“American Horror Story” is one of the most insane, absurd and simply entertaining series currently airing, and with its flawless performances, campy and witty dialogue, relentless pacing, and audacious approach to drama, Coven has quickly become a fan favorite season. Only four episodes in and so much has happened, copious flashbacks have filled us in on the contentious history between Salem and Voodoo witches as well as the tumultuous racial history of New Orleans establishing an already drama-laden environment for our contemporary characters. In the present-day, the narrative takes a fast pace throwing the characters into increasingly ridiculous and harrowing situations from rape, to death by vagina, to incest, to witch on witch murder, to a minotaur on the hunt, to freaky snake sex, to killer zombies, (really, I could go on and on) the series presents an expansive universe in which all these stories can exist and intertwine and eventually become a larger, cohesive narrative. Exactly how these threads fit together and compose one mega-story is unclear (we are only a quarter of the way into the season) but this uncertainty allows the viewers to speculate and theorize on the events and prospective consequences and meanings of the many incredible moments.
After all, one of the most entertaining aspects of any show is attempting to uncover the mysteries and intrigues set up by the writers. The latest installment “Fearful Pranks Ensue”, as the first half of the traditional two-part Halloween episode, sets up various potential story threads and sets things in motion for the series’ future. With these new revelations, come a lot of questions and obscurities that I will unwittingly attempt to make some sense out of.
There is no question that American Horror Story: Coven is not only the season of the witch, but also the season of the woman. With its impeccable cast of powerhouse female performers, and its lady-centric narrative, Coven makes it a priority to highlight women’s stories and points of view. The few male characters have been either literally voiceless (Franken-Kyle and Spalding) or virtually nonexistent (Hank) entities in the show whose stories are at the service of the women’s actions. On ”Fearful Pranks Ensue,” it was the men who offered some of the most perplexing and disturbing scenes of the episode and finally made troubling impressions that raise significant questions about the story to come.
On Spalding: He’s an even bigger weirdo than we thought! The poor butler at Miss Robichaux’s is so lonely that he has amassed a collection of creepy porcelain dolls to keep him company and holds disturbing tea parties with them. He also enjoys dressing up in women’s nighties and in addition to the porcelain dolls, has Madison’s corpse over for some companionship. What we learn of Spalding is puzzling, but it is so weird and off the wall that it almost warrants no explanation. It is so inherently bizarre that an attempt to bring some sense into it would take away from the character’s eccentricities. Let Spalding be a freak for freakiness’ sake.
On Hank: What’s up with Hank? This is probably the biggest question that arose from last week’s episode (along with the identity of the acid-thrower) and the subject of my theory of the week. From what we had seen of Hank, he appeared to be a loving and concerned husband. There was a bit of tension between him and Cordelia when he encouraged her to use her magic to conceive a baby, but it felt like ordinary (as ordinary as it can get when you are married to a witch) marital tribulations. However his homicidal rendez-vous certainly shifts this characterization. Now, many people are speculating that he is a crazy serial killer, (finding victims online and taking them to sketchy hotel rooms where they can have disturbingly violent sex and then offing said women) while that is a plausible theory, something tells me that there is a larger, more significant reason behind his peculiar actions. A serial killer usually gets some kind of pleasure or high from his/her violent acts; there is an emotional or psychological need that is fulfilled by the act of killing, but the way Hank took care of his victim shows no indication that he is doing it for his own gratification. Hank acted in an emotionally detached way, there was a cold and clinical approach to the murder, not to mention his fancy pistol and silencer (very professional). This gives the impression that he is a contract killer/assassin and on a job. Adding to that, he mentions that he was a “monster” last Halloween which definitely gives him an ominous (and certainly serial killer-y) vibe, but it leads me to believe that he possesses some kind of magical abilities himself, or is deeply involved in the supernatural world, outside of his life with Cordelia. We know that there will be several threats to the witches’ livelihoods, and with the minotaur hypothetically out of the way the void could be filed with a freaky witch-hunting clan, of which Hank could be a part of. I’m calling it right now; Hank is a witch hunter/killer and is surreptitiously working on bringing down Fiona’s coven and whatever group/organization he may be working for is also behind the attack on Cordelia. What do you think is behind Hank’s sinister exploits?
Have any theories of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments section and for a great theory on Nan and her potentially ulterior motives.