American Horror Story: Coven — the last gasp

Is it a good TV show gone bad, or was it never as good as the hype?

American Horror Story CovenOnly one episode left in this season of American Horror Story: Coven. I’ve seen every one. The first few game me some hope. The series had a top-notch cast, some clever ideas, and, most importantly, it is one of the few shows that focuses on horror.

But, the writing… boy oh boy. Sometimes you need to just give up on a TV show. I didn’t.

It’s not all bad. Jessica Lange’s Fiona Goode, the supreme witch, the head of the coven, is lucky. Her character has the best storyline. Her path through villainy is compelling, and Lange is skilled enough to underplay the camp that weighs down the series.

Fiona’s relationship with her daughter Cordelia, a witch who is much weaker than her mother, is compelling and complex. Watching Fiona battle cancer, the loss of her power, mortality, all the while remaining a villain is the highlight of the show for me.

There are several other characters on American Horror Story: Coven who are rich enough to keep my attention: most notably fellow witches Misty Day and Myrtle Snow, and Cordelia’s duplicitous husband Hank Foxx. Even the Axeman, a murderous musician, is 3-dimensional enough to keep me interested.

Most of the other characters, however, are either flat or downright annoying. There’s Madame LaLaurie, the psychotic noblewoman played by Kathy Bates (annoying), and Angela Bassett’s Marie Laveau (one-note). Though their final (joined) fates were well done.

The plotting is a lesson in absurdity. Characters die and are brought back to life. When death is not final it holds no power to shock or disturb. Fiona was supposedly killed. I’d be shocked if she didn’t reappear in the final episode.

American Horror Story: Coven is a show with no internal logic. From the beginning of the season it was emphasized that witches were in danger of dying out — they were being killed off. But in a recent episode, supreme witch Fiona claimed that the process to identify the new supreme would inevitably kill some of the girls. How does killing witches help strengthen the coven?

That is bad writing.

During the course of the season we got to meet the group responsible for hunting the witches down. With just one episode left, I would be rooting for them to kill every last one of these witches, even the so-called good ones. Unfortunately the writers screwed up again. An organization that spent centuries hunting witches had no way to protect themselves against witchcraft, and they were wiped out in the course of a single episode. you would think that such a group would know how to protect themselves.

Logic be damned. Then again, maybe I was expecting too much.

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