AHS: Coven Review - The Dead

AHS: Coven Review - The Dead

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen American Horror Story: Coven Season 3, Ep. 7 – “The Dead”.

“We’re going to kill my mother. Kill her once. Kill her good. Kill her dead.” – Cordelia

This week’s episode may have been called “The Dead”, but it may as well have been called “The Sex”. That’s about all that went down this episode. Although it was exclusively sex with dead people, so I guess the title still works.

Have I become too jaded? I hate to compare Coven to previous AHS installments because each season is meant to stand on its own, but comparisons are bound to be drawn. On paper “The Dead” had all the markings of a classic AHS episode; ghost sex, zombie threesomes, re-animated tongues, murder and revenge of the most disturbing order. Usually an episode of AHS ends and I’m astounded an hour has gone by so quickly. This week I thought the episode was almost over and it hadn’t even reached the halfway mark.

But why is that? When Coven began I heralded it as the best AHS season yet. I applauded how singularly focused it was and yet this singular focus has given way to no focus at all. We’re seven episodes in and I still have no idea what this show is about. Is it about a war between witches and voodoo practitioners? Is it an allegory for race relations and a harsh indictment of cultural appropriation? Is it about how everyone wants to kill Jessica Lange? Will it ever be about Patti Lupone singing her heart out?

And perhaps that’s the other problem. The world of Coven is so condense and yet there is still so little we get to see each week. This week we got no check in with Misty and Myrtle (I’m assuming that was the title of the now scrapped spinoff), no mention of Nan and her hot houseguest and only the briefest, yet amazingly scary, moment with Marie Laveau. And yet we got at least twenty minutes of Fiona romping with a serial killing spirit. I’m all for Jessica Lange doing her thing, but leave some scenery to devour for the rest of the divas on deck.

Also, I’m extremely confused over how we’re meant to feel about Madame LaLaurie getting a little Hammurabi justice.  This woman has been shown as the definition of evil, but a few days hanging out with Precious and she’s down to be best friends with a black girl? AHS has never been known for their logical character development, but come on.

And yet there were stand alone moments that were truly exceptional: Madison’s narration at the top of the hour, the long take of a seamlessly aging Fiona getting ready in her room. AHS is great at creating singularly spectacular moments. They shock you or move you or make you laugh, but the their cohesion is never the priority. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Artistically AHS cannot be matched. Not all art has to have deep meaning; it just has to incite reaction. And that’s a mark American Horror Story never misses.

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