From the second I saw the trailer, I knew that American Horror Story: Coven would be spellbindingly splendid. Though I’m only a couple episodes in, I can’t say I’m disappointed. My interest was solidified in the second episode by a particular scene, set in a remote swamp cabin….to the tune of Stevie Nicks’ “Rhiannon.”
In this scene, naive protagonist Zoe and her newly reassembled/revived boyfriend Kyle meet the young witch, Misty, who had been recently burnt at the stake by hillbillies. The ethereal boho blondie—who is inexplicably drawn to the scene of the resurrection—pops up in their escape vehicle mid-bridge and invites them to her hut. There, she smears swamp dung over Zoe’s zombie-beau while Stevie Nicks floats from an ancient transistor radio.
When Zoe lamely asks the Misty, “who is this?,” a perfect dialogue ensues, in which Misty ardently declares Nicks to be her idol and a “White Witch”:
Zoe: Who sings this?
Misty: Who sings this? Fleetwood Mac! Stevie Nicks…is my idol
Zoe: Is that Stevie Nicks from American Idol?
Misty: (incredulous) It’s Stevie Nicks, the White Witch. The only witch before you I’ve ever known.
Zoe: She’s an actual witch?
Misty: Listen to the lyrics. This song was her anthem. Doesn’t it just penetrate your soul and tell the truth about everything you’ve ever felt in your whole life?
Zoe: Yeah. Totally.
“Tell(s) the truth about everything you’ve ever felt in your whole life”: This is probably one of the most glowing reviews Rhiannon’s received in almost 40 years. Even contemporary teen witches pick up on the song’s power. It like totally penetrates the soul.
This scene make me half-hope for a season encore, in which Nicks takes over for the departing Jessica Lange as the Supreme and coaches the girls on controlling their magic with music…by forming an girl-witch power group, obv.
Of course, getting Nicks on Coven might be a challenge, considering witchy rumors have plagued her whole career. “I spent thousands of dollars on beautiful black clothes and had to stop wearing them for a long time because a lot of people scared me,” she said in a 1983 interview. “And that’s really unfair to me, I think, for people – other people – to conjure up their ideas of what I am or what I believe in.” Personally, I’d avoid using terms like “conjure ” to deny my own sorceress status. But maybe this is more convincing:
Anyway, that’s how it goes with those in the public eye—it’s part of the reason they become so famous. We love to imagine celebrities as characters that are somehow super—or sub—human (maybe to assuage our own sense of native inferiority?) In Nicks’ case, I think witchiness is a simple metaphor for a bold aura, an arresting voice, and so many “beautiful black clothes.” So kudos to Coven for resurrecting not only mutilated frat bros and a sadistic post-colonial Kathy Bates, but also for exhuming the ever-enchanting Stevie, and bequeathing her White Witch status. Love it.