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Witches Be Trippin’ – AHS Coven Finale

*Sigh*It’s been three days and I’m still pretty mad at American Horror Story: Coven and the weak attempt at a season finale from last week. I’m mad for several reasons (see below) but mainly because I love this show so much, and when it premiered last fall I thought it could do no wrong. I was totally smitten with the racy violence and the cool, modern
camp, and I had high hopes for a show that was going to take a honest look at the complex relationships among women with a fun, supernatural  allegory like witches. But the wheels starting coming off the bus, and all the things that made it groundbreaking and amazing started to come undone. All these things coalesced into a train wreck of a season finale, and I’ve compiled a list of the top reasons why I hated it. Here goes…

5.The cheap comparison to the gay community.  I feel insulted that the writers are so obviously trying to parallel the witches’ plight with that of the LGBT community in a blink-and-you-missed-it moment. As Cordelia faces the reporter, she uses a familiar tact, “It’s not a choice being a witch. It’s in our DNA.”  This is such a blatant equivocation , that it seems disrespectful and frankly, a little tired. Didn’t we see this same subplot done much better and with much more finesse in True Blood (“God hates fangs,” anyone)? And what’s the point anyway? It doesn’t serve much purpose in the resolution to this show and it cheapens the struggle.

4. Overt misogyny.  All along, we’ve seen moments of feminine weakness – Cordelia’s relationship with Hank, the witch hunter, the love triangle between Zoe, Madison, and Frankenkyle, Myrtle’s jealousy over Fiona – but this finale wasn’t even pretending to try to explore the nuanced female psyche and paints the characters as bickering, backstabbing messes competing with each other in a tawdry rivalry that pits them against each other, beauty-pageant-style. The episode speaks to a tone deafness concerning the female characters that has gained momentum
throughout the season. For a show that is mainly about women and their relationships with each other, it feels like the last two shows could have been written by the male members of a middle school drama club (cut to the “catfight” between Madison and Misty in the second-to-last-episode).  The episode puts many of its characters in an perpetual subjugation to a male character – Fiona must live out eternity getting smacked around by her brute of a boyfriend,  and Spaulding is going to use Madison’s corpse for God-knows-what.  AHS could’ve done better.

3. It’s a little racist. All season, I’ve been trying to figure out what this show has been trying to say about race, and haven’t come to any conclusions except that the writers are pretty lazy when it comes to it. Each witch’s hell is, presumably, revelatory about their character and is supposed to provide insight but in cases of Queenie and Marie, it looks a lot like lethargic stereotyping and brittle clichés. I feel like the writers of a show as avant garde as AHS is supposed to be could find some other way to torture an over-weight African-American than a fried chicken shop in the Ninth Ward. Come on, AHS, do better. Marie has it worse; she has to spend her eternity servicing Delphine’s hell. She doesn’t even get her own torment or infinity, but this is more of the same, as AHS has spent far more time developing the white slave owner, than the far more interesting VooDoo priestess. Sheesh.

 

2. Powers come and go. I’ve overlooked these inconsistencies throughout the season because shows like AHS depend upon a healthy suspension of disbelief, but they are asking too much if they want me to believe that Madison couldn’t have saved herself from Kyle after, minutes before, she made him like her boot.  What a cop out. AHS couldn’t have written her death a little more believably? It just doesn’t make sense, either, for Cordelia to be a floundering mess all season, with little else in the way of powers except horticulture, to suddenly come into all seven wonders and gain the confidence to be the Supreme in one episode. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago that she gouged her own eyes out to strengthen her powers of sight?  It is just asking us to buy into a premise that the show itself hasn’t invested in. We barely know Cordelia, and now we have to live with the fact that she is Supreme. It just doesn’t make good sense to sell us something we have so little use for. They cheated us.

Speaking of getting cheated, the number one reason I feel completely let down by the AHS season finale is…

1.The whimper [instead of the deserved bang] that was Fiona’s death.  She has been a complete and total badass all season, with the smoking, and the bourbon, and the sex-pot, come hither mannerisms, she deserves a hell of a lot more than to wither away from something so basic and mundane as cancer! You would think that all the trouble the writers went to have her come back from the dead would justify a death scene with bloody gore and snarky, passive-aggressive mother/daughter politics. But the scene between Cordelia and Fiona was downright boring. I don’t want to think of Fiona as a “diving being with a human spirit,” or hear her beg to die; I want to see her slit her own daughter’s throat and step over her dying body to reclaim her Supremecy. Ugh. AHS just ruined Fiona for me, and I feel sad I didn’t get to see her burn that mother down.

I did however find the last supper scene at the start of the episode magnificent and reminiscent of what AHS used to be, and it is ripe for dissection, especially with Myrtle as Jesus  and Madison as Judas (I could write another 1000 words about that alone). Also, visually, this episode has some extraordinary moments, specifically the scene in which Myrtle burns at the stake. The red dress, the sunglasses, the men in tuxes pouring the gasoline: pure beauty. And let’s not forget
Stevie Nicks lip syncing to “Seven Wonders” at the outset of the episode that really recalls the good ol’ days of rich, campy silliness that used to make this show so much fun. It should have set the tone for the whole episode, but it turned out to be just a weird, one-off. I know it was a little tacky, but I loved every minute of it.

Its bittersweet to me to say goodbye to this show, because it was great when it was good, and it was terrible when it was bad, and that makes me want more. It’s hard to see these characters go away FOREVER like this. They just deserved so much better. What do you think? How did AHS do with the finale? Tweet me your thoughts: @sroseholt

 

 

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