TV Recap: 'American Horror Story: Coven' Episode 301 - 'Bitchcraft'



american horror story covenAmerican Horror Story: Coven Episode 301
Written By: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Original Airdate: 9 October 2013 

In This Episode...

We open in 1834, at a lavish party thrown by socialite Madame Lalaurie. After the party, as she readies for bed, she paints her face with a mask made of blood. She is called downstairs and discovers her youngest daughter fooling around with one of the slaves. After beating her daughter soundly, Lalaurie takes her slave upstairs to her private torture chamber. A dozen slaves are chained up, with broken limbs, flayed flesh, and mouths sewn shut. The newest addition to her hall of horrors is chained up and she places a real bull’s head atop his shoulders. She has always wanted her own minotaur. 

We are now in the present, and teenager Zoe sneaks her boyfriend Charlie into the house for a little afternoon delight. He is worried about hurting her because it is her first time. But it is not Zoe who will be hurt. As they start having sex, blood drips from Charlie’s nose and ears. He convulses, and is dead. The doctors officially declare it a brain aneurism, and Zoe’s mom finally tells her the truth. She has a genetic “affliction:” she is a witch. It doesn’t hit every women, and sometimes skips a generation. Mom hoped it would have skipped Zoe, but her poisonous vagina proves otherwise. Zoe is collected forcibly by a trio of men and a woman. She is going to Miss Robichaux’s School for Exceptional Young Ladies, a boarding school for witches in New Orleans.

Upon arrival at the school, Zoe’s companions disappear unceremoniously. She enters the school and is greeted with silence. Its vast halls are virtually empty. Suddenly she is set upon by three cloaked figures in bird masks, thrown down, and threatened with daggers. These are her new roommates, playing a joke. At its height, the school had up to 60 girls living there; now there are just four, plus Cordelia, the headmistress. The other girls are Madison, a “movie star” (think Lindsay Lohan) whose witchy temper tantrum caused her to kill her director with an “accidental” falling light; Queenie, the human voodoo doll who can inflict injury on herself but project it onto another; and Nan, a clairvoyant. Witches are a dying breed, due to many carriers of the gene choosing not to procreate. Those that are around are under scrutiny, like a Cajun girl, Misty, who used her necromancy skills during a snake handler ceremony. The “church members” kidnapped her that night and burned her at the stake.

Madison declares Zoe her de facto best friend, and drags her along to a frat party that night. Zoe hits it off with a sweet, shy, and sober frat boy named Kyle. Madison is off being a bitch and bossing people around. She demands one of Kyle’s frat brothers get her a drink. He does - and it is roofied. Zoe wants to leave but can’t find Madison, so Kyle helps her look, and walks in on Madison getting gang raped and video taped by half a dozen frat boys. Kyle beats them up and chases them out of the party while Zoe covers up Madison, but she quickly runs after the boys, eager to throw a witchy beatdown. The boys are back on the party bus, and the lead rapist throws the driver off and commandeers the bus. Zoe gets there too late to do anything, but somehow Madison has recovered enough to follow her downstairs. The bus is halfway down the street. With a drugged flick of the wrist, Madison sends the bus tumbling until it explodes.

There is a new addition to the boarding school: Fiona. Fiona is Cordelia’s mother, a supreme witch. Each generation has only one supreme, who has extraordinary powers and talents. Fiona, however, has wasted much of her life chasing down the secrets to eternal youth and vitality. She gave an inordinate amount of money to a research firm to develop a serum, and after it works on monkeys, she strong arms the lead researcher David into giving her the serum two years before it is ready for human tests. After a week, it isn’t working. Impatient and coked out, Fiona kills David succubus-style then heads back to New Orleans to live with/annoy her daughter.

Fiona does not like the direction Cordelia is taking her charges in. She feels like Cordelia is encouraging the girls to suppress their talents; she wants them to learn how to use it. Fiona takes the girls on a “field trip” to a religious relic that has been abandoned since Hurricane Katrina. Nan is distracted and leads the girls into Madame Lalaurie’s home, now a historical site and museum. The girls take the tour, and we flashback to Madame Lalaurie’s time. The blood paste she makes is made from the pancreases stolen from her live slave captives. One day, a voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau comes by. She says that Lalaurie’s husband is not true and gives Lalaurie a potion to ensure his fidelity. Lalaurie drinks it down, but it turns out to be poison. As she convulses, Marie tells her it is revenge for the brutalization of her lover - the man who was made a minotaur. Back on the tour, the docent ominously ends the tour by saying that Lalaurie’s body was never found, and no one knows her final resting place. But Nan knows. Fiona finds her sitting in the garden. Nan was drawn out there by the lady of the house, buried beneath the bricks in the garden.

Zoe goes to the hospital. Seven of the nine frat boys on the bus were killed, and Zoe is hoping that one of the surviving boys was Kyle. The first one wasn’t him. Neither is the second one. But the second one was the ringleader of Madison’s rape. Zoe decides to put her curse to good use, and jerks off the comatose guy until he is hard enough to have sex with. She hops on top and in a few minutes, the frat boy is dead from an aneurism. 

Late that night, Fiona has a couple local men dig up Madame Lalaurie’s garden until they find a coffin. She glamours them and sends them on their way. Inside the coffin is Madame Lalaurie, bound and gagged - but very much alive. Fiona frees her from her restraints and offers to buy her a drink.

Dig It or Bury It?

I am quite impressed. The third season of American Horror Story shows the most growth and maturity yet. You get tons of story - and plenty of violence - in the first episode, but it all has a meaning, a purpose, and isn’t just “let’s throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.” The whole wad isn’t blown in just the first episode, and I am eagerly anticipating the rest of the season. I can’t wait for Kathy Bates’ character to expand. I just hope they don’t do a bunch of douchey time travel stuff like Sleepy Hollow did.

A few things: “Bitchcraft?” Really? Weaksauce. Also... a show written by a gay man that stars a character with a poison vagina. Subtlety is dead with Ryan Murphy, apparently. Whatever, this season is going to be epic.

I hope.


Madame Lalaurie is going to be in for a rude awakening when she discovers she can no longer own human beings.