I am thrilled with this show. The characters are great. Lange, as usual, is perfect. And the take on powers, craft, and history is fascinating. If you’re watching anything else in this timeslot, you are missing one hell of a drama. Pun possibly intended 🙂
Sarah Paulson is Cordelia Foxx, the headmistress at a school for young girls, ostensibly a school for gifted women–Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies–but of course, there’s more to it than that. The girls are witches, and it’s a bit like Harry Potter, despite Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) dismissive comment about Cordelia running the school like Hogwarts. There are potions, innate powers, curses, and hexes.
Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is sent to the school after her “power” reveals itself, unfortunately during her first sexual encounter, killing the young man she was with. She finds Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), Nan (Jamie Brewer, Addie from season one), and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) as her new peers, each with their own unique powers.
Nan is psychic, Queenie is a “human voodoo doll” and Madison, well, she’s hardcore. Telekinetic, at least. Let’s just say if Yoda had been trying to teach her to lift the ship out the swamp on Dagoba, she wouldn’t have struggled as much as Luke did.
I was a little concerned by the midpoint of the show–they’d already killed off two of the main actors! Both Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and Misty (Lily Rabe) were put to death for exercising their powers. LaLaurie for crossing the wrong witch, Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), and Misty for performing a miracle in a field among a bunch of fundamentalist Christians.
Then, they killed off Kyle (Evan Peters) and I got really worried! But, by the time the episode ended, and I saw the previews for the upcoming season, I was put at ease, in that matter at least.
Fiona is self-serving, extremely powerful–she can Jedi Mind Trick people!–and has a weird way of sucking the youth of people (or maybe just men?) to make herself younger, not unlike the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus. Though she doesn’t need a potion to do it, and let me warn you: it’s pretty gruesome.
Madison, though, wow. A former actress, she ended up at the school after a disagreement with her director, who died from a light falling on his head. She’s devious, snarky, self-centered, but extraordinarily powerful. She takes Zoe to a frat party, and while Zoe meets Kyle, a sweet guy who is there because of his grades rather than his chauvinism and tendency to debauchery, Madison’s snide attitude gets her into trouble.
One of the frat boys decides to teach her a lesson. He gives her a drug in her drink and then rounds up a few of the boys for a gang bang. This was not easy to watch, though it’s not as graphic as a movie would have been, it’s still pretty horrifying. To make matters worse, the boys are filming the session on their smartphones.
Zoe begins wondering where Madison got to, and Kyle goes to look for her. He walks in on the group rape, does what a real man should do and breaks it up, scaring all the other guys off and chasing after them. Zoe comes in and tries to do something for Madison, but she’s pretty incoherent. Instead, Zoe tries to go after the boys, not knowing what she’ll be able to do, or whether she’ll be able to do it, but knowing that they must be punished.
The frat guys end up on a bus and take off down the street, Kyle among them, when Madison walks out of the house to where Zoe stands. With a wave of her hand, the bus up-ends itself and flips over. Remember that scene in The Dark Knight when the Joker blows up the truck in the street and flips back end over front? It was kind of like that. As I said, Madison is hardcore.
Though most of the boys are killed in the crash, including Kyle, a couple survive and are in critical condition at the hospital. Zoe may not be aware of her powers yet, but she’s aware of her curse that makes boys’ heads implode when she has sex with them, so after seeing Kyle dead and the ringleader of the gang bang still alive in a hospital bed, she decides to do the only thing she knows to render justice, and her curse is inflicted a second time–this time intentionally.
Kyle, it seems shall return, as Madison hatches a plan to create the perfect man, via the Frankenstein method. I can’t say whether we’ll see Misty again, but I sure hope so. Lily Rabe is a gem in this show, and though her character appears far purer and more innocent in this season than it was in either prior seasons, I suspect there’s more to her than that. Based on some remarks that Fiona makes about preparing the girls for life as witches, mentioning Misty’s case, I think her story will play a large role in Fiona’s plans this season, even if we don’t see as much of her as we did last season.
Overall, I am really looking forward to this season. I was a little disappointed with the Asylum story last fall–not because it was bad, but I just had different expectations. I was hoping to see more of a Stephen King-like effort on the line between sanity and madness and instead ended up with aliens and evil doctors. The possession was great, the realities of asylums and the treatment of patients during that time period were as interesting as they were despicable, and though the rest of it was good, it was not what I was hoping for.
Coven does not look like it will disappoint. I think witchcraft is a big enough topic to tackle without bringing in sci-fi for reinforcements. Every character looks to be pivotal, though some are admittedly more so because of their strength or their agendas, and I think it’s going to be a wild ride. Sex, magic, and Jessica Lange; what more could a TV devotee ask for?
Thursday and Friday recaps are still on their way, and it’s all new Sunday night with Revenge and Witches of East End!
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