The title of American Horror Story: Coven’s penultimate episode, “Go To Hell,” feels less like a reference to three of the show’s main characters literally going to hell, and more like something it’s shouting at its audience. When Coven started, it was about a group of young girls at a school for witches, but about halfway through the pilot, we were introduced to all manner of older witches, crazy ideas and plenty of stuff I can’t even begin to make sense of. Now, after eleven episodes of just the most ridiculous plots, we’re back where we started: a bunch of young witches at school trying to figure out who will be the next leader. Nothing in between seems to have mattered beyond some amusing moments and weird stories with no discernible meaning.
“Go To Hell” goes through and kills a bunch of characters we really didn’t need anyways. LaLaurie and Laveau are both in hell now thanks to Legba. LaLaurie is stuck in her slave traps for all eternity while Laveau has to torture LaLaurie’s children unwillingly. Boom. Two down. Then apparently the Axeman kills Fiona, even though we never see him disposing of the body, and the coven rises up to kill him. Two more out of the way. Yet I would be incredibly surprised for AHS to kill off Jessica Lange in the next-to-last episode. Don’t be surprised when she comes back next week. Remember, in the world of Coven, no one is ever truly dead because magic.
Coven has been all about how the younger generation will make the older generation irrelevant, so with four of the older cast members gone, it’s sort of proving its own point since none of these characters were even all that important in the first place. Not even Fiona really in the long run mattered, besides presenting some mommy issues for Cordelia and giving the younger girls the motivation to become the next Supreme. In theory, I believe that one could watch the first episode of Coven, skip all of the middle, come back for the finale next week and totally be able to understand everything that’s going on.
If any of the plot had actually mattered, “Go To Hell” might have been a fascinating episode. At least from a directing stand point, this episode does stand out, with its silent film opening and stark—yet not original—views of hell and the future. Lance Reddick is still great as Papa Legba, and Frances Conroy is amazing doing anything. Plus “Go To Hell” gives us the most horrifying images in the entire season, by for some reason constantly showing us Cordelia’s disgustingly stabbed out eyes. Nothing in the entire series has made me cringe quite as much as this, besides the drop in from Asylum to Coven.
What’s so disappointing about Coven is that is constantly shows us hints of promise, before the show realizes it just wants to be insane, instead. The Queenie and LaLaurie stuff has actually worked at times, but LaLaurie is largely irrelevant. Having the girls of the coven interact with each other, especially at the end of this episode, is at least interesting, but it’s a shame the entire season has been about walking around the plot set up in the pilot.
Coven has felt like a bunch of nonsense throughout the season that I hoped would come together in the end, but at this point another episode isn’t going to solve all of its numerous problems. One more episode won’t force all the plot distractions and unnecessary focus on characters who don’t matter to finally make sense. I’m hoping I’m proven wrong next week in the finale, but c’mon, they’re too deep in this hole to dig themselves out at this point. As of right now, after watching a mostly useless dozen episodes of American Horror Story: Coven, I would like to reflect the latest episode’s title back on the show itself: go to hell Coven