American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 10: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by James Wong
Airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on FX
American Horror Story: Coven makes a solid return for the second half of their season, featuring not one, but two guest stars. After nine instalments of Stevie Nicks tunes, we’re finally treated to the Queen of rock herself, brought in by Fiona as a peace offering to Misty, who may, or may not be the next Supreme. Most of Nicks’ screen-time was dedicated to her unplugged performances at the Academy’s piano. First we’re treated to the singer/songwriter’s “Rhiannon,” (making a second appearance this season), and later she performs “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You,” a song which was written as a tribute to Joe Walsh of the Eagles. What does this have to do with the plot of Coven? Absolutely nothing; but it’s pretty hard to resists a cameo by Stevie Nicks, even if her vocal chords took a turn for the worst after battling a cocaine addiction, which created a hole in her nasal passage. But Nicks wasn’t the only one supplying this instalment with some wonderful tunes. Can I just take a second to mention Frances Conroy rocking the theremin – stopping – and than continuing while ignoring Cordelia’s minor breakdown. There’s a lot that doesn’t make a lick of sense this season, and I’m not sure Coven has anything left to say, but the continuous big star cameos, dark humour, and talented cast, make Coven one of the most entertaining shows on television. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the second cameo; an unrecognizable Lance Reddick (Fringe) appearing as Papa Legba, armed with a cane, a broad brimmed straw hat, long dirty fingernails, a bad case of pink eye and some pretty rotten teeth to boot. In Haitian Vodou, Legba is the loa who serves as a spiritual intermediary between humanity and the other side. The last time I saw Legba make an appearance on television, it was on an episode of Miami Vice played by Clarence Williams III. Funny how Vice understood what Legba stands for, whereas AHS confuses him with … I don’t know, a cocaine-snorting, double dealing purveyor of immortality and collector of innocent souls. The voodoo lore is sketchy, and the Legba’s plot-line never unlocks the door to the creepiness that could have made his character more memorable, but “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” reinvigorates the supernatural with a much needed infusion of new ideas and a variety of spells, potions and powers. Most memorable is Marie Laveau’s deafening screams forcing two officers to shoot one another simultaneously. “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” explains too much while never explaining much, and leaves us with a surprise at the end that makes more sense the less we think about it. But the episode’s mastery of technique makes up for a lot, as does its New Orleans setting. Misty and Madison’s march through the city streets following a funeral reception, and their head smacking encounter in the graveyard are among the seasons’ brightest moments. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon once again delivers a stylish instalment, something authentic, and original to television – even if certain ideas and themes are flogged to death.
Coven is about many things: at times, motherhood, sexism, racism, slavery, aging, and of course Stevie Nicks. Basically, it’s a mixture of vague and sometimes overtly clumsy, subtextual elements; but halfway through the season, many of these social themes have taken a back seat, working against a true sense of stability season long. And while it’s provided a change of pace from previous seasons, the decisions and actions of most of these characters come too abrupt, serving only as a function of plot. It’s like the writing team sat in a room with a light switch being turned on and off – while they desperately tried to remedy their impulsive nature to throw everything in, including minotaur sex. In essence, it feels like the season is just waiting for the big climax of the finale, and until we get there, everything and anything can be shoehorned in. Coven‘s not remotely scary nor creepy (which both prior seasons managed to deliver in spades), but it’s something different – and I’d rather the showrunners experiment with something new, than rehash ideas from the past. In short, Coven is fresh, exciting but frustrating to watch.
– Ricky D
Fiona to Misty: “I don’t think you fully appreciate the power of the throne. It’s a skeleton key. You can have anything you want in the world.”
Fiona: “Haven’t you heard? I have no soul. I’ll just kill ‘em all.”
Fiona on Nan: “She’s innocent! Mostly… She killed a neighbor but that bitch had it coming.”
Fiona: “I’ve always loved that song. The perfect ending to a long day.”
Marie Laveau: “Shut up, or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
Just to be clear, right before she was hit over the head, Misty was about to refuse to give up the shawl.
Marie and Fiona drowning Nan in a bathtub felt like the least efficient possible way to kill her. If only they had magical spells they could use.