances  but in historical grievances, our love is more of a fear-based awe spurred on by her bone structure and amazing ability to rock the shit out of a turban. Because let’s face it: no matter how much she has cause for her actions, Marie Laveau’s fucking hardcore and that shit is scary as hell.

And hey, we fully admit to pondering the likelihood that Ryan Murphy and Co. are deliberately scaring the shit out of their predominately white audience by depicting a scarily powerful black woman who’s lived long enough to remember slavery and lynchings in this country and she’s PISSED. THE FUCK. OFF. Let’s not be coy here: the fear of African-American rage is built into the very foundations of this country and still resonates incredibly powerfully today. It’s not a coincidence that the 1971 version of Marie was working an Angela Davis afro. Murphy and Co. are deliberately stirring up some very uncomfortable feelings in a large portion of his audience. The horror in this story isn’t to be found in mutilations or minotaurs or even zombies, it seems. The horror is in our history and in ourselves. That’s the story being told here.

But let’s get back to the idea of who to root for in this story – which is not really a requirement for the story to be good, we should add. We could happily hate all the characters and watch them all destroy each other simply because each of them are so terrible in their own way. Cordelia’s whiny, passive-aggressive and a doormat to everyone. Zoe is painfully, irresponsibly stupid. You get to accidentally cause the death of one, maybe two people before our kindness runs out. Delphine, as hilarious as she is (“Here you go, beggar children”) is the biggest monster of all. Queenie doesn’t seem to have much in the way of motivations at the moment and Misty is a huge (and unsettling) wild card. After last night’s episode? We think we’re Team Nan all the way. Why? Because we think she might actually be masterminding a lot of what’s going on.

No, really.

She was with Madison when the drapes caught on fire and Madison admitted she didn’t know how she did it. Sure, she managed to light Fiona’s cigarette later but that’s substantially less impressive. Nan could’ve done it to ensure that Fiona’s jealousy of the next Supreme would focus on Madison, thereby destroying her. Nan was the one who called the council in over suspicions that Madison is dead, thereby putting Fiona in hot water. She’s got the cute neighbor boy eating out of her palm in a manner that would make Fiona jealous if she paid Nan enough attention to notice. We strongly suspect she may be the person who threw acid in Cordelia’s face (thereby escalating the witch war). If perfect health is a requirement to be a Supreme, she may be automatically disqualified because of her Down Syndrome and she’s resorting to machinations and subterfuge in order to gain control of the coven. You have to admit, it makes a lot of sense. We’d love it if she took them all down.

But what’s Zoe’s role here? And Misty Day’s, for that matter? Right now, they’re both pretty much outside the action on the internal power struggles of the coven as well as the witch war. And why is Cordelia’s husband shooting people in the head? Did that whole sex ritual thing call up something it shouldn’t have? Or has he always been this way and it’s another item to add to the long list of reasons why Cordelia is a doormat?

It’s the questions that keep us coming back, after all. No complaints here, even if this was the least exciting episode so far this season. Just give us more of the council, because we can’t get enough of bitchy Truman Capote warlocks and Grace Coddington witches with lifelong grudges. That shit’s gold.  Also: insane mute butlers having tea parties with corpses. More, please.

Is it bad that we’re pretty bored with the whole Kyle storyline? That one fizzled out quickly.






[Photo Credit: FX]

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