By John Connor Coulston // Staff Writer
If you aren’t familiar with the format of American Horror Story, each season depicts completely different stories that do not intertwine in any way.
The first season revolved around a haunted house, the second focused on an insane asylum, while the third is centered around—as the title suggests—a witch’s coven.
Personally, the second season disappointed me, but if the third season premiere is any indication of what’s to come, Coven has the potential to be the best season yet.
The story plays out in New Orleans, where a teenage witch, played by season one’s Taissa Farmiga, comes to harness her powers at a boarding school for young witches. There are only three other students enrolled in the school, who are played by Emma Roberts (We’re the Millers), Gabourey Sidibe(Precious) and AHS regular Jamie Brewer. They are taught by Cordelia, played by Sarah Paulson, who is the daughter of Jessica Lange’s character, Fiona. Fiona is the Supreme witch, meaning that she is the most powerful witch of her generation. After an instance involving a young witch being burned at the stake, Lange’s character returns to the school in order to train the witches, in fear of a second coming of the Salem Witch Trials.
The plot takes places in present day, which is a welcomed change from season two, which was stuck solely in the 1960s. The show has the witch’s interacting with the modern world, including students attending a frat party, as well as addressing the threat of their acts being recorded by cell phones. This is one of the details of the show’s premise that I found most compelling. Witch tales are commonly set in colonial America, but “Coven” promises a modern day witch plot.
The premiere, however, features flashbacks to the 1830s where real life serial killer Madame Delphine LaLaurie—played by Kathy Bates of Misery and Fried Green Tomatoes fame—is a portrayed as a malevolent witch who tortures her slaves through dismemberment, body alterations and organ harvesting. These flashbacks are some of the most disturbing moments the series has ever featured, but they still fascinate. The premiere touches on factors such as Madame LaLaurie’s disappearance, and ancient Voodoo that will have major repercussions on the modern day plot of Coven.
While all the factors such as plot, setting and horror play into why AHS is such a fantastic show, the characters have always been the driving force of the program. This season is no different, with outstanding performances by Lange as the coke-snorting succubus-like Supreme, Bates as the sadistic Madame and all four of the young witches that are learning to utilize their unique powers. The promise of the strong performances is sure to keep AHS’ third season engaging throughout.
American Horror Story: Coven looks to be yet another exciting season of the horror drama. The plot of modern day witchcraft tied in with ancient voodoo sets this season up to be the best yet. Strong performances by the cast and AHS’ “anything can happen” format are sure keep viewers glued to their TV sets this fall.
Watch American Horror Story: Coven Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on FX.