American Horror Story

American Horror Story 3×01 – Bitchcraft

"When witches don't fight, we burn."

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It’s back!

There’s nothing quite like American Horror Story. Yes it’s frequently disturbing, but it’s also tremendously addictive, and home to some of the most marvelous performances on television. There’s a reason this show was nominated for 17 Emmy Awards this past July (the largest number of the year). This folks, is a show unlike any other.

The great thing about Ryan Murphy’s terrifying series is the fact that you can jump in at the start of any season – as each tells a completely self-contained story. The first year revolved around a haunted house (and it was quite engrossing), while season two was set in an insane asylum (and it was glorious from every angle). I have ridiculously high hopes for season three, and I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed.

Our subject matter this year is witches (no, not the atrocious kind from Witches of East End). These witches are dark, brutal, and compelling in every way. Jessica Lange leads the pack, and she’s as incredible as she’s always been. And much like every season, her supporting cast is stellar across the board. Sarah Paulson and Taissa Farmiga are both back; the former plays Lange’s daughter Delia, the headmistress of the witch school, while the latter plays Zoe – a young witch and our entry point into this whacky world. Zoe’s schoolmates are also perfectly cast – we’ve got telekinetic Madison (excellently played by Emma Roberts), human Voodoo doll Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), and clairvoyant Nan (Jamie Brewer). The trio’s dynamics are spot-on, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their bond develop over the course of the season.

But the really extraordinary addition this year is the casting of Kathy Bates as the notorious serial killer Delphine LaLaurie. She’s frightening on every level, and she’s impeccably played by Miss Bates. The ever-talented Angela Bassett also joins the cast as Marie Laveau, the famed voodoo priestess of New Orleans. Suffice to say, the show just might break its own nomination record next summer with the plethora of outstanding performances on hand this year.

Of course it wouldn’t be American Horror Story without a fair share of gory and unsettling material, and this premiere is brimming with nastiness. First, there’s Delphine’s horrifying slave attic (complete with minotaur face masks), and then there’s Madison’s upsetting gang-rape, which leads to the remarkably satisfying sequence where the young witch savagely flips a bus and kills her attackers. That is, except one, and this is where Zoe’s power comes into play as we discover that she does in fact possess a killer vagina. I don’t think I’ll be able to get the image of that final murder out of my head anytime soon. Bravo Ryan Murphy, you’ve outdone yourself yet again.

The season’s story arc is also quite intriguing, with witches under fire and Lange coming into town to equip the young generation for the impending war. It’s here that she butts heads with her daughter Delia, and ultimately unearths Delphine. The two women are also connected by a common goal: the search for youth and vitality, which should add another engrossing layer to the proceedings.

Frightful Bits

– Seriously, Bitchcraft is an epic episode title.

– Frances Conroy is hilariously quirky from the first second (pointing out the drapes). Unfortunately, she only gets a few moments of screen-time. More please.

– Very memorable scene with Lange snorting coke and sucking the life out of the Doctor (whom she had working on finding a youth serum).

– I actually didn’t notice at first, but the girls’ butler is played by none other than American Horror Story alum Deni O’ Hare. Awesome.

– The episode’s musical score is wonderfully ethereal and creepy.

– Evan Peters is also back, playing a frat boy who falls for Zoe. While he does get killed, I doubt that will be the case for long, as Lily Rabe is bound to make a return appearance as the necromancing witch. She was another standout last year and I’m stoked to see more of her.

– Jessica Lange referencing Twitter and Facebook? My life is complete.

– So Marie Laveau ultimately poisoned Delphine to death because the minotaur slave was none other than her lover. Damn.

Spooky Slurs

Delphine: My youngest, Pauline, well, her major talent has yet to reveal itself.
Pauline: Perhaps my talent is in the boudoir, Mother Dear.
Delphine: I guess we’ll find out on your wedding night, mon petit.

Zoe: So apparently I’m a witch. It runs in my family, but it doesn’t show up in every generation, or in every girl. Like my cousin Amanda – she’s just bulimic.

Queenie: (to Madison) Why don’t you just do the world a favor and take an acting class you d-list botox bimbo.

Madison: Did you lose your tongue doing something wicked, or do you just suck at going down?

Fiona: You teach them to cower and to hide in the shadows. Well, there are no shadows, not anymore. Do you really think with Twitter and Facebook, that a witch does anything at all she won’t be videotaped and turned into some viral freak show like a dog who says “I love you”?

Fiona: The world’s not going to miss a bunch of assholes in Ed Hardy t-shirts.

Fiona: A bus flip? That’s not easy, but you are a sloppy little witch bitch.
Madison: Go to hell you stupid hag.

Fiona: (to Delia) Don’t make me drop a house on you.

Conclusion
An eerily-effective hour that sets the stage for another spectacular year of unhinged storytelling.

Nad Rating

A-

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