So it’s done. The thirteen episodes of American Horror Story‘s third season have all aired, and we’re left to pick through the wreckage left behind by wild plot-twists and insane characters.
I reviewed each episode as it happened, and throughout I’ve been very impressed overall with just how much fun this series has been. It was the first that I’ve watched by broadcast, rather than binging on whole series at a time, and it is a very different way of consuming TV.
One of the best things about this show is its bravery. It goes to places that other shows just wouldn’t dare. Even Game of Thrones, with its infamous disregard for the wellbeing of its characters, hasn’t had half of the off the wall moments that American Horror Story has over the same number of seasons.
This was not an easy task, but I’ve boiled down the third series to my five favourite moments. There are countless others I could have included, and viewing American Horror Story: Coven from start to finish is highly recommended. It isn’t perfect, but it gets a lot closer than most modern TV series manage. AHS, as always, goes where others fear to tread.
5) Stevie Nicks rings in the finale with a song
I have to say, this might be the best opening to a finale episode that I’ve ever seen.
AHS did well getting Stevie Nicks in on the act, and whilst her first appearance did feel a little gimmicky, ironically here where she essentially does a music video around the coven, it doesn’t. The song draws the audience in, and sets the scene for the final episode. By the time it is done, you are really ready for the girls to attempt the seven wonders.
4) Misty Day goes to hell — over and over and over again
I wasn’t happy with Misty’s ending, but I have to admit that the hell that she faced during Descensum was incredibly well pitched.
The Swamp Witch’s major scenes in the early part of the season were all centred around animals — bringing the bird back to life in the first episode, getting the crocodiles to eat the poachers later on — so the idea that it would be hell for her to inflict harm on a living creature — dissect a frog in a high school biology class — fit perfectly. Having to bring it back over and over again was just cruel.
The gruesome quality is classic AHS, but that isn’t the point. The point is that of all the hells the girls endured — Madison’s was just her overwhelming vanity, and Zoe’s embodied everything that was wrong with her character — Misty’s was the most personally attuned and the most devastating. The emotional impact is the power. Which is probably why she was the only one who didn’t make it through that wonder.
3) Zoe’s original power
Okay, caveat first: Zoe was the disappointment of Coven. I was expecting/hoping for another Violet (in Murder House), and to begin with it looked promising. It introduced witchery with the darker side of magic; namely that Zoe’s vagina killed people.
Now, this was conveniently forgotten about when she and FrankenKyle became an item, but at the time it was an effective characterisation tool. It should have stayed that way, but its crowning glory was at the end of the first episode, when she coldly used to avenge both Kyle’s death and Madison’s gang-rape. That’s how AHS should be; ending on the gut-punch.
2) Fiona and Marie Laveau beat the witchhunters
I spent almost the entire series agitating for Fiona and Marie to team up. And, as usual, I was right. When they finally did not only was the sassy bickering solid gold, but they deal with the witch-hunting Delphi Trust in typical, head-on and bloody AHS fashion. It was exactly the sort of solution to the external conflict that I was hoping for.
1) Kathy Bates’ head sings “Dixie Land”
Do you remember in Asylum? That fantastic moment where they crank up the colour and volume and Judy does a musical interlude of “The Name Game“, which only serves to emphasise the bleak horror of it all? Yeah, this is Coven‘s equivalent of it.
It’s a little more subtle, but Delphine LaLaurie’s decapitated head to start with loudly singing Dixie Land to avoid having to watch Roots. This is coupled with an excellent juxtaposition of Queenie’s re-education finally getting through to her, and Hank’s murderous rampage through the Voodoo tribe downstairs. American Horror Story at its very finest.
Feel free to disagree in the comments, below.