It’s become a supernatural show staple: What is dead may never die. Kat Graham is a full-time regular as a ghost on ‘Vampire Diaries,’ the ‘Supernatural’ brothers have been to hell and back at least once a season, and now, ‘AHS: Coven’ has been killing — then regenerating — a new witch every week. I say, enough already!
I absolutely adore American Horror Story: Coven. It’s the most stylish, campy, and overall fun installment of the AHS series to date, and the cast is fantastic. But it’s also adopted one supernatural TV trope that I’ve grown to loathe — the overused practice of killing a main character for shock value, then bringing them back like the whole thing never happened. Where’s the fun in that?
The Stakes Literally Couldn’t Be Lower
Here’s the main issue with making death so ambiguous: it lessens the dramatic effect each time a main character bites it. Say what you will about The Walking Dead, at least when someone “bites it” (or gets bit) on that show, you really feel it. The dynamic of the show changes each time an important character dies, because the remaining survivors have to emotionally process what happened and develop future coping strategies. As a result, the omnipresent threat of death and simultaneous thrill of danger permeates future episodes. It’s what we want when we’re watching a high-stakes show.
American Horror Story, in the past, has been the same way. Pretty much every character died during the first two series, and many of these deaths were terrifying (Chloe Sevigny) and/or emotionally resonant (Connie Britton). But Coven has been using its resident necromancer Misty Day (Lily Rabe) way too liberally. By the end of episode one, Kyle (AHS staple Evan Peters) and Misty herself had both died, and just a week later, they were already back. Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) was gone for all of ten minutes before Misty revived her charred corpse, and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) barely had time to see the light before Fiona (Jessica Lange) brought her back.
So when Madison Montgomery’s (Emma Roberts) corpse was stuffed in a box instead of chopped into bits and scattered, we knew it was only a matter of time before Misty found and revived her. We were right. (Dramatic sigh.)
In Defense of Madison Montgomery
I’m not saying that Madison needed to stay dead because she was bad, or annoying, or any other negative adjective I can think of. In fact, she’s probably my second favorite character on the show, after Fiona of course. She’s just a victim of bad circumstance — since lesser characters like Queenie and Myrtle were revived before her, her death and her regeneration came as no surprise. And this is American Horror Story — we need surprise!
Believe me, I’d much rather have Franken-Kyle rotting in the ground than Madison. As much as we all love Evan, his character has added nothing to the season. And Myrtle’s regeneration — which will implicate Fiona —also was unnecessary, since Madison’s regeneration will essentially confirm the same point: that Fiona is a Coven-killer. If the show had to pick just one, sorry Myrtle, but I’m going Madison Montgomery every time.
All Jessica Lange aside, Coven is a series that thrives thanks to its killer cast of young witches, and it’s a shame that Madison’s arc was cheapened by such a commonly misused TV trope. Start killing people, AHS!
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Is AHS regenerating too many people?
— Shaunna Murphy