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American Horror Story, Ep. 3.13: “The Seven Wonders” ends the season on a witching high

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American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 11: “The Seven Wonders”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Douglas Petrie
Airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on FX

On Wednesdays, we wear black, and listen to Fleetwood Mac.

It wasn’t a big surprise that Stevie Nicks would kick off the final episode of American Horror Story: Coven, since Ryan Murphy had reported that the White Witch would appear in two episodes this season. The images of Nicks spinning through Miss Robichaux’s Academy while lip-syncing to her Fleetwood Mac hit “Seven Wonders”, left me realizing something important: Coven may be the weakest of American Horror Story’s first three seasons, but this season boasts the best cast – and I’m actually going to miss most of Coven’s characters. With Douglas Petrie helming the script and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directing, tonight’s episode, appropriately titled “The Seven Wonders”, is a strong finish to an uneven but always entertaining season. The reveal of the next Supreme comes not without a price, as some witches die this time around, and never to return.  

Unlike the previous two seasons, Coven had a specific goal, and a clear destination from the start. Amidst all the craziness – and the social commentary which felt more than a little tacked-on, all twelve episodes were preparing us for the next Supreme. Throughout the season, Coven touched up on several themes including race relations, aging, motherhood, discrimination and gender politics. More often than not, these messages were overshadowed by the turmoil within the walls of the Academy. With so much talk about the threat of outside forces, the biggest threats this season came from other witches. In the end, much of what Coven seemed to be alluding to, was lost along the way. In a scene reminiscent of American Horror Story: Asylum’s season finale, Cordelia invites the press into the school, and publicly brings witches into the mainstream. She infuses life into Mrs. Robichaux’s Academy, which in turn, calls back the series parable for the societal struggles of minorities. But before the doors to the academy are open to accommodate the hundreds of girls who have turned up at its gates, Cordelia has one last order of business to deal with: her name is Fiona. As it turns out, Coven was ultimately about one specific mother-daughter relationship all along.

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One of my biggest criticisms of Coven all season, is how the show didn’t play by its own rules, and since nobody could remain dead, Coven lacked the suspense and urgent stakes of its predecessors. With just about every character retuning from death, at least once this season, it isn’t a surprise Fiona survived the Axeman’s attack. And while her plan invites every possible question about logical inconsistencies, her smoke and mirrors trick does pay off – because a season finale without Jessica Lange, just wouldn’t feel right. Fiona’s ruse wasn’t a surprise, but she and Delia still had a fitting final scene. The sight of Fiona’s decrepit state – near bald and barely able to stand was somewhat heartbreaking. As was Fiona’s confession to neglecting Delia because she was a constant reminder of mortality.  This was an opportunity for Cordelia to finally understand why Fiona resented her. “A woman becomes a mother, she can’t help but see her mortality in that cherubic little face,” says Fiona. “Every time I looked at you, I saw my own death.” Delia responds, “You were the monster in every one of my closets. A lifetime spent either trying to prove myself to you, get close to you, or get away from you.”  Asylum trumps Coven in every way, except with is conclusion. Asylum ends with Sarah Paulson’s Lana Winters killing her child; Coven ends with Paulson’s Cordelia watching her mother die in her arms. Despite the inevitable conclusion, Coven carries a far more satisfying emotional weight in its finale – and an ending that is far more optimistic. Even more, Coven, unlike Asylum, left few loose ends. It was a rocky ride, but never the less, quite entertaining.

– Ricky D

Other thoughts:

If Fiona’s fate wasn’t depressing enough, Misty found herself trapped in her own private hell. After a lifetime of servitude, bringing animals back to life, Misty’s eternal hell is to be trapped in her worst childhood memory: “If you won’t dissect a dead frog, you can dissect a live one!” screamed her teacher. Now she’s stuck slicing open living frogs in bio class for the rest of eternity.

Fiona: “This place reeks of fish, cat piss — what is this, knotty pine?”

One of the big surprises was the decision to not show cameos from two of its biggest players in the finale: Of course I’m talking about Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates.

Did anyone else notice the news scroll underneath Delia’s face during her TV interview? It read, “Up Next: Liza Minnelli talks about her hip.”

With the school now reinvigorated, someone should probably clean up Spalding’s mess.

Let’s hope Evan Peters has more to do next season than spend the majority of his screen-time playing either a watchdog or a sextoy.

The biggest problem this season, is Zoe. She’s such a one note character that her vision of Hell, is breaking up with Kyle over and over again, in a constant loop. For a series about female empowerment, Zoe is the worst character ever created for the show.

Spalding’s afterlife still makes little, to no sense. And where is the baby he kidnapped?

Frances Conroy is once again given several great moments as Myrtle Snow. Myrtle’s caviar and blini Last Supper was comic gold. Myrtle getting burned alive again seemed repetitive – but so as everything else in Coven. At least this time, she volunteered. Myrtle, and her theramin, will be missed.

Did everyone, including Cordelia and the show writers, forget that Madison couldn’t become the next Supreme since she had a heart murmur? Why was she included in the competition? And how does a powerful witch like Madison, succumb to an enraged, but powerless Kyle?

One of the episode’s best moments: Madison choice to resurrect a housefly instead of Zoe. What a bitch.

I love Madison’s idea of hell: playing Leisl in NBC’s live-broadcast of Sound of Music.

How disappointing was it, that after Misty’s terrible death, the girls quickly moved on to the next test, which turned into a silly game of tag. So Much for grieving.

 


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