Christmas is over, New Years has come and gone, and in their wake we’re all in a bit of a January rut. It’s clear what we need to lift us out; and here is American Horror Story back from its holiday, to supply just such a burst of manic and creative insanity.
The last episode, “Head”, was the best episode of the series so far, I thought. And given that this has been the best series of the show so far, that’s no small praise. But we’ve been here before. Coven started off incredibly strong, but drifted a little around the mid-point.
The question, then, is whether “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” can continue the pace which “Head” laid out.
And the answer is mostly.
Now that Hank has gone postal on the voodoo tribe, Marie Laveau and Fiona are teamed up properly. Which is what everyone watching this has wanted since the beginning, if we’re honest. There’s still every inch of sass, but they’re on the same side. Putting them in the same room and making them do magic together is nothing short of genius.
Of course, the star of this particular show is in the title. Yep, after nine episodes of Misty Day they’ve managed to wrangle Stevie Nicks herself onto the show. And it’s all a bit… Yeah. She performs “Rhiannon” for the coven, and gives Misty a shawl, and basically just nods at being Stevie Nicks for all of her screentime.
Angela Bassett also gets a romp or two, with some of her backstory explaining how she lives forever — whether she wants to or not — and introducing the inescapably creepy Papa
Lazarou Legba. Marie Laveau’s master, I suppose. The voodoo side of Coven has been under-explored. “The Magical Delights…” gave a bit more of an explanation.
One thing I will say, though, is that I do tire of the constant supreme speculation. Loosely put, I think Misty Day is probably the next supreme, but it’s far from the most interesting thing going on at the moment. Fiona’s failed attempt to barter for eternal life from Papa Legba (on account of her already missing soul), for example, was excellent character building and brilliant TV.
Also disappointing was the apparent end of the line for Nan. After a thundering episode including her using mind control to almost make Madison put a cigarette somewhere unpleasant, as well as forcing Patti LuPone to drink bleach, she dies pointlessly for Fiona and Marie’s sakes? Eh.
But this was a strong episode. It was full of all the rising madness that makes American Horror Story so addictive. It is also distilling a cohesive story, having crystallised and revealed the antagonists as the Delphi Trust, the coven’s act of retaliation is perfectly pitched, hitting them where they are vulnerable.
But there was no LaLarie. There was no Franken-Kyle. We have no idea if Queenie survived the attack on the voodoo tribe (N.B: Of course she did). And there are still many questions still to be answered. We’re in the final straight though. The next (and final) three episodes are going to crank up the crazy, and “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” does an excellent job of it.