The premiere episode of American Horror Story's third installment is aptly titled, 'Bitchcraft.' Ryan Murphy, as usual, takes us on a bizarre yet intriguing ride in the first episode of the 'Coven' series. Not for the faint of heart, Ryan gives us a horrifying look into the witches of New Orleans, past and present. I had read the back story on these characters, but nothing can prepare you for when Ryan's vision actually comes to life on your tv screen.
The opening sequence depicts Madamne Delphine LaLaurie at a dinner party, introducing her daughters. Taking place in New Orleans in 1834 we then see LaLaurie painting blood upon her entire face. She is interrupted by the news that one of her daughters has been found sleeping with one of their slaves. LaLaurie goes to her daughter and begins to scream at her and beat her. She tells her daughter that they're going to say that the slave forced himself upon her, instead of what actually happened. She orders to keep the slave quiet, and he is quickly struck over the head. LaLaurie then orders he be taken to the attic.
We then see LaLaurie going to check on her "pets." Slaves chained and locked up in small cells, clearly being tortured in unimaginable ways. We see slaves with their eyes and mouths sewn shut. She tells them to be quiet or she'll rip their lips open and stuff more shit in there. She makes her way down past cell after cell of deformed slaves. One asks why she is doing this to them, to which she replies, "Because I can." She makes her way to the end where the man who slept with her daughter has been chained up. She tells him that if he's going to grunt like a beast, they're going to treat him like one. A small slave child comes their way, carrying a bulls head. A step stool is placed in front of the older slave and the child is told to puts the head on the man. The older slave struggles and tries to cry out and avoid it, but the child obeys and places the head over the mans own head. LaLaurie talks of how her father used to read to her the stories from Greek mythology and that the minotaur was always her favorite creature and that now she has one of her very own.
In present day, we see Zoe leading her boyfriend into her house. They kiss as they make their way to her bedroom. They begin to undress and move onto the bed and he laments that it sucks being soemones first because he doesn't want to hurt her. She tells him she'll be alright and things continue to heat up. They being to make love and after a moment he asks if she's ok. She nods yes and then suddenly, he's bleeding from his nose. He falls back and we see him start to convulse and bleed from his eyes and ears as well. She starts screaming his name as he seizes underneath her.
We next see Zoe on a train, dressed in all black. She says that the official cause of Charlie's death was a brain anyuerism. We cut to a scene of Zoe's mother telling Zoe that it wasn't her fault, but her own. She begins to inform Zoe that she has the same "genetic affliction" that her grandmother had. She tells Zoe that she should have told her sooner but was praying it would skip her generation. Zoe is a witch with a very special power. Zoe's mother informs her of a school in New Orleans for girls like her. She tells Zoe that they cannot keep her any longer because it is too dangerous. Suddenly, three men burst in and drag Zoe out of bed and take her away. As Zoe is being taken away, her mother asks Myrtle Snow why she can't just drive her to the station herself. Myrtle advises that it would only make things worse.
Zoe then arrives at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. Myrtle rings the bell at the gate, and the gates slowly creak open. Zoe looks over only to see Myrtle, her guard and the car all gone. Zoe walks through the gates and up the walk way, taking in the house. She walks in and it's eerily silent. She calls hello and the door closes on its own behind her. She begins to see cloaked and masked people scurrying about the house. She starts to run, but runs right into one of the masked individuals and screams. The three take Zoe and slam her down on a table. One raises a large knife and chants about offering her up but to the Dark Father but then the three retreat. They take off their masks and tell Zoe to relax and that they were only playing a joke on her. Zoe then realizes its movie star Madison Montgomery. The other girls introdue themselves as Nan and Queenie.
Cordelia Foxx, headmistress, then walks in and tells the girls to unload the groceries and she'll show Zoe her room. Cordelia begins to tell Zoe the history of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. It was established as the premiere finishing school for girls in 1790. During the Civil War it was converted to a military hospital. Then in 1868 Marian Wharton, the reigning surpreme of the time & author, bought the facility and kept the name as a cover to turn it into a safe haven for young witches to learn about and cultivate their skills. One time housing over 60 witches, Robichauxs numbers have decreased, as many families who carry the bloodline chose not to reproduce. Zoe asks the headmistress what a 'supreme' is. Cordelia informs her that while the average witch is born with a few natural gifts, but in each generation there is one who embodies countless, maybe all of the gifts, and that witch is the supreme.
Cordelia continues on stating that most families today know nothing of their ancestry or were unaware of the academy or that they weren't identified early enough for them to be found. She tells the story of a young Cajun witch named Misty Day. Misty had the gift of resurgance, able to draw a soul back from the brink of death and back to life, also known as ressurection or necromancy. Cordelia describes that what hapens to most witches, did happen to Misty. She was captured and burned alive.
We're then shown a woman entering a large building. A scientist, David, is showing a test subject, a monkey named Allegra. Allegra suffered from brachicardia and kidney failure and was on the brink of death. She was then injected with serum RM-47. Today Allegra is almost brand new. The woman, Fiona, says that she'll have what Allegra had. The scientist tells her she will, but while the research is going well, human trials are still about 2 years off. She states that she would like the serum as soon as possible, within the next half hour as she has plans for dinner. He tells her that in an imposibility. She reminds him that his research has been entirely funded by her late husbands money. He offers to refer her to a cosmetic surgeon, but she tells him she needs an infusion of vitality and demands the drug now. He her tells that even if he wanted to give it to her, he cannot and that what they do at the facility is not magic, and he's sorry. Next we see Fiona, she's dancing around and snorting cocaine alone in a large room. She then hears the news speaking of the missing young girl Misty and that it is believed that the authorities have figured out her last known location. They say it's rumored that she was burned at the stake but no statements have been released.
There's a knock at the door, and she opens it to see David. She starts ranting that he's been giving her injections for five days and she's not seen any improvement. She accuses him of shooting her up with placebos and demands he double the dosage. He refuses and tells her that he'll give his resignation in the morning. She becomes enraged and the doors all begin to close on their own. The lights all snap off automatically. She lights a cigarette and chases him around the room for a moment but with the wave of her hand she sends him flying across the room. He slams to the floor but picks himself up and sits back against the wall. She approaches and then straddles him. She begins to passionately kiss him and after a moment they're on their feet. She runs her fingers through his hair and then grabs onto it. Before our very eyes, David's skin begins to wrinkle, his hair whitens. Fiona continues until he's just a drawn shell of his former being and drops him back down on the floor, dead. She lights another cigarette and looks at herself in the mirror for a few moments and then smashes it with her fist.
Back at Robichaux's, the girls are at the dinner table and Madison is being a bitch to Spalding, the butler who has no tongue and does not speak. Queenie tells Madison to leave him alone but Madison can't refuse another dig at the servant. After he leaves the dining area, the girls begin to talk about why they're all there. Madison is there because she's telekinetic and dropped a light on a directors head. Nan is clairvoyant and tells Zoe that what had happened to her and her boyfriend was an accident but she'll find love again, an unexpected love. After an insult from Queenie, Madison waves her hand and flips Queenie's soup into her lap. Queenie gets mad and stabs her own hand. Madison begins to scream and starts to bleed from her own hand. Madison yells for her to stop but Queenie continues, claiming she's a human voodoo doll and doesn't feel a thing. Just as she's threatening to slice her own throat open, Nan interjects and tries to calm the situation down. She suggests that Queenie goes for a walk with her. After the girls go off, Madison declares that Zoe will have to be her new best friend, given the situation. She gets a tweet about a frat party that night, and tells Zoe she can borrow something of hers.
Cordelia, meanwhile, is engaging in some sort of alchemy. Out of no where, Fiona sneaks up on her, causing Cordelia to drop her beaker. It's revealed that Fiona is Cordelia's mother, and on top of that, she's the supreme of their line. Fiona tells her daughter that she was disappointed that she never realized the full extent of her powers. During their exchange, Cordelia offers to give her mother an elixir she's been experimenting with. Fiona accepts it but then dumps it into the cats water bowl. Cordelia had tried to give Fiona a potion that would render her comatose but she was on to her daughter, hence dumping the potion. Cordelia tells her mother that she doesn't want her there and recollecting how she dumped her at the academy. Fiona tells her that she's not going anywhere and that a storm is coming. She tells Cordelia of Misty and that her girls are not being prepared properly for what is to come. Cordelia again tries to tell her mother to leave, but Fiona simply states that she's not leaving and they should just make the best of it.
At the frat party, Kyle and his friends have just arrived on a huge tour bus. He's going over the rules for the evening. He tells them he won't be drinking much so that he can help keep everyone in line because their frat is still on probation. Madison and Zoe show up to the party and all are in awe that a movie star is there. Kyle sees Zoe from across the room and they begin to walk towards each other. After a brief moment of staring at one another through an ice sculpture, Zoe breaks the stare and walks off. Kyle finds her, gives her a drink and they begin to talk. Madison is shown coming down a stairway and as she gets to a landing, she pulls out a cigarette and sees one of Kyle's frat brothers. He lights her cigarette and she asks him to be her slave for the night. When he asks what he was going to get out of it, she tells him that slaves don't get anything and tells him he should go get her another drink. As he's coming downt he stairs, he pulls out a small package from his pocket and says, "It's on."
When we next see Madison, she's stumbling down a hallway, vision distorted as she falls into the arms of Kyle's frat brother. Kyle and Zoe are still talking, but Zoe doesn't want to talk about herself. Kyle immediately thinks she has a boyfriend and she says she doesn't. She tells him that she likes him but it's not going to work out. Zoe asks if he's seen Madison. Unfortunately for Madison, she's been drugged. In the most uncomfortable scene, Madison is being gang raped by Kyle's frat brothers and she's too out of it to do a thing to stop them. Zoe finds Kyle and tells him she can't find Madison. When Kyle bursts into the room where this is all going down in, he finds not only are his friends raping this girl, one of the boys is recording it on his cell phone. Kyle gets the men off of her and and screams at them. He tries to get the phone from the boy but it turns into an altercation and Kyle gets knocked to the floor. The other frat boys run out and after Kyle picks himself up, he starts after them. Zoe gets to the room and sees Madison strewn out over the bed and asks if they gave her something. She covers Madison up and goes after the boys. All the frat brothers are back in the bus now fighting. They kick the driver out and one says they need to delete the video and stick together. The bus takes off and Zoe is running after the bus screaming stop. Madison walks up and past her, and with a slight flick of her wrist, the bus' end flies up and the bus flips and crashes.
The next morning, the girls are watching the news when Madison comes down. She immediately turns off the tv after hearing about the bus accident killed 7 college boys, and left 2 in critical condition. Zoe tells Madison that they need to tell someone what happened. Fiona then walks in and talks of the boys, saying it was tragic but on the other hand who would miss a bunch of assholes in Ed Hardy t-shirts. Fiona calls Madison out for causing the bus accident and calling her a sloppy little witch bitch. Madison tells Fiona to go to hell and calls her a stupid hag. Fiona, with barely a flick of her fingers, tosses Madison through the air into a wall across the room. Fiona tells the girls they'll never become good witches under Cordelia's instruction. She then goes on to say that they're going on a field trip and to put on something black.
Fiona takes the girls through New Orleans, speaking of the history of witches. Nan wanders off into a tour of the late Madame LaLaurie's home. The tour guide tells the witches they can't just barge into the tour, they need a ticket. Fiona locks eyes with the guide and tells her that she's going to give them the tour for free and the guide agrees. The guide begins to describe the code of terror that LaLaurie inflicted upon her slaves. She was infamous for her vanity and used expensive creams from Europe but was known for using a poultice, made of human pancreas. The guide takes them to the attic where LaLaurie had kept and tortured her slaves. The guide describes it as a chamber of horrors where even LaLaurie had met her own death.
We're taken back in time and we see Marie Laveau approach LaLaurie's gates. LaLaurie tells Marie to leave but she tells her she's heard she's in need of her services. She tells LaLaurie that she can assist in curing her husbands affliction for young women. She offers her a love potion that will ensure her husbands fidelity. LaLaurie takes a sip of the potion at first, exclaiming it tastes like honeysuckles. She then knocks back the entire elixir. After a moment, LaLaurie starts to feel uncomfortable, then falls to the floor in agony. She coughs and spits to get it out of her. One of the slaves that LaLaurie had tortured and killed, was the lover of Marie Laveau. So Marie had taken the opportunity to get her revenge. The guide states that Delphine had gotten what she deserved, but that to this day, the body of Madame LaLaurie had never been found. Fiona sees Nan outside in the courtyard from the attic window. She goes to Nan and asks what she hears. Nan tells her that she hears the lady of the house.
Zoe goes to the hospital to see if Kyle is ok. She walks into the room hoping to find Kyle, but instead finds the boy who had drugged Madison. She angrily states that it should have been him to die. Zoe then gets an idea and shuts the door. She storkes the boys penis for a moment and then climbs on top of him and begins to ride him. It's not long before he's bleeding out of every orfice and flat lining. Zoe leaves him in a pile of his own blood.
In the closing sequence, we see Fiona with two men. They've unearthed a box enclosed in chains. She tells them she'd thank them but they won't remember they any of what they'd just done for her. Fiona cuts through the chains to reveal that it's Delphine LaLaurie inside the crate. The episode closes with Fiona telling Delphine that she'll buy her a drink, and the ladies walking off.
Overall, 'Bitchcraft' was an excellent premiere for AHS fans. Ryan always finds a way to shock us even more than he did in the previous season, and Coven is no exception. The premiere left me wanting more, and thankfully we have a full season ahead of us. Even though, at times, American Horror Story can make the viewer completely uncomfortable while watching, it's in that Ryan Murphy way that keeps us fiending for more. My hat off to you Mr. Murphy, you've done it again!