It’s that time of year again: apples and woodsmoke perfume the air, pumpkins adorn every conceivable beverage, and Ryan Murphy attempts to terrify America with something other than singing teenagers. Yes, it’s American Horror Story. Astute readers will recall that after the staggeringly disappointing efforts of AHS: Asylum, I said I would never come back to this show.
Well, call me Freddy Krueger, because I just refuse to die. Anyway, what with EVERY ACTRESS EVER being in the cast this season, and it being set in my beloved home of New Orleans, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to provide commentary. Just don’t try to work in aliens this time, OK, Murphy?
We begin in the antebellum South — Royal Street to be precise — at the home of Delphine LaLaurie (played exuberantly by Kathy Bates). She’s hosting a Creole high society party, introducing her daughters to all the eligible bachelors around town. We already know she’s crazy when she’s like “Sorry my daughters hit the ugly tree when they fell out of my vagina,” and everyone else is like, “Um, no. Opposite of that.” After the party, Madame LaLaurie is interrupted in the middle of her nighttime blood facial by news that her youngest and hottest daughter has been copulating with one of the family’s slaves.
In short order, she drags him upstairs to her (real, historical) torture attic, where she keeps several slaves to feed her sadism. This unfortunate fellow’s particular punishment is to have the head of a bull placed atop his shoulders, so he can be Delphine’s very own Minotaur.
And so our journey to the dark side begins.
After the title sequence (ultra-classy black and white this year) we meet our ostensible heroine, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga). Zoe is right in the middle of swiping her V-Card with a young man whose sensitivity nearly makes up for his wallet chain. But in the middle of the act, the boy starts hemorrhaging from every orifices, and dies. We catch up to Zoe on a train (Hogwarts Express much?) to her new home, Madame Robicheaux’s Home For Incurably Magical Girls.
When she arrives there (briefly guided and then abandoned by Frances Conroy, who I already love this season) she is treated to a terrifying initiation ceremony courtesy of her new classmates, Queenie the human voodoo doll, Nan the clairvoyant, and Madison, former child star. They are shortly followed by Sarah Paulson’s character, who introduces herself as “Cordelia Fox, Headmistress.”
Cordelia explains that there are so few students because, over the centuries, families who knew they carried magical blood deliberately chose not to reproduce, because they were super fucking lame. Now, Cordelia is tries to impress upon her pupils the importance of living in secrecy to protect themselves. The cautionary tale she brings up to drive home that point is the sad story of Misty Day (Lily Rabe).
Misty had the power to draw creatures back from the verge of death, which her evangelical Cajun kin believed to be the work of Satan (incidentally, Lily Rabe actually played Satan last season). They kidnapped her and burned at the stake, but since her name appeared in the main titles, I doubt we’ve seen the last of ‘ol Misty. Cordelia also explains that while most witches possess only a few powers, there is one woman born in every generation who wields them all, and she is known as The Supreme.
And with that, we journey to Los Angeles to meet this lady, who could only be played by Jessica Lange.
Her name is Fiona Goode, and much like Madame LaLaurie, her preoccupation is with youth. To that end, she has funded stem cell research led by a handsome doctor. He tells her that his vitality serum won’t be ready for another two years and she successfully bargains him down to fifteen minutes.