‘American Horror Story: Coven’: Delaying the Inevitable

Published 10 months ago by

Angela Bassett in American Horror Story Coven Episode 10 American Horror Story: Coven: Delaying the Inevitable

[This is a review of American Horror Story: Coven episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]

-

One of the primary advantages of doing a television series in an anthology format is the opportunity for characters and the narrative to flow in practically any direction, as the series is not beholden to a greater sense of continuity, nor are characters bound to their future story in seasons down the road. There’s a freeing sense of impermanence knowing that the storyline of a particular season is only going to last 13 episodes, and in that time, there’s really nothing that can’t be done (or undone, as is the case with American Horror Story: Coven) to serve the needs of the larger story. As with anything good, however, there always comes a warning that too much of a good thing can be bad for you, or the proverbial pendulum can swing back viciously in the other direction.

‘The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks’ makes for an excellent example of the series experiencing an overload from the supposed good qualities that spring forth from its unique format. All season long, Coven has been in search of a main thrust that might align its various characters and give them something to do. That means there have been quite a few episodes that seemed to be trying different meaningful plot threads on, only to discard them when something newer or more interesting came along.

To the show’s credit, it hasn’t completely abandoned anything; the throughline of the search for the new Supreme, Fiona’s cancer and various relationships, and a mixture of vague or sometimes overtly clumsy, subtextual elements about motherhood, sexism, racism, and ageism have generally been present at one point or another. But while these elements have mostly been there, more often than not, there comes the feeling that they are being draped over an amorphous idea of a plot, rather than a fully formed one.

Lily Rabe and Stevie Nicks in American Horror Story Coven Episode 10 American Horror Story: Coven: Delaying the Inevitable

Generally, things just happen on the show because the writers seem to be only concerned with the next crazy thing they could have happen. While it’s largely worked in the past two seasons of the show, the problem with this is, since most things happen in the spur-of-the-moment, there’s little context or meaning to their happening. Sure, it’s a terrific in-joke that Fiona would ask the White Witch herself, Stevie Nicks, to come by and do a special performance for her number one fan Misty Day, but there’s about as much point to Nicks’ appearance as there is in having Kathy Bates or Evan Peters on the show. That is to say: not much.

The impulsive nature of this season has led to a feeling of inconsistency that breaks down the character dynamics and works against a true sense of stability in the overall plot. Marie Laveau is suddenly living at Miss Robichaux’s and comforting Cordelia, who is suddenly being attacked by Fiona after their reconciliation following an attempt to trick her mother into committing suicide. Meanwhile, Madison is convinced she’ll be the next Supreme, since coming back from the dead somehow corrected her heart murmur. Elsewhere, Zoe shrugs off Nan killing their neighbor, shortly before Nan is drowned as an offering to Papa Legba (Lance Reddick).

Such inconsistency makes it difficult to take anything Coven does at face value, and what’s more, there’s little in the way of some larger function to any of it. In essence, it feels like the season is just waiting for the big climax of the finale, and because of that, it’ll just keep tossing out the unpredictable as a way to delay the story until then.

_________________________________________________

American Horror Story: Coven continues with ‘Protect the Coven’ @10pm on FX.

Photos: Michele K. Short/FX

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: american horror story

19 Comments

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. ScreenRant please find someone new to review this show. It’s one of the best on t.v. and is weekly poo pooed on by this reviewer.

    In the first paragraph you acknowledge that it’s an anthology horror series but then you ramble on about things like the writer’s adding things just to shock. Ah, yeah? It’s a horror story! I mean instead of being happy that we have a T.V. horror show pushing the limits, it sounds like Kevin wants Breaking Bad type story lines when that is not this shows style. I guess it will just keep racking up acclaim, awards, fans and ratings. Oh well.

    • Thank you, I completely agree. Have been reading this site for years and this is first time commenting. I dont feel these past few reviews of this show have been fair or reasonable.

      • “works against a true sense of stability in the overall plot”. That’s what makes this show great. It’s a horror show so it’s also meant to surprise and not have a generic tv show arc that’s predictable.

        I think this reviewer just dislikes this season because it’s unpredictable and has probably lost track of the stories nonlinear passing (i.e a bit too highbrow).

  2. “The impulsive nature of this season has led to a feeling of inconsistency that breaks down the character dynamics and works against a true sense of stability in the overall plot. Marie Laveau is suddenly living at Miss Robichaux’s and comforting Cordelia, who is suddenly being attacked by Fiona after their reconciliation following an attempt to trick her mother into committing suicide. Meanwhile, Madison is convinced she’ll be the next Supreme, since coming back from the dead somehow corrected her heart murmur. Elsewhere, Zoe shrugs off Nan killing their neighbor, shortly before Nan is drowned as an offering to Papa Legba (Lance Reddick).”

    - Laveau is at the house because last week Fiona went to her for help and Laveau said, No. Then after her whole crew was killed, she came for help and Fiona said yes.

    - Fiona was mad at Cordelia for bringing the witch hunter into the Coven.

    - Madison has thought she was the next supreme since before she was dead, not because of a heart murmur.

    - Nan was killed because she was getting too dangerous and Laveau and Fiona wanted to save the baby.

    It all “makes sense”. Honestly, this is embarrassing.

  3. What kind of review is this? You spent 90% of the article over-philosophizing the direction and style the show. Every week you crap of on the show, but this week you didn’t even talk about the happenings of the show. I agree with the previous poster, please assign another writer to review this show. I can deal with someone not liking it, but this is not a review of an episode of a show. This is a rant on how someone does not agree with the how the show is being handled.

  4. I definitely have to agree with the other comments about these reviews. Week after week I’ve noticed their more opinionated than factual whatsoever. Everything that has happened thus far this season makes sense. Its been one hell of a ride, but, thats every season of this show. Telling an entire story in 13 episodes is always going to have it’s issues with covering all it’s bases and in my opinion this show does a damn good job of doing just that.

    I agree with MovieB… find a new reviewer.

  5. Bagging on the show for throwing a bunch of crazy crap at you is kinda pointless.

    That’s what the show has been about since the first season. The anthology format gives it the freedom from repetitiveness and the ability to explore, well, anything it wants. Its loose narrative structure gives it some shape and a bit of continuity, but the whole form of the show is basically summed up in the opening credits – a bunch of disturbing ideas that somehow find their way to be impossibly alluring as well.

  6. I agree with most of the comments in so far as the reviewer missed his mark on reviewing the episode at large… he de-evolved into a critique of the season/series. There was alot that went on that he didn’t address.

    But I agree with some of his remarks, I’ve personally found this whole season lacking… something. Every episode has added something potential and maybe that’s the problem, too much potential. Its like their shooting a shotgun plot line. I agree the show has tried to go for the shock value regardless of the plot it seems. When the death of a individual doesn’t really mean anything, then resurrected only to resume a plot line ends up holding no true consequence.

    I also agree it’s like their just biding time to the finale. I also agree the whole Stevie Nicks thing served no purpose other than to let her croak out a couple of her old lyrics. Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan but in regards of her appearance just seemed like “Hey let’s get her to be on the show”. And for that matter a lot of the characters seem wasted unlike past 2 seasons.

    Still a fan of the show, just hope this drag line pays off in the end.
    Maybe that’s it, not enough testosterone this season.

  7. Please stop Kevin. Just stop. Worst reviewer

  8. Dude do you even read your own reviews before you publish them because this isn’t a “review” its a heres very opinionated ramble about nothing.

    • To be fair the episode is titled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks,” and he DID mention Stevie Nicks. ;-)

      Coven really reached deep into the supernatural well – MUCH more than previous seasons (yay) – but at some point they also reached into the True Blood well (boo). Coven is better than True Blood, no doubt, and the actors are MUCH stronger. Still, there’s alot of “playing” going on which muddies the core story – especially THIS episode, and especially since it’s coming off of almost a month hiatus. There are MANY things going on with MANY people, and unless you wrote this episode yourself, or rewatched old episodes, or binged all the previous episodes, the week-to-week airings (or month-to-month, in the case of this episode) don’t play as well as any creator would like (think: reading a book).

      AHS was not built to push through a hiatus, yet FX needed it to do so these past 2 seasons (money). Would everyone enjoy AHS:C more if they could watch it all at once? Absolutely! Can it happen? Not on pay cable, and not with a network which is still getting pressure to raise its financials. Even if the story is AMAZING, the presentation is EVERYTHING, and Arrested Development showed us how scheduled airings can impact even the best.

  9. This series has been intriging and very informative i look forward to it . ,why won’t FX put all of the shows on demand they keep removing them or won’t update them!

  10. Have to comment because it’s the same as the AoS comments and it’s ridiculous.

    The reviewers of both AoS and AHS feel that the shows are lacking anything interesting and while I avoid show reviews until I’ve seen the episodes in question myself, I generally tend to find that my opinion matches that of the reviewers (Anthony on AoS and Kevin on AHS).

    I came into AHS with season 2 after buying into the hype from season 1 and the cool nun related teasers. I loved the show and by the end of season 2, I thought it was a show I could place into my top shows list. The meanderings at times were brilliantly executed and despite having some boring episodes and moments, the good stuff outweighed the bad.

    Then I saw season 1 online and found myself uninterested and completely bored by the time episode 5 ended, only watching to the end by force to find out how it would end and discovering that the conclusion wasn’t satisfying in any way.

    I began season 3 of the show hoping it would be more like season 2 due to the witch subject matter but 9 episodes in (episode 10 won’t air here until Tuesday 14th January), it’s been just as boring and dull as season 1 was.

    Again, I’m only continuing to watch to see how it ends because there are way too many plot threads left dangling currently to walk away like I want to.

    The only saving graces for this season are Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe, otherwise, it doesn’t have anything else to really enjoy or give that feeling of “I have to tell other people about this show”.

    To call for the reviewer to be replaced because he has a differing (yet more honest in my opinion) view of the show than the rest of you is downright rude and insulting, as well as ignorant and disrespectful of those who actually agree with Kevin’s review.

    Yes, this show is meant to go off on tangents but for the most part, it’s trying to have a linear plot with the occasional twist and a few shock scenes to horrify, disgust and terrify a viewer (yet to me, it feels like desperation to make up for the lack of interesting plot and characters).

    I can say this for sure, once season 3 finally ends, I’m going to step off from AHS because 1 great season can’t make up for the other two seasons of crap.

    • @Dazz

      Good points, however I noticed you mentioned the word review which is funny because I haven’t seen a review. That’s the point of 90% of the comments. Everything he said about the show that could be factually wrong, was, as I listed in my post.

      Seven paragraphs in the “review” and only a few sentences touch on the actual episode in the title.

  11. I agree with most of the comments. This is pretty typical AMS style. The reviewer seems like he a has a general distaste for the narrative.

    • AHS I meant***

  12. While I do agree with most of the posts that this is not a true “episode review”, I have to disagree with the opinions that this season is any good at all. I feel like I’m watching some silly teen angst drama. I literally jumped out of my seat several times during Season 2 (and even Season 1), but this season has me laughing at just how bad the acting is, and how truly terrible the storyline is. It’s SO frustrating, because I had such high hopes for this season. I’m still a fan of AHS, and I will definitely watch Season 4, but I hope it’s more like Seasons 1 & 2.

  13. Season 3 is utterly disappointing. Episode to episode…..just fragments of characters and plots whimsically thrown together. There’s no story and no compelling character development. The minute there’s a remote sign of an interesting cohesive story coming through, the writers shoot it down. They keep killing off characters and bringing them back. The writers can’t make up their minds. Tragic because the first two seasons were so good.

  14. AHS has no structure.