'American Horror Story: Coven' Season 3 Premiere Recap: The Witches Take New Orleans
'American Horror Story: Coven' Season 3 Premiere Recap: The Witches Take New Orleans
Josie Rhodes Cook
Josie Rhodes Cook
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
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 Minotaur


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 younger look.


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 exception.


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 Roberts.


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"


Jessica Lange's 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.


We 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 off. 


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 kind.


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.)

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