In “Bitchcraft,” the twisted season three premiere of American Horror Story: Coven, we follow Zoe (Taissa Farmiga, much younger sister of Bates Motel’s Vera Farmiga), a young woman who is sent away to a boarding school for teen witches run by Ryan Murphy-muses Jessica Lange (as the “supreme” head witch of all witches) and Sarah Paulson (kind-hearted daughter of the supreme) after she accidentally makes her boyfriend ooze blood from the mouth, eyes and nose during sex.
It opens with Kathy Bates as the infamous Madame LaLaurie in 1830s New Orleans in a memorable scene involving naked black men in cages. She puts a bull’s head on one and calls him a minotaur.
She’s clearly evil, but perhaps not as evil as voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) who is out for vengeance, and appears to be quite a source of irritation for the present-day witches of Louisiana.
At the end of the episode, Kathy Bates is brought out of the earth in the present-day by a hilariously campy Lange, who, to my delight, references falling houses and Hogwarts.
While I am worried that the plot will crumble and confuse the way Asylum did, the balance of talented old and young female actresses (Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, and returning season one veteran Jamie Brewer) on Coven is amazing.
My absolute favorite scene is when Zoe visits a frat boy who brutally raped her boarding school housemate Madison (Roberts) at a party.
After an accident rightfully caused by Madison, he’s left comatose in the hospital where he is mounted by Zoe, who uses her super specific powers to explode his brain and turn him into a sad smashed pile of red goop.
Interestingly, Coven seems to take elements from May (building a “perfect” boyfriend out of body parts) and Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspira, and, when it comes to Lange’s powers, we are reminded of Charlize’s soul-sucking Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman and even the glamouring aspect of True Blood.
Even with the nod to Steubenville and usual lingering smell of burning flesh, this looks to be the most comically satisfying season of American Horror Story. I’m excited to see where they go with it.
Read: What Sensitive Subject Is Left for American Horror Story to Treat With Wonderful Disrespect?