American Horror Story is back — and maybe this is premature, but right away I'm thinking this might be the best season yet. Thank goodness for witches, New Orleans, salacious subject matter, and Jessica Lange. This was a very, very good way to start the third season.
Once again, this show is starting over, this time in the present day. It's all new, new characters, new location — and a new horror trope to slice open, crack apart and then desecrate its carcass by having sex on it. This time it's WITCHES, BITCHES.
We start off right away with show newcomer Kathy Bates playing the very real witch Madame LaLaurie. This… this makes me nervous. LaLaurie was a bad, bad, bad, bad woman. A BAD woman. Yes, she lived in New Orleans. Yes, Nic Cage bought her house. And yes, she cruelly tortured all of her slaves (often killing them and burying the bodies them in the backyard). So yes, the fact that she's become an AHS character makes me really, really nervous. Not two minutes have passed during the series premiere, before we're sent to LaLaurie's attic to witness her world of horror.
To say that AHS' handling of slavery is disrespectful would be a massive understatement. But this isn't the first time the series has grotesquely manipulated "hands off" subject matter. The first season charmed most of Tumblr with Kit the SURPRISE high-school shooter. And last year, we watched a nun lose her virginity while possessed by a demon. No one is arguing that AHS tackled these taboo issues appropriately — but the show did so with such abandon and flair you couldn't help but peek between your fingers to watch. I'm not proud of it, but I'm going to watch it.
But here we are, dealing with rape and slavery in the very first episode. It's a lot. And I still don't know how I feel about it, but I do know that I had to pull my jaw off the floor at the big final reveal. So AHS one, modern decency zero.
Moving on. Kathy Bates. Oh my goodness Kathy Bates. Too long has it been since I've been privy to a good Kathy Bates-ing. And boy howdy, there is going to be a shitload of scenery-chewing this year. The series opens with LaLaurie trying to peddle her daughters off to the eligible bachelors of the land. Meanwhile wiping her face with fresh blood, and being generally cruel. I didn't think I could get more excited about this casting, until Angela Bassett showed up and ran away with this flashback, with one "Hey bitch" look. Magnificent, both of these women.
Sidenote: Bassett's character, Marie Laveau, is also a very real human who existed back in the day. And the cherry on top? We get to play with these two ladies in MODERN DAY. When Jessica Lange dug up the still very much alive LaLaurie, I almost passed out. SO RIDICULOUS. SO OVER THE TOP. SO IN. IN IN IN IN IN IN IN. Just don't try and get me to sympathize with this nasty murderous monster. Even though we know you will try, AHS, we know you will try.
And that's all I have to say about the past. So now, to the present. Zing Zang Zoom — the girl formerly known to me as Violet is now Zoe, and her vagina kills her boyfriend. It's like the first X-Men Rogue scene, only with death and penetration.
Enter Frances Conroy, cosplaying as Tim Burton's Mad Hatter. And one, two, three, we're off to school. I love how one, they take a train because of COURSE they take a train — this is American Horror Story. And two, how quickly this is progressing to the plot meat, getting all these ladies in one big, beautiful house.
Honestly, I'm not feeling all the girls together just yet. This group doesn't gel. I know that's probably the point, but they don't even gel as characters who don't like each other. It's very disjointed not in a good way. Also, it's very unfortunate that all of Gabourey Sidibe's lines start with "girl" or something similar. Also Matillda... woof, sweetie, take it down a notch. These ladies don't have me yet. However individually, they are all great.
So Zoe (and her magical hoo-ha) is sent away to magical boarding camp, and because we need to introduce sex and horror right away, Zoe and Matilda go to a frat party. Where they run into the cutest frat mouse to ever escape the Nimh science labs and join Tulane University. We love you Kit, Tate, Kyle — whatever your name is this time.
We're moments into the party when Matilda gets gang raped. It's all oh so very AHS — and sad, and gross. But mostly gross. And then Matllida does this:
And that was fucking rad. I love the soft touch of it. But too bad, the Frat Mouse is dead. And Zoe gets her revenge by giving the leader of the rape pack a handy (thanks for showing that, AHS, I was really worried about how this young girl was going to get the comatose boy hard — the Devil is in the hand-job details).
Cut to the adults and the star of the Jessica Lange show — Jessica Lange. You see, if you didn't already know, she is the supreme witch. Which means she spends her days sucking the life out of people, doing blow, listening to classic rock and starring at herself in the mirror. Wouldn't you, if you were Jessica Lange? Her daughter, the amazing Sarah Paulson, is the head witch of the witch school. But not for long — because Mommy is back to show everyone how to be a real, real witch not some pacified baby witch and say things like, "Don't make me drop a house on you." It's good to have this woman back in my life.
And that's it. Next week, it looks like the two witch girls FRANKENSTEIN the frat mouse — and fingers crossed, we get more from Lily Rabe soon. Because she is also the best. So happy this show is baaaaaack!