Those who watched the first two seasons of "American Horror Story" know the show packs tons into each episode, and last night's season premiere was no exception. A witch burning, slave torture, gang rape, vengeance, murder, and a (questionable) total death count of 12. Not sure whether Jessica Lange's Fiona or Emma Roberts' Madison best embodies the episode title Bitchcraft. And, after last night, those who doubted whether Evan Peters' real life GF Roberts was up to the task must now realize she's destined to surpass expectations. She was great.
Murphy gave fans what they wanted, reprising a doomed romance between Peters, who plays nice frat boy Kyle, and Taissa Farmiga's Zoe. In the show's first season, Farmiga played Violet, who fell hard for Peters' Tate, until she discovered his (very) dark side. And why are Kyle and Zoe star-crossed? Witch Zoe has a little problem. When she gets intimate with boys, their brains kind of explode.
The episode opened with a grisly flashback to historical slave torturer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who brushes the blood from her victim's pancreas on herself as youth serum. She strung up an errant slave and placed a hollowed out bull head, still dripping blood, over his head to create her own twisted version of a minotaur. Rumors fly that this isn't the last to be seen of the mythical creature.
Later in the episode, LaLaurie meets her demise. Having tortured the lover of voodoo queen Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), Laveau tricks LaLaurie into drinking poison. Laveau, another historical figure, lived near LaLaurie and taught her about the occult (according to NOLA.com).
Meanwhile, Fiona, the supreme witch of her generation, also struggles against the aging process. When the serum a doctor provides doesn't work, she literally sucks the lifeblood out of him. Each witch is gifted with a power, but the supreme possesses all powers. Hearing of the burning of young witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe), she heads to Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in NOLA, a clandestine school for witches run by her daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), to help out with defensive training. Cordelia resents her mother's interference and wants her to leave, but Fiona's intent on staying.
After Zoe's boyfriend dies while she's losing her virginity to him, her mother reveals Zoe's grandmother possessed the same strange power (curse) and sends her off to Miss Robichaux's. Upon arrival, she's attacked by three masked witches who throw her on a table and simulate a ritual sacrifice. They're just funning with her and reveal themselves as Madison (Roberts), the leader, a movie star until she caused a director's death; tough witch Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), who is a human voodoo doll; and sweet Nan (Jamie Brewer), a Down Syndrome witch whose clairvoyant power, ironically, makes her the smartest of the group.
Madison venomously attacks Queenie and Nan verbally and determines new girl Zoe as the best prospect to accompany her to a frat party. Here, Zoe meets Kyle, and sparks fly, but she mysteriously tells him things would never work out between them. When Zoe can't find Madison, Kyle investigates upstairs and walks in on his frat mates raping Madison, whom they drugged. The guys high-tail it to their bus and, as it careens out of site, Madison uses her telekinetic powers to flip it over, leaving only 2 of 9 alive.
Next morning, Fiona takes the four young witches on an educational field trip. Nan, distracted, enters a tour at the LaLaurie mansion. When the others join her, Fiona learns of LaLaurie's attempts to retain youth. Nan tells Fiona where LaLaurie rests.
Zoe breaks from the group and visits the 2 survivors of the bus crash at the hospital. Her distress when she sees Kyle isn't there turns to anger when she recognizes one as the ringleader who brutalized Madison. Zoe uses her special power to do away with him. That night, Fiona hires men to dig LaLaurie up (afterwards erasing their memories). When she opens the coffin, out steps LaLaurie, dazedly, but still alive and intact after almost 200 years!
Bitchcraft death count -12: LaLaurie's slave, Zoe's boyfriend, Misty Day, Fiona's doctor, and 8 frat boys. LaLaurie can hardly be counted since she's definitely not dead at episode's end. Will next week's episode Boy Parts top that? How will Fiona use LaLaurie's knowledge in her quest for youth? And is that the last to be seen of Misty Day, after Rabe played such a pivotal role in Asylum? And what about Kyle? Can fan-favorite Peters really be off the show in the first episode? Or will they, like LaLaurie, return? In "AHS," death doesn't necessarily mean the character won't show up again, whether resurrected, as a ghost, or in flashback.
Other characters will show up in upcoming episodes, like the next-door-neighbor/religious fanatic Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone). Looking ahead to episode 6, titled The Axeman Cometh, Danny Huston will play yet another historical figure, the serial killer of the early 1900s known as the Axeman of New Orleans (according to TV Guide).