I really did try. I told myself I was going to relegate American Horror Story: Coven to the realms of TV jumble blogs but I've decided to do a review for opening episode, Bitchcraft. Well, a hightlight of the five most important things from the episode at least.
Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Exceptional Girls: If you're a witch nowadays and running scared, then you can always join Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies and Hogwarts it's thankfully not. You'll be collected by a rather camp sounding Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), be served by a mostly mute Spalding (Denis O'Hare), have a calm and collected headmistress in Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) and also have the pleasure of visiting Delphine LaLaurie's house, courtesy of youth obsessed Supreme Witch, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange). As for the girls themselves - the episode made sure our four ladies stood out - Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) with her killer ability, movie starlet/spoiled brat Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), human voodoo doll, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and clairvoyant Nan (Jamie Brewer). Nan so far has emerged as the most likeable of the bunch with Zoe not far behind her. I'm still unsure of both Madison and Queenie for the time being.
Humans Suck: They really, really do and when they're evil, racist and sadistic Greek mythology/youth obsessed women like Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) in 1834 New Orleans, they're the very worst kind. Playing an actual historical character is certainly a risky thing but Bates certainly wasted no time in making LaLaurie every bit the monster that her reputation preceded her, not only with the controlling manner of her children but also in relation to her evil treatment of her slaves. Of course with the character being a regular this season, there was going to have to be some trick in bringing her into the present day and Fiona's methods of introducing LaLaurie into the new world does look set to bring it's brand of hell in the remaining episodes of the season. There's also a brief scene in recent times in Lafayette where necromancer Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is set alight as well by her fellow villagers. It's a shame if that's Rabe's only contribution to the season.
Mother vs. Daughter: In this battle - I already side with Cordelia over Fiona. So far, she seems to actually care what happens in relation to her students while Fiona seems more happy to undermine and ridicule Cordelia's basic beliefs in relation to magic. Both Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange have always played off well with each other and this season seems like it won't be the exception either. There's a fractured relationship and conflicting attitudes towards magic with both Cordelia and Fiona that's fascinating to watch and one that can definitely be sustained this season. That being said, in spite of Cordelia's caution towards magic, it was nice to see her brewing some concoction before she was interrupted by her mother. I have a feeling this is going to be another role for Paulson where I'm going to enjoy seeing her on a regular basis.
Pick Your Enemies Carefully: If there's anything that should be learned in this episode, it's don't mess with witches. It's obvious really and this episode made it more so. Misty vowed that the people who burned her would pay for it before her death, Fiona turned on a doctor (Ian Anthony Dale) and literally sucked the youth out of him when he refused to help her stay young while both Madison and Zoe dealt with gang rapist frat boys in their own ways. LaLaurie herself tortured her slaves/drank the blood used their organs to sustain her youth in some hamfisted attempt to keep her husband from straying (don't think it worked, considering how frequently she tortured her slaves) but it was Marie Laveux (Angela Bassett) who really showed us why she's the wrong witch to mess with when she drugged and buried LaLaurie alive. Something tells me if she's in the present day, she is not going to be a happy camper with Fiona digging up the woman who tortured her lover, now is she? Seriously though, this lot would make Emily Thorne run for the hills when it comes to getting some old fashioned revenge.
Frat Boys Go Splat: Why is it that American television seems keen to continuously depict frat boys as either jerks, piss heads or serial gang rapists? Surely some of them must be decent members of society, right? Well, the episode did make a fair attempt with Kyle Spencer (Evan Peters) who warned his fraternity mates to behave themselves and was generally kind to Zoe. Kyle also earned some points by saving Madison from being gang raped by his mates before being killed in a bus crash then caused by a vengeful Madison. I have to admit, I'm not entirely crazy on a whole Zoe/Kyle romance but if their respective characterisations are anything to go by (coupled with Kyle's interesting fate in this one), then it at least won't be a desperate rehash of Violet/Tate, so that's something to think on. Overall, the male characters on this show do seem be a little sketchy but hopefully that will improve over the next twelve episodes.
Now I might do these recaps every week if I can or just for certain episodes but either way, you can rest assure that I will be examining this coven for the rest of it's season.