Episode Title: “The Seven Wonders”
Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Douglas Petrie
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Previously on “American Horror Story”:
After a long and meandering third season, we’ve finally arrived to the answer to that ever-present question: which of these young witches is going to be the next Supreme? The smart money’s on Zoe, who seems to have shown a lot of promise this season and hasn’t done very much, but given that Madison shows the same cold-hearted spirit as Fiona, the current Supreme, she seems like a good contender, too. I like to root for the underdog, which is why I bet it’s going to be Nan, who returns from the dead in time to show that she’s the ultimate witchy-poo.
“The Seven Wonders” opens with a fun, but frivolous, montage of the witches all practicing their magic skills in preparation for the Supreme tests- the so-called “Seven Wonders”. The first wonder is telekinesis, a test which everyone passes without a hitch. During the mind control text, Misty makes Queenie slap herself, and Queenie retaliates by making her pull her own hair. Madison makes Kyle kiss her/lick her shoe while Zoe slaps herself, so Zoe makes him kiss her, too, until Madison gets jealous and makes Kyle choke her a bit. Poor Kyle’s been everyone’s butt-monkey this season, all the way to the very end.
The next test has the ladies descending into Another World, a place that you know is serious business because it’s capitalized. Queenie returns to Chubbie’s chicken palace and quickly escapes. Madison and Zoe both pop in and out of the other world easily, and then Misty Day hops in, but doesn’t hop out in time, and her body ends up disintegrating in the hands of a distraught Cordelia. Wooooah! Didn’t see that coming. I’m feeling torn between being surprised at such a blind-siding death and being annoyed that she didn’t do more.
But, since this is the finale, everyone has crap to do, so they move on to the next test. The girls use the transmutation test as a way to play a teleport-y tag with each other, which goes great until Zoe bamfs her stupid butt right into a metal pole and gets herself impaled. Crap in a basket! The witches are dropping like flies, and all before they ever do anything interesting to merit all the dang time we’ve spent with them all season.
Queenie tries to bring Zoe back to life and fails, which means she also fails the final Supreme test. Cordelia instructs Madison to do it, and she refuses, saying that she’s the new Supreme by virtue of everyone else flunking out, and that they can “Either crown me, or kiss my ass.”
Myrtle tosses a frizzy, red-headed curveball by declaring Cordelia to be a Supreme candidate (which is the kinda thing that probably should have come up way earlier in the season, but whatever). Cordelia accepts this proclamation and burns through the tests with ease. When the girls arrive to a divination test, Madison fails and yells about it being rigged, so she storms off. As she’s packing to leave, Kyle shows up to have one final emotional outburst and chokes her to death for letting Zoe die.
Umm, Madison, girl, you may not be the Supreme, but you have more than enough magical powers to get this zombie dude to stop choking you. But she doesn’t. And she dies. And then creepy-ass Spalding shows up to caress her body with a dismembered doll hand, for crying out loud, and takes her body to “bury it”, which, as we well know, probably means to keep as another yucky doll.
Meanwhile, Cordelia heals her messed-up eyeballs and discovers that… she’s the next Supreme! Finally! I wasn’t exactly rooting for her to be the one, but I’m glad we finally have a friggin’ answer to the question they’ve been lingering on this entire season. After some time passes, we find her getting interviewed on national television and outing witches to the world, inviting any girl who thinks she’s a witch to come join them.
It’s not all fun and games for Cordy, though. Myrtle insists on being burned at the stake (again) because she’s a relic of the old witching world, one who killed other witches (who deserved it, but whatever). After some hemming and hawing, Cordelia agrees, and we get to see everyone wearing their fabulous black hat/outfit combos again, including Zoe’s truly epic black hat. Myrtle goes up in a pillar of flame, but not before screaming “Madonna!” or “Accordion!” or something. She kinda screeches that last line, so I don’t know what she said.
Later, Cordelia’s still a bit shaken from having burned the only woman who even remotely acted as her mother. While she’s trying to deal with that bag of emotional worms, Fiona returns. Woowoo! Are we going to get a sweet Supreme vs. Supreme magical showdown? Nope. What we get, instead, is a rapidly-aged Fiona explaining how she faked her death (she splashed goat blood on the Axeman) and how she ultimately realizes what a not very good mother/person she was.
The conversation between Fiona and Cordelia is probably the best moment in this entire episode. Here we’ve got Cordelia, this guarded young woman who has grown up in the shadow of her vain, selfish mother, finally coming to terms with her own strength, and, in doing so, realizing that she shouldn’t hold on to the hate she’s felt for so long. At the same time Fiona admits to her faults, while not really apologizing to them, in a way that felt very true to her character.
After the conversation wraps they have the first (and only) mother-daughter hug they’ve ever had, and Fiona dies. And then, because it’s “American Horror Story”, she wakes up in her own personal Hell, where she’s stuck in a mellow, old-school house with the Axeman as her only company. I don’t know, it seems pretty cozy to me, Fiona. Maybe you should calm your crazy butt down.
Ultimately, the episode ends with a huge line of new witches being welcomed into the Academy by Cordelia, the new Supreme, and Zoe and Queenie, whom Cordelia has declared her right hands and counselors. And thus, one incredibly uneven season of “American Horror Story” wraps up. We’ve had some great times with the decapitated head of Kathy Bates, with the ever-present theme of women empowering women, and with Jessica Lange acting her butt off.
However, more often than not, “Coven” has wasted our time with storylines that don’t titillate, shock, or amuse, because they just don’t go anywhere. I was sure glad to see such an interesting batch of female characters get together, but hopefully the “AHS” writers take a little more time to plot out season four so that it doesn’t feel like such a weird series of meandering happenings.
Still, the new additions to the cast were nice. Kathy Bates was both menacing and hilarious as Madame LaLaurie, Emma Roberts played the bitch Madison with aplomb, and Gabourey Sidibe had one of the strongest character arcs of the season as Queenie, so I hope to see more of these fabulous ladies in future seasons.