By Connor Devlin
After the tremendous second season of American Horror Story had ended, I had high hopes for a third season. Coven is the story of a modern witch academy and its struggles. It’s like Harry Potter, but horror-ish, I guess. I’ve always found something interesting about Salem, the witch trials, etc., so I was pleasantly excited for this third season.
Unfortunately, this season failed to capture the “coven” essence, as well as my attention.
Coven has strong character development, of course, but a lot of these characters fall along a similar base line. Since the story revolves around a small academy, the four witch girls are all central characters, but somehow the show often fails to give them enough attention to make them more interesting.
Granted, the show’s dramatic elements revolving around the adult characters are extraordinarily more interesting, but the show fails to find a balance between the adults and the girls.
The series often tries to weave in small plot lines for each of the girls but in the end they all fall flat, because they do nothing but cause unneeded, irrelevant, and sometimes uninteresting drama.
However, Jessica Lange makes a strong return, and is arguably one of the best characters in the show. Her story is rich and feels so real. Sarah Paulson’s new role is also fantastic, as well as Lily Rabe’s. Best of all, Kathy Bates comes to the show. Her character is clever, sinister, and racist.
However, there’s an alternate plot line centering around a voodoo tribe, and it seems to have the least attention paid to it. The voodoo plot tries to be a big part of the plot line, but it’s very thin, and offers no central plot advancement. It’s really there to take up time, time that could be well spent developing other, more interesting characters, or just rewriting the script.
Through the thin plot and uninteresting side plots the American Horror Story cinematography and color style shines through brighter than ever. The shots are beautifully framed. The series really takes on a beautiful style of artistic cinematography that really makes it stand out.
The first two seasons had this, but not in this magnitude. They really seem to have found the sweet spot in their style, without getting over the top. The aesthetic and color palette is beautiful as always. Whites and blacks are very common, and the aesthetic is very smooth, and feels elegantly raw.
Also, the soundtrack is amazing, the best in all the series. However, while the style is great and unique, it doesn’t feel like it could. It doesn’t feel like it should. I understand that the series is trying to be unique, pushing this smooth style on a witch coven story, but the first two seasons’ uniqueness came out of subtlety.
This series kind of shoves it in your face. I always felt uncomfortable in the first season when they blatantly ripped songs from Insidious and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This series combines synthetic beats with Gothic choir, and the result is gorgeous.
Basically, the series’ most redeemable feature is its content that doesn’t revolve around its story.
Coven’s story and plot lines are a mess for the most part. The show really fails to bring back its pattern of having strong character development, and side plots.
It’s upsetting, considering Asylum triumphed greatly in this category. I really wanted to like this season, I honestly did, but it was a huge disappointment.
It also had the most unsatisfying ending in the show. If you are a die-hard AHS fan, watch it, whatever, but it won’t satisfy what the original two seasons did. In the end, even style and a well-known title can’t save a broken script.