January 29, 2014 8:11pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'American Horror Story: Coven': Who Reigned Supreme?
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from the season finale of American Horror Story: Coven.]
It all came down to one Wednesday night during the season finale of American Horror Story: Coven.
Following a season that explored race relations and served as an allegory for any minority group in the country, Coven ultimately was about one specific mother-daughter relationship.
With Fiona (Jessica Lange) considered dead, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) -- as the headmaster at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies -- instructs students Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Madison (Emma Roberts), Misty (Lily Rabe) and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) to perform the Seven Wonders in a bid to name the next Supreme. It's the one thing Fiona didn't do before the Axeman killed her. The caveat: It's very likely that everyone who isn't the next Supreme may die in the process.
And that's precisely what happens when Misty gets stuck in hell, unable to return from her junior high terror of killing a frog. Zoe, meanwhile, goes overboard during transmutation and is impaled on a spike. With Misty dead and Queenie failing to bring her back, the latter is also eliminated from being the next queen of the castle.
Death toll: 2 (Misty, Zoe).
That leaves Madison to revive her frenemy, only she refuses to until Cordelia and Myrtle (Frances Conroy) name her Supreme. It's in that moment that Myrtle realizes that the girl she raised -- Cordelia -- has been checking off the Seven Wonders one by one and the entire "competition" is reset.
After Madison fails to perform divination, she quits the coven and attempts to return to Hollywood and blow the lid off the school -- only Kyle (Evan Peters) isn't having any of it. As he strangles Madison to death, still angry that she would allow Zoe to die, Cordelia successfully revives Zoe with Spalding inheriting Madison's body. (Ew!)
Death toll: 2 (Misty, Madison).
Realizing now that she's following in her mother's path, Cordelia regains her eyesight and beauty and Myrtle makes it official, naming her Supreme and ushering in a new era for the Coven. But before that can happen, Myrtle tells the girl she helped raise in Fiona's absence that she needs to be punished for her crimes against the Coven now that her life's work is fulfilled. Cordelia begrudgingly agrees and Myrtle is burned at the stake.
Death toll: 3 (Misty, Madison, Myrtle)
In a scene reminiscent of AHS: Asylum's season finale, Cordelia invites the press into the school and publicly says that the school is a safe place for witches, while Queenie and Zoe are appointed to her council.
But before the doors to the academy can be kicked open to accommodate the hundreds of girls who have turned up at its gates, Cordelia has one last order of business: ridding the house of Fiona -- who it turns out, wasn't dead after all!
Fiona faked her death by implanting the memory of the Axeman (Danny Huston) killing her so that Cordelia would see that, allowing Fiona to return to kill whomever the new Supreme was once and for all and obtaining what she's wanted all season: eternal youth.
Instead, a frail and aged Fiona has returned, and it turns out once Cordelia successfully performed the Seven Wonders, she inherited her mother's powers, rendering Fiona free of magic but setting up one final face-off between mother and daughter.
"Every time I looked at you I saw my own death. You were a constant reminder of my worst fears," Fiona explains of their contentious relationship before dying in her daughters arms. When she awakens, she's now trapped for eternity with the Axeman -- with the devil looking on and laughing at her horror.
Death toll: 4 (Misty, Madison, Myrtle and Fiona)
The season ends when Cordelia opens the doors to the academy and welcomes a massive new class of witches. "Together, we can do more than survive," she says.
Coven marked the second season in a row where Paulson's once-tortured character came out on top. Asylum explored mothers and sons, while Coven put the focus on mother-daughter relationships.
What did you think of Coven's finale? Were you surprised? Sound off in the comments below and head back to THR's The Live Feed at 11 p.m. PST for an interview with the new Supreme.