When a major character dies on a television show people can have any number of reactions. Some may depressed that the character has been killed off while some may be overjoyed. Whenever a character died on American Horror Story: Coven, the latest season of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series, people were instead left wondering how soon until that character would rise from the grave. The plot of Coven follows a group of witches living in New Orleans. With a cast full of witches with powers it stands to reason raising the dead would be incorporated into the show but that plot device was used too soon and too often.
In the season premiere two main characters die and are brought back in the second episode. This was an unexpected and even interesting plot device until the third episode when Madison Montgomery (played by Emma Roberts) was killed and subsequently revived three episodes later. Myrtle Snow (played by Francis Conroy) was killed in episode five and brought back by the end of that same episode. Before the series reached its midway point nearly half the main cast died at least once.
There are two problems with characters using death as a revolving door. It becomes repetitive even boring to watch the same thing happen over and over. Character deaths can often be used as a way of driving the narrative but soon there is a sense that the plot is not moving forward.
The second problem is there is no sense of danger when the laws of death no longer apply. Characters should care about whether they live or die when put into dangerous situations. Instead death is treated like nothing more than a temporary setback or even a time out. Someone can be shot to death one morning and be back at the dinner table later that evening like nothing happened.
However that’s not to say that Coven was not good television in fact it’s one of the best seasons of the show. With the exception of the absence of death there were interesting plot points and characters. Hopefully when American Horror Story returns later this year the dead remain buried.
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