American Horror Story: Coven
|American Horror Story:
Promotional poster and home media cover art
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Original release||October 9, 2013– January 29, 2014|
American Horror Story: Coven is the third season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on October 9, 2013, and concluded on January 29, 2014. The season takes place in 2013, in New Orleans, and follows a Coven of Salem witches as they fight for survival. It also features flashbacks to the 1830s, 1910s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Returning cast members from the previous season of the series include: Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Denis O’Hare, Jessica Lange, Jamie Brewer, Alexandra Breckenridge, and Robin Bartlett, along with new cast members Emma Roberts and Kathy Bates.
Like its predecessors, Coven was met with both mostly positive reviews, and strong ratings, with the premiere episode attracting a series high of 5.54 million viewers. The season garnered seventeen Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries and five acting nominations for Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, and Kathy Bates, with Lange and Bates winning their respective acting categories. In addition, Coven was nominated for Best Miniseries or TV Film at the Golden Globe Awards.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Mythology
- 6 Marketing
- 7 Reception
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The third season follows a Coven of witches who are descendants from some of those who escaped Salem and who reside within Miss Robichaux's Academy in New Orleans. Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) is sent to the Academy after discovering her dark power: she can magically induce brain hemorrhaging in any man by having sex with him. Upon arrival, she meets Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), a telekinetic and a recovering drug abuser who was once a child film star; Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), a descendant of Tituba with the power to inflict wounds on others by harming herself, without feeling any pain; and Nan (Jamie Brewer), an enigmatic clairvoyant who can hear the thoughts of others.
The Academy is run by headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), who has always lived in the shadow of her mother, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange). Fiona is the Coven's "Supreme", a witch born every generation who embodies specific gifts and magical abilities known as the Seven Wonders of Witchcraft. The Academy is looked after by Spalding (Denis O'Hare), a mute butler who has a mysterious relationship with Fiona. The Coven is assessed by the Council of Witchcraft, which includes Fiona's old rival and Cordelia's mother figure, Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy).
At a party, Zoe meets fraternity president Kyle Spencer (Evan Peters), who takes a liking to her. Madison is gang-raped by Kyle's frat brothers and, as revenge, uses her power to flip their bus, killing Kyle and six others. Two of the boys survive and are placed in critical care. Zoe goes to the hospital and kills the remaining rapist with her power. To repay Zoe, Madison revives a dismembered Kyle by attaching his frat brothers' severed limbs to his head and casting a resurrection spell, but he returns frightened and simple-minded. It is revealed that Kyle's mother sexually abused him, making it hard for him to be trusting of physical touch. His revived corpse attracts Misty Day (Lily Rabe), a witch who resurrected herself after being burned at the stake.
Meanwhile, Fiona is cursed with untreatable cancer due to a new Supreme rising. She tries, in vain, to regain her youth and cure herself. Voodoo priestess and the Salem witches' rival, Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), has gained immortality by dealing with a voodoo spirit, Papa Legba (Lance Reddick). Fiona frees Marie's immortal prisoner, 19th-century slave killer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who becomes the Academy's maid. She struggles to adjust to the modern world due to her inherent racism. Fiona believes Madison is the next Supreme and slits her throat; Spalding helps cover it up. Zoe discovers Spalding's secrets and kills him, turning him into a ghost that haunts the Academy. Cordelia is blinded in an acid attack by witch hunters, one of whom is her husband. Myrtle is framed by Fiona, with Queenie's help, and is burned at the stake.
In 1919, witches of the Academy killed the notorious serial killer Axeman of New Orleans (Danny Huston), whose spirit has since been confined inside the Academy's walls. He is freed when Zoe tries to contact the ghost of Madison via ouija board. He then begins a twisted romance with Fiona. Misty revives Myrtle and Madison, both of whom return with vengeful notions; Madison seduces Kyle behind Zoe's back, and Myrtle slaughters the Council of Witchcraft. Queenie joins the voodoo tribe and gives over Delphine, who is tortured and beheaded but remains alive. Cordelia's husband, Hank (Josh Hamilton), slaughters the tribe and nearly kills Marie, before Queenie uses her powers on Hank by shooting herself in the head, killing him.
A hopeless Marie joins the Academy, and she and Fiona drown Nan in order to fulfill a deal with Legba and remove a Supreme candidate. Queenie returns with a reattached Delphine. Marie, Fiona, and the Axeman slaughter the witch hunters. Spalding's ghost helps Delphine dissect Marie. Madison attempts to eliminate Supreme competition by entombing Misty, but she is brought back by Queenie and Cordelia. Queenie kills Delphine after making a deal with Legba to return her mortality. Marie and Delphine are banished to hell for eternity due to their actions in life. Fiona makes the Axeman believe he has murdered her, and the witches kill him in return.
The Coven sets out to find the next Supreme with the test of Seven Wonders. Misty and Zoe die while attempting different tests. Queenie is disqualified when she is unable to revive Zoe. Madison can but refuses, and angrily leaves after she fails a test. Kyle then kills her for not saving Zoe. Cordelia enters the competition and successfully brings Zoe back. She becomes the new Supreme, regains her sight, and reveals the Coven to the world. Myrtle is burned once again for murdering the Council. Zoe and Queenie are appointed seats on the Council, and Kyle becomes the new butler. Fiona returns to the Coven alive but withered from cancer. She makes amends with Cordelia, before dying in her arms. Fiona is then banished to hell with the Axeman. Cordelia, Zoe, Queenie, and Kyle open the doors to the Academy, welcoming the new recruitment of witches.
Cast and characters
- Sarah Paulson as Cordelia Foxx
- Taissa Farmiga as Zoe Benson
- Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow
- Evan Peters as Kyle Spencer
- Lily Rabe as Misty Day
- Emma Roberts as Madison Montgomery
- Denis O'Hare as Spalding
- Kathy Bates as Delphine LaLaurie
- Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode
Special guest stars
- Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau
- Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie
- Danny Huston as the Axeman
- Patti LuPone as Joan Ramsey
- Stevie Nicks as herself
- Jamie Brewer as Nan
- Josh Hamilton as Hank Foxx
- Alexander Dreymon as Luke Ramsey
- Lance Reddick as Papa Legba
- Michael Cristofer as Harrison Renard
- Leslie Jordan as Quentin Fleming
- Robin Bartlett as Cecily Pembroke
- Mike Colter as David
- Riley Voelkel as Young Fiona Goode
- Christine Ebersole as Anna-Lee Leighton
- Michelle Page as Young Myrtle Snow
- Grey Damon as Brener
- Ian Anthony Dale as Dr. David Zhong
- Lance E. Nichols as Detective Sanchez
- Andrew Leeds as Dr. Dunphy
- Gavin Stenhouse as Billy
- P.J. Boudousqué as Jimmy
- Ameer Baraka as Bastien, the Minotaur
- Dana Gourrier as Chantal
- Alexandra Breckenridge as Kaylee
- Mare Winningham as Alicia Spencer
- Grace Gummer as Millie
- Kyle Secor as Bill
- Raeden Greer as Pauline LaLaurie
- Jennifer Lynn Warren as Borquita LaLaurie
- Ashlynn Ross as Marie Jeanne LaLaurie
- Scott Michael Jefferson as Louis LaLaurie
- James DuMont as Dr. Morrison
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.
|26||1||"Bitchcraft"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk||October 9, 2013||3ATS01||5.54|
|Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) plans to have sex with her boyfriend for the first time, but something goes horribly wrong when the loss of her virginity leads to the discovery of a hidden power. Zoe learns she is a descendant from Salem and is in fact a witch. Her unique power causes violent hemorrhaging and certain death to whomever she has sex with. Fearing their daughter may become a hazard to the ones around her, Zoe's parents send her to a mysterious all-girls private school in New Orleans that teaches young witches how to survive in the modern world. Upon arriving, she meets her classmates: Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), a spoiled brat teenage movie star, who can move objects with her mind, Nan (Jamie Brewer), a girl with Down syndrome, who can hear the thoughts of others, and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), a witch from Detroit who descends from an African-American line of Salem witches: she is a human voodoo doll who can transfer her own wounds onto someone else. The school is owned and run by Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson). After a young witch named Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is burned at the stake, Cordelia's estranged mother, reigning Supreme and most powerful witch of her generation, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), arrives to ensure their protection. However, Fiona also has her own agenda: finding a way to regain her youth. Zoe and Madison go to a local fraternity party only for it to end in tragedy when Madison is drugged and gang-raped by several frat brothers. She then takes quick and lethal revenge against them. Zoey later kills the last surviving frat boy by using her new power.|
|27||2||"Boy Parts"||Michael Rymer||Tim Minear||October 16, 2013||3ATS02||4.51|
|Still seeking to be perpetually young and beautiful, Fiona questions her new captive, Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who in the previous episode was dug up from an unmarked grave, still alive. Delphine tells Fiona that 180 years ago, a voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) gave her an immortality elixir, killed her family, and buried her alive. In hopes of becoming immortal as well, Fiona visits the still-living Laveau in a 9th Ward beauty salon and creates a renewed rivalry between the Salem witches and the voodoo practitioners. Meanwhile, Zoe and Madison decide to cast a resurrection spell in order to bring Kyle (Evan Peters), one of several frat boy members that Madison murdered, back to life. When Kyle reanimates as a scared, angry monster, Zoe must seek help from a reclusive Necromancer, Misty Day. Elsewhere, Cordelia and her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) have trouble conceiving a child, so he wants her to perform a fertility ritual.|
|28||3||"The Replacements"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||James Wong||October 23, 2013||3ATS03||3.78|
|Madison and Nan take a liking to the new next door neighbor, Luke Ramsey (Alexander Dreymon), but have problems with his overly-religious mother Joan (Patti LuPone). After an encounter with the Ramseys, Madison develops the power of Pyrokinesis. A weakened Fiona learns she has terminal cancer and believes it to be caused by one of the students rising to take her place as the Supreme. After hearing of Madison's growing power, Fiona takes her under wing. She shows Madison what it means to be a real witch, and gets her to reveal another new power she possesses. Realizing she is the next Supreme, Fiona plans to get rid of her. Meanwhile, Zoe visits Kyle's distraught mother (Mare Winningham) and takes him home, not knowing of her true colors. Cordelia is told by her doctor that she can never have a baby and goes to Marie Laveau for help. As punishment for her crimes of torture and abuse of slaves in 1830, the racist Delphine LaLaurie is forced by Fiona to be a maid to the students, causing tension between her and Queenie.|
|29||4||"Fearful Pranks Ensue"||Michael Uppendahl||Jennifer Salt||October 30, 2013||3ATS04||3.71|
|Fiona tells the house butler, Spalding (Denis O'Hare), to get rid of Madison's body and rescues Queenie from the Minotaur, a mythological beast that was sent to the Academy by Marie Laveau. At Kyle's house, Zoe hastily cleans up the mess that he created after killing his mother, but ends up losing him as Halloween commences. Away on a "business" trip, Hank cheats on Cordelia with his girlfriend, Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), whom he then murders in his hotel room. The Council of Witchcraft pays a surprise visit the Academy to discuss Madison's disappearance. After receiving a gruesome present from Fiona, Marie officially ends the truce between the witches and voodoo practitioners and calls upon the dead to wreak havoc on the Academy.|
|30||5||"Burn, Witch. Burn!"||Jeremy Podeswa||Jessica Sharzer||November 6, 2013||3ATS05||3.80|
|Continuing from the last episode set on Halloween night, Zoe and the others go on the defensive when zombies attempt to get into the school. Faced with death, Zoe unleashes a new power. Madame LaLaurie deals with the fact that she was a horrible mother when she sees her own daughters amongst the hordes of zombies. After an attack on Cordelia leaves her blind and helpless, Fiona also deals with the fact that she was a bad mother. The Council returns after the attacks on Cordelia and the girls, but Fiona manages to persuade them into believing head of the Council, Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), attacked Cordelia due to her grudge against Fiona. Myrtle is sentenced to burn at the stake for harming another witch. At the end, Misty Day appears and resurrects Myrtle.|
|31||6||"The Axeman Cometh"||Michael Uppendahl||Douglas Petrie||November 13, 2013||3ATS06||4.16|
|Zoe, Queenie and Nan decide to come together as a Coven and use a spirit board to make contact with the other side in order to find Madison. The girls end up making contact with the spirit of legendary serial killer, The Axeman of New Orleans (Danny Huston). Queenie warns Zoe to stay away from that kind of witchcraft because it has dangerous consequences, but Zoe is determined to find out what happened to Madison. Zoe uses the spirit board alone, and summons the Axeman, who wants something in return for helping her find Madison. After decades of being held inside the Academy's walls, he asks Zoe to release his spirit that was trapped there by its former students. A now blind Cordelia develops the power of Second Sight and finds out about Hank's indiscretion, causing him to worry that she will find out his real secret of being a witch hunter. Madison is revived by Misty, and Kyle is kept at the Coven. Also, Fiona desperately wants to have one last whirlwind romance before she inevitably dies.|
|32||7||"The Dead"||Bradley Buecker||Brad Falchuk||November 20, 2013||3ATS07||4.00|
|Fiona has a tryst with the Axeman, which is complicated by the side effects of her chemotherapy. Meanwhile, Zoe casts a spell to restore Spalding's tongue and interrogates him, killing him after he admits Fiona was Madison's real murderer. A newly revived Madison bonds with Kyle over being undead. Delphine and Queenie also become closer, and Delphine tells Queenie that the other witches will never truly accept her because of her race. Queenie visits Marie, who offers to let Queenie join the voodoo practitioners if she brings her Delphine. After walking in on Kyle and Madison having sex, Zoe feels betrayed by them both, but Madison claims the two should simply share him. Zoe refuses, knowing that the minute they have sex her power will kill him. Madison insists that she can't kill him because he is already dead; that night Madison, Zoe and Kyle engage in a threesome.|
|33||8||"The Sacred Taking"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Ryan Murphy||December 4, 2013||3ATS08||4.07|
|Fearing for their lives, Misty and a resurrected Myrtle arrive at the Coven to escape a witch hunter. The Coven prepares for the Sacred Taking ritual; which is only invoked to protect the Coven in which a Supreme witch takes her own life to ensure the safety of the Coven, hastening the arrival of the next Supreme. As Fiona's health begins to fail, she finds Madison dancing around her bed. Madison claims to be the next Supreme by reviving herself, and Fiona's punishment will be to burn at the stake. She convinces Fiona to avoid that fate and swallow a handful of pills given to her. Fiona takes ipecac syrup, and vomits up the pills. She vows that she will avenge both Spalding's death and her own. At Marie Laveau's, Delphine is being held in a cage with no food or water. Delphine scoffs at Marie's taunts, pointing out she cannot die. Marie produces a large sword, mocking Delphine's lack of imagination. She hacks off Delphine's hand, warning that she's just getting started. That evening, an attack is carried out when an unseen witch hunter shoots and kills Joan Ramsey and injures Luke while Nan escapes injury. Misty, at Fiona's insistence, resurrects Joan. The next morning, with no servants to be found, Fiona answers the front door, only to find a cardboard box on the porch. She scans it with magic, takes it inside and opens it. Inside is Delphine LaLaurie's severed head staring back at her.|
|34||9||"Head"||Howard Deutch||Tim Minear||December 11, 2013||3ATS09||3.94|
|Marie scoffs at Fiona's offer of an alliance, but must later reconsider when witch hunter Hank turns his attention on her voodoo tribe. Hank's back story is revealed, showing how his father trained him to be a witch hunter and how he met and charmed his way into Cordelia's life. Myrtle finally gets her revenge upon the Council that betrayed her. Meanwhile, Queenie attempts to force the disembodied Delphine to appreciate the modern African-American heritage. Nan's clairvoyance allows a comatose Luke to reveal a dark Ramsey family secret. Also, Myrtle restores Cordelia's eyes and allows her to see again. In doing so, Cordelia loses her power of Second Sight.|
|35||10||"The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||James Wong||January 8, 2014||3ATS10||3.49|
|Marie and Fiona form an uneasy alliance in order to protect themselves from the witch hunters. Meanwhile, Nan develops new powers of being able to read and control people's thoughts. Madison tries to sabotage Zoe and the other witches in the race for the Supremacy. Fiona tries to show Misty the wonderful things a Supreme can enjoy, by introducing Stevie Nicks to her. It is also revealed how Marie is still beautiful and alive after so many years. Nan learns that Joan murdered Luke in his hospital bed after he threatened to reveal a family secret, and Nan turns to a dark path by exacting an equally cruel and lethal revenge against Joan.|
|36||11||"Protect the Coven"||Bradley Buecker||Jennifer Salt||January 15, 2014||3ATS11||3.46|
|A flashback to the 1830s reveals the origins of Delphine LaLaurie. After she moves back to New Orleans from Paris, she fears she will tire of the city's atmosphere. She then discovers her shocking attraction to blood and torture. In present day, a newly reassembled Delphine takes up an old hobby to pass the time. Marie and Fiona have a deadly face off with witch hunters of the Delphi Trust, while Cordelia makes a desperate sacrifice to protect the Coven. Meanwhile, a jealous Madison doesn't accept the fact that Kyle is in love with Zoe. The two argue over who deserves him more and Madison uses magic to hurt Zoe.|
|37||12||"Go to Hell"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Jessica Sharzer||January 22, 2014||3ATS12||3.35|
|Knowing her death from cancer is approaching, Fiona attempts to make amends by saying goodbye to Cordelia, giving her a family heirloom. Cordelia regains her power of Second Sight and foresees the harrowing future of the Coven. Cordelia goes to the Axeman and shares her visions with him, which later leads to the murder of Fiona. With Fiona gone, the girls finally band together as a Coven. Also, Queenie summons Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) and visits her own personal hell. Later Queenie kills Delphine LaLaurie, inadvertently killing Marie (as Papa Legba terminated their immortality after breach of contract) and the two find themselves in their actual hell, which is an eternity of Delphine being tortured by Marie in her own torture chamber.|
|38||13||"The Seven Wonders"||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon||Douglas Petrie||January 29, 2014||3ATS13||4.24|
|In order to identify the next Supreme, Zoe, Madison, Misty and Queenie undergo the test of the Seven Wonders. The Seven Wonders are seven acts of magic so advanced, each pushes the boundaries of witchcraft. The one who performs them all successfully is the next Supreme. At first, the girls pass each test of magic with ease, until they reach the test of descensum, where they must send their spirits to hell and return before sunrise. All pass the test except Misty whose spirit remains trapped in her own personal hell. When the sun rises, her body turns to dust. They recommence the tests with completing the act of transmutation (teleportation). This leads Zoe to her own demise when she teleports herself through the iron gates of the Academy, impaling and ultimately killing herself. Queenie tries, but can't resurrect Zoe. Madison has the power to perform the resurrection, but refuses. By process of elimination, she believes she is the new Supreme. Fearing Madison as Supreme will be no different from Fiona, Myrtle convinces Cordelia to join the competition. Cordelia completes all the tests successfully while Madison fails at divination. Cordelia brings back Zoe and is crowned Supreme. Myrtle later requests to again be burned alive for her dishonorable actions of murder. Kyle kills Madison for refusing to resurrect Zoe, and Spalding takes her body. Cordelia makes peace with her dying mother after inheriting her powers and title of Supreme. Fiona then joins the Axeman in her personal hell where, as he informs her, they will spend the rest of eternity. At the end, Cordelia comes out to the public on television, informing people of the witches' Coven. Along with new Council members Zoe and Queenie, and the new house butler Kyle, she offers hope to young witches everywhere.|
In January 2013, series co-creator Ryan Murphy hinted that a clue about the third season would be hidden in the tenth episode of the second season. In a later interview discussing that episode, he stated, "I sorta feel like for the third version I want to do something that's a little bit more 'evil glamour.' Just something that's a little bit more...one of the things that I missed this season was I really loved having that Romeo and Juliet youth story with Violet and Tate [from the first season]. I want something like that again and we're doing something like that in the third season. And we're contemplating shooting the show in a different place. We're contemplating shooting it in a place in the country where true horror has been." In another interview, Murphy added that the season would be set in the modern day.
Executive producer Tim Minear has stated that, while this season's tone might be lighter with more humor, the global themes of it will be "oppression of minorities of all kinds, and within that idea, minority groups going after each other and doing the work of the larger culture." He added, "While there is a strong feminist theme that runs throughout Coven, there are themes of race and themes of oppression, and themes of family – especially mothers and daughters."
In October 2016, Murphy stated that a future season of the show will feature a return/continuation of Coven. However, that season is to be determined. He stated that this is not the theme for season 7, but a later season. He also confirmed that Lady Gaga's character from Roanoke is the first Supreme. Later that month, Murphy announced that the season would be a Coven and Murder House crossover continuation. Merging stories, themes and characters. He also stated that he had begun reaching out to actors from both seasons to reprise their respective roles. However, in January 5, 2018, it was previuosly confirmed that the Murder House and Coven crossover will be in the ninth season, but in July 14, 2018 that the crossover season is moved from the ninth season to eighth.
Series executive producers and co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk stated that, as with the second season, "many actors" would return for the third season in different roles. Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson all confirmed their returns. Murphy added that Lange would portray a "real glamour-cat lady", whose name was later revealed to be Fiona Goode. Paulson said in an interview that her character would "definitely [be] different [to her season two character]." She added, "Basically, she's going to look different, and my relationship to Lange is going to be quite different this time. At the beginning of last season, no one knew that Lana would be the hero, so it's possible I could end up the evil one this year. As of right now, there will be some of Lana Winters' qualities in my character, but I don't know for sure." Taissa Farmiga, who played a lead role in the first season, starred as Zoe Benson, a character involved in a prominent romance with Peters' character. Lily Rabe and Frances Conroy portrayed series regulars Misty Day and Myrtle Snow, respectively. Kathy Bates co-starred as Delphine LaLaurie, an evil woman from the past who tortures her slaves. Murphy stated that Bates' character would be "five times worse than [her] Misery character" and is also inspired by a "true event". It was reported on May 22, 2013 that Emma Roberts would co-star as Madison Montgomery, a difficult Hollywood starlet.
In May 2013, Murphy announced via Twitter that Angela Bassett and Patti LuPone had joined the cast. Bassett later confirmed she would be playing voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. In an interview, LuPone said that her character, Joan Ramsey, would not be a witch but "the personification of the religious right, 'like Piper Laurie in Carrie.'" Gabourey Sidibe appeared in 12 episodes of the season portraying Queenie, a young witch, whose prominent ability allows her to become a human voodoo doll. First season actress Jamie Brewer recurred as Nan, a young witch who is clairvoyant.
In July and August 2013, Murphy announced through Twitter that first season alums Denis O'Hare and Alexandra Breckenridge had joined the cast in unknown roles, later known as Spalding and Kaylee, respectively. Also in August, Murphy announced that Christine Ebersole would be playing a "Glinda the Good Witch-type of gal", who is Fiona's predecessor. In an interview, Jessica Lange revealed that Mare Winningham had joined the cast as Peters' character's mother, Alicia Spencer. Leslie Jordan announced that he had joined the cast as Quentin Fleming, a high-ranking witch. In September 2013, Alexander Dreymon was cast in the role of Luke Ramsey. Described as "the handsome young man who moves in next door to the Academy". Danny Huston, Josh Hamilton, and Lance Reddick all recurred throughout the season as the Axeman, Hank Foxx, and Papa Legba, respectively. Murphy also invited singer Stevie Nicks to be a part of the season. She appeared in two episodes, "The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks" and "The Seven Wonders".
Principal photography for the season began on July 23, 2013, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The casting call reads, "After two seasons shooting in Los Angeles, the series moves to [New Orleans] for its third season. Filming begins July 23, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana and [will be] completed on January 17, 2014." Despite Ryan Murphy stating that the third season would take place in multiple cities, New Orleans is the primary setting of the third installment.
History of the witches
Witches are humans gifted with the power to affect change by supernatural or paranormal means, a practice known as "witchcraft". Witches are generally female, though there are a few male witches. Because of their unnatural abilities and supposed connections with dark forces, witches have historically been feared, persecuted, and hunted. Many escaped the Salem witch trials and sought refuge in New Orleans. Among the population of witches, there is always one witch per generation who possesses a class of seven powers considered to be advanced acts of magic. This witch is known as the "Supreme". As the witches settled in their new territory, a rivalry between them and the native Voodoo practitioners arose. The feud is still ongoing in present-day New Orleans. A group of witches are the focus of Coven, in which magic is a genetic heredity that connects a person to the elements and forces of nature in order to practice witchcraft.
It has been attested that the witches of Salem received their power from the Voodoo slave girl Tituba, though evidently, their abilities stem from a genetic affliction that is passed down through bloodlines. During the Salem witch trials in 1692, witches faced persecution and decided to flee south in the midst of the hysteria. However, their ailing Supreme, Prudence Mather, was unable to make the journey and decided to take her own life in a ritual known as the Sacred Taking. This selfless act allowed a new Supreme to take power and lead the Coven to safety, where they eventually settled in New Orleans. The generations of witches to follow would become known as the "Salem descendants".
The governing body of the witches and warlocks, depicted as elders and known as the "Council of Wichcraft". They are responsible for policing witch crimes, the concealment of witchcraft to the uninitiated, and for the welcoming of potential students to Miss Robichaux's Academy. The council only visits the Coven on very important cases, such as the death of another witch.
The Supreme Witch, known more colloquially as the Supreme, is a worldwide recognized status among the witches descending from the Salem witch trials. While most witches possess only a handful of gifts, the Supreme is said to embody multiple, if not all, gifts. Historically, there is said to be only one Supreme per generation (approximately 30–50 years). Part of being a Supreme means no ailments or diseases would harm them. The Supreme role comes with the responsibility of the entire Coven as a leader of the new generation. One of the most important tasks of the Supreme is to identify her successor, a task that wasn't accomplished by former Supreme Fiona Goode, and, as a consequence, multiple girls were tested and one of them died trying to perform the Seven Wonders.
As a new Supreme flowers, the life force of the current regnant gradually fades, which manifests as multiple organ failures, disease, and cancer due to the crippled immune system. In the cases where a new Supreme must rise before the natural death of the incumbent, a ritual known as "The Sacred Taking" is employed; it is a stylized suicide blessed by Coven members. It was developed when the ailing Prudence Mather was not able to make the journey to relocate the Coven to New Orleans during the Salem Witch Trials, and allowed a potential to ascend to Supremacy. Fiona inherited her powers earlier than most Supremes (she was in her late teens to early twenties at the time) because she killed her generation's Supreme and self-ascended. Fiona lived for a while after Cordelia became the Supreme, but had already become very weak and sickly.
According to Ryan Murphy, the original Supreme is Scáthach, from Roanoke. Scáthach is an immortal English woman descending from the Druids and their Roman conqueror, and is a practitioner of prehistoric Celtic religion and a worshipper of the Old Gods. She was a stowaway on a British voyage destined for the colonies, but the ship's occupants all died. The colonists discovered her upon landfall and blamed her presence for enraging the sea gods. She was subsequently imprisoned and sentenced to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. Using her darker powers, she massacred the soldiers. This was later blamed on Natives, and Scáthach escaped into the wild. Prudence Mather was the Supreme of Salem. Marion Warton, the purchaser of Miss Robichaux's Academy and the predecessor of Mimi DeLongpre, was followed by Anna-Leigh Leighton, Fiona Goode and the current Supreme, Cordelia Foxx.
A number of magical powers and abilities have been showcased in Coven. Some abilities are inherent or reflexive to certain witches, that is they do not need to focus or concentrate. It is not rare for a witch to manifest more than three powers, though a Supreme is required to have at least seven (the Seven Wonders), though not necessarily all possible powers. It is said that the reason that a Supreme is so powerful is because she is the physical embodiment of many or all powers. Witches are shown to be able to use their powers collectively. Certain abilities can also be triggered by certain events and substances. Voodoo and witchcraft practitioners share certain powers.
The Seven Wonders
All Supremes are assumed to have demonstrated these abilities during their ascension to Supremacy, despite not necessarily being depicted. The explicit depictions of the seven gifts are:
- Telekinesis: The ability to manipulate objects with the power of the mind. This is the most commonly seen power, displayed by many witches.
- Concilium: Imposition of one's will onto another. It can be resisted, though doing so causes increasing intracranial pressure to the point of explosion. If exercised, it can bend the strongest of wills. It is also known as coercion and mind control.
- Pyrokinesis: The ability to control and conjure fire with the power of the mind.
- Divination: The ability to obtain direct knowledge about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the user's physical senses. This can be activated by just being around a person, focusing on specific tasks, searching for information, and touching objects.
- Transmutation: The ability to move instantaneously from one location to another without physically occupying the space in between, also known as teleportation.
- Vitalum Vitalis: The balancing of the scales between one life force and another. Witches can transfer their own life force to dead or nearly dead people in order to heal them. Commonly seen side effects are fainting and dizziness due to the strain. Can also be used to drain life force as well.
- Descensum: Perilous descent into the nether worlds of afterlife. Witches are able to project themselves directly into hell, which takes the form of their worst fears. If a witch is stuck for a certain amount of time, they will never be able to leave and their body disintegrates into dust. To use this power, they commonly chant an incantation.
- Immortality: The ability to live forever and never age. It allow user to immune to aging, diseases, and even death.
- Resurgence: Returning oneself or others from the dead to full life. It is powerful enough to heal the skin of burnt corpses and even fuse limbs not previously attached to the body. The power is useless if the body is in too many pieces. Not to be confused with the Resurrection Spell which can be done by any witch that performs the ritual and incantation, often with undesirable results in accordance with the witches power and adherence to the spell. Nor is it the same as the Voodoo power of Necromancy which creates mindless zombies.
- Injury Transference: Traumatic physical injuries sustained can be sympathetically transmuted to the body of another, chosen by the caster, along with the pain of the injury. Also referred to as "human voodoo doll".
- Black Widow: The ability to cause fatal hemorrhage by coitus. Also referred to as "killer vagina". More like a congenital curse than a power.
- Power Negation: Cancelling out someone else's magic or voodoo curse. Zoe was able to use this power when Marie Laveau sent evil undead creatures (zombies) to Miss Robichaux's Academy, although she had no prior knowledge that she possessed the ability before-hand and it was activated out of sheer panic and alarm.
- The Sight: The ability to see significant visions of the past and future through touch. It applies to people and materials in a series of visions or premonitions. Also referred to as "Second Sight", it is described as the greatest ability to have and the most painful to live with.
- Clairvoyance: An ability that can manifest as the power to read the minds of others, commonly known as telepathy.
American Horror Story: Coven has received positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 85% approval rating, with an average rating of 7.24/10, based on 32 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "A noteworthy ensemble cast combined with creepy storytelling and campy, outrageous thrills make American Horror Story: Coven a potently structured fright-fest." The season scored 71 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 24 reviews.
In contrast, Coven was also met with negative reviews from some critics. The A.V. Club gave the season a low rating of D+, with critic Todd VanDerWerff remarking, "It lurched drunkenly from idea to idea, never settling on one long enough to build anything of worth."
In their post-season reviews, The Michigan Daily gave Coven a B+, saying, "And while its conclusion, appropriately titled "The Seven Wonders", never quite matched the high standard it set for itself throughout the season, Coven's reputation will nonetheless remain a solid one." Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly gave the season a B rating and said, "I can't deny my experience: Week to week, the excesses of Coven were wickedly amusing. Next year, I hope American Horror Story can be more than that, and with less."
Awards and nominations
In its third season, the series was nominated for 73 awards, 13 of which were won.
|2013||IGN's Best of 2013: TV||Best TV Horror Series||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|2014||4th Critics' Choice TV Awards||Best Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries||Kathy Bates||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries||Jessica Lange||Won|
|5th Dorian Awards||TV Performance of the Year – Actress||Won|
|TV Drama of the Year||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|Campy TV Show of the Year||Won|
|66th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Miniseries||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special||Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk (for "Bitchcraft")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special||Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (for "Bitchcraft")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie||Kathy Bates||Won|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie||Sarah Paulson||Nominated|
|66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special||Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Meagan Lewis||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||Lou Eyrich, Elizabeth Macey, Ken Van Duyne (for "Bitchcraft")||Won|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||Monte C. Haught, Michelle Ceglia, Yolanda Mercadel, Daina Daigle||Won|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kim Ayers, Vicki Vacca, Mike Mekash, Christopher Nelson, Lucy O'Reilly||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special||James S. Levine (for "The Seven Wonders")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||Eryn Krueger Mekash, Mike Mekash, Christien Tinsley, Jason Hamer, Christopher Nelson, David L. Anderson, Cristina Patterson, Rob Freitas||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special||Gary Megregian, David Klotz, Timothy A. Cleveland, Paul Diller, Brian Thomas Nist, Steve M. Stuhr, Lance Wiseman, Noel Vought (for "Fearful Pranks Ensue")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie||Bruce Litecky, Joe Earle, Doug Andham (for "Fearful Pranks Ensue")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Art Direction for a Period Series, Miniseries or a Movie||Mark Worthington, Andrew Murdock, Ellen Brill||Nominated|
|71st Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Miniseries or TV Film||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|Best Miniseries or TV Film||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|61st MPSE Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing in TV – Short Form: Dialogue & ADR||Episode: "Bitchcraft"||Nominated|
|45th NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||Gabourey Sidibe||Nominated|
|18th Online Film & TV Association Awards||Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|Best Miniseries||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture or Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Motion Picture or Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Music in a Non-Series||Nominated|
|Best Editing in a Non-Series||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography in a Non-Series||Nominated|
|Best Production Design in a Non-Series||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design in a Non-Series||Won|
|Best Makeup/Hairstyling in a Non-Series||Won|
|Best Sound in a Non-Series||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects in a Non-Series||Won|
|Best New Titles Sequence||Nominated|
|40th People's Choice Awards||Favorite TV Movie/Miniseries||Won|
|18th Satellite Awards||Best TV Series – Genre||Nominated|
|Best Actress – Miniseries or TV Film||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or TV Film||Kathy Bates||Nominated|
|40th Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actress on TV||Nominated|
|Best Guest Starring Role on TV||Danny Huston||Nominated|
|Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|Best Actress on TV||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|20th Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|30th TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|54th Golden Nymph Awards||Best Actress in a Miniseries||Jessica Lange||Nominated|
|18th ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards||TV Movie or Miniseries||Mark Worthington (for "Bitchcraft")||Nominated|
|35th Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a TV Series – Guest Starring Young Actor 11–13||Toby Nichols||Nominated|
|BET Awards 2014||Best Actress||Angela Bassett||Nominated|
|50th CAS Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – TV Movie or Miniseries||Bruce Litecky, CAS (Production Mixer)
Joe Earle, CAS (Re-recording Mixer)
Doug Andham, CAS (Re-recording Mixer)
James S. Levine (Scoring Mixer)
Judah Getz (ADR Mixer)
Kyle Billingsley (Foley Mixer) (for "The Replacements")
|16th CDG Awards||Outstanding Made for TV Movie or Miniseries||Lou Eyrich||Nominated|
|Make-up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards 2014||Miniseries or TV Movie Period and/or Character Make-up||Eryn Krueger Mekash, Christien Tinsley||Nominated|
|Miniseries or TV Movie Period and/or Character Hair Styling||Monte C. Haught||Nominated|
|51st ICG Publicists Awards||Maxwell Weinberg Campaign Award – TV||Matthew Mitchell||Won|
|TV Guide Awards 2012||Favorite Horror Show||American Horror Story: Coven||Nominated|
|Women's Image Network Awards 2014||Actress MFT Movie/Miniseries||Emma Roberts (for "The Dead")||Nominated|
|2015||26th PGA Awards||Outstanding Producer of Long-Form TV||Brad Buecker, Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, Joseph Incaprera, Alexis Martin Woodall, Tim Minear, Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt, James Wong (also for Freak Show)||Nominated|
|30th Artios Awards||TV Movie or Miniseries||Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Meagan Lewis (Location Casting), Eric Souliere (Associate)||Nominated|
|Bram Stoker Award 2014||Superior Achievement in a Screenplay||James Wong (for "The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks")||Nominated|
Coven's premiere episode, "Bitchcraft", was watched by 5.54 million viewers, which, at the time, was the highest total viewers of any American Horror Story episode. It was surpassed by the fourth season's premiere, "Monsters Among Us", which received 6.13 million viewers during its broadcast. The ratings slipped for the second episode, delivering 4.51 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49 – down 17% from the premiere. The rest of the season's episodes remained relatively steady in ratings; the episode with the lowest viewing numbers was the penultimate episode, "Go to Hell".
|Season||Ep. 1||Ep. 2||Ep. 3||Ep. 4||Ep. 5||Ep. 6||Ep. 7||Ep. 8||Ep. 9||Ep. 10||Ep. 11||Ep. 12||Ep. 13|
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