'American Horror Story: Coven' - 'The Seven Wonders' Finale Recap
As Madison packs her stuff Kyle comes in the room and asks her why she let Zoe die. He is Hulk-mad and strangles her, “You’re not that good an actress,” he says. Heh. Creepy Spalding shows up to help with the disposal of her body. Meanwhile in the basement, Cordelia revives Zoe and passes out. When she awakes her eyes are healed and she looks around in wonderment, Myrtle announces, “Behold, the one true Supreme.”
Cut to Cordelia being interviewed for a news program. It’s been a month since the coven announced their existence to the public. “There are so many young witches who have resisted their calling because they are afraid of how they may be perceived or what’s expected of them… when you hide in the shadows you are less visible you have less protection…” she beckons those with magical abilities to contact the academy and join the coven.
In Cordelia’s office, there are piles of potential student records, Myrtle comes in and tells Cordelia how proud she is. Cordelia tells her that she is thinking of making Zoe and Queenie her council, but Myrtle has bigger concerns. She says that in order to really usher in a new era for the coven, then she must get rid of all the evil that came before, meaning she must call for Myrtle’s execution for the death of the former council members. Myrtle insists, “I killed and I must pay for it.”
So back to the old witch-burning site. Myrtle is clad in a fabulous and dramatic red dress as she walks to her death. Cordelia is visibly upset when she sentences Myrtle to death by fire and ask if she has any last words, and in possibly the most hilarious and amazing moment in the episode Myrtle cackles “Balenciaga!” right before burning. Best scene ever. I know I’ve said this before but Myrtle Snow is absolute perfection, a true highlight and one of the few reasons to watch Coven. I wish we had more of her throughout the season, she will be missed.
Back at Miss Robichaux’s dozens of new students stand outside the academy gates waiting to enter. Inside, Cordelia asks Zoe and Queenie to serve as her council, they are totally in.
Cordelia senses something and tells them there is one last thing to take care of before they open the doors.
Cordelia heads downstairs where Fiona is waiting, she tells her that She “saw her die” but it turns out that Fiona plated that memory on the Axeman’s brain in order to fool the coven. I knew that it wouldn’t be that easy to kill Fiona. She always planned to come back after the new Supreme was identified and “take her out.” “You didn’t come here to kill me,” says Cordelia, knowing that Fiona just want release at this point. They have a mother/daughter talk, “every time I looked at you I saw my own death, you were a constant reminder of my worst fears,” Fiona explains to Cordelia, she asks her daughter to kill her finally. “No one can help you mother,” Cordelia says, knowing that Fiona has to let go on her own and succumb to her biggest fear. They hug and Fiona dies in Cordelia’s arms. I think this was supposed to be a touching, emotional moment, but I feel nothing. Which is kind of the huge failure of Coven. Remember when Sister Jude died? That was truly devastating. Asylum was able to redeem a character that was utterly despicable at first glance, the writes made her into one of the most sympathetic and emotionally engaging characters on the show. She had an affecting character arc that transformed not only how we felt about her, but also how the character operated. It wasn’t hard to be affected by her death and redemption and it wasn’t all due to Jessica Lange’s flawless performance, there was nuanced and good storytelling involved. Jessica Lange’s acting ability could not save the thin material of Coven and while she and Sarah Paulson played the sh!t out of this scene, there was no emotional resonance whatsoever. Who cares? Took her long enough to die. Though I appreciate the closure for this relationship, it is one of the few narrative threads the writers concluded in a logical, and understandable way. Also, there was palpable tension in the scene, I kept waiting for Fiona to pounce on Cordelia and kill her.
After her death, Fiona wakes up in her hell. She is stuck in a country home living with the Axeman. In her frustration Fiona gives us the second best line of dialogue in the finale, (Myrtle’s “Balenciaga” is first) “What is this, knotty pine?!!” The delivery is just revelatory. Fiona is distraught and Papa Legba appears ad laughs ominously.
Finally, at Miss Robichaux’s they open the doors and Cordelia gives her spiel about the school, the same one she gave in the premiere. She ends with an apt, “It’s our time to thrive.” A girl asks what a Supreme is and Queenie says, “You’re looking at her,” as the camera pushes n on Cordelia. She smiles. The end.
So there you have it, a mediocre end to a mediocre season. I wish I had stronger feelings, but really I’m left with indifference regarding the whole thing. I have no real lasting impression other than ‘I called that sh!t’ and well, Sarah is looking pretty badass. Sure, I guess I’m glad that Cordelia emerged triumphant, but the way the story unfolded made it an empty victory. All the parallels to last year’s finale were fun (news interview, Sarah Paulson kicking ass, mother/offspring face off, etc.) but mostly they only served to remind me how much I enjoyed Asylum, and how Coven does not hold up.
While the premiere hinted at an ending like this, in which the witches would emerge in the public and begin to thrive, the rest of the season pretty much ignored the idea. It would have been great to have more of that explored through the season itself, not serve as bookends to the story. Instead there was a lot of lazy writing and exploitative material that didn’t really go anywhere. Was there really a purpose for the love triangle bullsh!t? What about Nan and Luke and Joan? They had their mini arc going for a while, but it didn’t bear any consequences to the larger storyline. And don’t get me started on the clunky, manipulative and borderline offensive focus on racial tensions in the south. It is one thing to use the very real and affecting topic of racism in America as an important factor in the narrative, but Coven utilized it in a superficial way, devoid of nuance, to create some shocking drama and ultimately set aside. I could go on about the underwhelming narrative of the season, but what was really its downfall were its insufficient characters. They all felt like shallow representations of people, not really individuals who lived in this world, who made decisions and had feelings. They were mere puppets, doing the bidding of the writers. We often forgive narrative blunders and bad storytelling if the characters are strong enough, Asylum had its share of narrative absurdities and gaffes, but they were easily looked over because we cared about Lana or Jude or Kit. Without characters that feel like real people, regardless of the extraordinary situations they find themselves, weak storytelling cannot survive. Unlike the experience with other finales, where you want to spend more time with the characters and don’t want to let them go, I’m perfectly content with leaving the witches behind. I quite sure I won’t be thinking about Cordelia or Zoe, or whoever very long after this.
Also, where the hell is that baby that Spalding took from Marie a couple episodes ago?
What did you think of “The Seven Wonders”?