Wednesday, November 6, 2013

REVIEW: 'American Horror Story: Coven' Gives Zoe a Chainsaw & That's Fantastic in 'Burn, Witch, Burn!'

FX's American Horror Story: Coven - Episode 3.05 Burn, Witch, Burn!

Besieged by Marie Laveau's army, Zoe unleashes a new power; Fiona and Myrtle clash over control of the Coven; and Madame LaLaurie is confronted by old ghosts.

I really did not like American Horror Story: Coven after its first episode. It felt too repetitive in the way that it told its story as the previous two installments. That fact could be comforting to some but at the start of the third year I was already tired of how creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk tell their tales of horror.

Throughout the next few episodes though, I came to enjoy it a bit more simply because of how much fun and commitment everyone in the cast was giving to their roles. The ends of the third and fourth episodes were really strong with the murder of Emma Robert's character and the hoard of zombies from Marie descending on the Coven house.

But I don't know how much I buy what "Burn, Witch, Burn!" is trying to sell. And for no reason, whatsoever, I will outline my concerns in bullet form:
  • Fiona is just free-boozing and pill popping now. That came out of no where. It derived from Cordelia's accident but was probably just so Jessica Lange could walk down that hallway with the flickering lights much longer than remotely necessary.
  • Without her sight, Cordelia is now free to "see" just how terrible her husband is. Yawn. That is so trite and forced and a poor use of Sarah Paulson.
  • Madame LaLaurie suddenly sees how evil she is just by looking at what a monster her daughter is - while in zombie form? Just no. That character progression didn't work because we truly weren't given the time to see her change into self-realization of all the awful things she did. It showed us the awful things and then just asked Kathy Bates to look completely sorry about those things.
  • In what world does Zoe - who confessed about the bus incident in two seconds - not tell someone how she defeated that last zombie. Also, I'll be majorly disappointed if Zoe turns out to be the new Supreme because who wouldn't call that coming from a mile away.
  • And after the zombie hoard is vanquished & Fiona is out of the hospital, we shift to a control battle between Fiona and Myrtle. That felt very sudden and out of place. I'm positive the show decided on the title "Burn, Witch, Burn!" for this hour - and then, thought, hey, we probably should burn some witch tonight.
  • Queenie just does whatever Fiona tells her to do because she's the Supreme? No way. Queenie has been a very self-assured character and framing someone - who may or may not be innocent - felt like a conceit to get Jessica Lange and Gabourey Sidibe together.
  • Finally, the show has really desensitized the act of killing a main character. In every cycle of this show, you know that when someone dies that it's not the end for that character. They still will pop up again somehow in later episodes. So while I did enjoy the moments where Madison and Myrtle die, I'm not sad that I won't see Emma Roberts or Frances Conroy again. I know that I will and that takes the surprise and shock away from it.

But then, Taissa Farmiga flung a freaking chainsaw over her head and cut a bunch of zombies in half. And I was in love with the show all over again.

Some more thoughts:
  • In case you didn't hear, American Horror Story was picked up for a fourth cycle. Guesses on where - or when - the next installment will be set?
  • Since Spalding has no tongue, does that mean he doesn't have thoughts? Otherwise, how does Nan not hear them and know how creepy he is in the antic and that he has Madison's (slowly falling apart) body up there with him?
  • And this season would be so much better without the Evan Peters subplot. The creatives really like Peters but he didn't really fit into the main story this year. So they said, "What the hell" and put him in anyway.
  • But I really enjoy the Lily Rabe character. There's still a strong sense of mystery and intrigue in that corner of the show. She only pops up at the very end but a Misty-Myrtle alliance excites me for what's to come.
  • So basically this episode is - A+ for Zoe with a chainsaw & C+ for everything else.