[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the American Horror Story: Coven season finale. Read at your own risk!]
The new Supreme was finally revealed during American Horror Story: Coven's season finale, and it should come as no surprise that it's the daughter of the old one.
That's right, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) came out on top, performing the Seven Wonders easily after Misty (Lily Rabe) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) died — the former permanently, the latter revived by Cordelia as part of the Seven Wonders — Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) gracefully failed and Madison (Emma Roberts) was brutally murdered after embarrassingly being unable to perform Divination. But was Cordelia's appointment to the head of the coven always the plan? TVGuide.com caught up with Paulson to get the scoop on how the season-ender came together, her thoughts on the often-weak daughter of Fiona (Jessica Lange) and whether she'll be back for more next year:
Did you know from the beginning that Cordelia would end up being the next Supreme?
Sarah Paulson: I surely did not. I really didn't. [Executive producer] Ryan Murphy called me on the phone right before our Christmas break and said, "I just want you to know, lady, that Cordelia is the Supreme." I was like, "What?!" He proceeded to tell me some of the plot points of the episode, and they were really amazing. I didn't know how they were going to do it and how we were going to get it done in time. We got the script over the Christmas break and then we were shooting it on Jan. 6 and we finished it on the 17th. The reality of it was it was so quick. It was a very ambitious episode. A lot happens and there's a lot of special effects and magic tricks.
In the beginning of the season, who did you think was going to end up being the Supreme?
Paulson: I thought it was going to be Queenie. Then for a minute I thought it would be Nan (Jamie Brewer). I never really thought it would be Zoe. Zoe seemed like the Supreme from the get-go, then I thought, "We probably won't have it be like since that's what it seems like it should be." You can always count on American Horror Story for tricks.
What do you think made Cordelia the right Supreme?
Paulson: It was probably a bunch of factors, but she is the daughter of the Supreme. If you have Royal Blood in your veins, it's no small thing. I think the main reason is that she sat on the sidelines for a long time and denied her power and couldn't see her own power. I loved the metaphor all season of her not being able to see literally and figuratively inside of herself. She would see partial visions, but never the whole story. She couldn't get out of her own way and into her own body and her own power. I feel like it's a powerful thing to have the person you least expect to come out on top. All season, people would tweet me things like, "What are her powers besides being an herbalist." I was just like, "I don't really know what they are because I don't think she has any." It wasn't until the penultimate episode where Fiona says to Cordelia, "The power lives inside of you. It's in there," and then she has that first vision. It's that moment. She almost needs permission from her mother, just like she gives her mother permission to die, to own her own power, and to have her mother say for the first time, "I see you. I see what's in there."
Was that difficult for you to play this really slow development of Cordelia?
Paulson: It's hard after last year. I played someone very powerful last year who had her weaknesses, of course, but who was strong. But I was playing a character this year who was much weaker on the outside, but much stronger on the inside, though that didn't come out until the last two episodes of the season. You got little sprinklings of it once her blindness happened. Then she lost her power and her confidence went away again. It all got made up for in the finale because I had a lot of meaty stuff to do. The scene with Jessica was my favorite scene all season; the scene when Fiona dies.
What was the most difficult part of this season for you?
Paulson: Last year it was just difficult work things to do, but I thrive on that. The more challenging it is, the more scared I am of doing it, the happier I am from an acting standpoint. This year the biggest challenge was that I was playing a person that was very contained, so I didn't get to let a lot of it out. I wanted to be able to do more, but I certainly got to do a lot in the last two episodes. If you survive long enough on American Story, you'll be given something really good to do.
Did you notice all the parallels in the finale to last season?
Paulson: I did. There was the camera move coming into my face the way it did last year. "There's a girl with different color hair playing a different character! That shot is the same shot!" I noticed the same parallels, but I thought it was kind of cool. I think, more than anything, it's the theme of the forgotten, the disenfranchised and the lost. It's about finding your own power, not just figuratively, but literally with the witch world because that's a real tangible thing.
How do you feel about how the coven ended up?
Paulson: I don't know that I foresaw that, but what I loved about it was it's a whole new world. All the Supremes that we saw little bits of, they all seemed to have a different agenda. That's partly Fiona being the reigning Supreme for so long and not taking any responsibility of the coven, so there wasn't a lot of students. The school wasn't a thriving place, so to have the leader not interested in self-aggrandizement and is interested in empowering the young girls and the coven, there's something very powerful about that. I love the metaphor of it and what it stands for.
Do you think Fiona got what she deserved?
Paulson: I do believe you get out what you put in. She sure put out a lot of sh-- so she might as well end up some place a little displeasing.
Will you be returning for Season 4?
Paulson: I have every hope that that will happen.
Do you have anything in mind for what kind of character you'd like to play next?
Paulson: I really have the most confidence in Ryan Murphy, so I feel like anything I'd want to do, he probably knows it even before I do. He's got his finger on the pulse of something I don't understand. He's very intuitive. He always knows the right thing to do and the right roles to give everyone. I'm just going to trust that whatever he throws my way, I'm going to be very excited for.
What did you think of the American Horror Story: Coven finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts!