Whenever I watch an episode of Game of Thrones, I always have two completely conflicting ideas about the show. I always end up thinking everything happens and absolutely nothing happens. With American Horror Story: Coven, I feel the same way, except while Game of Thrones succeeds in this, Coven is failing. A show like Game of Thrones first creates a world with rules, boundaries and limitations while also having a clear purpose in its stories. Before their was brother-on-sister loving and demon babies, there were guidelines set up to this that made all this wackiness make sense.
Coven has yet to really do any of this, which both prior seasons did incredibly well. Eight hours in, we don’t have a strong grasp of what the laws of this witching society has, and there hasn’t really been any sort of end goal that the show was going for. There’s the vaguest traces of forward momentum, but besides insane things happening every week, the rules to everything could easily change from week to week. Really nothing in Coven is set in stone. It’s almost like a dramatic horror series utilizing the structure of a sketch comedy show. Next time you tune in, everything you know could be completely different.
It also feels like Coven is really stretching what story it does have. In “The Sacred Taking,” everyone finally agrees what the audience has known for weeks: that they have to take out Fiona. For what is called the “sacred taking,” Fiona must kill herself for the sake of the coven. The resurrected Myrtle announces that surely Misty is the next sacred, which makes total sense now that someone says it. I mean, it’s cool that Madison can flip entire buses full of frat boys or that Zoe’s main power is that she can kill men with her vagina, but really, Misty resurrected herself. I think she clearly wins.
So the also-resurrected Madison goes to Fiona and demands that she either kills herself or she’ll be burned at the stake. Fiona refuses to die under such circumstances, but later that night, she takes a handful of pills. But then, Spalding comes back from the dead as well. (From what I understand, he isn’t resurrected, he’s just a ghost. Because that’s all we need, another paranormal experience that isn’t explained and makes no sense.) Spalding forces Fiona to throw up the pills, and now she refuses to die.
The only other pretty sure story line is the fight between the coven and the voodoo practitioners, who now includes Queenie. She even is murdering rapists under bridges and stealing their hearts to make herself more powerful. The show clearly wants us to see Marie Laveau and the voodoo side of things as the evil side, but really, why should we? Everyone that she’s going against (LaLaurie, Fiona) clearly deserves to be destroyed. Even when Laveau cuts off LaLaurie’s still-operating head at the end of the episode, that seems pretty reasonable considering what LaLaurie did to Laveau.
Also Luke, the neighbor next door, and his mother are shot by Cordelia’s witch-hunting husband. I don’t know what Luke’s mother is doing to Luke before they are murdered, but it’s supposed to be disturbing, even though it’s never clear in any way. I think she’s giving him a homemade enema, but even that seems too normal for this show. At this point, I really think it’s just another way to shoehorn in another example of mothers being crazy.
I’ve said before that Coven could still very well pull all these elements together, explain them all and have them pay off, but at this point it’s just too much. Past seasons had much more to grab onto by this point. I still don’t understand quite why the Supreme is such a big deal, especially since Fiona was absent for much of her reign, and that’s just the tip of the insanity iceberg. Coven has felt free to throw every crazy idea at the wall, making things more and more nuts until nothing really works well. If a show sets up the groundwork, then sure, it can go wild in that world, but without that groundwork, it just seems like the ramblings of a crazy person, signifying nothing.