American Horror Story: Coven: The Anti-Red Wedding

If you watch or read Game of Thrones then you might remember the Red Wedding, and even if you don't you probably heard everyone talking about it earlier this year because it was a scene in which roughly all the characters from one family were brutally murdered at what was supposed to be a happy meeting between two royal houses.

To the untrained eye, it might appear that the carnage was the reason that everyone spun off into a whirlwind of incredulous tweets and Facebook posts, but that's not why it did. The impact of the Red Wedding had nothing to do with the blood. What mattered was how unexpected the whole thing was. The instigating lord, Walder Frey, had every reason to align with Robb Stark despite Stark's earlier, and to most minds' entirely forgivable insult. Stark, operating under the traditional rules of hospitality had no reason to fear a sudden murder. That's why it was shocking.

This weeks' episode of Coven was the exact opposite of that.

I would say "Spoiler alert" for this article, but if you don't see every inch of it coming then you're probably the reason Wheel of Fortune is in its 31st season. Let me start by asking you a question...

Suppose for some reason you manage to have a person you don't like burnt to death at the stake for in an entirely legal ceremony. Then, you find out that, for whatever reason, that person survived the burning, and is now completely whole.

Would you sit down for a meal with that person? If the answer is no, then congratulations. You got one of the good Choose-Your-Own-Adventures endings. If the answer is yes, then I invite you to consider a melon baller, and what sort of wacky effects it might have if wielded against some of the softer, more vulnerable parts of your body.

Or hey, here's a good one. Suppose you hire a professional hitman driven by an intense fanatical hatred of people just like you, but you pay him to only kill the ones who have a different skin color than you. Then, just for shits and/or giggles, you torture and threaten him to hurry up and risk his life to complete the job in a completely arbitrary time span just to be a pain in the ass about it.

Would you or would you not expect him to decide the easiest course of action would be to go Rambo on your ass first since it solves the problem, fulfills his fundamental need to murder your kind, and you probably aren't expecting it anyway? If yes, pat your un-shotgunned self on the back. If no, then Google "gunshot wound pictures" and click through until you answer correctly.

And finally, suppose you're in a helpless coma, and the only person watching over you is your mom. Somehow you find a means to communicate with her. Is this the time to tell her that you know that she murdered your father rather than allowing him to divorce her? If you said no, sleep well, gentle reader. If you said yes, please spend the next half hour with a pillow on your face trying to breathe.

One of the staples of horror movies is characters doing inherently stupid things. Drew Barrymore made a joke about it in Scream. "Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It's insulting."

That joke is only funny if it's not really true. In good horror, your characters have a good reason to walk into danger, even if that reason is that they are cataclysmically stupid. That's not the case with the people of Coven. Nonetheless, every single action in this week's episode was written with such absurd laziness that regarding character forethought that I'd be willing to bet the script was actually a Mad Lib.

We have to wait until January 8 until the show returns. Hopefully there will be an awful lot less dumbcraft by then.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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