‘American Horror Story: Coven’: A Fate Worse than New Jersey?

Published 7 months ago by

Frances Conroy in American Horror Story Coven Episode 9 American Horror Story: Coven: A Fate Worse than New Jersey?

[This is a review of American Horror Story: Coven episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]

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One thing that’s easy to admire about American Horror Story: Coven is the unapologetic way it randomly vacillates between what it wants to focus on. Rather than end things by segueing out or inserting a suggestion that there’s more to come on a particular topic, the show favors the ellipsis as a means by which it welcomes new threads into the narrative.

That’s not to say this season of Coven hasn’t been hinting at some sort of war on the horizon (it seems some sort of supernatural war is always on the horizon in AHS) involving the witches of Miss Robichaux’s Academy and Marie Laveau’s voodoo priestesses, but its sudden importance – along with the introduction of even more characters – means practically everything that was central to the narrative last week goes unmentioned.

Now this isn’t necessarily good or bad – in fact, with American Horror Story, it’s kind of par for the course – it’s just that after spending most of ‘The Sacred Taking‘ watching Fiona lose her hair, and, very nearly, her will to live, she’s suddenly up and about, trying to negotiate an alliance with Marie Laveau. Apparently, the presence of a witch hunter with horrendous aim is suddenly more pressing than dealing with her cancer or finding the next Supreme.

It’s so pressing, in fact, that the word cancer isn’t even brought up – instead it’s given only the smallest bit of lip service by Marie, taking note of what is apparently the shoddy craftsmanship of Fiona’s wig.

Not that Coven needs to suddenly turn up with Fiona’s oncology reports and let the audience go over her medical charts, but considering she was virtually on death’s door last week, this sudden vitality feels like a rather abrupt and distracted shift in a character who the show has repeatedly suggested is on her way out. And speaking of lip service, the Axeman is nowhere to be seen in the episode either – and that’s after only making the briefest of appearances last week – so hopefully things haven’t cooled off entirely with those two.

Taissa Farmiga Jamie Brewer and Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Coven Epiosde 9 American Horror Story: Coven: A Fate Worse than New Jersey?

At any rate, now that Fiona’s apparently well enough to broker deals with her sworn enemy and make FrankenKyle smart enough to play cards and become the house’s new guard dog, ‘Head’ manages to turn its sights toward Hank’s backstory and Cordelia regaining her, well…sight, thanks to Myrtle’s fondness for paralytic agents and melon ballers.

With Cordelia’s sight back, her visions may have ceased, but she’s still able to see through Hank’s miserable claptrap about loving her, although there’s no indication that she’s aware of the Delphi Trust, or Hank’s father (played by Michael Cristofer, Ray Donovan). That tiny factor points to Hank’s former aptitude at intelligence work, since that’s the last time he used his brain for something better than coating the walls of Marie Laveau’s hair salon.

And while the role that Hank has played was nominal at best, it raises an interesting question about the permanence of such things in the world that Coven has created. With all these characters dying horrible, gruesome deaths, or otherwise suffering some dreadful disfigurement (let’s go back to the melon baller for a moment and cringe), only to have their life – or body – restored, one has to wonder whether Fiona’s fear of aging, loneliness, and death are simply unfounded, as she’s just an afternoon with Myrtle or Misty Day away from being good as new.

So with the threat of death or bodily harm ostensibly off the table, are the witch hunters of the Delphi Trust really the worst thing any of these witches has to fear, or is it the real threat simply banishment to New Jersey? If the Delphi Trust can make that happen, then the women of Miss Robichaux’s had better look out.

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American Horror Story: Coven will return with ‘The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks’ on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 @10pm on FX.

TAGS: american horror story

13 Comments

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  1. Is Queenie dead? What about Kathy Bates?

    • yeah she’s dead. the ammo used in the guns were silver bullets, which i’m guessing according to the mythology of the show kills a witch dead even if she was using her voodoo doll power. But i do have to say Queenie went out like a hero.

      • You know I’ve been thinking about what Queenie did and she was pretty heroic.

  2. Lame episode. When Kathy Bates joined the show, I would have never guessed that she was going to be used as the comic relief…the head with an attitude. Equally as bad, I keep rolling my eyes at the show’s not-too-subtle attempts to “educate” and “enlighten” the likely fraction of one percent of viewers who might be racist. A preachy American Horror Story…g-r-e-a-t. I am joining the chorus of others here who, under previous discussions, have expressed that they are growing discontent with the show.

    • Is it a bad thing to alienate the racist viewers? Every season of AHS has had heavy handed social commentary, it’s not new.

      And quite contrary, from what I have seen from various other review sites, Season 3 is being considered the best season thus far.

      • Why I roll my eyes is because this is a show that consistently displays all sorts of deviancy, depravity, and violence, catering to horror fans, with the obvious intent to create buzz and establish itself in the ratings, yet in commenting on racism, over and over again this year, it pretends to be something that it is not…a show with a moral compass and focus. Give me a break!

        And I am a fan (primarily of Jessica Lange), or else I wouldn’t be watching. Early on, I even believed this was the best season, but this episode was a compete joke. Rather than cringe at Kathy Bates’ head, I laughed at it, and as I said, the lesson on racism comes across as entirely disingenuous, oonsidering the overall tone of the show itself.

    • I disagree with every statement you made.

      And if there’s any chorus that I’ve noticed it’s the one praising this as the best season yet.

  3. Anyone else start humming “Mr Sandman” to theirselves anytime when they saw Kathy Bates’ head last night?

  4. This show is awesome.

  5. Well I’ll be dammed…
    Just a week after I say that this season is a lost cause for me they air what I think was the best episode of the season.
    It was the mid-season finale so maybe an up-tick in story should be expected or maybe my expectations have been lowered to the point where the only way to go is up but this episode was pretty entertaining for me.

  6. i totally cannot wait for January to come. I did find it hard to see the Voodoos gunned down. Although it did take Marie Laveau off her high horse and remind her that when it comes down to it it doesn’t matter what tribe or house you belong to when the witch hunters come. I am so excited to see the level of retaliation that Fiona and Marie can conjure up.

  7. Well i loved the start of this season and a few episodes ago found my attention waning, but i REALLY enjoyed this one. I echo the comments about queenie, id be sad to see her go ….
    and a +1 to agree with the comment above…
    looking forward to the next episode, can take all these mid season finales!!! quite a few show have ramped it up from a slump and i cant wait till the next episodes roll on Jan/Feb :)

  8. This season has, by far, been the weakest of the three. A couple of times, I’ve almost not bothered watching it.

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