'American Horror Story: Coven' Terror Meter: 'The Minotaur Was Always My Favorite'
Kathy Bates as Madame LaLaurie in "American Horror Story: Coven"
Warning: This recap contains major character and storyline spoilers for the "Bitchcraft" episode of "American Horror Story: Coven." Proceed with caution.
American Horror Story" franchise. And the miniseries' current incarnation, "Coven" — which premiered Wednesday night with the episode "Bitchcraft" — is no different. But unlike Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) of "Murder House" and Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) of "Asylum," 1830s slave-owning socialite extraordinaire Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) does not have a medical degree hanging on the wall. What she does have is an uppermost floor where abject horrors occur, and unlike Montgomery's and Arden's, her mission has nothing to do with the clinical arts. It has only to do with vanity and her atrocious, twisted enjoyment in watching others suffer under the brunt of her power complex.Ryan Murphy has never shied away from characters who sadistically torture and dismember others under the pretense of their own deluded mission in the "
Sounds horrifying, huh? Let's just say that it lives up to the show's title. In fact, the premiere's opening sequence in the LaLaurie mansion is on par with some of the most graphic scenes from "Asylum." Making matters worse, Madame LaLaurie was a real person whose real-life crimes rank as some of the most savage in U.S. history. She was, in fact, a serial killer who tortured and killed black slaves in the highest level of her home. While some of the horrors we saw in the premiere's intro have never been substantiated (the man whose lips and eyes were stitched up, for example), the lore does exist for many of these victims.
What has been confirmed is that she did keep slaves bound and collared in her upstairs chamber, where they were starved and whipped.
actually a devout Catholic. Story has it that she was stunningly beautiful (talk about smart casting!); she was able to intimidate whomever she pleased, including law enforcement; and that she advised world leaders. And, like one would expect from the voodoo queen, tales have her supervising blood-soaked ceremonies and dancing with snakes. As far as her character goes, we're itching to see more!Another "Coven" character based in nonfiction: voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). Laveau was a free woman of color, and while she practiced voodoo, she was
Thankfully for those who are squeamish but enjoy the FX drama, the rest of the episode was fairly tame, compared to past installments. And once we were transported to the present day (the first five minutes in the LaLaurie home were a flashback), the vibe was surprisingly current — witch Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) even drops Facebook and Twitter references — with a lightness "AHS" devotees have not seen before. And the dreamy backdrop of New Orleans infused a welcome romanticism and elegance. But let's not get too carried away with the beauty; "Bitchcraft" was a wild ride packed with thrills, chills, and kills.