American Horror Story: Coven – “Bitchcraft” Episode Review
Oh Kathy Bates, how television has missed you.
American Horror Story: Coven (season 3)
Schedule: Wednesdays at 10PM
Staring: Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Emma Roberts
Official Synopsis: American Horror Story: Coven tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over three hundred years have passed since the turbulent days of Salem and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe, who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona, the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town, determined to protect the Coven and hell-bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.
When I first started watching American Horror Story I began with the second of the series, Asylum. I got really tired of waiting week after week for the show to come out so I did what any sane person would do and catch up with the first season which I believe has been retroactively renamed “Murder House” and for good reason. To be honest, I enjoyed the first season more than the second and with last night’s inaugural episode of Coven out of the way, I firmly believe that this season will trump all.
I would say something about spoilers here if we were further into the season, but we’re one deep people, get the hell over it.
The series begins with Kathy Bates as an evil old madame in the old French Quarter of New Orleans pre-Civil War. She is hosting a gala for her daughters and is later taking part in her nightly ritual of oh…you know, painting her face with tormented slave blood, when word reaches her that one of her daughters has fornicated with one of the house slaves. This sends the poor (yet recently laid) slave off to the madame’s house of horrors in her attic where she has been busy decimating and torturing all those who have crossed her.
It is here that we flash forward to the present day and we meet Zoe, and her soon to be late boyfriend. I say that as her apparent ‘gift’ is that anyone she has sex with dies a horribly retched death involving aneurysms and generally blood flowing out of places it shouldn’t…poor kid. Well, come to find out that the mom and dad knew that something like this would happen because grannie had powers too, yadda yadda yadda, she gets shipped out to this world’s equivalent of Hogwarts in New Orleans aka New Salem to the witch folk. At this school akin to Xavier’s Academy (sorry but the metaphors are too easy to make), they are to learn how to control their gifts under the tutelage of the school’s headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson).
Afterwards we’re introduced to this generations’ “Supreme” witch (Jessica Lange) who seems to be more than a bit preoccupied with reversing the clock on her age to return her beauty and youthfulness. From there we find out that she is the headmistress’s mother and they have no fondness for one another, interestingly enough it was beat over our heads that one wears white all the time while the other starkly black in her garb. They might as well had both of them wearing signs that said “follow me I’m good/evil” flashing brightly in neon above their heads. I’m not knocking it, but after watching some other shows this season that treated good versus evil a little more subtly, it was a bit of a shock.
At this school, there are only 3 other students who I won’t go into too much detail about except for their powers, one is clairvoyant, one is a human voodoo doll, and the other is telekinetic…powerfully so as we find out as the show continues. Zoe and Ms. Mindtoss go to a frat party together where Zoe ends up meeting the love of her life in the form of Kyle (Evan Peters) whom if you remember was her love in the first season as well and it shows. Immediately when their eyes meet across the room you can sense the chemistry. Ms. something something ends up getting date raped by other members of the fraternity, Kyle tries to make it right, the frat boys abscond, Zoe chases and fails to stop them, and the victim comes out in to the middle of the street and flips their bus over killing 7/9 of the guys on board.
Okay that’s where I’m going to cut it out with the recap because honestly the show looks excellent this season and I’m already a big fan of the subject matter and location. I lived in Louisiana for a number of formative years and hearing all of the ghost stories, tales of voodoo, and experiencing first hand how weird evangelical Christians can be…is going to make this one season of television you can’t miss. The thing I especially love about AHS, is that the seasons wrap up the story, you don’t have to get emotionally invested with the characters for four of five seasons only to be let down at the end. They get one season to tell a complete story and call it good. More shows need to do this.
The surprise visit from Angela Bassett near the end of the episode literally got me up from my usual prone position of late-night television watching and into a spot near the edge of my couch. She stole the episode and quite possibly is going to steal the show as the stage is now set for Voodoo Queen versus Witch Queen. It should be good times. If the dialogue keeps up its witty witch jokes and bitchy/catty comments I’m going to nerd clap because some of the inside jokes were very well executed, especially the parting one from Jessica Lange about Kathy Bates’s look. But I’ll just let you watch it and find out for yourself.
So far, this season gets a definite keep on my DVR and a thumbs up for this episode for doing exactly what needed to be done for an introductory episode.