'American Horror Story: Coven': What's the verdict?
October 10th, 2013
04:37 PM ET

'American Horror Story: Coven': What's the verdict?

The third season of "American Horror Story," "Coven," might become its best yet.

The FX series has never been for the faint-hearted, but Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's tale of witches surviving in New Orleans may push even ardent "AHS" fans to their gory limits.

"AHS: Coven" once again stars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, except this time they're a magically gifted mother and daughter pair.

Lange is the Supreme witch (as she would be) Fiona, who's struggling to find a fountain of youth that'll help her maintain her throne. Paulson portrays her daughter Cordelia, currently in charge of the students at New Orleans' version of Hogwarts, Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.

Those young witches, who have ties to the Salem witches who came before them, include Queenie (a human voodoo doll, as portrayed by Gabourey Sidibe); Zoe (who can kill people with sex, played by Taissa Farmiga); Madison (who has telekinetic powers, portrayed by Emma Roberts); and Nan (who's clairvoyant, as played by Jamie Brewer).

As if that casting wasn't already ace enough, Murphy and Falchuk also threw in Kathy Bates as the horrifying Madame Delphine LaLaurie and Angela Bassett as voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The strength of those two actresses alone was reason enough for many to watch "AHS: Coven."

But of course, Murphy and Falchuk delivered much more than fine casting. "Even ('AHS's) past boldness does not quite prepare one for the opening segment of the new season," said Slate's Willa Paskin. "In the context of other television, American Horror Story is perverse and refreshing, proof that a great show doesn’t have to be self-serious to be smart."

Rolling Stone's Halle Kiefer was less bowled over by that opening scene - which, once you've seen it, you'd completely understand - and thinks it was a weak point.

"'AHS: Coven's' strength lies in its individual flawless images – a bare-faced Kathy Bates painting her face with a blood-soaked makeup brush; a flame-haired Frances Conroy wearing sheer black glove stroking a plaid curtain; Jessica Lange wearing any and all hats – rather than its actual plot," Kiefer says. "It's those moments of perfection that can make a viewer forgive a lot. Like for example, the utter distastefulness of scenes in the season premiere featuring slave torture and mutilation."

Yet if "Coven" has a saving grace beyond its always impeccable styling, it's that its creators have have introduced a little more comedy, said the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara.

"Coven" has "the more traditional elements of a deliciously scary campfire story over the hyperbolic elements of comic book horror of previous seasons," McNamara says. "There's still blood and gore all over the floor ... Not to mention rape, gruesome torture and evil run riot, and that's just the first episode. But there's also a lightness of touch and tone, a backlight of sly humor and, more important, a clearly delineated narrative."

The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon thinks the campy sense of humor might set the third season of "AHS" apart as the best. "That tone, as it happens, is the unexpected ingredient that makes this batch of horror-trope jambalaya the tastiest," he says. "'Coven' (is) creepy. Scary. Fun. If the first episode is any indication, 'Coven' will be the strongest, most entertaining iteration of the series yet."

Did you check out "American Horror Story: Coven"? What'd you think of it?

Filed under: television

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Racist Print

    October 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mplaya

    Just love this show – season one ended (to me) on an Addam's family/bland note, season 2 was (even though some plot lines were a bit skewed – aliens, etc) much better. This season looks to be just as creepy with a bit more humor tossed in which works. can't wait to see what twists and turns are coming up...great cast.

    October 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Meh

    Oof, some slick magic at the end of that line there

    October 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. China Mike

    Oh, the comment by Rolling Stone's Halle Kiefer about distasteful scenes of slave torture? That is American history FACT. So, you want to white wash the truth? Including historically accurate imagery from certain time periods is relative, and this IS HORROR after all, not a children's bed time story. This show is done really well, as the past two seasons. Look forward to it.

    October 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |


    October 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robin S

    Previews looked pretty scary so I ecided to watch AHS...tried to watch the first season but it was on the same time as another one of my favorite shows so it didn't make the cut. I'm a huge fan of horror-styled shows...because I love to be creeped out...Makes me miss The X-Files all the more. Imagery in the 1st episode was kind of disturbing but I am interested enough to keep watching.

    October 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Suzanne

    Loved the 1st season; the best, the 2nd was good but the first episode of this season was too disturbing and wrong on every level! Couldn't watch the entire episode, watched parts but I don't want to ever meet the person who wrote this season! His/her mind is way too warped for being human. We'll watch the next episode to see if we'll be able to watch the entire season but as for now, the verdict is hung.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 2008-2013

    Worst show in history but the acing was NUMBER 1

    October 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rebecca S.

    I love AHS, I have watched it every year. I love Jessica Lange and how she performs in each role that is assigned to her. The cast plays so well off each other. Cannot wait to see what the rest of the season holds.

    October 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boo

    Loved it!!!! When Jessica Lang said to Kathy Bates "Come on Mary Todd Lincoln, I'll buy you a drink" I laughed so hard I almost cried.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. M.A.P.

    LOVE this show, LOVE Jessica Lange. Her characters may be similar but she makes the show work. Im still in 2nd season so i hope the witch one is just as good. No tur-d jokes – this show rules.

    October 11, 2013 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim1073

    I had no idea this show had previous seasons...I will have to have a look. As for this season, its not hooked me yet but I will give it a couple more episodes. I love all the shocking parts, I am going to just love all my conservative friends freaking out about it and writing letters the PTC.

    October 11, 2013 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
    • DeAnna

      Definitely watch the first season, they are completely different stories and not related in any way.. I wasn't as into the second season – I stopped watching about halfway through, but this season seems good so far.

      October 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Leanne

    I will keep watching. Hasn't hooked me like season 2, which I adored. I agree with Curlee that Jessica Lange plays the same type character but she does it so very well.

    October 10, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Curlee

    Liked it. The added touch of comedy was welcomed. Every character is unique and weird, as we would expect with AHS. Very pleased with Bates; it looks like she is really enjoying herself here. My only little gripe is I was hoping Lange's character would be a little more different than the ones from AHS 1 & 2. Still portrays the same chain-smoking aging shrew type woman.

    October 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      It's just the first episode moron, her character hasn't even developed yet, give it time! You can always change the channel

      October 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |

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