AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN: 3.01 “Bitchcraft”
Yes, I’m trying out American Horror Story for the third time. I made my way through the first season, wincing at some terrible moments but overall invested in the story, and then dropped the second season about halfway through. Now I’m back for the third to see what the show has up its black sleeves (and to see if they could possibly correct the damage of that horrible second season).
As a side note, notice I’m saying seasons here. Despite the gigantic loophole the show is somehow cheating itself into getting Emmy nominations in the miniseries category, my TiVo and IMDB agree that this is its third season. But that’s a vent for another day.
I actually wasn’t that horrified by the season opener. I mean this in more ways than one. But mainly, I actually didn’t think it was terrible. One huge reason for this is that the episode seemed to follow around Taissa Farmiga, who was one of the strongest actresses that came out of the first season. She shines yet again, this time being a newly discovered witch. What’s lame is her superpower: She can kill people through sex. I think that will get old rather quickly.
I was also pleased with Sarah Paulson this season so far. I couldn’t stand pushy Lana last year. She was annoying and whiny in the episodes I saw (I stopped right after she was kidnapped). Somehow this year the mousy, witchy headmaster fits her well — with a wardrobe to boot.
The weak spot so far is Jessica Lange. Honestly, I’m not sure why everyone seems to think she’s the best thing since buttered bread for this show, but she’s just never impressed me. I enjoyed her in the first season because she wasn’t the major focal point, but with this season and the last, she’s been too front and center, giving me way too much of the intrigue she can supply to a character. Like her witchy doppelganger, Jessica Lange seemed to suck the life out of the episode, and I’d rather see her in a minimal capacity. Feel free to go ahead and argue against me in the comments; I welcome them.
But possibly the best use of a returning actress is Jamie Brewer. Somehow her clairvoyance makes her the strongest woman of the show thus far, and she’s giving us the clues that tantalize you. Her side glances and mysterious discoveries (“The woman of the house,” as she stares as a cement ground) make you want to know more, and I could see her keeping me going for a while.
That being said, I felt the ending was a bit anticlimactic. Digging up Madame Delphine LaLaurie already felt a little fast. I would have much preferred to leave the episode with a glimpse of Madame chained and bound in a coffin underground, waiting until next week to figure out how she’s going to get out of there. Somehow seeing her toddle behind Fiona just didn’t work for me.
But Kathy Bates will add a great creep factor to the series, as well some of our new faces. The show didn’t show us so much horror beyond the scene in the attic, which just felt forced and almost a little too much like torture porn — the only reason it was there was to horrify the audience since this is a horror genre show. The worse scene to watch, on the contrary, was the awful scene in the frat house with Madison, played by Emma Roberts. What made this the worst was not because you saw anything graphic; instead it was because it could actually happen. Not that I want to see anything like it again, but I certainly was invested in the character of Madison that much faster.
Finally, I just loved the shots. The angles and play with light in the school was just fantastic. Perhaps it was because it does take place in New Orleans, but it was beautiful to watch in its suspense-inducing way.
All in all, I don’t know what to think of the newest season. It’s miles above last season, but I don’t know where the show will go from here. I guess that’s the real question of whether this will be a better season. Ridiculous, cliche, and packed too full with genre crap? Let’s hope not. Simple, claustrophobic, and just spooky? That could actually work.