After nine episodes of insanity, American Horror Story: Coven feels like it’s finally boiling down what really matters and achieving some focus. So far, this season has been Ryan Murphy throwing everything into a pot—or cauldron possibly—mixing it all up, and seeing what comes out. Most of what has resulted is just plain ridiculous and in the long run, made absolutely no sense. But ten episodes in, superfluous characters are disappearing, side stories don’t matter as much, and characters actually have a purpose and motivation.
“The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” finally brings Fiona and Marie together to fight the witch-hunting corporation known as Delphi Trust. For the longest time, it looked like AHS was trying to set up Marie as the villain, yet that was mostly because we knew nothing about her. Here though, we finally get some much needed background into why she is the way she is.
Years ago, Marie sold her soul to Papa Legba so that she wouldn’t die but instead have eternal life. In exchange, Marie has to give Legba a new soul every year, which started with Marie giving up her own newborn child. So yeah, now I can sort of see why Marie is so cold, you know with essentially giving over a hundred babies to the devil in her lifetime. (It took me forever to realize that Legba was being played by Lance Reddick, but he’s really having some fun with this role.)
Also still having a ridiculous amount of fun is Frances Conroy as Myrtle. She’s still in the basement of the school, but now she’s soothing Cordelia’s tantrums of not having a place in the world by playing her eerie theremin and suggesting that Cordelia go into the salad dressing industry. Conroy, you’re the best.
But “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” isn’t all fun and theremins. It’s also about killing off tons of unnecessary characters. First off are Luke and his mom next door. Nan is heartbroken about Luke’s death and goes to his mother’s house to resurrect him, yet Luke’s mother has already cremated him, making this impossible. So instead of resurrecting Luke, Nan uses her newfound psychic control powers to have Luke’s mom drink bleach.
A little more disappointing though is Nan’s death. For some reason that isn’t quite clear, Marie and Fiona decide to kill of Nan, who is coming off like a real threat now, instead of the baby Marie kidnapped for Legba. They drown Nan, and she goes off with Legba. I’m totally fine with Nan leaving, but next week she could easily be back and more powerful than ever. That’s sort of how things work here in the Coven.
Nan still believed she could be the Supreme, but the real battle seems to be between Misty and Madison. Misty is high off meeting “special guest star” Stevie Nicks, who is just hanging out in the school now playing “Rhiannon” and having twirling classes. Misty and Madison go to a New Orleans’ jazz funeral—as one does—and along the way, Madison tricks Misty into falling into a coffin and having her buried. Once again, this more or less means nothing. After all, Misty can bring people back to life (and so can Madison), so I assume being buried alive ain’t no thang.
We also get an awesome scene of Legba with Fiona, who is trying to bargain for her own eternal life. However when Legba gets ready to seal the deal, he calls it off, stating that Fiona already has lost her soul. (Who took it? Is this something I can lose? I need Legba to come visit me and check on my soul status.) The Axeman appears to remind the viewer that there are still some extra characters to get rid of, and Fiona confides that she’s just going to have to kill them all. Maybe Nan is just the first on Fiona’s killing spree.
“The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” is probably the best episode of Coven so far, basically because it shows that American Horror Story is ready to quit screwing around so much and resume an actual plot arc. Sure, there’s still plenty of weird stuff happening and ideas that don’t make sense, but at least it’s all heading into a more sane direction.