American Horror Story: Coven: Best Part of the Carnival Is the Sideshow

Categories: Film and TV

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To me it's weird that as someone that started this season of American Horror Story with frankly a lot of doomcrying and gnashing of teeth I am actually starting to like the season more even as Twitter and social media seems to be telling me the opposite is true for fans as a whole.

Part of it is that I liked the fractured natured of Asylum. I liked that it had the balls to wander down tangents that might not pay off, and that it was brave enough to be inexplicable. Twelve or so hours of linear horror is really, really difficult to pull off. Not the least because it is very hard to be terrified of something you see coming a mile away. That emotion is called dread, or perhaps despair and you don't get ratings with that.

That's why the peripheral characters are so very important to making AHS work. They offer shadows for scares to hide in. This week was one of the first that I felt that the season really allowed some room for the edges to intrude on reality.

Sarah Paulson as Delia was a big part of that. After rocking every inch of Asylum she's been pushed more towards weakness this time around. Personally I identify with her quest to conceive a baby though black magic and the pain that infertility causes, but the storyline is not overly burdened with nuance or grace. She been much more interesting since her Auntie Myrtle through acid in her face just to framer her mother, as awful as that sounds.

See also: American Horror Story: Coven: All Blood, No Bite

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Paulson is such a wonderful heroine when she is on the edge of terrible odds, and blinding her has served only to make her scary awesome. Now she sees the truth through psychometry and is bringing the telekinetic witch hammer down on her cheating, murdering, and secretly-working-with-Marie-Laveau-to-murder-the-Salem-witches husband. She just oozes power even as she stumbles around a room sightless, and really brings the pain to every scene she's in.

Much of the episode centers around the spirit of The Axeman, the ghost of a 1910's serial killer that loved jazz and, well, axing people. He was lured to the coven and murdered to stop his reign, and Zoe unwittingly frees him from the spirit world to terrorize Delia.

Danny Huston plays The Axeman, and he is just raw brilliance incarnate. His long, looping monologues about aliens and angels as he holds New Orleans hostage to his madness are terrifyingly awesome, and once he finally steps out into the limelight flesh and blood once more you just know that he is going to walk tall and carry a big stick.

Meanwhile, Denis O'Hare finally gets some lines thanks to a psychic interrogation, and you can just feel the oozy evil come pouring off his thoughts as he lies about raping the corpse of Madison to protect Fiona. It's a too-brief scene, but there's potential for Spaulding yet as a more solid lynchpin in the show.

Overall, "The Axeman Cometh" loosened up a bit and let the inmates run the asylum. That's a good thing. Chaos and anarchy have always served the show well.

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