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TV Review: American Horror Story: Coven (Season Finale: January 28, 2014)

Jan. 30, 2014by: Jake Dee

EPISODE: The Seven Wonders

THE SCOOP: The time is nigh folks. After the wicked witches of Robichaux perform the ancient Seven Wonders ritual, a new Supreme is finally crowned!

THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MINOR TO MAJOR SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE, IT MIGHT BE BEST TO STOP READING HERE!

THE SKINNY: Call it a nice touch of nostalgia or a shameless bit of cross promotion, either way, cue the Stevie Nicks music video to open up "The Seven Wonders", the final episode of "American Horror Story: Coven." Pretty strange shite I must say, but then again, so too has all three wildly varied seasons of this odd little show. So here we go friends, out to, in some warped alternate version of one of those no-talent-show primetime singing programs, find out which wicked witch in the Robichaux Academy will go through the gauntlet and reign Supreme. Be honest, did you guess the right winner? Did the grisly gal you had your eye on take the prize? I'll be honest, I've kind of been throwing darts all across the map as the show has gone on, definitely landing on Zoe a couple of times. Boy I was I wrong! I mean, I thought she had a couple of postmortem chances there as the episode went on, but damn, Cordelia? Really? Seriously? How obvious and predictable is that? A bit too! The daughter of the last Supreme, the elder stateswoman of the bunch? It's not quite a letdown, but not quite a satisfyingly solved 13-episode mystery either.

So last week we were warned of ancient The Seven Wonders ritual to determine who the next Supreme would be. Recall, they're as follows: telekinesis, concilium, transmutation, divination, vitalum vitalis, decensum and pyrokenisis. Well, after the Nicks soft-rock session, Myrtle serves the six gals caviar, her and Cordelia included. Last minute preparations are made between the five finalists (Zoe, Maddy, Queenie, Misty and Delia), and off to the witchy Olympics we are. Here's how the shenanigans went down:

1. Telekinesis: After Misty struggles for a second to telekinetically move a candle across the table, they all nail it. Queenie the quickest.

2. Concilium: Also known as mind control. Misty and Queenie square off, the former makes the latter punch herself, the latter makes the former pull her own hair. But more duplicious, Zoe and Maddy square off, but instead of vying against each other, they mind control Kyle into kissing them, obeying them. Kyle acts like a zombie and does what they say. He licks Maddy's boot.

3. Decensum: The ability to go to hell and back is - Each girl is put in their own personal hell. For Maddy it's starring on a horrible soap, for Queenie it's serving fried chicken for eternity, etc. They all make it back safely, except for Misty, whose personal hell entails reliving a day in biology class where she has to dissect a frog. She does so, heals it, then relives the day. But she can't make it back so she's dead, Delia tries to revive her, but she smolders into ash.

4. Transmutation: Maddy uses her powers of trasmutation to lift Zoe up and impale her on the sharp prongs of an wrought-iron gate. Then, as the only one able, Maddy refuses to revive her. She feels Supreme yet perhaps a bit threatened as well. Myrtle is incensed, wants Zoe revived. This is where Cordelia as a viable next Supreme comes in.

5. Vitalum Vitalis: They all try to revive Zoe, but to no avail. Maddy flat refuses.

6. Divination: Historical knowledge. To my attention, we end after the sixth wonder. Maddy fails her knowledge test, throws a fit, while Cordelia succeeds. Kyle then violently chokes and kills Maddy on her bed for letting Zoe die. Delia tries to revive Zoe again and does so successfully.

Jeez, I hope that helps. All that to say, yup, Cordelia...the long neglected daughter of the last Supreme, rose above all else to become the new heir to the throne. Again, a bit predictable, but okay. Once crowned, Myrtle asks for a death sentence. Deilia obliges, sending her off with a nice burned-at-the-stake ceremony in the desert. But then, and this wasn't predictable, an intensely dramatic dream sequence pits Fiona with Cordelia. On its own merits I thought it was a powerful scene, but in the context of this episode, it felt rather out of place. That said, the scene reinforces the main reason to watch the show: Jessica Lange. Call it hokey if you want, but she was heartbreaking in her goodbye to her much maligned daughter and self. Of course, it was only a dream, which was even more bizarre. Papa Legba bitch!

As far as season finales go, I think we pretty much got all we needed from "American Horror Story: Coven." The one overarching story beat of this season dealt with the crowning of a new Supreme witch, and that we finally earned. And while I think naming Cordelia as the new heir was a bit of a predictable letdown (too obvious to even predict if you will), I still had a lot of fun with this season as a whole, mainly when involving the abject perversion and depravity (Maddy, Queenie, Fiona, etc). I also think this last 13 episodes did a good job of staying focused and on point for the most part, the opposite of which was a major critique in seasons 1 and 2. Props for the producers for making the decision to let one single director (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) helm the entire run. It's a great new trend in television these days, exemplified none better than by HBO's blistering new series "True Detective". As such, Gomez-Rejon was able to create a consistent tone throughout much of "AHS: Coven." Corniness aside, it was a pretty fun season wasn't it?

BLOOD & GORE: Pretty skimp this week. A gouged out eyeball. A 3-pronged gate-post impalement. A bucket of smeared goats blood. Nothing too major, it was all about story wrap-up this week.

KILL OF THE WEEK: Myrtle getting torched like the Great Chicago Fire was pretty damn gnarly. The tall flame geyser, the shrill screaming to her death. Heat!

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: Would anyone disagree that the overwrought dream sequence Fiona had wasn't the most bizarre? Don't get me wrong, on its own, the scene was powerful (thanks to Lange). But it felt totally out of context in this episode, shifting the tone, almost as if it were a last minute addition to give Lange one more dramatic scene if not a better resolution. Liked it on its own, but it was certainly bizarre as a whole.

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: What the hell was that mumbo jumbo Spalding spat when he suddenly popped up. Something about burying Zoe in a place where she wouldn't be found. WTF was that bit of randomness?

TELL US WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF THE SEASON FINALE BELOW!

Extra Tidbit: How would you rate this season of "AHS: Coven"?
Source: AITH

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8:45PM on 02/16/2014

Loved the season

But Gomez-Rejon didn't direct all 13 eps. There were five other directors who did episodes, not the least among them Howard Deutch.
But Gomez-Rejon didn't direct all 13 eps. There were five other directors who did episodes, not the least among them Howard Deutch.
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3:44PM on 01/31/2014
I really love AHS on the whole and loved this season but only liked the finale. S2 had a good last ep with the mother/son Bloodyface confrontation but on the whole if I have to level one main criticism at AHS is that their final episodes reek of simply wrapping things up. I had a sneaky suspicion it would go this way after watching the previous episode and the 3 biggest characters were (well mostly apparently) offed. Nothing feels like events are ramping up to explosive conclusions. Some
I really love AHS on the whole and loved this season but only liked the finale. S2 had a good last ep with the mother/son Bloodyface confrontation but on the whole if I have to level one main criticism at AHS is that their final episodes reek of simply wrapping things up. I had a sneaky suspicion it would go this way after watching the previous episode and the 3 biggest characters were (well mostly apparently) offed. Nothing feels like events are ramping up to explosive conclusions. Some better structure could have had Fiona's faked death at least an episode earlier and the Supreme being identified in the penultimate episode then moving on to a bigger finale. As stated by others the episode sadly lacked it's big hitters Lange, Bates and Bassett. Don't get me wrong the cast is fantastic and I especially love Paulson but when you have those 3 on your roster - use them!! Bates and Basset's fates would have better fit being shown in the last episode. I remember being sorely disappointed in S1's final ep also. 2nd last ep was a doozy then the final ep, while still a good hour of television, just fell flat compared to all that happened before. At least S2 had the emotional resonance of Jude's repentance and death with the resolution of Bloodyface's son facing off against his mother. It was - in my opinion - a brilliant end to that series, some truly thrilling TV.
As I said I still liked this episode but like S1 after all that happened before it was a fun filler episode that should have been the prelude to the big finish. While a bit obvious I liked that Cordelia was the Supreme given how she was initially so weak and naive. But once identified it was on to a nice little happy ending that I kept thinking was going to end up being a dream. Here's hoping S4 will remedy this and start giving better finales. I would like the more creepy sinister tone of S1 though. At least Bates Motel is starting soon to ease my pain of missing this otherwise damn amazing show.
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6:12PM on 01/30/2014

Gotta agree with Preston

I didn't like the finale at all. Not only did it not feel like a finale, but the choices made in terms of killing off characters that we've emotionally invested ourselves in a almost humorous way was completely disappointing. Madison being killed by Kyle was terrible, Misty stuck in limbo, and Myrtle deciding to burn at the stake in order to avoid Cordelia from facing some kind of scandal (another hint of Season 4 I'm sure) . This was easily the worst season and I hope Murphy returns to form
I didn't like the finale at all. Not only did it not feel like a finale, but the choices made in terms of killing off characters that we've emotionally invested ourselves in a almost humorous way was completely disappointing. Madison being killed by Kyle was terrible, Misty stuck in limbo, and Myrtle deciding to burn at the stake in order to avoid Cordelia from facing some kind of scandal (another hint of Season 4 I'm sure) . This was easily the worst season and I hope Murphy returns to form for the next season--especially since it's supposedly Lange's last.
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3:41PM on 01/30/2014
Didn't like the finale at all. They set Zoe up to be the Supreme, or so I thought. She's the one that stopped the zombie attack, and when she did Marie Laveau said someone in the coven has "real power". Then she didn't get to complete the Seven Wonders, despite having performed all the others. Nan and Madison's deaths seemed absolutely pointless. The entire ending felt flat.
Didn't like the finale at all. They set Zoe up to be the Supreme, or so I thought. She's the one that stopped the zombie attack, and when she did Marie Laveau said someone in the coven has "real power". Then she didn't get to complete the Seven Wonders, despite having performed all the others. Nan and Madison's deaths seemed absolutely pointless. The entire ending felt flat.
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11:30AM on 01/30/2014
Once again, this reviewer seems to have muddled something here--Fiona and Cordelia's final scene together is not a dream--Fiona dies in her arms, and is taken to her own personal hell: eternity in a farmhouse with the Axeman (somewhat contradictory, I think, as Fiona was told she had no soul...). It's not out of place at all, as one of the major themes of this season was Mothers and Daughters. There had to be a conclusion to Fiona's and Cordelia's tumultuous relationship. Fiona's faked death
Once again, this reviewer seems to have muddled something here--Fiona and Cordelia's final scene together is not a dream--Fiona dies in her arms, and is taken to her own personal hell: eternity in a farmhouse with the Axeman (somewhat contradictory, I think, as Fiona was told she had no soul...). It's not out of place at all, as one of the major themes of this season was Mothers and Daughters. There had to be a conclusion to Fiona's and Cordelia's tumultuous relationship. Fiona's faked death last week would have been a horrible way to dispatch the show's main character; dying in the arms of her daughter is much more appropriate.
Overall fun, enjoyable finale. Cordelia as the Supreme is what I presumed...there's no way the choice wouldn't have been predictable or disappointing for some, as it's been a 13-episode journey of "who is it?" with the same people...Myrtle's send-off was fitting, I felt.
The lack of Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett hurt this week....
Also, this season is *just* as guilty of losing focus and running all over the place as the others...at least "Asylum" spent 3 episodes wrapping itself up...and "Coven", while a sensational, fun time, can't hold a candle to the wrenching experience that was last year's finale.
Though Lange was, and continues to be, the real force within this show.
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