If it’s one thing that American Horror Story knows well, it’s how to shock audiences. Throughout the show’s three seasons, it’s made no apologies for giving its audience a swift kick to the crotch at the moment you’ve just become comfortable after the last kick to the crotch. Never a show to settle or allow its viewers to become too complacent, American Horror Story looks to kick-off the mid-season return of Coven with a bang.
After an initial ‘what went down previously’ type video package, we’re thrust right back into the action. With the core cast of characters now fully aware of the witch hunters that are on their trail, former rivals Fiona (Jessica Lange) and Marie (Angela Bassett) have to combine their efforts to save their own hides and to nullify this threat. As well as struggling with this issue, Lange’s Fiona has the equally-worrying problem of her powers diminishing as a new Supreme rises up from within the Coven household. With Mistry Day (Lily Rabe) presumed to be the next Supreme, this presumption is thrown up in the air when several other members of the Robichaux Academy start to demonstrate startling new powers.
If you believed that Coven would return with a whimper, then you are gravely mistaken. In this return episode we’re introduced to the creepy, shaman-esque Papa Legba (Lance Reddick), who has a particular hold over Marie; a hold that Fiona is prepared to have put over her if she can get what she desires from Papa. As well as new powers for some of the Coven girls, some of them also have a new attitude, most notably Jamie Brewer’s Nan. Seeking vengeance after the death of her ‘one true’ Luke (Alexander Breymon), Nan's character steps up to a whole new level.
As ever with Coven, this episode is littered with the demise of several characters, including some rather big names. The thing is, after what has happened earlier in the season, is death ever a truly believable, permanent event in the world of Coven? After a plethora of characters have been killed off and brought back already this season, one’s demise loses some of its impact by this point. If you pull the same trick over and over, the mystique fades away. That said, it’s not a given that the characters that were knocked off this episode will return. We’d place money on the fact that they will, though.
And if the title of this episode didn’t give it away, this episode is that episode, as in the one that features the legendary Stevie Nicks. Playing off the decade-long rumours of her dabbling in witchcraft, Stevie plays herself as a white witch. Not only that, we get her playing Rhiannon (about a Welsh witch) and Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You, both equally poignant in two completely different ways, highlighting certain aspects of two of more popular Coven characters.
The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks is a great return for Coven, and the episode gets better throughout, with Lange's Fiona opening herself up to show a lonely, desperate and tragic side. Again, we’re left with a bucket-load of questions for the rest of the season. Will those characters deceased stay deceased; just how and when will the witch hunters and the witches come face-to-face in what will shortly be a monumental tear-up; who really is in prime position to become the next Supreme; what role will Papa Legba have to play; and can Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) play any other bizarre musical instruments?
A welcome return for Coven, and we look forward to what lies ahead.
Share your comments below or on Twitter @STARBURST_MAG