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'American Horror Story: Coven' recap, 'Bitchcraft'

Saturday Night Live (tv program)Tour Operations IndustryBill Hader

"When witches don't fight, we burn." -- Fiona Goode

If Bill Hader's Stefon from "Saturday Night Live" were to explain the season premiere of "American Horror Story," it might go something like this:

"New Orleans' hottest club is 'Coven'. It has everything: an undead murderous socialite from the 1830s, a bloody shaving brush, a minotaur, stem cells, cocaine and witches." 

"American Horror Story" is back, and it's just as crazy as you remember it.

We open the episode in 1834, where we are introduced to Delphine, a New Orleans socialite, who has thrown a party in an effort to round up some suitors for her three daughters. Her youngest daughter is more interested in one of Delphine's slaves, however, and comes on to him.

Delphine is made aware of that fact later, as she uses a shaving brush to apply some blood to her face. She isn't going to have any of that, and order that the severed head of a bull be placed over the slave's face, like a mask. Delphine has always liked minotaurs, she says, and now she has one of her very own.

In the present day, we are introduced to Zoe Benson. Zoe brings a gentleman caller back to her house while her mother is away. As things starts to get hot and heavy, the dude starts bleeding from the nose and eyes.

Zoe's mom explains later that what happened to the guy was not her fault. Like her great-grandmother, Zoe is a witch, her mother says, and she needs to be sent away. So, mom calls Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a New Orleans boarding school for witches, and has its people come and whisk Zoe away.

When she arrives at the academy, Zoe is rushed and held down by three figures in dark cloaks and masks, They throw her on a table and threaten her with a knife, but they are only fooling. They remove their masks and introduce themselves as Madison, Queenie and Nan, the only other current students at the school.

The school's headmistress, Cordelia Foxx, interrupts the fun and gives Zoe a history lesson about the academy. The school exists to help people like Zoe learn how to use their gifts, Cordelia explains, so that they don't end up burned at the stake, like a poor girl named Misty Day, who was killed that way just a month ago.

Next, we meet Fiona Goode, Cordelia's mother and the supreme witch of the current crop of witches. Fiona meets with a doctor, who tells her of a new stem-cell treatment that promises renewed youth and vitality. It should be ready in a couple of years, the doctor explains. Fiona demands that the treatment begin that same day.

After a few days of the treatment, Fiona is not pleased. It simply is not working fast enough for her. So, she summons the doctor to her penthouse, where she drains him of his youth and enjoys some cocaine and cigarettes.

Back at the school, we get some backstory. Madison, who had been something of a movie star, came to the school after using her powers to kill her director on a set. Queenie can inflict pain, while Nan is clairvoyant and tries to play peacemaker between Madison and Queenie.

Cordelia was working on a potion when Fiona arrived. Fiona tells her daughter that she is disappointed in her, that she could have ruled the world, but instead is there teaching school, and failing at that. Cordelia says that she is doing just fine, and asks her mother to leave.

Fiona declines, saying that she is going to stay at the school to help Cordelia weather this new age of technology that poses a threat to their kind. Cordelia threatens to alert "The Council" that her mother is meddling, but Fiona calls her bluff. She is staying, so they might as well make the best of it, Fiona says.

Madison takes Zoe to a frat party. Call me crazy, but is a party with free-flowing alcohol and a limitless supply of testosterone-fueled dudes the best place for a girl with the power to kill with a kiss to hang out? Are frat parties ever the best place for anyone to hang out?

While Zoe and a guy named Kyle talk, Madison goes off on her own. She is drugged and raped by a gang of Kyle's frat brothers. Kyle and Zoe run in and try to stop them, but it is too late. The frat boys try to make a getaway by commandeering their party bus, but Madison recovers and uses her powers to flip the bus as it drives off, killing seven of the punks on board.

The next day, Fiona takes her students on a field trip. They end up at Delphine's old house, now a tourist attraction. We learn that the blood we saw Delphine painting her face with came from the pancreases of slaves whose murders she ordered.

Flash back to the 1830's, where a woman named Marie Laveau approaches Delphine and offers her a potion. She promises it will force Delphine's husband to remain faithful to her. Actually, it is poison. Marie's lover was the man that Delphine tortured and made into a minotaur; the potion was her revenge.

Delphine dies, but her body had never been found. Nan and Fiona go outside, and Nan determines that Delphine is buried under the walkway behind the house.

Zoe breaks off from the group and goes to the hospital, where the ringleader in Madison's rape is being treated. She uses her power to kill evil frat boy.

In the final scene, Fiona has a coffin delivered. It contains Delphine, who is still very much alive. She frees her and offers to buy her a drink.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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