American Horror Story 3×11 ‘Protect the Coven’: Snake in mouth

Source: FX

I’m not going to mince words here: Coven has gone off the rails. Well, it went off the rails, a few episodes ago, right around the time of the salon massacre. It’s gotten away from the writers and it simply isn’t going to recover; right now the best case scenario is the kind of camp awesomeness that Horror Story clearly aspires to (as a kind of ancillary goal) and routinely achieves.

Horror Story always operates on a sort of a runaway train principle, allowing momentum and sheer force to reign over any sort of emotional or actual logic. And that kind of a thoughtless creative destruction works when you’re as good at picking up the pieces (let fall where they may) and awkwardly spackling them together as Horror Story is. Crazy shit’s gonna happen, but you used to be able to count on this show to work with the destruction. If it was manageable then AHS would manage it, no panic, no sweat.

Source: FX

Source: FX

After all, destroying your universe and the characters therein is one of the more obvious fringe benefits of this seasonal anthology show. LET THE CHARACTERS STAY DEAD is something I often want to shout at the screen these days, now that Queenie and LaLaurie are back and we’re due for another Misty Day resurrection any day now. It’s not just hamstringing the plot and negating any good dramatic will to bring these characters back, it’s that it betrays that the show is panicking. It isn’t assured in what it’s doing, it isn’t confident in the draw of its plot, so it brings back Sidibe and Rabe and Conroy (and Roberts, but who cares about that, really) so we can just go back to enjoying our camp-off of great actresses, and not, you know, consider what in the holy hell is actually going on on this show.

Or what this show means, which is probably the biggest bit of collateral damage from the runaway train shitsplosion that we seem to be witnessing in slow motion. As soon as it reared its head, the evil men of the evil Witch-killing Sexist Man-Corporation, Mancorporated have been utterly neutralized as any sort of threat, done in with the aid of obvious gender-traitor Axeman (he must be one of the good ones). I’m surprised Ryan Murphy didn’t have them wear fedoras while saying that women are obligated to have sex with them in their OKCupid profiles. With them dies any hope that Coven will find a way towards the kind of historical materialist ending that would actually make this season not an waste of intellectual time.

Source: FX

Source: FX

The mess that leaves us with is obvious, from the myriad male ghosts running around Robichaux’s to the various blonde white ladies who all appear equally likely to be the next supreme, which as a position seems neither desirable nor sensical. The re-integrated parts of LaLaurie are scheming away, anyway, but nothing that she does matters in any material or emotional sense; by the episodes end we are taught that magic, though magic, is irreversible in this case, which as an interpretation of the literally endless possibilities implied by the word “magic” is just kinda depressing.

The beast with three back has jettisoned one of its backs, which is probably my favorite part of the episode, in spite of itself. Naif Queen Zoe and her tow-headed boy wonder, so in love that walking penis joke Kyle failed to appear last episode, on account of all the Nan nonsense that now has all the meaning of a lukewarm taco. Madison’s presence in that little love triangle was always ridiculous, a poorly shoehorned attempt to make the zombie couple of destiny as little less inevitable. Zoe’s murder-vagina long since forgotten, we needed a little more to the death twat + undead cock = 2gether 4ever equation, and Madison provided that in an exceptionally silly way.

Source: FX

Source: FX

But ignoring how silly it all is (truly, exceptionally silly, like Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael silly), there’s a sweetness to their decision. There’s an in-spite-of-itself punch in that scene where the two toss off Emma Roberts. For a long time this show made sexual appetites and desires seem utterly impossible to abandon (to its obvious detriment when the many female cast members make it seem like the show is casually restating the old stereotype about sex-crazed women), and Kyle hasn’t really been treated like more than a prop penis for his entire run.  So when Kyle’s growing humanity, or self-awareness, or sentience, whatever you want to call it, shows itself, it’s pretty heartening. Especially for Taissa. Girl needs a break.

That said, Orlando sucks, so that doesn’t bode well.

Stray Thoughts:

  •  Oh dear, Kathy Bates. I’m glad we have her line readings back, but this return to the “ain’t racism goofy?” school ain’t exactly heartening.
  • What exactly is Queenie’s motivation supposed to be right now?
  • “In the fall [fig trees] smell like an Olympian’s ejaculate,” thanks for that, Myrtle. Finding out what people think smells like semen: never not creepy.
  • Like, where exactly are they learning all this magic? Are there classes and, you know, teachers we just don’t see?
  • The utter laziness with which these (presumably mostly male?) writers envision a men-are-meat-women-are-important fantasy is bizarre. Putting headphones on Kyle is funny enough infantilizing, but not exactly the gender-swapped version of the “women in the kitchen, men smoke cigars and make deals” idea.
  • By magic, eh? It can be undone by magic. Sure. Magic is magic, after all.
  • I do love that LaLaurie says “doll baby”.
  • Ugh, theramine, shut up.
  • Talking about a Rob Roy (which is a Manhattan with scotch instead of rye, or just a simpler martini with scotch instead of gin) and then ordering a martini. To quote the poet laureate of Oakland, when you see a real bitch, acknowledge it.


John M.

works for a legal newspaper in Baltimore and lives within three blocks of Tilghman Middle, the alley where Omar and Brother Mouzone have their showdown, and Pearson’s Florists. He enjoys putting his liberal arts degree to good use by watching a lot of TV and reading a lot of internet. He occasionally blogs (about Dawson’s Creek) on tumblr.


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  • Kendra Beltran

    Good point about Queenie. Why is she so mad about the Coven? She left, no one forced her to and now she’s back and mad about it. With what, 2 episodes left…let’s see where this thing goes. Also, have you heard next season’s set in 1950 and Jessica Lange’s working on a German accent? Wonder what it is…

    • John M.

      At this point the outcome is anyone’s game: I pretty literally want to give up on it. As for future seasons, I’m more worried about the seemingly true rumors that Lange is leaving the show after next season. That said, crazy Lange Nazi scientist is something I can get behind, even if it seems like an Archer plot.