[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season premiere of American Horror Story: Coven. Read at your own risk!]
American Horror Story returned for its third installment Coven on Wednesday, taking viewers to New Orleans for a magical new tale about witches.
Set in the present day, the series follows young witches who learn their craft at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. But the school's headmistress Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), is thrown when her mother Fiona (Jessica Lange), the Supreme witch of their coven, returns.
Fiona has been on a quest for eternal youth, but returns to the school after learning that an uneducated witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) was burned at the stake. Fiona sets out to teach the remaining young witches at the school, including newcomer Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), movie star Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), human Voodoo doll Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) and the clairvoyant Nan (Jamie Brewer).
But the witches of the past, including the evil Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), based on real-life characters, may be the key to what ails Fiona. After LaLaurie, who has a penchant for experimenting on her slaves, mutilates Laveau's lover by turning him into a minotaur, Laveau buries LaLaurie alive. Fiona digs her up in the present, hoping to use her to find the secret to immortality.
Meanwhile, some of the young witches learned the strength of their powers the hard way after Zoe and Madison attended a party. Zoe was pleased to meet nice-guy frat boy Kyle (Evan Peters), but Madison wasn't so lucky — she was gang raped by his drunken frat brothers. When they attempt to flee after the assault, Madison flips their bus over, killing most of the men, including Kyle, who had tried to fight them off. Zoe, disheartened to find that Kyle wasn't among the survivors, goes to the hospital and targets one of the surviving rapists (Grey Damon) with her strangely unique power of, ahem, screwing someone to death.
What does this all mean? Are Peters and Rabe off the show already?! Executive producer Ryan Murphy and the cast answer some of our burning questions below:
What happens to LaLaurie now that she's in the present?
Ryan Murphy: [Fiona] brings [LaLaurie] back to the house. The arc for [Fiona] is, even though she's the most powerful woman in the world, she is still fighting aging and still struggling with that and doesn't want to die and wants to live forever. She realizes that [LaLaurie] has been given something to make her live forever. She's trying to get to that. She's holding [LaLaurie] for ransom. Interestingly enough, she starts to find out about the horrors of that character, who is a real woman who did everything we showed you -- and worse. She makes [LaLaurie] be [Queenie's] personal slave as payback.
Gabourey Sidibe: Hell yeah, I make her my slave. The thing is, she's from a different time where all she knows is me being a slave and she comes at me like that. "No, actually you're going to be subservient." It's really, really fun to have a slave. I want to pretend it's not, but it's amazing.
Kathy Bates: Isn't that genius? She's got this thing hanging over her. LaLaurie knows that if she doesn't behave, she's in trouble. Imagine the worst racist you know having to be the slave of a black person who they loathe? The poetic justice is genius.
Sidibe: What's weird is there's a weird, sort of beautiful relationship that flowers from it, and that'll be really, really fun to see, too. You never know where things are going.
Murphy: Through that relationship, [LaLaurie] has an entire season of guilt and remorse and finally learning about the gravity of what she did. It is also a meditation on race relations in this country. There's a very strong arc about the Salem witches and the Voodoo witches and can we all get along to fight our common enemy? It really is an allegory for any minority group living in our country. In the second episode, she has an entire scene where [Fiona] taunts [LaLaurie] with a chicken leg, which is quite fun.
Will we see Marie Laveau in present day?
Murphy: In the second episode, [Fiona] finds out Marie has put this spell on [LaLaurie] and she shows up at Marie Laveau's, who, it turns out, runs a hair salon called Cornrow City, where she has gone undercover. She wants the eternal life stuff and Marie Laveau says, "Well, you give me back [LaLaurie] because I know you dug her up." And that begins the war... That starts the whole thing.
Angela Bassett: Yes, we are at odds. It's them against me. But everyone has their needs and desires.
Is Evan Peters' character really dead?
Murphy: Evan's story kicks off in Episode 2. I've always been very obsessed with anything Mary Shelley. That's another thing we do, we have a Frankenstein. In Episode 2, the big girls' story is that [Zoe] and [Madison] go to the morgue because [Zoe] is in love with [Kyle]. They find out that he and a lot of the other boys have been badly mangled and decapitated, and Madison decides to build the perfect boyfriend. She takes [Kyle]'s head and other parts that she desires and creates this thing, and they use a spell. [Zoe]'s in love with him and has to rehabilitate him. Of course, she can never be with him intimately because she'll kill him. For the first six episodes, he doesn't speak. He had to do a lot of stuff with body language and mime. I made him watch Bride of Frankenstein several times.
Can Misty use her regenerative power to bring herself back to life?
Murphy: Of course. I love her character. Her character is obsessed with Stevie Nicks. The season really is an allegory or metaphor for any minority in the country where you feel alone. She's a girl who has never known other witches. The only witch she's ever known is Stevie Nicks, so I reached out to Stevie Nicks and asked her if we could use her music. Lily has an amazing Stevie Nicks shawl twirl scene in Episode 3. We used like eight Stevie Nicks songs this year.
Will Fiona have other enemies?
Murphy: [Frances Conroy's Myrtle Snow, who is a member of the council] is truly [Fiona]'s nemesis. There's an entire episode where we show she and [Fiona] when they were 18 and at the school and why they became bitter rivals. [Fiona] was very deadly, even as an 18-year-old. We got the cast the 18-year-old Jessica and Franny.
What about her daughter Cordelia, who has a contentious relationship with Fiona?
Sarah Paulson: For Cordelia, it gets significantly darker, but it ain't [my character from Season 2] Lana Winters. There's no coat hangers in my vagina this year at this point. We're only shooting Episode 7 so far.
How will Madison's assault affect her?
Emma Roberts: That event, she brushes off for a while, but obviously something that serious catches up to you. It does catch up to her in many ways that you'll see unfold for bad, but also for good in some ways. She's not pure evil.
What was it like to film that scene?
Roberts: That was crazy. It was one of those things where they told me beforehand. I was like, "Normally I'd say no to this, but I'm just going to do it. I really think it serves the story and it serves the character. I'm just going to go out of my comfort zone and do it." Luckily the guys I was working with, I actually knew one of them and they were all really nice. I think that they were having a harder time with it than me. They were like, "We feel horrible." So it was something that everyone was just like silent on set and we just did it. That's the only way you can get through it. I went to another world and they did it as quick as possible. Then when they said they were done, I got up and walked off set. I just was not really paying attention to the amount of takes.
What did you think of the American Horror Story: Coven premiere? Hit the comments!
American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.