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'American Horror Story' Recap: 'The Seven Wonders'

So Cordelia ...

Hopefully, if you were so inclined, you've seen the episode already. Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), Fiona's (Jessica Lange) only daughter, ended up being the Supreme. She wasn't my top guess, but it also wasn't a very exciting pick either. The Supreme ended up being the old Supreme's daughter. I guess I thought it wasn't going to be so obvious. I can't say I had extremely high expectations for the season finale after this season of hobbled story telling, but knowing that there was an endgame this episode certainly contributed to the higher score.

Popculturology Score: B

The way I see it, American Horror Story's anthology concept behind the series is a difficult thing to master. Each of the three seasons thus far have been drastically different from each other. If the audience doesn't buy in to the theme, you're stuck watching an entire season trying not to compare it to the last two years. The show has built a following over the last two years. It's difficult to do so, but you really have to treat each season independently. It's a very non-traditional way of watching TV — no one really does that. Honestly, the idea of starting over every season is pretty brilliant. If you're good at it, you can keep the show fresh, and it's a clean slate every single year. You not only retain viewers from past seasons, but you have the opportunity to gain new ones from people who decide to finally give the show a chance after hearing how good the show is. Actors don't have to commit their lives to a show for eight or nine years, which is beneficial to the show when trying to attract A-list talent.

Such is the case with another show gaining a lot of attention, HBO's True Detective. Here's another anthology-based series that has two Oscar-nominated actors carrying the show. Most likely, we'll see rotating actors taking the lead roles every season.

With all of that said, American Horror Story continues to be one of the — if not the — most unique shows on television right now. No, this season wasn't my favorite, but I'm satisfied with the fact that come October, we'll see something new again. Here are my overall thoughts on this season of American Horror Story.

The Talent
Again, the fact that the show can start all over every year is a big reason why the quality of the acting is so high. Lange has been nominated for an Oscar six times. She's won two. There's no one else on TV right now that has that kind of résumé. I'm not sure she was planning on sticking around for all three seasons, but she's managed to make herself a series regular for three (and soon to be four) seasons. She appears to be getting nominated for every major television award since she's been on the show — and she really does deserve every nomination she's been getting. This season we saw both Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates join the show. Bringing together these three actresses made the show watchable no matter what was going on with the story.

The Story
Not my favorite. It just seemed to simple to me. This season played more like a comedy, which wasn't why I started watching the show. It was also really hard to follow what was going on most of the time. Each season isn't on very long, as American Horror Story is almost half the length of a normal television series. I'm setting the bar high, but every episode should matter. With so many things happening this season that really didn't seem to matter, the show could have been condensed to about five episodes this year, which probably isn't a strong selling point for the plotline of a show that is already running on an abbreviated schedule. We could have done without the whole "Hank being a witch hunter" thing. Some people seemed to really like it, but Stevie Nicks? Why was she there? I guess I really thought, especially at the end when the Supreme was finally revealed, that there would be some amazing plot twist that we just didn't see coming. Nope. Didn't really happen.

The Characters
Not a lot of complexity here with most of the coven. More importantly, there weren't a lot of characters on the show who I really cared about. How these characters interacted with each other was also confusing most of the time. One minute they're the best of friends, the next they're trying to kill each other.

Characters I Liked
Fiona Goode (Lange)
Misty Day (Lily Rabe)
Cordelia Foxx (Paulson)
Delphine LaLaurie (Bates)
Marie Laveau (Bassett)

Characters I Didn't Like
Pretty much everyone else. Kyle (Evan Peters) was a disaster. Nan (Jamie Brewer) had nothing to do with the central part of the story.

The Technical Stuff
This is another reason why some of the episodes of the season scored higher. Much of the camera work, on the part of a small rotating list of directors, was fantastic. I appreciate shows that can step out of the box in how they frame or storyboard each scene. Something that can be so simple was not a shortcut here for most of the season. Most episodes that I found especially captivating (from the overall direction) was done by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. I mentioned him in my first post of the show and he continued to raise the bar for the rest of the season.

And so ends this season of American Horror Story. Don't take most of the negative criticism as a signal of dissatisfaction in the show. I think I just really had high hopes from the past two seasons. Even though this one didn't really deliver this time around, I trust that the show will come back better than ever later this year.
'American Horror Story' Recap: 'The Seven Wonders' Reviewed by Anton Ali on 1/30/2014 Rating: 5

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