Wednesday, January 22, 2014

REVIEW: 'American Horror Story: Coven' Traps Marie & Delphine While Letting Misty & Madison Get Into an Epic Fight in 'Go to Hell'

FX's American Horror Story: Coven - Episode 3.12 Go to Hell

Cordelia's latest vision puts the Coven's future in question. With the end of Fiona's reign approaching, the girls manifest powerful new gifts. Queenie's search for Marie Laveau leads her to Hell and back.

I haven't been the biggest fan of the Coven season of American Horror Story - at one point I let five episodes build up with no real ambition to get to them anytime soon. The narrative at multiple times just felt aimless - with the show just seeming content on letting its A+ cast deliver campy monologue after campy monologue. The middle section of the season - when Danny Huston first joined the series - felt like not a too lot was happening. And the show was much too interested in a handful of secondary characters who served no higher purpose (Denis O'Hare, Evan Peters, the neighbors). In the December finale and the three episodes in January, stuff actually started happening. The show finally just embraced its gore-y self.

There's been a ton of blood and double crossing - with a story that seems to be making just a little bit more sense. The problem with the Coven chapter has been the lack of saying something meaningful. I don't expect that thematic tie in to come during next week's finale - where someone will be crowned the new Supreme.

So if the plot has been majorly wonky, I needed characters to make an impact. While I still enjoy the work being done by this tremendous cast, I feel empty to all of these characters. I don't care which ones live or die - mostly because they'll come back alive later. So, while I'm initially happy to see the Fiona, Marie and Delphine stuff are tied up in this penultimate hour. I also know fully well that they probably will appear in the finale.

But then, Lily Rabe and Emma Roberts get into an epic fist fight - and everything is once again fantastic. Yes, it's campy and over-the-top - especially once Danny Huston suddenly starts coming at them with his ax and they all fling him away. That's the fun that's largely been missing for this arc. So, the fact that the show is finally offering that up feels very course-corrective. But things still largely felt boring in the tonality of this episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Go to Hell" was written by Jessica Sharzer and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
  • Telekinesis, Concilium, Transmutation, Divination, Vitalum Vitalis, Descensum and Pyrokinesis are the Seven Wonders. Fascinating. Plus, a very informative video in that opening sequence.
  • Cordelia's visions have gotten much more stylized, haven't they?
  • The way that Zoe and Kyle were brought back to the story was so terribly half-assed. Why did they have to go on that trip to Florida in the first place?
  • I'm also about 90% sure that the new Supreme will be Zoe. Been sure about that mostly since the first episode.
  • Seeing Kathy Bates as the tour guide person was a delight. Her character often has felt one-noted, desensitized and pointless to the overall narrative.
  • Seeing Sarah Paulson opposite Jessica Lange and Danny Huston in this episode has been the most engaged her character has been this year. It's not as memorable as cutting her own eyes out but also a more engaging emotional performance.
  • When Fiona and the Axman were arguing, we all knew exactly how it would end - with him chopping her up in a bloody mess - but it was surprisingly still engaging to see that relationship crumble - even though I never cared for it in the first place.