American Horror Story: Coven - Why Misty Day Is the Secret Weapon - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

American Horror Story: Coven - Why Misty Day Is the Secret Weapon

Over the course of its ten seasons (and one spinoff), American Horror Story has featured more than its share of despicable, selfish, and downright evil characters. With antagonistic traits such as Kai Anderson’s (Evan Peters) psychopathy and murderous tendencies in Cult and Dandy Mott’s (Finn Wittrock) manipulative actions and God complex in Freak Show, it can be difficult for the audience to root for and emotionally connect with some of each season's main characters. But once in a while comes a character so gentle, good-natured, and kind that it balances out the vile actions and crazy psychologies of the villainous characters we love to hate.

Perhaps the best example of this is Misty Day (Lily Rabe) in Coven.

With her bohemian clothing in the style of flowing dresses, layers of draped shawls, scarves, and mismatched necklaces, she automatically stands apart from the rest of the witches at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies who are usually dressed in black monochrome. She's visually unique, a technicolor character in a black-and-white world. Her style automatically alerts the viewer that there's something different about her and her quirkiness with her meditation, swamp mud rituals, and obsession with Stevie Nicks' music cements her as a singular character in the American Horror Story universe.

She doesn't care what others think of her (as evidenced by her living alone in the Louisiana swamp rather than trying to conform to normal society) and such nonchalance for the opinions of others makes her stand out among a cast of vapid characters that are focused on vanity and perfection. "You can't be your best self until you find your tribe," she says. "I'm still looking for mine." Misty gives the audience reason to take notice of her through her fierce independence and committal to self-improvement. With her humble roots and nomad spirit, she cements herself as an underdog, making us root for her success and happiness.

In the hands of other actresses, she could easily come across as a quirky, stereotypical Southern caricature, but Lily Rabe breathes real life into Misty. She embodies her with a committed sense of wide-eyed childlike innocence in her extremely expressive face, not to mention an endearing Southern twang. As Misty's emotions run the gamut from awed joy at meeting Stevie Nicks (who plays herself in a wonderful cameo appearance), intense pain and devastation when her boom box (which is her one connection to the "outside" world) is broken, and pure horror at being forced to re-live her own personal hell (dissecting a frog in a school science class), Rabe's multi-dimensional performance brings Misty to life in an incredibly honest way, elevating Coven to higher levels of character depth when it comes to the season's machinations.

RELATED: 'American Horror Story': The 9 Scariest Villains, Ranked

Whereas characters like Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) are often self-centered and pushing a secret agenda known only to themselves, Misty stands apart from the other witches in the coven with her fierce kindness and compassion towards all living creatures, big and small ("Why would you kill God's innocent creatures?" she asks of a pair of alligator poachers). When viewers are first introduced to her, she's seen bringing a bird back from the dead with her power of resurgence. Here, she has nothing to gain from the action; it's something she does out of compassion and empathy. She brings life into the world rather than death. And her reward for it? Being burned at the stake by a mob of religious zealots who wrongly believe her abilities to be gifted to her by the devil. But her death doesn't last since she's able to use her powers to bring herself back to life as well. As Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) introduces her:

“She's a sophisticated witch with extraordinary gifts…In fact, those around her tried endlessly to destroy her in order to mask their own evil purposes. Yet she rose from the ashes stronger than ever, more fully realized. A living testament to the greater ideals of our coven — power, compassion, and uniqueness.”

Despite the horrors and trauma that came from experiencing the very worst of humanity, Misty rejects the path of retribution and bloodshed in favor of spending her time communing with nature and healing others rather than destroying. "I've surrounded myself with the white spirit light to protect me," she says to a threatening Fiona. "And even if you do put me down, I've already made plans on how to bring myself back." While it might have been narratively tempting to allow Misty to go on a murderous rampage of revenge against those who wronged her, the restraint shown in regard to her characterization does a great deal in the way of constructing a well of warmth and understanding within her. She proves herself to be a woman of pure heart and compassion and these characteristics allow the audience to empathize with her and form a genuine bond and emotional connection to such a purely good and innocent character in a season packed with prickly ones. By caring about Misty and what happens to her, by association we end up caring about what happens to her entire coven.

Misty's kindness extends to people as well when she offers not only to help ressurrect Kyle (Evan Peters) but also Madison. Her motivations are once again altruistic, reviving Kyle because she knows how deeply Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) cares for him, and Madison because the coven's safety depends on uncovering who it was that murdered her in the first place. Misty's actions are sincere, showing her to be someone who's compassionate with both her human acts and witchy magic. But that also doesn't mean she's naive or allows herself to be pushed around by others. "You think I'm stupid because of where I came from," she says, standing up to a bullying Madison. "Well...I ain't that easily fooled." Whether being burned at the stake in her youth or targeted by Madison for potentially being the next Supreme, Misty is continuously persecuted for being different from everyone else. But with her continued forgiveness and willingness to help the very people that have tried to harm her, the character of Misty tethers us to the season’s emotional through-line of friendship and loyalty. As a swamp-dwelling outsider to the witch community, she serves as a surrogate for the viewer since the characters, world, and rules of Coven are new to us as much as they are to Misty. Without this human element and characters to believe in and root for, it would be harder to connect with the season's more magical elements of spells and spirits.

It says a great deal that Misty's own personal hell, the worst thing imaginable to her, is being forced to kill one of "God's creatures." She's a unique presence, both visually and emotionally, that inspires empathy in viewers through her kindness and compassion even when the world gives her reason to do otherwise. Withour her (and Lily Rabe's performance), Coven's story of friendship would ring hollow. Misty isn't just a witch or a one-dimensional background character. She might not've been the next Supreme, but she's the season's secret weapon.

KEEP READING: 7 Shows Like 'American Horror Story' to Watch While You Wait For The Next Episode



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