American Horror Story: Coven is the third outing of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's supernatural anthology series as it continues to explore some of the core tropes of the horror genre. After a nasty haunted house in the first season and a ghastly asylum in the second (complete with a Nazi doctor, alien abductions, a possessed nun, and so on), the show moves to New Orleans, Louisiana and follows a coven of witches both in the present day and the 19th century.
Taissa Farmiga returns to the show as a young witch who discovers her power and is sent to a special school run by
Professor Xavier Dumbledore Murphy's muse Jessica Lange, resplendent once more in full diva mode. Lange warns Farmiga and the rest of her pupils (including Gabourney Sibide and Emma Roberts) that if witches don't learn to fight, they burn. Footage of returning cast member Lily Rabe dragged to a stake and doused in oil underlines this point.
The official synopsis of Coven also touches on the the main conflict between some of the newer characters seen in the trailer (along with a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull, who appears to crucified... welcome back to AHS):
'American Horror Story: Coven' tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over 300 years have passed since the turbulent days of the Salem witch trials and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona (Jessica Lange), the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town, determined to protect the Coven and hell-bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.
Also, check out a new poster for the season, via Collider. The poster gives us the full roster of impressive talent - returning cast members Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and Denis O'Hare, as well as newcomers Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates along with Roberts and Sibide, but also Life Goes On's Patti LuPone.
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We know that newcomers Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates (glimpsed briefly in the trailer) will play versions of real-life characters who lived in New Orleans in the 19th century. Bassett plays Marie Laveau, who lived in New Orleans and was widely considered an influential - and powerful - Voodoo priestess. Bates plays Madame Delphine LaLaurie, whose historical counterpart was a wealthy socialite and rare female serial killer - she tortured and murdered an unknown number of slaves before an angry mob chased her out of the city.
The trailer paints the season's story in broad strokes, but we also have a seemingly official synopsis of the premiere episode's plot on IMDb. Plot synopses on the site are not always completely legit, but this one is credited to "FX Publicity." Titled 'Bitchcraft,' the first episode of Coven is broken down thusly:
A young girl, Zoe, is shattered to discover she possesses a strange genetic affliction tracing back to the dark days of Salem. Zoe is whisked away to Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a mysterious school in New Orleans devoted to safeguarding the few remaining descendants who share this unique bloodline. Harboring a secret agenda, Fiona Goode, the most powerful witch of their generation, returns to town, reigniting old rivalries with the Coven's deadly enemies, the Voodoo.
So expect some serious sparks to fly between Lange and presumably Bassett's character. How will two characters from different time periods be at odds? Will Lange's character possibly be a vengeful reincarnation of the murdered witches from the past? Will the conflicts in the 19th century timeframe somehow cross over into the present? Since this is American Horror Story, you'll never know what to expect.
American Horror Story: Coven premieres on FX on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013.