There’s a lot to like about the new season of “American Horror Story,” subtitled “Coven,” which references this year’s theme and setting — witches in New Orleans, both the more traditional kind and the voodoo kind.
These witches run the gamut of powers, save for Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), who is an all-powerful Supreme witch. She returns to New Orleans to shake things up at the school for witches where her daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is the headmistress. Cordelia is more about restraining your power, while Fiona is all about letting your witch flag fly.
The school has only four students — Queenie, a human voodoo doll as her power; Nan, a clairvoyant; Madison, a telekinetic; and Zoe, who … has a killer vagina, it would seem. Her power is referred to as a genetic disorder in her family and isn’t exactly referred to by name. She’s somewhat of a succubus, taking the lives of boys she sleeps with when they begin hemorrhaging from their various orifices.
New Orleans is also the home to Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), a sadistic socialite who tortures slaves in her attic, and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), a voodoo priestess who manages to “kill” LaLaurie after LaLaurie maims and kills Laveau’s lover.
They, however, reside in 1834 New Orleans. Until Fiona digs Madame LaLaurie up from under her garden and the two strut off for a drink.
The premiere episode, cheekily titled “Bitchcraft,” is chock full of witchcraft-female sexuality parallels, from the elder characters being obsessed with their aging looks, to the repress-vs-express points of view of Fiona vs. Cordelia, to Zoe using her killer vagina to exact revenge on a rapist — one of two surviving members of a group who gang-raped Madison at a party after drugging her.
It’s an interesting twist and certainly one of those things that will have half the audience crying that it’s degrading and sexist and the other half saying she owned her sexuality/power and it’s pro-feminism.
Jury’s still out on that one for us. It definitely gave us an icky feeling when Zoe did that, but not in a this-show-hates-women way. And the gang-rape scene also gave us a sick feeling. This show never shies away from controversial and outrageous subject matter. In fact, the gang-rape scene was reminiscent of Tate’s school shooting in Season 1 for us — because it was extremely scary in its realism.
Speaking of scares, that’s one thing the premiere episode of “Coven” wasn’t chock full of, in stark contrast to previous premieres of “AHS.” The LaLaurie Attic o’ Torture was gruesome and graphic, but not … scary, per se. Not in the same way the premiere of “Murder House” or “Asylum” freaked us out.
In fact, the whole tone of this season had a lot of humor, despite the darker scenes. We suspect that Lange as Fiona will be our favorite of her offerings on this show — though granted, we’re only one episode in.
Finally, the show left us with some big questions after the premiere. Obviously, Marie Laveau is set up to be a major character, so how do they pull her into present day like Madame LaLaurie? Is she simply immortal because of her voodoo powers?
We were also under the impression Lily Rabe and Evan Peters were going to be in the season throughout its run, so we hope Misty (who was burned at the stake) and Kyle (who was killed in the bus crash after trying to go after the rapists) reappear in future episodes. We aren’t really sure how, but since there’s magic involved, anything’s possibly, really.
Further, we’re curious to see who the Supreme of Zoe’s generation will turn out to be. Is it Zoe? Will other powers present themselves beyond her literally being able to screw guys’ brains out?
Best Lines, which this week belong solely to Jessica Lange.
Fiona: “Don’t make me drop a house on you.”
Fiona: “The world’s not gonna miss a bunch of a**holes in Ed Hardy t-shirts.”
Fiona: “You’re never gonna become great women of our clan sitting around here at Hogwarts under the confused instruction of my daughter.”
What did you think of the “American Horror Story: Coven” premiere?