American Horror Story: Coven
, the third season of the acclaimed series, premiered tonight with no delay in a return to the ghastly tone and grisly gore of the first two seasons.
The episode opens on a dinner party in
New Orleans, 1834. The lady of the house, Madame LaLaurie, is
painting blood on her face in an attempt to tighten it and regain a
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the house, there is a
"disturbance" during the party when her daughter is caught having
sex with one of the family's slaves. He is dragged away, and brought
to a dark, hidden part of the house where several other people,
presumably other slaves, have been or are being tortured. One has his
eyes and mouth sewn up, for instance. The newest occupant of this
torture chamber is chained up, and Madame LaLaurie has another slave
bring a bull's head to be put over his head. In a horrifying way, she
has created a minotaur, from one of her favorite myths. "Now I have
one of my very own," she says.
American Horror Story has never held
back on the disturbing details, and it appears this season will be no
A Dying Breed
But the main story for this episode
actually focuses on a totally different character, Zoe, and her new
life at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, which
is a front for a school acting as both a safe haven and educational
facility for young witches.
Zoe is sent there after, as we are shown
in her first scene, she somehow accidentally kills her boyfriend when they have
sex for the first time. Her mother explains to her that she has
inherited being a witch, that her family's powers skip
generations, and it was those powers that were responsible for killing her boyfriend. She is sent away to Miss Robichaux's, and in her first
few minutes there, she is hazed by the other girls at the school,
including a young actress named Madison Montgomery, played by Emma
We are introduced to Cordelia Fox, the
headmistress of the school, and she explains it's origins: founded as
a finishing school for young women in 1790, is has since changed
hands and is now used to educate "a dying breed" of young
witches. She states that she is there to teach the group of women how
to control their powers, to help them learn how to use them and how
to keep others from finding out about their gifts. She recounts to
Zoe and the girls a very recent attack on a young witch who was
persecuted by the people of her town after she brought a dead bird
back to life, as a warning.
"What we do here is not magic"
character this season, Fiona Goode, is in a meeting with a man who
claims to have developed a medicine to combat age. He tells her human
trials of the drug will be complete in two years, but she demands to
have it right then. "What we do here is not magic," he claims.
soon learn that Fiona has some magic of her own; a few days later,
the man comes to her apartment and she is furious with him because
the injections she demanded don't seem to be working. When he can't
give her better results, she uses her powers against him by kissing
him and stealing his life force until he dies. She appears young
again very briefly before reverting slowly to her natural look. It
seems that this season, her goal is to recapture her youth, and she
will stop at nothing to do it.
The First Dinner
Back at the academy, the girls are all
having dinner, and they ask why Zoe was sent there. She explains
that there was an "accident," but they want further details.
Madison explains that she was sent there when she got mad at a
photographer during a shoot and used her powers to have a lighting
fixture hit and kill him. She and another resident of the academy,
Queenie, argue, and Queenie's power is revealed: she stabs herself
with a fork, but it is Madison who is injured. One of the other
girls, Nan, is also shown to have a specific gift: she's clairvoyant.
Soon after, the scene changes to Cordelia, experimenting in a lab,
when Fiona enters and distracts her. Fiona is revealed to be her
mother, and therefore the only daughter of "the supreme," an
extremely powerful and rare sort of witch. Her mother is disappointed
in her for not doing more with her gifts, but Cordelia is happy with
the life she has made for herself.
House Party Horror
The episode changes focus from the
academy to a frat party that Zoe and Madison are attending. Madison
immediately draws attention due to her star status, and Zoe goes off
on her own and meets Kyle, Evan Peters' character this season and a
member of a fraternity attending the mixer. They immediately hit it
Unfortunately, in another part of the house, Madison has been
slipped a date rape drug by one of the members of Kyle's fraternity, and she is raped
by multiple members while being videotaped. When Zoe realizes she
hasn't seen Madison in awhile and she and Kyle go to find her, he
walks in on the assault and moves to stop it. He goes after the
fraternity brothers while Zoe covers Madison up, and Zoe vows that
she won't let them get away with what they've done.
Kyle and the rest of the fraternity members get into their van
but he is thrown to the floor as the leader of the group demands that
everyone delete the videos they took. Just after the van speeds off,
Zoe and Madison are shown following it in the street. Unbalanced,
Madison flips the bus with her powers from afar.
Fiona's Field Trip
In a news report, the characters learn
that nine people were injured in the bus crash, and seven were
killed. Zoe talks to Madison about telling someone what happened, but
they are deterred by the arrival of Fiona. She and Madison
immediately dislike each other, and Fiona throws Madison into a wall
with her own powers before she announces that she is taking them on a
field trip. Their destination? A historic place, sacred to their
They arrive at a house where a tour is being given, and it's
the modern day version of Madame LaLaurie's house of horrors. The
tour includes a telling of the legend shown in the beginning of the
episode in the flashback, and the audience learns that the secret
ingredient for LaLaurie's anti-aging remedy is a human pancreas.
Again, American Horror Story is not exactly known for shying away
from the gore.
According to legend, a woman, Marie Laveau, showed up
at the house one day claiming to have a remedy for LaLaurie. Madame
LaLaurie drinks it, and it appears to actually be poison, as she
collapses. We learn that the man who was tortured and turned into her
own personal minotaur was actually Laveau's lover, and she poisoned
LaLaurie in revenge. According to the tour guide, the body was never
found. But according to Nan, it's actually buried outside.
Madame LaLaurie Lives
After the trip, Zoe goes to the
hospital, hoping to find that one of the boys who lived through the
crash was Kyle. It isn't him, however, but one of Madison's
attackers. In her own brand of revenge, she stimulates him in his
sleep and then rapes him, which kills him just as her boyfriend was
killed earlier in the episode.
Speaking of revenge, Fiona is back at
the place Nan claimed Madame LaLaurie's body was, and she is having
the coffin dug up. In a shocking twist, as it turns out, there is no
body, because LaLaurie is still alive! The episode ends on Fiona and
LaLaurie walking off together, sure to be a very interesting duo this
season on American Horror Story: Coven.
Don't miss the next episode of American Horror Story: Coven! Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on FX.
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(Image courtesy of FX.)