Every year, October brings with it one of the most interesting, clever, and unforgiving shows of the year. American Horror Story is more than just 13 episodes of hiding your eyes over the fear of what’s coming next, it’s the questions that the show makes you ask yourself. Season one (Murder House) questioned the idea of family values, infidelity and even the horrors of the current economical climate. Season two (Asylum) brought with it questions of mental health, and had us questioning the sanity and morality of the show’s main characters. Season three is no different, asking the question: Can we really be forgiven for the things that we have done throughout our lives, or are some people beyond saving?
2012’s Asylum is a tough act to follow, with its nearly perfect storyline and an incredible cast driving it forward, but upon hearing that the third season would follow the lives of young witches still got me excited. Being a fan of movies like The Craft and Practical Magic, I know that when witches are portrayed right, the possibilities are endless for creating an incredible story. Coven opened strongly by introducing us to an array of characters, each with varying powers and characteristics that set them apart from each other. The actors are once again recycled from the previous two seasons and once again they portray their characters perfectly, showing off their incredible range. Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts and Gabourey Sidibe join the cast, further solidifying the already perfect cast. I was admittedly skeptical with the casting of Roberts, but she quickly proved me wrong and even became one of my favorites of the season.
The story revolves around Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. A school that provides a safe haven for young witches to learn and thrive under the supervision of The Supreme. The current Supreme, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) has returned to the Academy after a local witch, Misty Day (Lily Rabe) was reportedly burned at the stake. With her powers failing, and her body ravaged by cancer, opportunity strikes Fiona when she find the body of Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), a once wealthy socialite from the 1800’s that tortured and murdered countless numbers of black slaves. Immortalized and buried by her sins by the voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), Fiona believes that LaLaurie holds the answers to the eternal youth she seeks.
As the story progresses we learn more and more about these characters and the extents that they will go to to become the next Supreme. The show does an incredible job at keeping us guessing who the Supreme is until the she is finally revealed in the season finale. While the younger witches fight and back-stab for the title, a war is brewing between the Salem descendants and the Voodoo tribe led by Marie Laveau. Watching the two fighting fire with fire provides some of the shows best scenes. The contrast between the pristine Salem magic, and the almost nomadic form of voodoo magic, is an incredible thing to witness. The spells are interesting and well executed and never feel boring, which is an easy trap to fall into with most of the spells requiring Latin incantations.
As good as the story is, there are a few things that bothered me about this season. As this is a spoiler-free review, I won’t go into details about what I don’t like. It felt like there were a few holes in this otherwise solid plot. These issues do not impact the overall story whatsoever, but I feel like this season suffered greatly by not finishing things that it appeared to start. While their plot line started strong, the incredibly religious neighbours that move in next door to the coven seemed to provide little to the overall plot. Patti Lupone played her role as Joan incredibly well, but it felt like a shame having such a good actress play such a minor role. I still enjoyed their story, but having other AHS plot lines wrapping up nicely, and providing something to the overall story, it felt a little out of place.
Overall, this season provided a seemingly simple story in true American Horror Story fashion, delving into the darker places of the characters minds. I think that everyone can relate to Fionas fear of mortality, and Cordelias constant quest for approval, all while being taken on an exciting journey wrapped in the mystery of who will take the title of the next Supreme. With the small amount of problems not taking away from the overall story, you owe it to yourself to experience this fantastic season.
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