With the excitement built up from the second last episode and the knowing the supreme would be chosen, which this season has been teasing since almost the beginning, I went into this episode rather excited. The season finale for American Horror Story: Coven was very well done. It gave us everything we wanted to see, killed multiple characters, remained us of long forgotten details, broke the mold of how the first two seasons ended and gave us a few things that I’m not really sure we needed but were fun anyway. I’m looking at you Stevie Nicks training montage, music video opening.
As Stevie Nicks wonders through the house singing, Madison (Emma Roberts), Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and Misty (Lily Rabe) are prepping for the Seven Wonders. Zoe is rather boring because for some reason her characters are always a little boring, Madison is being a diva, Queenie has a photo of Nan nearby — aww, remember when they were friends, and Misty is bringing plants back to live in Cordelia’s (Sarah Paulson) plant room because the show needed to remind us of all the missed femslash opportunities there.
The girls all get ready and Cordelia and Myrtle (Frances Conroy) have them eat the last supper and warn them about the dangers of the Seven Wonders. Of course, everyone is being there normal selves so Madison and Queenie are not worried, Zoe looks a little concerned and Misty is adorably nervous.
After the last couple of episodes, I had no idea who the strongest of the four was going into this episode. During the first challenge, which was making a candle move so they can blow it out, Misty takes much longer than the others and I started to get a little worried. The next challenge is controlling each others minds and Misty seems evenly matched with Queenie. Then Madison and Zoe go up against each other. Madison decides to take this as a chance to get out her anger about Kyle (Evan Peters) choosing Zoe over her. She makes Kyle come over and kiss her until Zoe makes him come over and kiss her. Cordelia gets feed up with this and throws Kyle against the wall stopping the fighting between the former members of the zombie threesome.
Also, as my sister pointed out, Kyle was being treated and acting a lot like Spadling (Denis O’Hare) in this episode. No, please stop, gross.
The next challenge for everyone is to go down into hell and come back within a time limit. Queenie does it in about five seconds because she was the only one who had done it before. This episode continued the awesome personal hell idea from the last episode. Queenie was back in the chicken restaurant. Zoe’s was Kyle breaking up with her again and again, because of course it was. Madison was that she was in that live version of the Sound of Music, lolz. They all wake up and realize Misty is still in her hell and the time is running out.
Like, everything about her, Misty’s hell is adorable. She is in eighth grade science class dissecting a frog. She keeps bringing it back to life, a boy tells on her and the teacher makes her kill it again and again. Misty, being the least trained of all the witches, can’t break out of her hell and the time runs out. Cordelia cradles her body and cries until Misty’s body disappears!
To try to lighten the mood after Misty’s death and remember that they were once all friends, Madison, Zoe and Queenie decide to turn the transmutation challenge into a game of tag. It was fun and entertaining to watch. Once again, Cordelia reminds them of the dangers of the Seven Wonders and this happens to Zoe:
This gets turned into the bringing something back to life challenge. Queenie can’t do it, so if Madison can she passes. But, Cordelia said Zoe would also be back in the running and Madison doesn’t like that idea. She kills a fly and brings it back. She is pissed when nobody agrees that she is the supreme and storms out.
Cordelia and Myrtle then go off to try to figure out what to do now. Cordelia admits that if Madison a.k.a Mini Fiona (Jessica Lange) is the next supreme maybe the coven is better off if it dies out. Myrtle says that is ridiculous and tells Cordelia she could be the supreme. She was always incredible powerful but was consistently getting knocked down by Fiona and the other witches.
Cordelia agrees to join. I always wondered why Cordelia was never consisted to be the supreme. She catches up in a much nicer and cuter way and then Madison decides to join again. They get to divinations and Cordelia passes but Madison can’t. She gets rather pissed and storms out again.
Cordelia then goes to do the bringing back to life challenge and is able to wake Zoe up. But, Kyle was not told that this was going on downsides and finds Madison up in her room. He is pissed that she wouldn’t bring Zoe back and kills her for it. Then Spalding comes and offers to get rid of the body for Kyle. Gross, Spalding. She was already packing, so everyone thinks she ran away.
Cordelia is then able to fix her eyes. Yay, Sarah Paulson’s face! She is crowned the supreme and decides to go public about the coven to help other witches. She does a newscast, which might have been a reference to last season. She decides to make Zoe and Queenie the new members of the witch council because the are going to be the most senior members of the growing coven.
Cordelia offers the top spot to Myrtle but she says she has to pay for her what she did to the council. After much fighting from Cordelia, Myrtle is taken out into the desert and burned at the stake again. A little while later, there are about 100 witches outside and Zoe and Queenie ask Cordelia if they should start letting the next generation in. Cordelia says there is one last thing she needs to take care of.
She walks downstairs and finds a very close to death Fiona smoking and drinking. In an awesome twist, she didn’t die last episode. She enhanced goat’s blood to make is feel like her own and gave fake memories to the Axeman (Danny Houston) so when Cordelia used her second sight on him she would think Fiona was dead. Cordelia tells her there is nothing she can do to her anymore and she knows she is afraid for the first time ever. They actually hug and it was sweet. Then Fiona dies in Cordelia’s arms and wakes up in her personal hell with the Axeman. And I totally thought for a second that her room was Sister Jude’s room in Kit’s house from last season.
The season ends with Cordelia, Queenie and Zoe welcoming the new generation of witches into the Coven. One of them asks, ‘what’s a supreme?’ Queenie motions to Cordelia and says, ‘you’re looking at her.’
Overall, I liked this season. Despite, the rapid racism, multiple violent deaths and torture, it seemed lighter and more fun then last season. The coven was modern and cool and we wanted it to last forever, just like it was set up to in the end. The Asylum was dark and horrible and we just wanted everyone to escape it forever, which they did in the end but everyone expect Lana was also dead. I still like Asylum more but Coven was awesome in its own way. I also liked that more than one character was alive at the end, so that doesn’t become a predictable thing for every season.
I have heard a ton a speculation about season four. But, I will get into that in another post. For now, let’s take the time to appreciate Coven for what it was and be sad that we have to wait eight months for move American Horror Story.
There are many different types of cliffhangers that can be used in television shows and there are certain times when one should be used and another should not. For instance, leaving a character literally hanging off a cliff is one to use between two commercial breaks. Having someone be shot and struggle for breathe is one to be used between two episodes. Having a character confess to a crime they didn’t commit to save a another character is one to be used between two seasons.
Having Barbie’s (Mike Vogel) fate resting on if Chester’s MIll’s biggest whack-job Junior (Alexander Koch) is or is not going to pull a lever to hang him, would be a cliffhanger to be used between two commercial breaks. But, sadly that is how Under the Dome decided to end season one. For a show that used the summer slump to gain popularity too quickly and then crack under the pressure, that is not a good way to keep fans interested until next summer.
Of course, that was just how the episode ended. Everything was pretty normal for the show; bad dialogue, slow pace, spastic lunacy and a few interesting bits of information.
The butterfly hatches as Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) and Joe (Colin Ford) say things like, “Guys, it’s hatching.” Kids, just shut up and let Carolyn (Aisha Hinds) deliver all the exposition to Linda (Natalie Martinez). You aren’t allowed to talk either, Linda. Neither are you, Julia (Rachelle Levefre). Just let Angie (Britt Robertson) do the talking. That talking, of course, is Julia saying she must find Barbie and Angie annoyingly agreeing.
The butterfly probably overhead the dialogue, so it started smashing itself against the mini-dome and causing black spots all other that dome and the big dome. The spots then take over and both domes are totally black. Linda continues to be the world’s worst police officer — behind Junior — by declaring the mini-dome as police property. Norrie and Joe just let her touch it so she gets knocked out. They have to then convince crazy-for-this-episode Junior to hide the mini-dome with them. The drive off to Chester’s Mill’s most popular place to do shady shit: the cement factory.
Across town, Angie is breaking into the police station and breaking Barbie out of jail with Julia. Barbie beats the crap out of two guys, while still being handcuffed. They get a message from the rest of the Pink Stars gang and join them at the cement factory. They all touch the mini-dome it glows white then explodes. The butterfly then flies to Barbie because the show has been telling us that he is the monarch. But, then the egg freaks out until Julia picks it up and the butterfly flies to her because she is the monarch? What? That isn’t even a good plot twist. It just makes no sense.
Junior then decides to go nuts for a bit, turn on everyone, and tackle Barbie as the rest flee with the egg. Out in the woods, Norrie asks the egg what to do and Alice (Samantha Mathis) appears behind them. She gives us one of the few interesting pieces of information saying she isn’t Alice. “They” are still getting used to communicating and put the dome their to protect them. The egg must be kept save or Chester’s Mill is doomed. So they are aliens? Butterfly people? Good television writers? Whatever, not enough to get me back next year.
Big Jim (Dean Norris) has about this third stand-off with Barbie this episode and then sends a message over the radio telling the Egg Gang that they have one hour to give up the egg or Big Jim is going to hang Barbie on the cliche scaffolding, gallows that was just built outside town hall.
Julia decides, as the monarch, it is her decision and she sends the kids away. She goes to the lake and drops the egg inside right was Big Jim and Junior are about to hang Barbie. Big Jim took a moment out of this episode to see his wife’s wonderful artwork and also think the Rennies are chosen to protect the town. The egg lights up the lake and sends lines of pink stars up to the dome. It then starts glowing white, just as the mini-dome did before it busted. Junior is about to pull the lever to hang Barbie and Big Jim is yelling at him to. And the episode just ends.
And so has summer television. I could not be happier. Goodbye, Under the Dome. I will most likely not see you again. I’m going to go watch Bones now.
What makes American Horror Story different from any other show on television is that we know there is a set end from the first episode. Though “Madness Ends” was the finale for season two, it also felt like the epilogue of a 13-hour movie that has been part of our lives for the last four months.
Season two started where it began with someone breaking into an abandoned Briarcliff Manor in the present. Only this time it was Johnny (Dylan McDermott) listening to the book-on-tape version of “Tales of Braircliff” by Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson). Johnny walks around Briarcliff and imagines everything Lana is saying, but he adds Lana telling him she hates him and Thredson (Zachary Quinto) telling him he loves him.
Then Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) break in and what happened to them four months ago is fully explained. Johnny was sitting in the room Leo put his arm in. Johnny smokes a bowl, puts on the Bloody Face mask and cuts his arm off with a knife.
The episode has a different vibe from this point forward. There was a greater sense of realism in the cinematography and meaningful and rich dialogue took over for the violence that is usually such a strong part of the show. We join Lana in the present about to be interviewed by a television crew in her home. Slick exposition in this scene, tells us that Lana is a bestselling author, well-known investigative broadcast journalist and openly gay now. The interviewer April, played by Camille Chen, says she wants to go back to the start of her career. Lana says she will not talk about Bloody Face, but will about her television special that closed down Briarcliff.
Back in the early 1970s, Lana leads her cameraman and sound guy through the tunnel into Braircliff with the intent of showing the terrible conditions and finding Sister Jude (Jessica Lange). The conditions Lana finds Briarcliff and its patients brought back the more disturbing historical horror that was in the earlier episode. Showing it as a grainy 1970s newscast quality film made it even better.
Lana asks the first worker they see where Judy Martin is. Lana goes to her cell, finds a worse than ever Jude and leads her out. April said she doesn’t remember that scene. Lana says that’s because it didn’t happen. It was the ending she wanted but she didn’t get it. When she got there all she was able to find was a patient file for Betty Drake, who was released to Kit Walker (Evan Peters) in 1970. There is then a break in the interview and Johnny, posing as a crew member, hands Lana a drink.
After she found Betty Drake’s file back in the 70s, Lana went to Kit’s house. Kits says he will talk to Lana, but not to her camera crew. The realism and simplicity was the best part of this episode. Lana and Kit sit at a table, mostly filmed in a simple two-shot as Kit tells her about Jude. Lana said she knew the Monsignor (Joesph Fiennes) faked her death. Kit says he went back for her and Lana asks why in a childlike way as to say she really doesn’t understand. Kit said he needed someone to forgive so he could forget about Briarcliff.
Flashbacks show Kit and Jude playing checkers in the common room as Kit tells Lana if Jude stayed the only life in her would die. He then brings her home. He tells Lana she had to go through detox and sometimes thought she was still in Braircliff. In one flashback Kit is worried and tells the kids to go outside. But, Thomas says no and he and Julia take Jude’s hands and lead her into the woods. He doesn’t know why, but it is made clearly the aliens cured her of the madness.
The regular Jude comes back for a while and becomes the kids’ “Nana”, but then she starts dying. Just before she dies in her bed Kit says he will not leave her alone. She says she isn’t alone. Kit and Lana are now sitting on the floor in the dark drinking tea and he says he didn’t know who she was talking about. A tears runs down Lana face when she tells him, “I do.” The Dark Angel (Frances Conroy) asks Jude if she is really ready this time. Jude says she is. Her bed starts to pull away from the wall and surrounded by black Jude says “kiss me” to the Dark Angel. She slowly walks over, opens her wings and kisses her. Most beautiful death scene and I’m almost crying thinking about it.
Back in the present, Lana quickly tells April about her next project. She got Dr. Arden’s (James Cromwell) files and found out he was doing human experiments. She corners Cardinal Timothy Howard with her camera crew and asks if he knew about it. He refuses to answer and committed suicide shortly after.
Lana then tells April she wants to come clean about a lie in “Maniac.” She says her and Bloody Face’s son didn’t die and she tracked him down in the mid-70s. Lana walks onto a school playground and watches a young Johnny getting picked on by a bully. Lana quickly goes over and confronts the bully after he calls Johnny a faggit. She tells Johnny that she shouldn’t worry about the kid. Lana in the present says she never saw him again.
April asked her if she even thought of having other children. She says no, but she was very close to Kit’s kids. We then see a classically bad 1970s home video of Kit’s wedding. Lana tells us Kit remarried and Thomas and Julia might have loved his new wife as much as he did. The video shows us Kit with his wife and Lana dancing with teen-aged Thomas and Julia. Lana tells April Kit would be proud of them today.
Lana says Kit got cancer when he turned 40, but he didn’t die from it he simply disappeared. We see that the aliens took him. Lana says Thomas and Julia told her they didn’t need to have a funeral because there was no reason to mourn Kit.
The camera crew then leaves Lana’s house. She goes over to make herself a drink and tells Johnny he can stop hiding now. Lana tells him she knew this day would come ever since she meet him on the playground. Johnny says that was when he knew she was his mother. He bought the confession tape off eBay and knows how she felt about him. It plays over part of the scene, stopping after “nobody should have to grow up knowing their father is Bloody Face.”
Johnny holds a gun to Lana’s head saying he wants to make Thredson proud. Lana is able to make him lower the gun by playing the mommy role just like she did with Thredson. She takes the gun and says him being the way he is is her fault too and shots him just like she did with Thredson.
Lana then flashes back to the first time she met Sister Jude. Sister Jude says Lana is too ambitious and she better be prepared for the life she will have to lead. Lana tells her she can do it. The last line of dialogue is Sister Jude saying, “If you look in the face of evil, evil is going to look right back at you.” There is a close-up on Jude’s face, then one on Lana’s. Lana walks outside. Jude looks at the face of the Virgin Mary statue then turns and walks outside as “Dominique” starts playing and the camera zooms up giving us a bird’s-eye view of Braircliff and what Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) called “the stairway to heaven.”
So is evil Christianity, Briarcliff, God or is it a mixture of all three?
I could write whole other post about this episode. It tied up every loose end in a bittersweet and real sort of way. It was one of those endings that has you laying awake at night trying to think of why it was so good and why you are so sad that it is over. And I really am sad that it is over. I mean, I couldn’t even be snarky about this episode I liked it so much. Rest in peace, Kit. Rest in peace, Sister Jude. Rest in peace, American Horror Story: Asylum.