TV Recaps

‘American Horror Story Coven’ Premiere Review: Bitchcraft

Michele K. Short/FX

I’m going to preface my thoughts by saying that I reserve the right to post this article late because I had to watch the next day during broad daylight because I was too freaked out to watch at night.  Luckily, the season opener wasn’t so much terrifying as it was creepy with some gore thrown in there. I can handle that. 

Remember the first season with the guy in the rubber suit? Absolutely terrifying. I should have sent Ryan Murphy my therapy bill.  Second season lost me with the alien storyline, however.  I hate anything alien related and I thought Murphy dropped acid before writing the entire season in his basement. 

So here we are with the third season.  My hope for Coven this season is good storytelling with some suspense and some gore. It’s AHS, there has to be some gore.

Here’s what I loved about the season opener:

1. New Orleans  

This city is its own character and always has been. You cannot pick a better city for witchcraft and scary ass magic. The history, both amazingly beautiful and downright evil, sets the perfect stage for this season. I am here for going back and forth between present day and the antebellum age during the 1830s. 

2. Mrs. Robichaux’s Academy

Also love the school being used as both a safe haven for Zoe, Madison, Queenie, and Nan and the catalyst to get Fiona back in New Orleans. You know there’s going to be drama with four baby witches, a surrogate momma witch, and a HBIC Supreme under one roof.  Just look at how Fiona owned Madison in the kitchen when she showed her usual bitchy attitude. That’s called ‘have a seat and show some respect to your elders’ and I bet it’s the first of many, many lessons Fiona dolls out.

As much as I already don’t like Madison, however, I’m not mad at her for flipping that bus after being attacked. She may need to learn some control over her temper, but in this instance, I get it. Same for Zoe and her killer vajayjay.  And by the way, what kind of awful “gift” is this?? She never gets to have sex because her vagina is too powerful? For her sake, I hope there’s a guy in New Orleans whose member is just as powerful as her vajayjay, then she might have a chance of getting laid sometime before the end of time.  

Michele K. Short/FX
Michele K. Short/FX

3. Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie

Watching Delphine LaLaurie moving from a sweet gentile Southern woman to a long lost relative of Marquis de Sade in one breath is fantastic. Even her house reflects her insanity. Upstairs, where everyone can see, is perfectly in place, socially acceptable, and gorgeous. Downstairs is literally a torture chamber of hell for her slaves. Remember how damn creepy she was in Misery? Multiply it by 100. 

She made the slave her daughter seduced put a bull head on while chained up to become a “real” Minotaur. You are all shades of insane if you’re acting out Greek mythology with animal parts and shackles. As if she’s not crazy enough, her nightly routine is to paint her face in blood to keep her skin looking young and beautiful. Suddenly people who spend all that money on La Mer don’t look quite so crazy, do they? Also, who knew the human pancreas was so good for your skin?

4. Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode

This woman owns the show from the moment you see her black stilettos getting out of the car.  Honestly, she is the best thing to happen to Murphy and I hope he kisses her ring every chance her gets. This show is over the top by nature, we’re talking about witches here, but watching Fiona’s emotions roll over her face as she deals with aging is very real and Lange doesn’t speak a word in that scene. The wrinkles, the skin that isn’t quite as tight as it used to be, the eyes that aren’t so bring anymore is something to which all women can relate. Of course, none of us have literally sucked the life out of a man by kissing to get our beauty back. (Get your minds out of the gutter, I know what you thought I was gonna say.)

To say her relationship with Cordelia (Delia) Foxx is testy is the understatement of the year.  If your daughter tries to kill you within the first five minutes of visiting her house, you two have some issues to work out. The bitchiness between Delia’s  “I have half a mind to enchant the locks after you leave,” and Fiona’s reply of “Don’t make me drop a house on you,” makes me think of a teenage girl sassing her mother and her mother shutting her down with one sentence and a look of distain. They nail the embittered complicated mother-daughter relationship with one liners and facial expressions. Fiona coming in to “rescue” Delia’s school just adds to the boulder on Delia’s shoulder. 

Although only a short scene, Fiona’s “Come on, Mary Todd Lincoln, I’ll buy you a drink,” to Delphine had me laughing out loud.  These two women sharing a screen is gold, especially when it turns into a frenemy situation. Add in Ms. Bassett and you have a trifecta of powerhouse acting.

5. Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau

This casting news had me from the beginning, but seeing her on my tv? Oh, hell yes.  Not just as a voodoo priestess either, she’s a voodoo priestess out to avenge her lover tortured by Delphine LaLaurie. It’s one thing to piss off a woman over her man, it’s an entirely different matter to piss off a woman with evil magic at her fingertips. It’s how you end up buried in a courtyard for over 160 years.  And once she finds out Fiona has gotten Delphine out of the coffin, good luck staying out of her way.  The only aspect I’m dreading is her fondness for snakes. I’m never here for snakes. Ever.

Things I Worry About For This Show

Michele K. Short/FX
Michele K. Short/FX

1. Murphy going off the rails.  (See second season aliens.)

2. Madison’s layers not being flushed out.  Being the bitch-witch is fun for an episode or two, but it gets old if that’s all she is.

3. Fantastic casting that isn’t given a chance to play all the beats of a storyline. Let the story unfold, don’t use shock value to outdo what I hope will be very nuanced scenes. 

Overall, I thought it was a pretty great opener to set up the season’s storylines and introduce the characters. More importantly, my entire reason for this show on in my house is to see Jessica, Kathy, and Angela share scenes together.

Did you enjoy the premiere? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!

About the author

Angela Romack

Angela Romack is writes what you’re thinking about when it comes to your favorite TV shows. If you don’t agree, that's fine. She's okay with being right. Follow her on Twitter at @AngelaMRomack.