5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ season finale

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Season 3, Episode 13: “The Seven Wonders” | Original air date: Jan. 29, 2014

“American Horror Story: Coven” concluded with a festival of silliness to cap a delightful season of absolutely gratuitous debauchery. The episode begins like a 1980s music video with Stevie Nicks singing a tune while the girls study up on raising the dead, levitating beds and setting things on fire with the power of their minds. Nicks’ appearance in the show is pointless, but then so is the series, so just go with it.

The surviving members of the coven undergo the seven wonders, a series of tests to see who the next supreme is. Misty (Lily Rabe) taps out first. She goes to hell. She doesn’t come back. She turns to dust. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) impales herself on a spiked fence while playing teleportation tag. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) fails to revive her and Madison (Emma Roberts) refuses to bring her back to life because she’s a bitch that way. She kills a fly and resurrects it to prove she’s got the power. It appears she’s the new coven leader.

Myrtle (Frances Conroy) convinces Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) to take the trials via a pep talk. Cordelia bests Madison in the game of reading pebbles. They called it divination. It looked like Yahtzee with rocks. Madison storms off to go back to Hollywood. Kyle (Evan Peters) strangles Madison to death because she refused to resurrect Zoe. The creepy butler, Spalding (Denis O’Hare), who is dead but surprisingly ambulatory, shows up to help Kyle bury the body. That guy is dedicated to his work.

Cordelia resurrects Zoe. Myrtle demands to be burned at the stake. Cordelia agrees. Why not? We haven’t had a good witch burning in weeks. Cordelia decides to make the coven public and opens the door to new witches.

Fiona (Jessica Lange), Cordelia’s mom, shows up. She died in the last episode. She got better. Fiona is ravaged by cancer. She asks her daughter to kill her. Cordelia gives her a hug. She dies. She wakes up in a country cabin with the Axeman (Danny Huston), who has caught two large catfish. The cabin is not as lavish as the coven’s New Orleans mansion. This is hell for her: a rustic country life. The end.

1-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Go To Hell’

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Season 3, Episode 12: “Go To Hell” | Original air date: Jan. 22, 2014

This week in gratuitous debauchery: Everybody dies. They get better. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) wanders around with her empty eye sockets. Fiona (Jessica Lange) takes an ax to the back from, oddly enough, the Axeman (Danny Huston). Delphine (Kathy Bates) dismembers Marie (Angela Bassett). Both die and go to hell to hell, which is run by a reject from a Rob Zombie video named Papa Legba (Lance Reddick). Misty (Lily Rabe) returns from the grave and beats the crap out of Madison (Emma Roberts), a season highlight. Axemen shows up to try to kill all the witches. But suddenly they all have super powers. They don’t need them. They just dice the guy up with a bunch of kitchen knives. 

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Protect the Coven’

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Season 3, Episode 11: “Protect the Coven” | Original air date: Jan. 15, 2014

  1. This week on “American Horror Story: Coven,” the most gratuitous show on television: A slave is filleted by Delphine (Kathy Bates). Later, she feeds human feces to the coven as soup. Then she kills a black gardener by cutting of his toes one at a time because she likes killing black people.
  2. Myrtle (Frances Conroy) says the following phrase: “tastes like an Olympian’s ejaculate.” Later she plays the theremin again, which is only slightly worse than her free-verse poetry. 
  3. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) plucks her eyes out with a pair of garden scissors in an effort to get her sight back. That sounds ironic. It isn’t. When she’s blind, she has a kind of extra sensory perception.
  4. The Axeman (Danny Huston) chops up a clan of witch hunters, killing most of them with an axe, but finishing off one with the gun in the dismembered hand of one of the guys. Fiona (Jessica Lange) also hacks a guy in the jugular.
  5. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Kyle (Evan Peters) decide to runaway to Orlando. That isn’t really gross, but they are going to Florida, which can be just awful.

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks’

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Season 3, Episode 10: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” | Original air date: Jan. 8, 2013

  1. American Horror Story: Coven” is a silly show. I only watch it to make lists of the debauchery displayed each episode.
  2. This week: Voodoo priestess Marie (Angela Bassett) gives her newborn son to a guy who looks like a reject from a Rob Zombie video in eternal life. She has to give him a baby every year to keep the gig up.
  3. Nan (Jamie Brewer) uses her mind powers to force the neighbor lady to drink bleach as revenge for the lady killing Nan’s would-be boyfriend. Fiona (Jessica Lange) and Marie drown Nan in a bathtub. Fiona points out Nan is an innocent, except that she killed the lady next door, but “The bitch had it coming.”
  4. Madison (Emma Roberts) tricks Misty (Lily Rabe), who can raise the dead, into being buried alive. There is also gratuitous use of the theremin by Myrtle (Frances Conroy) and a two-song set by Stevie Nicks, who apparently is a white witch.

1-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Head’

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Season 3, Episode 9: “Head”

Original air date: Dec. 11, 2013

This week in “American Horror Story: Coven” gratuitous debauchery: Myrtle (Frances Conroy) removes the eyes of the witches’ council with a melon ballerQueenie (Gabrielle Sidibe) tortures Delphine (Kathy Bates) by making her watch “Roots” and listen to music from the civil rights movement, which is maybe the funniest debauchery on the show ever; Joan (Patti LuPone) smothers her son Luke (Alexander Dreymon), with a pillow after he discovers she murdered his father, an act which is called filicide, so this show is educational now; and Hank (Josh Hamilton) shoots up a the voodoo priestess’ (Angela Bassett) hair salon. Oh, and the boy Frankenstein’s monster, Kyle (Evan Peters) accidentally pets a dog to death.

1-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — The Dead’

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Original air date: Dec. 4, 2013

Americans indulged their two favorite sins on Thanksgiving: gluttony and sloth. Now that holiday is past, they’ve gotten on to their other favorite: greed. Perhaps this annual romp through indulgence known as Christmas is a perfect time to watch a TV show show steeped in gratuity as “American Horror Story: Coven.” I’ve long since surrendered on the idea of making sense of what passes for plot on this program. Instead, I simply watch to see how high the debauchery will reach. This week, I’d say, was below average. We had one man murdered with a board nails in the end. His heart was cut out and still beating. A churchy mom and her son were shot by an assassin gunning for witches. The character played by Kathy Bates had her hand cut off and, later, her head, which was delivered in a box to the coven’s mansion. There wasn’t a single creepy sex moment, no beastiality, no rape, no sex with corpses, no three-ways between two girls and a Frankenstein’s monster. Nothing. This show is really losing it’s edge.

1-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — The Dead’

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Season 3, Episode 8: “The Dead”

Original air date: Nov. 20, 2013

  1. American Horror Story: Coven” took gratuitous debauchery to a positively philosophical level with “The Dead.” For example, Fiona (Jessica Lange) meets Axeman (Danny Hutson) in a bar. They go back to his apartment and have sex. The Axeman is the reincarnated form of a serial killer obsessed with jazz and killing people with his axe. Axeman was killed by the witches of the coven. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) brought him back from the dead last week. I forget why. It’s probably not important. Nothing on this show is really about story.
  2. Anyway, Axeman reveals to Fiona that while his spirit was trapped in the coven house, he watched Fiona grow up. At first, he thought of her as a daughter. Then she grew up. Then he thought of her as a lover. So, the question posed here is if you are a resurrected serial killer who has obsessed over a woman since she was a child, does that make you a pedophile or just somebody rewarded for persistence?
  3. In other gross romance, the newly resurrected Madison (Emma Roberts) is feeling numb and emotionless. This makes sense. Four out of five psychologists agree being gang raped, having your throat slit, dying, having your corpse raped by a tongueless butler and then being resurrected by a magic swamp mud is the No. 1 cause of anhedonia. To finally feel something, she turns to sex with Kyle (Evan Peters).
  4. Kyle, you’ll recall, is the boy Frankenstein’s monster assembled from the body parts of dead frat boys who gang raped Madison. Kyle’s head belonged to the one non-rapist at the party. He and Madison have sex. Zoe is sweet on Kyle, but she can’t have sex because her witchy vagina has already killed two people. She should probably see a gynecologist. Zoe sees Kyle and Madison intermingling genitals while slamming into a closet door. This begs another important philosophical question: If two people who were once dead have sex, is that necrophilia?
  5. Zoe takes out her anguish by reattaching the tongue of the necrophiliac butler (Denis O’Hare), forcing him to tell her the truth about who killed Madison (It was Fiona) and then stabbing him in the heart. Somehow I don’t think this will be fatal. Nobody seems to die for very long on this show. The Zoe enters into a three-way with Kyle and Madison, because this is what you do after murder — kinky sex with formerly dead people. Apparently Zoe’s deadly vagina will not put Kyle and Madison back in the ground because, you know, those are the rules now. And as we all know, they are making up the rules as they go along.

1-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — The Axeman Cometh’

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Season 3, Episode 6: “The Axeman Cometh”

Original air date: Nov. 13, 2013

I no longer review “American Horror Story: Coven.” I just list the gratuitous debauchery. This week: murder by ax to the back, gang stabbing, hot spatula torture and the senseless smashing of a Stevie Nix 8-track tape. There was also some near nudity by Sarah Paulson, but at least she wasn’t raped. That’s pretty much how she spent the whole of the second season of “American Horror Story.” So, you know, that’s an improvement.

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Burn, Witch! Burn’

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Season 3, Episode 5: “Burn, Witch! Burn”

Original air date: Nov. 6, 2013

  1. There seems little point in recalling the plot of “American Horror Story: Coven.” The show is about gratuitous violence. So instead of ruminating about the effort by the writers to squeeze in some plot between abominable acts, I’ll just list the best of the juicy squish.
  2. Zoe (Taissa Farminga) kills zombies with a chainsaw. Her Bruce Campbell impersonation was cool. It was actually the best zombie killing of the year, which is less a compliment for “American Horror Story” and more a slam against the marked decline of “The Walking Dead.”
  3. Madison (Emma Roberts) is still dead. She is starting to stink in Spaulding’s (Denis O’Hare) bedroom. He tried to dance with her corpse again this week, but the arm came off.
  4. I wonder what Robert tells her friends when she comes home from work. Hey, Emma, what did you do today? Oh, you know, the usual. I sat around in my underwear while a man without a tongue raped my corpse. Awesome. Let’s get lattes and text while we drive.
  5. Also, nobody was raped for a second episode in a row, which may be a record for the series and a witch was burned at the stake by other witches, but she appeared to get better.

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Fearful Pranks Ensue’

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Season 3, Episode 3: “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

Original air date: Oct. 30, 2013

  1. I figured out a way to make “American Horror Story: Coven.” It needs a debauchery scorecard. Play along at home. See what gratuitous, nonsensical and silly stuff the writers and producers put on basic cable just to see what they could get away with.
  2. This week: Lynching? Check. Disembowelment? Check. Dismemberment? Check. Decapitation? Check. Tongue removal by razor? Check. Implied necrophilia? Check. Rape? Not this week. Wow. The writers are really losing steam.
  3. Next week there is the promise of a witch being burned at the stake by other witches. Perhaps this is done for irony, but I doubt it.
  4. The use of irony is a literary device. The use of literary devices implies writers were attempting to do anything other than set up another gross scene dreamed up by the morbid curiosities of adolescent indulgences.
  5. Seriously, this show is what I would expect junior high school boys to produce if they had access to decent special effects software. I’m surprised the address of the coven house isn’t “69 69th St. just off of Fart Avenue near the corner of Butt Boulevard.”

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — The Replacements’

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Season 3, Episode 3: “The Replacements”

Original air date: Oct. 23, 2013

  1. The parade of horribles continues on “American Horror Story: Coven.” A pot-smoking mother rapes her son (Evan Peters). It’s OK. He’s actually dead. But he’s been brought back to life by necromancy by two novice witches, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison (Emma Roberts). The sewed him back together like Frankenstein’s monster. Another witch (Lily Rabe) nursed him back to health with swamp mud and Stevie Nicks songs. That witch was dead, too. She was burned at the stake. She got better. He later beats his mother to death with a bowling trophy. Justice is served.
  2. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) can’t have children. She goes to see a voodoo priestess (Angela Bassett). The procedure involves incense, goats blood and “2 ounces of your husband’s baby juice” rubbed into Cordelia’s belly and naughty parts. Angela Bassett, who was once nominated for an Academy Award, actually said the words “baby juice.” There was a jar with a milky liquid, in case you thought it was something made by Gerber. Anyway, this is OK, too. It’s only a dream sequence.
  3. The voodoo guru refuses to do the fertility spell because Cordelia is the daughter of Fiona (Jessica Lange). This isn’t fair. Fiona is a stand-up gal, a regular Civil Rights champion. She belittles 200-year-old witch Delphine (Kathy Bates) for being a racist. Fiona makes Delphine a maid. Delphine refuses to serve Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), who is black. Fiona makes her Queenie’s slave. I feel like this is just what Dr. King had in mind. Anyway, Queenie and Delphine bond in the kitchen. A former slave that Delphine turned into a minotaur shows up to kill her … or possibly rape her. Queenie leads the minotaur out to the barn. She masturbates in front of him and offers her body. It’s not exactly clear if we got girl-on-minotaur action, a rape or another killing. This show really keeps you guessing on what terrible thing is happening.
  4. Fiona has some fun. She is the Supreme, which is like a super witch. In 1971, when Fiona discovered she was next Supreme, she murdered the old one. In the present day, Fiona learns she has cancer. This means she can’t have plastic surgery. This bums her out. Fiona believes Madison is the new super witch. So she takes her out and gets her drunk. Then Fiona kills her. This is a shame. Emma Roberts wore slinky dresses and was occasionally seen in her underwear on the show. It wasn’t the show’s worst creative choice.
  5. This is a terrible show. It’s vile, disgusting and without redemption. It’s lone function seems to get talented actors to waste their skills doing the most base, wretched things allowed on basic cable. I have no idea why I watch the show except there is nothing on network TV Wednesdays. I guess I could have watched the World Series, but listening to Tim McCarver and Joe Buck is actually worse than the debauchery of “American Horror Story.” I suppose I could watch no TV, but I think at some point we need to be realistic.

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven — Boy Parts’

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Season 3, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”

Original air date: Oct. 17, 2013

  1. Suggestion: Don’t watch “American Horror Story: Coven” and take a nap immediately afterwards. You will have a nightmare. Well, I also had a large bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. So maybe don’t have a large bowl of sugary cereal and watch that show and fall asleep. Also, I was listening to a 1980s radio station. Perhaps it was a combination of all three things that led to the nightmare. Or it could have been one or two but not all three.
  2. “Boy Parts” was much like my nightmare problem. It was a series of troubling things, but I’m not sure if they add up to anything. Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) and Madison (Emma Roberts) make a Frankenstein’s monster out of a the leftover parts of the boys killed in the bus crash caused by Madison in the previous episode. This is in effort to resurrect the one guy who didn’t rape Madison at the party. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, the resurrection did not go as planned. Misty (Lily Rabe) covers the boy in swamp mud to heal him. This is feels like taking homeopathic care a step too far, but let’s not judge too harshly. Misty used the stuff and she looks pretty good for being burned at the stake several hundred years ago. She should be selling this stuff on an infomercial with Alyssa Milano.
  3. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) wants to have a baby, but can’t. Her husband suggests she use magic. She says that would make her just as bad as her mother, Fiona (Jessica Lange). Then they have sex on the floor with magic rocks, fire and snakes. The heart wants what the heart wants.
  4. Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) spends most of the episode confused that she is in 2013 and not 1842. Fiona bullies her for a while. Then Fiona goes to see Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), who is still alive and running a hair salon in a poorer section of New Orleans. Fiona wants Marie’s secret to everlasting youth. Marie says no. So Fiona says some racist things.
  5. The writers seem to enjoy having Jessica Lange say racist things. She did that last season too as a different character. I suppose they’re doing it for shock value. That is pretty much what the whole show is: a collection of “oh, I can’t believe they did that” moments. Most of the time it doesn’t make very much sense and too much of the time it’s just gross for the sake of being gross. But at least there is a minotaur. I don’t know if they mean it to be funny, but it is pretty funny.

5-paragraph review of ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ premiere

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Season 3, Episode 1: “Bitchcraft”

Original air date: Oct. 9, 2013

  1. American Horror Story: Coven” continues the show’s tradition of basic cable torture porn. The series begins with Kathy Bates as a witch who turns a slave into a minotaur and painting her face in blood. This is in 1830s New Orleans. It was a different time. We shouldn’t judge her by today’s morality.
  2. In the present day, Taissa Farmiga plays Zoe. She has sex with a boy. Her vagina kills him. Abstinence really is the only safe sex. Zoe is a witch. She’s sent off to Hogwarts: New Orleans, where she meets other witches, including a clairvoyant (Jamie Brewer), a human voodoo doll (Gabourey Sidibe) and a movie star (Emma Roberts), a telekinetic who murdered her director. The headmistress is Sarah Paulson. Her character manages to go the entire episode without being raped. That is an improvement over the previous season, in which she was raped nearly every episode. It sounds excessive, but each rape served the story. It must have been excellent. The show was nominated for 17 Emmys. People who hand out awards are known for their ability to recognize quality.
  3. Zoe and the mean movie star go to a frat party. Zoe meets a nice boy (Evan Peters). He is immediately killed, but not by Zoe’s vagina. Another fraternity boy, who is not as nice, drugs the movie star. She is gang raped. The nice boy and Zoe rescue her. The movie star uses her super powers to flip over the bus, killing all but two of the frat boys, including the nice boy. This is the kind of television that changes lives. I am sure deans of students nationwide are writing new rules about the number of witches allowed at frat hard alcohol parties. Zoe finds the lead rapist alive at the hospital. She gives him a hand job. Then she has sex with his comatose body. Her vagina kills again. Somewhere, a women’s studies professor’s head explodes from too much metaphor.
  4. Jessica Lange plays a vain super witch trying to stay forever young. She hired a scientist to make her young. He tries. It doesn’t work. She snorts cocaine, listens to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and kills the scientist with a kiss. Lange’s character is the mother of Paulson’s character. They don’t like each other. Lange takes the witches on a field trip to the house where Bates’ character tortured slaves. The slave she turned into a minotaur had a girlfriend played by Angela Bassett. This woman drugs Bates’ character and buries her alive. Lang finds her and revives her in the present day. They go for a drink.
  5. I did not bother to learn any of the character names. I doubt I will be able to watch this show for the entire season. It’s just too awful. “American Horror Story” is just a collection of vulgar scenes. Maybe there is a story. Lange is pretty good, as always. I like Farmiga. I wish she would find something more papible to do. This series seems to aspire to do things that make people uncomfortable. This is fine. A lot of great art is made by pushing boundaries. I don’t think this is great art. I think this is to art what a strip club is to dance performance. “American Horror Story” lacks grace or even entertainment. It is a freak show, and not a very good one at that. The show seems designed to make you look away. I think that will be easy for me to do.

5-sentence review of ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Season 2, Episode 7

“Dark Cousin”

5. I set a personal record of saying “What the hell?!” during this episode of “American Horror Story: Asylum.”

4. I also found myself watching the clock, thinking, “When is this over?”

3. I won’t say I’m losing interest in “Asylum” as much as its wearing me out.

2. Character deaths, suicides, imagined suicides, rapes, demon possessions … it’s just a lot to keep track of and after a while, you get kind of numb to it.

1. I haven’t quit yet, but I did flip over to the show’s Wikipedia page, saw how many episodes remain in the season and said, “Do I really want to watch six more weeks of this mess?”

 

5-sentence review of ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ Season 2, Episode 6

The Origins of Monstrosity

5. There may be too much going on in “American Horror Story: Asylum.”

4. We’ve got a nun who thinks she’s the devil (Lily Rabe), a wrongly-accused serial killer who may have been probed by aliens (Evan Peters), a nun who killed a woman as a drunk driver trying to make penance running the asylum via corporal punishment (Jessica Lange), a Nazi war criminal experimenting on patients to prepare the human race for nuclear apocalypse (James Cromwell), monsters wandering around in the back yard of the asylum and a serial killer who wasn’t loved by his mommy she he makes lampshades out of human skin (Zachary Quinto).

3. Then there’s poor Lana (Sarah Paulson), who just wanted to be a real journalist, but ends up first stuck in the asylum getting electroshock and then strapped to a bed in the serial killer’s basement and, by the way, credit to Paulson for her performance, which this must have been an incredibly challenging role both physically and emotionally, especially with Bloody Face Quinto breaking into tears suckling her instead of removing her skin.

2. “The Origins of Monstrosity” ends in the present day with detectives investigating a modern incarnation of Bloody Face with a voice that sounds suspiciously like Dylan McDermott, a cast member from the first season’s anthology.

1. “Asylum” always leaves me a touch queasy at the end, making me wonder if whatever strands of morality I had have terribly eroded in order to watch and enjoy such a creepy collage, yet enjoy it I do, but it comes dangerously close to being overwhelming.