TV: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ brings the magic in season premiere

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
Rating: 5/5

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After this season premiere of American Horror Story, I’m ready to officially declare that this is absolutely one of the best shows I have ever seen. Every second is full of suspense, the writing is original and incredibly creative and it never fails to please the fans.

I’m having a hard time putting into words just how much I loved the premiere because my mind exploded from joy. I quite literally sat on the edge of my seat for the entire hour. Every actor was perfect in his or her role; I thoroughly enjoyed the fish bowl lens technique often used in tonight’s episode — which is called “Bitchcraft” for your reading pleasure — and I would have never guessed in a million years the twists the show has already taken.

Not to mention the fact that the show has already referenced Hogwarts and Jessica Lange’s character has threatened to “drop a house” on another character. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

What I appreciate most is the mixture of seriousness and hilarity. As always, AHS masterfully handles dark topics like torture and murder but this season seems different. Sure, there’s witchcraft and evil but underneath that was a prominent sense of humor in many of the characters. The comedy was quick, sharp and, well, hilarious. I think this could be one of the show’s best stories.

In New Orleans, 1834, Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is introducing her daughters to potential suitors, but one has cast her eye on a house slave. As a typical Southern woman, LaLaurie is furious about this interracial relationship and sends the man to the basement. Not so typically, LaLaurie happens to be crazy and keeps many slaves in her “Chamber of Horrors” for torture, using their blood and pancreas in an attempt to stay rejuvenated. This man receives a special honor and becomes LaLaurie’s favorite mythical creature, The Minotaur, as she adorns him with a bull’s head.

I immediately knew Bates was going to be absolutely terrifying in this show. Misery is one of my favorite films and no character portrayal is more real or scarier than Bates as Annie Wilkes. As the talented actress she is, Bates overwhelmingly exceeded my expectations.

In the present, Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) attempts to have sex with her boyfriend while her parents are away. All is going well until they engage and he starts bleeding out of every orifice and convulses on the bed.

It turns out that Zoe is a witch whose power, as of now, is literally screwing someone to death. Her mother sends her to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a school in New Orleans that is a safe haven for witches to live and learn their powers. Zoe is escorted by Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) and the Men in Black. Just kidding, but come on, you were all thinking that!

Farmiga’s return to AHS is definitely one of my favorite parts of this season. She was amazing in season one, and I thoroughly missed her in season two — though she was out robbing Paris Hilton’s closet with Emma Watson so all is forgiven.

The Headmistress is Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) and the only other students are Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) — a former movie star who used her telekinetic powers to kill her director — Nan (Jamie Brewer), a clairvoyant, and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), a human voodoo doll.

Let’s just take a hot second to say how freaking creative Queenie’s ability is! I really hope Sidibe gets more play in the show than I assume she will be getting. Also, I have such a warm place in my heart for Brewer. She was amazing as Addie in AHS season one, and I’m so glad she’s back.

I cannot explain my unwavering adoration for Paulson. I consider it nothing less than a crime that she did not win the Emmy for her performance in AHS last season but can already tell she will get another shot next year for this AHS season. Her character may seem uptight — and incredibly sassy, which I just love beyond everything else — but I know her arc is going to be a wild one.

Cordelia warns the girls of the problems they will face by referencing the recent tragedy of Misty Day (Lily Rabe) who was seen using her power of resurgence and was burned at the stake. Yes, recent tragedy. This wasn’t a flashback to the Salem witch trials. I know Rabe will be back for more but all I can think of is “How?!?!”

I can always count on AHS for a good mind puzzle.

Jessica Lange is back and top-notch again as Supreme witch Fiona Goode. While she may be essentially all-powerful, Fiona longs for a way to stop aging and live forever — a concept that is going to become VERY important in future storylines. She even drowns the life out of the research scientist who was giving her an experimental anti-aging drug after she was displeased with the little effect it had. BAMF.

What’s also great is the tension between mother-daughter Fiona and Cordelia. Cordelia longs to escape her mother’s grasp while Fiona ridicules her daughter for teaching the girls to cower and hide. Fiona, Madison and Cordelia proved that “Bitchcraft” was an overly appropriate title for the premiere. Such sass. I can’t even handle it.

tumblr_mufrj7gTnm1qij1mgo1_250Madison decides to take Zoe to a frat party where she meets Kyle (Evan Peters). It was such a Romeo and Juliet moment as they stared at each other through the ice sculpture — weird but so cute. I love that Tate and Violet are back together!

Despite having Peters’ real-life girlfriend, Roberts, on the show too, creator Ryan Murphy still preached about how amazing the chemistry is between Peters and Farmiga and how excited he is to have them back as a couple. Me too, Murphy.

While Zoe is having a nice time with Kyle, Madison is not so lucky. Another frat guy drugs her and continuously rapes her barely conscious body while other frat members videotape the encounter.

AHS is known for its hard-to-watch scenes featuring gore and mutilation, but no scene was harder for me to watch than this one. The true horror is that this happens far too frequently in this world. Showing scenes of mutilated bodies is frightening but it is less scary because it seems far too distant from our everyday life. Rape, however, is not that uncommon. While I think this scene went very well with the plot, I was not a fan that it occurred.

I must also mention that I was quite apprehensive about Roberts’ appearance on the show because I wasn’t too confident in her acting capabilities. I was wrong. This scene was gut-wrenching to watch, but it proved to me that Roberts has the ability to act alongside Lange and Paulson.

Kyle chases after the rapists as they head into the bus they all came in. Madison awakes from her stupor and flips the bus over as the guys tried to get away. Seven of the nine boys were instantly killed, leaving us all to believe Kyle is most certainly one of the surviving two.

Though Peters is a main cast member, his safety was not guaranteed. Kyle died in the crash while the original rapist survived. Furious, Zoe mounts the frat boy and uses her “power” to cause his death. Cue the never-ending amount of “screwed to death” jokes on all social media platforms.

tumblr_mufqqmBzL71qfx9mto3_250Fiona takes the girls of the Academy on a field trip. They tour LaLaurie’s house, in which Fiona uses a Jedi mind trick to get them all in. On the tour we learn LaLaurie met her demise at the hand of Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). She thought she was taking a fidelity potion when in fact Laveau poisoned her in an act of revenge for torturing her lover, who is now the Minotaur.

Bassett was in this episode for all of five minutes but her presence was so strong. I can’t get over the talent of this season’s cast.

Back in the present, Nan finds where LaLaurie’s previously known body lies. Fiona has the spot dug up to find that LaLaurie is STILL ALIVE.

And here we know that Fiona is going to be obsessed with determining how LaLaurie has not aged in all those years. I never see these twists coming, but I have to say that I was not expecting that!

There are a ton of spoilers already revealed, like Peters will return as a Frankenstein creation, but let’s just discuss those mind-blowing ideas when we get to them.

How did you like the newest anthology in the AHS series? Did Coven live up to your expectations? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl

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1 comment
  1. Howard said:

    Well done! Loved reading this. Now I want to watch the episode all over again.

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