Thursday, October 10, 2013

American Horror Story: Coven - 3x01 Bitchcraft

By Sati. Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's finally here. The long awaited Coven has began with absolutely delightful season premiere entitled Bitchcraft. I'm already in love with this season - there was some concern about the tone being lighter, and it is - things are less messy, less depressing than in last season, Asylum. The characters are witty, the situations, while still terrifying, have so much energy to them.

In the chilling opening set in 1834's New Orleans we meet Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) during one of her lavish parties. It's clear one of her daughters defies her and later on it is reveled she was caught flirting with a black man. LaLaurie is furious and brings him to her dungeon. It is filled with slaves whom she has been torturing. I was kinda shocked that the grossest thing in the premiere happened in the first 3 minutes - we got to see some of the slaves, one of whom had his skin peeled off and it was just left like that. That was some nasty shit.
Bates is already killing with that performance - she was so effortless and hilarious too - upon seeing the disgusting state the slaves are in she simply remarked they will have fly problem there now. She also greeted them with "Bon soir, my pets". And she uses human blood as a face cream. Anyways, the guy who was fooling around with her daughter got a bull head stuck on his to resemble Minotaur.

In modern times, a teenager named Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is fooling around with her boyfriend. They don't even get to the good part and he starts bleeding from nose and eyes and drops dead. Then Zoe's mother informs her that she is a witch - there is a gen that runs in their family that sometimes skips a generation. But Zoe wasn't that lucky.
She is sent to the elite school in New Orleans and delightfully kooky character played by Frances Conroy and few bodyguards take her there on the train. When Zoe arrives she is greeted by the fellow students who attempt to frighten her but it quickly turns out it's just their way of saying welcome. Then the headmistress Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) appears and gives Zoe short lecture about the history of their kind.

Cordelia wants to teach the girls how to hide and control their powers so they wouldn't end up getting killed. It turns out several months ago a girl named Misty Day (Lily Rabe) was caught binging things to life which ended up with her being burnt alive by the locals. Don't worry - this is not the last we saw of lovely Lily.
Each of the girls in the school has different powers - Madison's (Emma Roberts) is telekinesis, Nan's (Jaime Bewer) clairvoyance and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) is a human voodoo doll - she remains unhurt when she stabs her hand with a fork but it wounds Madison instead. Cordelia also mentions that each generation of witches has one witch that has many gifts, not just one. That witch is called Supreme.

Enter Jessica Lange. In an awesome homage to Hunger we meet her character Fiona, as she talks to a scientist who is working on finding a cure for aging. He shows her monkeys that the cure worked on. Turns out Fiona wants the medicine right there and then. When the doctor disagrees and tells her how dangerous it is, she reminds him that she is the one funding his research.
Cut to Lange dancing, drinking and snorting coke. Such a great scene. The doctor shows up at her place and it turns out she has been taking the medicine after all, but after 5 days nothing is happening. When she tells the doctor to double her dose he tells her he is resigning. Using her powers she locks the doors and then starts making out with the doctor.

She sucks life out of him and he falls dead, having aged till he died. Fiona's face appears younger but only for few seconds and when it turns back to the normal state she smashes the mirror. In between all of that she sees a news report about Misty Day being burnt and that prompts her to go to New Orleans.
When she gets to the school it turns out that Cordelia is her daughter. Fiona disagrees with her method of teaching the girls. She wants the girls to fight, not hide. It's clear that there is a lot of tension and resentment between Fiona and Cordelia.

Meanwhile, Madison takes Zoe to the frat party. In a cool nod to Romeo + Juliet Zoe notices Kyle (Evan Peters), one of the frat boys. They talk and flirt, while Madison goes upstairs and drinks with other frat boys. She ends up getting drugged and gang raped. Kyle interrupts and the guys who raped her run to the bus. He goes after them to take the phone with humiliating pictures of Madison.
Zoe finds Madison and covers her in blanket telling her these guys won't get away with it. I really loved Farmiga in that scene - she was so sweet and caring. Zoe chases the frat guys' bus but as it starts going faster Madison appears on the street and uses her telekinesis power to flip the bus as her revenge, Carrie-style.

The next morning the TV reports on the incident. Turns out some of the guys are alive. Zoe wants to tell someone what happened but Madison disagrees. Fiona appears and takes the girls out for a little walk to tell them her philosophy and teach them how to be real witches. During the walk Nan stops and walks over to the LaLaurie's house, now a tourist attraction.
Fiona and the girls follow and take the guided tour around the house. The writers detoured from history quite a bit here - there is no evidence that Madame LaLaurie and legendary Voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) ever crossed paths but here they do. Laveau tricks LaLaurie into letting her into her house - she tells her she brought a love potion for her.

When LaLaurie drinks it, she falls on the floor, seemingly dead. We see all of that via flashback while the tour guide explains that the guy who was turned into Minotaur was Laveau's lover. Marie goes to the basement and finds him there. The tour guide says LaLaurie's body was never found.
Meanwhile Nan sits outside and stares at the ground. Fiona notices it and Nan tells her that the lady of the house is right there. Later Zoe goes to the hospital where the victims of the bus crash are. She knows Kyle is dead but she still wants to punish those left for what they did to Madison. She finds one of the attackers who survived and starts stimulating him until he dies because of her curse.

In the last scene of the episode Fiona has a coffin dug up, in the place that Nan said LaLaurie was. After she lifts the lid Lalaurie emerges in chains and tape over her mouth. She also doesn't appear to have aged at all. Something kept her alive for all those years and Fiona clearly wants to know what it was.

All in all this was an excellent premiere. Emma Roberts is as predicted the weak link as her character is impossibly annoying and she really doesn't fit the show at all. It's great to see so many people from season 1 returning, especially Farmiga who has much braver scenes this time around and with each scene she proves to be amazing young actress.

Judging by the preview I'm posting below there is a lot to come this season. I just hope Murphy won't get overwhelmed by his own creation again. Apparently there will be a serial killer and zombies this year and hopefully the pay off to those stories will be better than the one to satanic possession and alien abduction story lines in Asylum.

26 comments:

  1. I had no idea Angela Bassett has joined this series, I LOVE her! No doubt Kathy Bates kills her performance, she's excellent in everything I've seen her in. Great post Sati!

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    1. She did, she only showed up for a moment in the premiere but she has much more to do this season :)

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  2. So excited and I liked how little the first episode revealed.. just subtle hints here and there. I dislike Roberts though, I don't think she's believable and the only great scene of hers was when she was in the bath but we couldn't see her face so I don't think it counts.
    Farmiga is great yet again, her hospital scene was pure creepy and.. awesome at the same time. She and Peters have a lot of on-screen chemistry as well.. I just wish Peters dumped Roberts in real life and got together with Farmiga. I feel like they could be the it-couple, both really good and just.. they just fit.
    I wonder where they will take the Supreme stuff.. it seems like a plot-twisty thing.

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    1. Exactly, she is just a lousy actress, I wish they chose someone else.

      They do it, don't they? Maybe he is into the girls who hit him, though.

      I think the mystery this season is who the new Supreme is.

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  3. Great review! I'm glad Farmiga is back too, only disappointed by the styling choices- it's too season1 like. They've styled that other girl in so called 'hotter' clothes and given her much more interesting dialogue so far. I think her chemistry with Peters really sparkles. I hope this season picks up, as a premier episode it was hit and miss.

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    1. Thanks! I think Roberts really doesn't look next to Taissa - Farmiga has such natural, subtle, real beauty to her. They can try to make Madisoin more flashy but Farmiga always wins me over :)

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  4. I haven't seen it yet, so I'm going to skip over most of your review and read tomorrow, but your first paragraph makes me happy. I really enjoyed the 1st season, but Asylum was so depressing and confusing: the nazi, the aliens, the angel of death, the demon, etc. It was just too much. I'm hoping that this season is less convoluted.

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    1. Exactly, there was waaay too much happening in Asylum. The season was still great but it could have been much better if it was more focused.

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    2. I thought it was a good first episode. Much better than last year. I agree with you about their homage to 'The Hunger.' It was a nice touch. Glad Jessica Lange is back. She makes the show.

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    3. I hope she is going to be on the show for a long time, it's so much fun seeing her play all those different characters.

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  5. Great Review! I LOVED this episode! it was so much fun, and the whole campy aspect to it works fantastically and it doesn't replace the chilling tone that Coven has. It was great and thank god it worked! i feared Coven was going to fail but thankfully it didn't! Can't wait for episode 2.

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    1. Thank you! Same here - there is something to look forward to on Wednesday's evenings now :)

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  6. I've started to notice a trope of women having there powers accidentally manifest in sexual situations

    And i didn't think Emma was weak at all

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    1. The link between powers and sex is a fairly well established stereotype.

      I think she is a terrible actress, there are countless better ones out there who would fit the show better. She only got this part because of her boyfriend.

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  7. Great write-up Sati. I loved the premiere, it brings so much freshness. And Bates is just brilliant, simply the best. The only thing it lacks is Zachary Quinto, I wanted him so much in this season

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, Quinto would be fun he brought so much energy to the past two seasons!

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  8. I loved it. It's so pretty but oh so dark. Like wow, gang rape in the first episode itself?
    Loving all the actresses, including Roberts. I think for the kind of character she's playing, she's perfect. Of course the older actresses and Farmiga are the best of the best. I got chills in the blood-make-up scene and Lange is awesomosity itself. Also, this makes me want to wear black all the time. I really like the music too.

    Can't wait to see where all of this leads.

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    1. Glad you liked the music, I loved the song choices in this episode, especially the song playing when Zoe sees Kyle. They really know how to choose just the right melody to set up the mood.

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  9. Oh this season premiere was awesome! Great review! I also love the music they chose in the right moment. Farmiga is better than Roberts, but since I am a male I can't dislike R.

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  10. Farmiga is really turning into a great young actress. I'm really glad I liked her in this (wasn't a fan of her in The Bling Ring). It's great to have her back in AHS.
    Terrific opener, really excited to see what they do.

    I'm no fan of Roberts, but I actually liked her here. I agree that her character doesn't really fit with the tone of the show, but she plays the bitch quite well.

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    1. She really is, I'm so glad she is back this season. It would be cool if they got Vera to guest star :)

      She does but then again from what I read she is a bitch in real life :)

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  11. Solid first episode! As long as there are no aliens, I think I'll be happier with this season. The cast is fantastic. I don't want there to ever be an AHS season without Jessica Lange or Sarah Paulson or Taisa Farmiga.

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    1. It really was! I'm so glad Taissa is back.

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  12. Roberts' character is the same as her role in Wild Child. Can't wait to see more Bassett.

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    1. I haven't seen this one, but I'm not surprised, she's a quite limited actress.

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