Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
By the powers of Baphomet, welcome to American Horror Story: Coven!
What bloody, un-PC hijinks will Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk treat with a completely inappropriate level of gravity during this witch-themed season? They've already covered rape, school shootings, infanticide, alien abductions, Nazis, pasta arms, and gay marriage. What could possibly be left to exploit?
How about the vile institution of American slavery? If Quentin Tarantino's proved anything, it's that you sure can't go wrong with more than 300 years of human bondage.
We open with an antebellum Kathy Bates, who plays the mellifluous Madame Delphine LaLaurie (based on a real-life multiple murderer), bemoaning her waddle and smearing her face with the blood from a human pancreas. Whatever gets you going in the morning, amirite? For me, it's a double Nespresso.
Her beauty regimen is interrupted by the news that one of her daughters has been shtupping a house slave against his will. Madame LaLaurie drags the man up to her attic horror chamber, where other slaves are in various stages of torture and decomposition. For this guy, she decides to slap a blood-dripping bull's head over his own and leave him screaming in the dark. If we've learned one thing from movies, it's that you should not piss off Kathy Bates.
Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
Fast forward to modern day, where we get the happy return of season one's Taissa Farmiga and her many cry-faces. Here she plays Zoe. We meet her as she's sucking face with a young rogue, with whom she decides to lose her virginity. They get to business and BOOM: His head explodes like Schwarzenegger on Mars. Talk about a fumbling first time.
Zoe then learns that she's cursed with the "genetic affliction" of witchery, which presents itself differently for each witch. It's sort of like X-Men but with magically deadly vaginas.
But because they can't keep cleaning up corpses during this awkward hormonal phase, Zoe's parents decide to send her off to witch boarding school. She's picked up by a coterie of bodyguards and Frances Conroy in cat eye glasses, who does an entirely unintelligible Diana-Vreeland-meets-Grace-Coddington impression.
At Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, Zoe enters the land of fish eye lenses and meets her fellow sorceress students: teen starlet Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), voodoo-prone Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), and the clairvoyant Nan (Jaime Brewer, the actress with Down syndrome who played Addie in the first season). They're all dressed in Eyes Wide Shut-esque plague doctor masks and pretend to sacrifice Zoe to Satan. Someone in the writing room's been watching a lot of Girls, it seems.
Enter Sarah Paulson! She plays the understated Cordelia Foxx, headmistress and child of the Supreme, which is apparently some kind of super-witch. She explains that real witches need to stay in hiding because witch approval ratings are down across the board. Cut to necromancer Lily Rabe, who innocently resurrects a dead bird and gets immolated by her Baptist brethren.
Next up: Jessica Lange! She gets to let her hair down for this whole season as Fiona Goode, a bitch of a witch who's attempting get her hands on some stem-cell monkey juice to combat her crow's feet. Although initially shot down by a very ethical researcher, she gets her talons on her prized Monkey La Mer, and slinks off to snort rails and blast "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" in a very lovely hotel room. Said researcher shows up and tells her he can't give her any more monkey juice, so she sucks out his soul for an instant facelift. Scotch tape works, too.
Later, Fiona shows up to ream out Cordelia for being to soft on her students. And since we can't go 27 minutes into an AHS episode without a topical wink, Fiona goes off about them Internets: "There are no shadows, not anymore. Do you really think with Twitter and Facebook that if a witch does anything at all she won't be videotaped and turned into some viral freakshow like a dog who says, 'I love you'?" (Does that mean that moonwalking pony was bewitched, too?)
Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
And because it wouldn't be AHS without nonconsensual sex, this episode also features a very upsetting gang rape scene. AHS anchor Evan Peters plays Kyle, the apparently level-headed leader of a local frat, who reminds his brothers that it's not cool to waggle their junk at coeds during the evening's house party. But does that stop the young bucks of Kappa Lambda Gamma from having their way with a roofie'd Madison? Of course not.
She does get some pretty immediate recompense. When the boys are busted by Kyle, they pile into their party bus and helpfully remind everyone to delete the rape footage from their iDevices. Madison pulls a Carrie and flips over the bus, which bursts into flames. Zoe gets her own fatal revenge on the ringleader later by unleashing her homicidal vagina on him as he lays in critical condition at the hospital.
Oh, and good news for all you creeps who swoon over Tate-Violet fanfic: All signs and wonders point to a Taissa-Evan romance reboot with Zoe and Kyle. That Kyle is probably dead won't faze you.
Finally, Fiona introduces herself to our young witches and takes them on a field trip. It's a hot day, but Fiona orders the ladies to wear something black. She struts through New Orleans with her Edward Gorey-esque parasol and Madison complains, "My frickin' vagina's sweating." Hey, at least it doesn't turn dudes' brains into borscht.
They go, naturally, to
Murder House Madame LaLaurie's manse, which we're reminded was once owned by Nicolas Cage and his octopus. We get some 18th-century flashbacks and a glimpse of Angela Bassett, a.k.a. Marie Laveau, who's not at all pleased that LaLaurie effed with her house slave. Laveau kills her dead with a poison, lickety-split.
Now, back to the future. With the help of Nan, Fiona returns one night to Chez LaLaurie and resurrects a totally not-decomposed Kathy Bates, who dusts herself off and leaves with Fiona to grab a highball. Apparently that pancreatic blood does work miracles.
Stay tuned next week for more beauty tips!