American Horror Story and its last episode, The Seven Wonders made for a bittersweet reviewing experience. Just as the first two seasons of the show were difficult to leave behind at the end; season three leaves the viewer wishing that this segment was not the last. By the time the closing credits rolled, there was an undeniable sense of disappointment; not in the show’s plot or mechanization, but in the things still left hanging or not touched in the final show.
There were a few standout moments as well as moments that defined the remaining supreme hopefuls. From the moment that Stevie Nicks serenades the coven at the episode’s start there is a feeling of expectation that, ultimately, will leave the audience unsatisfied at the end.
After the big build up, last week it seemed that all of the coven members could wind up being supremes, it was devastating to see that the first one to fall was “swamp girl” Misty. In a part of the show that was the least satisfying of any of the set pieces that made up the seven wonders trials, Misty remains trapped in a Hell that consists of her obviously reenacting a moment from her childhood. Being forced to repeatedly kill a lab dissection frog and bring it back to life only to have to kill the life amphibian again.
In an eternal loop, the Stevie Nicks fan is so traumatized by her own version of Hell that she cannot break out before being trapped there. As Cordelia attempts to bring Misty back, the trapped witch disappears in a puff of ashes.
Another traumatic event was the death of Zoe. Clues led the viewer to believe that if Misty was not the supreme then it had to be the “nicest” one of the new witches. Zoe definitely seemed to be a good candidate for the new coven leader. Alas, the transmutation trial, which all the remaining girls found to be great fun, ended with her death.
Zoe’s end brought the audience into Madison’s tainted and cold corner. Refusing to bring the dead girl back Madison then goes on to her just reward by lovesick and enraged Kyle. He gets, perhaps, the best line in the show when he declares that Madison is not a good enough actress to convince the brought-back-to-life teen that she loves him.
By the end of the trials, which were extended to include Cordelia after Zoe’s death, at Myrtle’s insistence, the result is a trifle anti-climatic. Of course after the entire season built up the seven wonders as being the “end-all-be-all” it was bound to be a bit of a letdown. It was, sadly, inevitable.
Once Cordelia proves that she is the new supreme and gives a television news interview, Myrtle demands to be martyred by burning, again. It has to be said that American Horror Story does burning at the stake with a sense of panache that disturbs while the viewer marvels at the effectiveness of the pyrotechnics.
Fiona, who was supposedly turned into gator sh*t in the last episode, does turn back up like some derelict, yet malefic, Jill-in-the-box. Unfortunately the former supreme looks like she is one step from death’s door. Cordelia, who got her eyes back during the last “wonders” trial, learns what really happened with her mother and the axeman.
When Fiona dies in her daughter’s arms it is revealed just what her afterlife has in store for her. With a last twist of the metaphorical knife, Papa Legba has placed Fiona in an eternal hell with her axeman. Crying out that the place “smells of fish” and “knotty pine walls,” in one of the episodes blackest comedic moments Fiona’s hell is intimate and claustrophobic. The perfect reward for her larger than life existence.
At the end, as new witches lined up around the block are allowed in the building, Kyle Spencer seems to be the new Spalding, or as the butler said himself “the help,” sans long straggly hair and disgusting teeth and nails. Cordelia, as the new supreme welcomes the new coven members as Queenie and Zoe stand by her side.
It was a pleasant treat to see Stevie Nicks return even it was for the only for the intro, except for her singing to the crackling flames that took Myrtle’s life. There was one disappointment, Nan did not miraculously return from the dead, which might not have been logical, but, it would have been a great twist.
Reviewing American Horror Story‘s last episode, The Seven Wonders was a truly bittersweet experience. It was to be expected though this season, while not as good as the first two, still got the audience well and truly invested in each of the characters. Even Myrtle with her verbal cadence that seems almost like a female Christopher Walken, shone with remarkable brilliance and that was before she went out like a torch towards the episode’s end.
All the principles continued to play their parts with admirable conviction. Emma Roberts, who as Madison had another blackly comic moment with her version of Hell; she had to play Liesel in a live TV production of The Sound of Music, managed to make her character cold, cruel and self centered until the very end. Another disappointment was the lack of visuals when the witches made the visit to Hell.
Taissa Farmiga as Zoe always felt like a slightly damaged Dorothy in this twisted Wizard of Oz which, of course, makes Evan Peter’s Kyle her Toto. Lily Rabe as the swamp-witch Misty Day might have given Taissa a run for her money as Dorothy had she not beat the cr*p out of Madison in the prior episode.
Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow; Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie; Sarah Paulson as Cordelia and the other female members of the cast not mentioned above; Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett made every episode that they were in a special treat. There are not many Hollywood projects with such an overabundance of strong female roles, but, American Horror Story must hold the record as having brought so many strong and talented actresses in one place.
Danny Huston, who filled the camera with his presence as the Axeman and Lance Reddick as Papa Legba, who cheerfully chewed up the scenery each time he appeared, were the only two actors who gave as good as they got in the acting stakes. It was nice to see both men, especially Reddick who was such a prominent presence in Fringe.
American Horror Story The Seven Wonders was the end of another winning season of this Ryan Murphy creation. While watching, and later reviewing, this show it never failed to impress that the same man who brings Glee to glorious “gleeky” life is also responsible for this splendid horror/fantasy.
By Michael Smith