Friday, January 31, 2014

'American Horror Story: Coven': The Great Moments Were Great, But What About the Rest?

The promos? Sick creepy awesome. 
The season? Ehhhhhrrmmm....

I'll admit that I nearly threw my remote at the television when the "American Horror Story: Coven" season finale started with a fucking Stevie Nicks music video. 

It reminded me — and not at all in a good way — of a particular pole-vaulting-the-shark moment in Ryan Murphy's breakout vehicle, "Nip/Tuck," when every character on the GD-motherf'n show broke out into a power ballad, somewhere around the Season 4 mark. That was the end of my "Nip/Tuck" viewing. I'm glad I stuck it out with this AHS season, but I was still left feeling frustrated with quite a bit. [SPOILERS AHEAD

To wit:

• There are literally no dramatic stakes when everyone can be (and pretty much has been) brought back from death. Cordelia's vision of the entire academy dead should have been a chilling portent of things to come, but how could it when most of them have already risen from the dead in a variety of ways?

• Their powers: witch skills were originally presented in a very "X-Men" way. Zoe has a killer vagina. Madison has telekinetic ability. Nan is clairvoyant. Queenie is a voodoo doll (which, uh, by the way, shouldn't that place her firmly on the Voodoo side? Shouldn't Fiona have seen her as a natural enemy, given the Salem-witches-are-white/Voodoo-witches-are-black setup of the show? Queenie can be a black Salem witch, but there are somehow no white Voodoo witches? There were certainly no black Salem witches in any of the coven's historical flashback segments). But over the course of the show, they all eventually develop a solid 60-70% of the Seven Wonder abilities, seemingly without practicing, at least not onscreen. I suppose Murphy and Falchuk may have thought it would be tough to stage practice sessions without it seeming like Hogwart's, so perhaps all the spell study takes place in the downtime between shows.

WHAT'S WITH THE ALBINO AFRICAN DUDES? SOMEBODY?? I think the writers missed out on a plot arc could have/should have been a major part of the friction between Voodoo witches and Salem witches. Maybe somewhere along the lines, Salem witches kidnapped a couple of Voodoo devotees and "changed" them into, well, slaves. I don't know, the moment the Salem/Voodoo beef was revealed, my first thought was, "Ooh, how do the albino African dudes fit in?"

• Race in general was a little problematic for me in this season, and not just because of the multiple scenes of white people torturing black people (though I did enjoy Papa Legba's role-reversal once Laveau and LaLaurie got to Hell). I read a lot of blowback about the portrayal of Papa Legba from voodoo devotees, but I mean, c'mon, this isn't exactly a fact-driven show... I don't know if the show was trying to say something about race — to me it didn't. Certainly no one came to a realization regarding their racist feelings: LaLaurie's racial come-to-Jesus moment was as shlocky as they come, and she went right back to her old ways as soon as she got the chance... Marie Laveau only came to Fiona out of desperation... to me it seemed like the underlying theme was power's corrupting influence. Once confusion set in about the identity of the next Supreme, it was every woman for herself. Zoe managed not to directly harm any of the other witches, that I can recall, but she was the only one. 

• Back to their powers for a second, Madison's death scene made absolutely no sense to me. She just performed five out of the Seven Wonders — INCLUDING CONTROLLING KYLE'S MIND AND MAKING HIM DO WHATEVER SHE WANTED — and yet she couldn't stop him from strangling her. Wha... tha... fa...?

More to come...