Will fans of American Horror Story be bewitched by its new outing, Coven? Probably. True, the camp factor may be at an all-time high this go around for AHS, but it promises to make for engaging TV nonetheless.
In the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Coven, dubbed “Bitchcraft” (Oct. 9, 10 pm EST/PST, FX), a young girl discovers she possesses a genetic affliction tracing back to the dark days of Salem. Buzzkill? Hmm. Perhaps. But when Zoe is taken to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans, a mysterious school devoted to safeguarding the few remaining descendants of a unique bloodline, drama ensues. Most of it comes from Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange in top form), the most powerful witch of their generation, who flies back into town—not literally!—and sparks rivalries old and new with the coven’s most threatening enemy—the Voodoo.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's writing is sharp and overall, the arc of the story this time around, focuses on the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America, ever since the Salem witch trials more than 300 years ago. All that, and Kathy Bates. And ... what appears to be a stellar round of guest stars this season: Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Denis O’Hare, Patti LuPone, and Danny Huston.
That may be plenty of reasons to tune in, but here are the Top 5.
5. THE VIBE
So, what can AHS fans expect this year? An entirely different feel, that's for sure. Winning high points in just its first ep, creator Ryan Murphy et al get viewers hooked, keep the story moving and create intrigue for what's to follow. True, it would seem challenging to top last season's savage creative verve in Asylum, but things look good thus far. Added bonus: The undeniably delicious estrogen parade on hand here, with Jessica Lange at the helm.
4. SARAH PAULSON
Paulson is back. The actress turned heads as the beleaguered and tortured reporter in the last round of AHS—she also nabbed an Emmy nom; one of 17 the miniseries garnered. Her duties this time: Heading the Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a mysterious if not unconventional New Orleans school that safeguards the few remaining descendants who share this unique bloodline.
3. THE CREATIVE TEAM
True, we've only previewed the first episode, but at first glance, it appears the creatives working behind the scenes have never been more on track. Everything from the episode's pacing and storytelling to its acting and overall vibe—sizzles. Brilliant in its execution, this could go down as the best season of AHS yet.
2. EMMA ROBERTS
Ah, Emma Roberts. What's not to like? Well, after this season of AHS, plenty—at least when it comes to her character, actress Madison Montgomery. Roberts may have been one of the best things in last summer's We're The Millers (which, sadly, may not be saying much for that outing), but here, her character gets all "Carrie" on whoever crosses her path. Fun? You bet. The bitch factor soars high. Relish it.
1. KATHY BATES
And we all thought Jessica Lange chewed up the scenery unlike any other. Brace yourself: there's a new bitch in town. Bates, who—no surprise—continues to impress no matter what role she slips into. (Fortunately for us, NBC's loss, is FX's gain.) As Madame LaLaurie she's vain, mean-spirited soul and, well, you get the picture. It never hurts to have hunger pangs for eternal youth, either—at least on camera. Watch for the delicious surprise by the end of the premiere episode. In the meantime, it's nice to see Bates in such wicked form here. Upcoming scenes alongside Lange (and AHS newcomer Angela Bassett) could become some of the finest episodic TV offered this fall.
American Horror Story: Coven, which premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 10pm EST/PST.