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American Horror Story: Coven Recap Episode 13, "The Seven Wonders"

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 13, “The Seven Wonders”

FX

American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 13, “The Seven Wonders”

“The Seven Wonders” finds American Horror Story: Coven largely tending, predictably for the most part, to a final bit of plot bookkeeping. Fiona (Jessica Lange) is finally dead, after one last inevitable revival or fake-out or reversal, and apparently destined to spend her eternity catfishing with the Axeman (Danny Huston) in a realm presided over by Papa Legba (Lance Reddick), a demonic entity that’s retrospectively revealed to be entirely superfluous to Coven’s grand narrative scheme. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) are installed as new Supreme Cordelia’s (Sarah Paulson) upper management, and it appears that their work will be cut out for all of them, as a swift PR maneuver has rejuvenated the institution with a global-wide new influx of troubled witches looking to hone their baffling new powers.

American Horror Story: Coven Recap Episode 12, "Go to Hell"

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 12, “Go to Hell”

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 12, “Go to Hell”

The penultimate episode of American Horror Story: Coven, “Go to Hell” finds the series still desperately scrambling to introduce busy conceits. Theoretically, we should be eagerly anticipating the revelation of Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) successor as the next Supreme, but how can we? As an audience, we never know if any event “counts,” or if it will be reversed to satisfy a new creative whimsy. The first two or three hundred character resurrections were a cheeky way of illustrating Coven’s ’s willingness to screw with viewer expectation, but that device, along with the witches’ highly varying procession of week-to-week powers, has long ago devolved into tedium. And somewhere down the line, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk also lost a valuable sense of pace: Major events seem to rush by now in a barely coherent tizzy, while negligible vignettes eat up a significant portion of running time.

American Horror Story: Coven Recap Episode 10, "The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks"

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 10, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”

FX

American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 10, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”

“The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” opens with a prolonged instance of “last month on American Horror Story: Coven,” as it behaves as the TV equivalent of what Quentin Tarantino once deemed a “hang out movie.” Fiona (Jessica Lange) and her extended family of witches, ghosts, and disgruntled demons spend much of the first half hour lounging around the coven, trading bon mots and reminding us who’s planning to kill or revive who, with Stevie Nicks occasionally popping in as herself to sing a song and counsel the increasingly irritating Misty Day (Lily Rabe) on her possibilities of being the next Supreme.

American Horror Story: Coven Recap Episode 6, "The Axeman Cometh"

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 6, “The Axeman Cometh”

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 6, “The Axeman Cometh”

In this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Coven, memorably titled “The Axeman Cometh,” an elegantly interlocking series of plot turns suggests a major character’s undoing. Most pivotally, we learn that Cordelia’s (Sarah Paulson) unfaithful, murdering husband, Hank (Josh Hamilton), has a larger stake in Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) escalating rivalry with Marie (Angela Bassett) than we could have reasonably suspected. Hank’s an agent, of sorts, working with Marie to help ferret out the locations of the remaining descendants of the Salem witches in order to systematically execute them. Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), the gorgeous redhead who Hank killed in a hotel room a few episodes ago, was actually a witch who’d discussed joining the coven with Cordelia, only to resist in favor of pursuing a “normal” life. In one of the episode’s many flashbacks, we see Hank eavesdropping on the meeting and subsequently seeking out Kaylee, who was presumably just one of who knows how many other young victims.

American Horror Story: Coven Recap Episode 5, "Burn, Witch. Burn!"

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 5, “Burn, Witch. Burn!”

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American Horror Story: Coven Recap: Episode 5, “Burn, Witch. Burn!”

For all the fuss that critics (including myself) have made of American Horror Story’s often gratifying determination to satirize the various forms of insidious (often white, always male) oppression that continue to dictate this country’s methods of social discourse, perhaps it’s worth reminding ourselves that the series is also a gleeful, wicked debauch. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk suffer few indulgences of sentimentality, even of the kind that agrees with their probable politics, and that refreshing tendency is on full display in this week’s episode.