American Horror Story season finale recap: Me, Myself, and My Mother's Daughter

The Coven welcomes a new Supreme. Not everyone gets out alive.
Ep. 13 | Aired Jan 29, 2014

ASLEEP ON THE JOB Is there any creature more pitiful than poor Misty Day? She wanted only to do good, to bring life back to people and animals killed by the malice of evil men. We met her when she died the first time. She died again in a coffin, buried alive by a girl who was only alive because Misty brought her back to life. And in the finale, she joined her sisters on the journey to the underworld. They made it back. But not Misty, poor Misty Day.

Michele K. Short/FX

Everything was so sad all of the sudden. The witches just wanted to have some fun! So they played Transmutation Tag, engaging their inner Nightcrawler. Madison smiled and Zoe smiled and Queenie smiled. "Girls! Don't have too much fun now!" said Delia, sounding like a concerned parent in a Public Service Announcement about the dangers of playing Dodgeball on a freeway. "C'mon, Delia! We just wanna have fun!" said Zoe, who was having so much fun and smiling and laughing and jumping for joy. Predictably, she teleported herself right on top of the Miss Robichaux's gate, impaling herself.

Dead, she provided a handy subject for Vitalum Vitalis, the act of resurrection. Queenie managed to pull off a resurrection spell on Misty last week, but she couldn't resurrect Zoe, because because. Delia asked Madison to resurrect Zoe. Madison was understandably not having it. Resurrect her own combination? She clapped her hands on a fly, killing it; she brought it back to life. Myrtle tried to take the moral high ground: "If you refuse this, then you don't deserve to be Supreme?" Madison, echoing a great line by Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, responded: "What's deserve got to do with it?" Lest there was any confusion, Madison confirmed herself as Fiona 2.0, promising to use all the power of the Supreme for her own benefit.

This left Delia feeling depressed. Her mother had been right all along: It was Madison, always Madison, an incarnation of all-consuming narcissism and the murderous Pleasure Principle. But Myrtle didn't think so. She had a different idea. Maybe the new Supreme wasn't one of these young ladies. Maybe it was the woman who had spent her life in service to the Coven, attempting to keep Miss Robichaux's afloat even as her superiors ran amok. Perhaps it was Cordelia who would be the next Sup-

We get it. The second Myrtle brought up this possibility, we knew it was inevitable. This was only really a twist because the show tried hard to make it seem unlikely. Delia was blinded, not once but twice. She never spoke openly about any intentions of becoming the Supreme, and last episode implicitly disqualified herself from any such race. But the second the idea was brought up, Cordelia was the clear choice. She performed all the tests: Candle, Piano, Underworld, Nightcrawler. She used Divination to figure out the precise location of Mimi DeLongpre's antique broach. Madison could do so much, but Divination stumped her. She gave a final farewell, promising to return to Hollywood and tell TMZ all about this cuckoo Coven, and she ran upstairs, leaving the clear choice for Supreme behind with wry smile.

But now, a word about Madison for a second. Last week's death orgy left this season finale shorn of its most interesting personalities/best actors. Marie Laveau and the Madame LaLaurie are trapped forever in their ironic hellscape; Fiona appeared only briefly, about which more later. Left alone with the younger witches, it felt more than ever like Coven was really 10 different TV shows in one. All versions of American Horror Story have felt rollicking and scattered, of course, but Murder House and Asylum had a certain unity of tone and theme. (The aliens and Satan and the mutants and the Bad Santa never crossed paths, but they all walked to the beat of the same crazy drummer.) Coven split its characters into a whole series of stories that only occasionally made sense in the same universe. The Marie/LaLaurie rivalry was miles removed from the Zoe/Kyle flirtation, which was itself completely cut off from the Axeman/Fiona entanglement, which only briefly took place in the same galaxy as that whole Witch Hunters of Wall Street tangent, and don't forget about Misty Day forever twirling.

I'm not saying that was a bad thing or a good thing. But most of all, it was a big thing. You could've taken any one thread from Coven and blown it up into a complete 10-episode miniseries. When the show worked, it managed to conjure up the feeling of a superhero crossover out of thin air: Coven was like The Avengers of witches. (Fiona was Tony Stark. Delia was Bruce Banner. Marie Laveau was Thor.)

And for my money, the best and most complete miniseries belonged entirely to Madison Montgomery. Other characters on the show existed in the quantum phase of Ryan Murphy narrative, forever vacillating between wild extremes: Delia and Fiona hate each other, develop a grudging respect for each other, try to kill each other, love each other. But consider Madison. When we met her, she was a spoiled-brat starlet. Then something terrible happened to her: Raped by fratboys, a goddess demeaned into a victim. She sought vengeance, and in the process damned herself: Killing her rapists, she also killed a good boy who never did anything wrong. For her crimes she received karmic punishment: death at the hands of Fiona, her corpse used as a masturbatory toy doll for the proverbial Weird Dude In The Attic.

But then, twist! Brought back from the beyond, she spoke of a terrible darkness. You got the sense that she was the kind of girl who found a kind of heaven in hell, who only felt really good when she was doing bad things -- so it made sense that her infinite punishment would be the absence of anything, a terrible quiet beyond even the pleasure of pain. Back from the dead, she found herself healed. Her broken heart was fixed. She fell in love with a boy: The same boy she had killed, in fact.

But the boy loved someone else. And so, having fallen and then risen, Madison fell once again: Jealousy led to rage led to ambition led to all-consuming desire. Her power grew with her desire. She killed one witch, Misty Day -- the very witch who brought her back to life. And when it came time to prove herself, her romantic rival proved weak. Madison stared down at the face of the girl who ruined her second life. She had the power to bring Zoe back. She refused. And so she was damned all over again. The power in her grasp -- which could have been hers if only she had committed a single selfless act -- faded away.

Left with nothing, she took the only logical step you can take when your whole life has fallen in on itself. She planned to start over. She packed her bag. The boy she loved demanded to know why she let his true love die. She told him: "I love you! I love you, please!" He looked at her with cold eyes: "You're not that good an actress." And he strangled her, sending her back to the darkness that was always her home. Her soul was gone, if she ever had one. Her body would be bequeathed to Spalding, a human doll once again.

NEXT: You're alive! Now Die!

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