American Horror Story 3×01 ‘Bitchcraft’: the most anticipated premiere of the fall does not disappoint | Gotta Watch It!

American Horror Story 3×01 ‘Bitchcraft’: the most anticipated premiere of the fall does not disappoint

AHS3

American Horror Story‘s season three premiere is arguably the most anticipated of the fall and it definitely delivers. If you need convincing, here’s 6 reasons why you should be watching. As the show goes older, the better it gets and this season really feels like it’s going to be their most entertaining yet. The premiere features everything fans love about the show as it revisits old traits from past seasons. Although there is some debate around which previous season is better, it doesn’t matter because ‘Bitchcraft’ incorporates the best elements from the two very different seasons. 

Similarly to the first season, ‘Bitchcraft’ opens with a scene from the past before showing us present day. Working with existing mythology is something the show excels at and once again it works extremely well. Prior to the show premiere, co-creator Ryan Murphy stated that Kathy Bates’ role is “five times worse than [her] Misery character” and the show wastes no time in establishing that. Although we only see her at the very beginning of the show, it’s clear that she is going to be this season’s antagonist, along with many others I’m sure.

As well as resembling it’s past seasons, American Horror Story: Coven draws techniques and elements from a number of other shows and films. The most notable being it’s use of techniques that were first established during the German Expressionist movement. Although they are very subtle references, they’re still done really well. The first example can be found in the scene prior to the title sequence (which is the best yet) where the camera mimics an eye opening and shutting. The other example is the entire flashback of the Salem witch trials, both borrow techniques seen in one of the most important films to come from the movement, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Hopefully this is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of as the season continues.

Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts

Source: FX

The show appears to have gotten better at mixing the past and the present, as social media websites are cleverly incorporated in the premiere. Where the second season is a little slow to start with, ‘Bitchcraft’ does an excellent job of establishing each character’s motive and suggesting what the rest of the season will be exploring. Watching witches live and operate freely in a modern day setting is something that can be seen in beloved nineties show Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. This is something the show addresses when Madison (Emma Roberts) calls Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) Sabrina. Also Sarah Paulson’s character Cordelia Foxx appears to be similar to Sabrina’s level-headed aunt Zelda, as we see her working with potions. Coven promises a darker and more terrifying up to date take on witches. There is definitely a much stronger cast this year and it’s great seeing actors from season one making a return too. Jessica Lange is outstanding once again, as she plays long-absent Supreme, Fiona with a level of intensity nobody else can seem to deliver. Kathy Bates promises to be a good match for Lange and there is also a number of actresses we haven’t seen yet. There’s a strong mix of personalities from the young witches at the academy, but it’s not clear if Emma Roberts is a necessary addition to the cast just yet. Her character is very one dimensional and a complete distraction from everything else the show is doing right at the moment. No doubt this will all change soon now Fiona is here to stay.

Notes and Observations

  • Similar opening to season two: people having sex and it ending badly, something that can be seen in a number of different horror films
  • Taissa Farmiga plays a virgin (although not for very long) again, her story is similar to Jessica’s in True Blood i.e. discovering her powers in an unpleasant way
  • The party scene is shot a lot like a similar scene in A&E’s Bate’s MotelAmerican Horror Story‘s does it with more creative and uncomfortable shots though
  • It’s great to see the show’s impressive use of fish-eye making a return, something that was only done in one particular episode of season two
  • “I don’t have a broomstick” “Ha, that’s ironic”
  • The doorbell at the academy is essentially the same doorbell at the Murder House in season one
  • The premiere’s rape scene is even more uncomfortable than season two’s
  • Once again the show is delivering another outstanding soundtrack, from Lauren O’Connell heard in the trailer to Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in the premiere
  • Gabourey Sidibe’s character is a human voodoo doll which is extremely cool
  • Denis O’Hare is looking creepy as ever

 

is a filmmaker, cat lady, writer and general lover of TV who leaves her mark across the internet under the pseudonym Catstello. When she isn’t contributing to Sound on Sight, Portable and Gotta Watch It, she is posting top lists, reviews and other stuff on her own blog: catstello.wordpress.com

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  • Kendra Beltran

    I just about threw a fit over Evan’s character dying until my friend was like, calm down…He’s in the main cast. I was like oh yeah…and the preview also helped settle my dismay as I was about to find Ryan Murphy and just yell. I didn’t even catch the Sabrina stuff, good write up!

  • John M.

    Honestly my favorite part of AHS is that it is shameless pastiche, and trying to name all the random references (this season seems like it’s gonna tack a lot more towards contemporary fantasy culture, 70s south-sploitation, and yeah, I think german expressionism-influenced noir?) is almost as fun as watching the show.

  • Zayne Mills

    I thought it was so good. I love how the girls all have different powers. Do you think that Taissa Farmiga is the supreme witch?

  • http://playwithdeath.com/ Jeremiah Cress

    I was so completely disappointed in season 3 that I struggled to finish it. The show went from a dark and gritty show that pushed boundaries to something that felt like it belonged on the WB with a teenaged audience.

    I felt the entire cast did a superb job with their roles and want to take nothing away from them as actors, but I just don’t think the characters were right for this sort of show. Teenage girls with teenage girl problems? No thanks.