Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If A New Chapter Starts But No One's There To Watch It, Did 'Coven' Matter At All?...


Does anyone else feel like they just had their time wasted by American Horror Story?

I feel like Ryan Murphy and Co. got bored with their own story mid-way through the season and just delivered week after repetitive week of the same story with no stakes. It wasn't enough to blind Cordelia once; they had to do it again later. Literally every one of the potential Supremes (not to mention a few other key characters) were killed only to be resurrected. Even the shock value of the burning at the stake only worked the first time around. And what about the race relations between the witches? It didn't matter much in the end, now did it; it's not like Queenie overcame expectations or broke down barriers and earned that crowning. And for what? It took 13 episodes-- the entire course of the season-- just to learn who the next Supreme was, kick-starting what should be a whole chapter in the life of this coven. But why should we care when we don't get to see it?

The finale episode would have worked extremely well to set up another season-- one with a whole bunch of new witches learning to come into their powers, learning how to navigate the politics within the coven and with the council, learning how to thrive while not tempting Cordelia to turn into her mother too much. But American Horror Story is an anthology series, so Coven is one and done, not granting us the chance to watch anything actually happen with the coven itself-- especially now that the outside world knows about its existence in a way that should be threatening to at least a couple of those crazy religious groups that boycott everything from abortion clinics to gay marriages.

Coven as a season didn't feel arced out properly at all. If it had been, the writers surely should have come to the realization that nothing really (especially nothing that had lasting effects) was happening and moved up The Seven Wonders (test and episode) to mid-way through to actually allow to see the regime change. But it didn't feel like they even knew who they wanted their Supreme to be. The first episode seemed to promise the title to Zoey, but the show very quickly distanced itself from her individual journey. We as an audience got to care about Cordelia, especially in the wake of all of the blindings and her dysfunctional maternal relationships with both Myrtle and Fiona (and later her own maternal inklings towards the next generation), but we'd care more if she learned she was the Supreme and be awoken to all of the pressures and pain her own mother had been. 

How great would it have been to watch this over the course of the last few episodes? To have those Academy doors open to a wide variety of girls, any of whom posed a potential ally but also a threat to Cordelia? To see her struggle and perhaps succumb a bit to being the Supreme she never wanted to be, even if just out of fear-- to see her slip despite her immense power-- to see that there is still another generation under her with a Supreme in it and she has to suss out who it is to take true control-- those are all the things that would have highlighted her humanity that much more, not to mention provided real character turns, dramatic stakes, and yes a chance to see a wider emotional journey for a woman who forced herself to be a hero just because she came from a villain.


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