Just like last week where I wrote up a plot summary of all the important stuff from American Horror Story’s first season Murder House, this week I will be recapping Coven, the other season the new AHS crossover will feature. I like to call Coven Ryan Murphy’s fashion season, because clearly a lot of time and focus went into the designer goth-couture wardrobes of the witches. But, just like every season of American Horror Story (and every season of most everything Ryan Murphy directs), there is an intricate and sometimes difficult to follow plot, and one that is certainly difficult to remember. So, in case you might not have time to rewatch both seasons before the season eight premiere on September 12th, I’ve done my best to prepare you for the coming Apocalypse.
Just in case you missed it last week, here is the season eight trailer again:
Coven begins with Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), a teenaged girl who is planning on losing her virginity. But when she has sex with her boyfriend, and he dies a horrible death, Zoe discovers that she is a witch descended from Salem, and her power is that when she has sex with someone, they bleed out and die. Zoe’s parents send her to New Orleans where she becomes part of an all-girls private school for witches, where they all live together in a huge mansion.
The other members of this coven include queen bee mean girl Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), a spoiled actress who has the power of telekinesis, Nan (Jamie Brewster) a teenaged girl with Down’s Syndrome who can read minds, and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), a black teenager from Detroit who can transfer her physical pain to others like a human Voodoo doll. A witch named Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) owns and runs the school.
The murder of a witch named Misty Day (Lily Rabe) by burning at the stake brings Cordelia’s mother, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) back to the mansion. Fiona is the reigning Supreme, the most powerful witch of her generation. She tells her daughter that she has come back to protect her, but she also has another secret motive: attempting to regain her youth.
Zoe and Madison go to a frat party where Madison is date raped by a group of the frat boys. As the bus drives away, Zoe flips it with her mind, killing all but one of the brothers, Kyle (Evan Peters), who Zoe kills later with her lethal sex.
Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is found buried in an unmarked grave. She is somehow still alive, and tells Fiona that she is under an immortality spell from 180 years prior, one which the immortal Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) cast on her after she killed her family. Seeing an opportunity to become immortal herself, Fiona finds the still-living Marie Laveau working at a beauty salon in the 9th Ward where she starts to reignite the long-standing feud between the witches and the Voodoo practitioners.
Zoe and Madison resurrect Kyle from the dead, but when he comes back to life he holds new, monstrous qualities and he cannot speak well. Zoe seeks help from Necromancer Misty Day, a Stevie Nicks-esque recluse who lives in a local swamp. Cordelia and her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) decide to use a fertility ritual when Cordeila is having trouble getting pregnant.
Madison’s power grows when she discovers she can also light things on fire with her mind. Fiona, who is growing sick, finds out that she has terminal cancer she believes is bring brought on by a new Supreme who is spiritually taking her place. Assuming that witch to be Madison due to her obvious powers, Fiona begins to get closer to her, helping her discover even more new powers. Fiona kills Madison after a night of drinking, seemingly on accident. Fiona was also responsible for the death of a young Voodoo practitioner named Anna-Leigh in 1971, who was supposed to be the next Supreme. Only one young witch knew the truth, Myrtle Snow (Michlle Page), who enchants Fiona’s butler Spaulding (Denis O’Hare) to tell the truth, as he has always followed her and cleaned up her messes. However, in an act of devotion, Spaulding cuts out his tongue. He also cleans up Madison’s body.
Delphine’s racist history is revealed; she abused and murdered young slaves and attempted to use their blood to keep her young. To atone for those crimes, Fiona makes her the maid of the house. Queenie is killed by a Minotaur, sent to the academy by Marie Laveau, and then brought back to life. It is revealed that Cordelia’s husband has a mistress named Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge) whom he murders after she admits she is in love with him.
The Council of Witches is summoned by Nan when she realizes she can no longer hear Madison’s thoughts and grows worried. Myrtle screams to the Council that she knows that Fiona killed both Madison and Anna-Leigh. The Council demands that Spaulding write the name of the murderer down, but he instead writes Myrtle’s name. Cordelia is blinded by a hooded person who throws acid on her face. She discovers Hank’s affair when she touches his hand and sees a vision of him having sex with Kaylee. This concerns him especially because he is worried that she will discover his bigger secret, that he is a witch hunter.
The Council later insists that Fiona abdicate her Supremacy, but she refuses and accuses Myrtle of blinding Cordelia and killing Madison, presenting evidence that she was in town during the attack, and revealing her acid burned hands under her gloves. She is taken by the Council and the house to be burned at the stake. It turns out that Queenie, duped by Fiona, burned her own hands in acid and thus made Myrtle’s also appear burned. Misty Day brings Myrtle back to life after she is killed.
While trying to contact Madison with a spirit board, Zoe, Queenie, and Nan accidentally make contact with the Axeman of New Orleans (Danny Huston), a suave and handsome serial killer/jazz musician. Zoe returns to the board to summon him to help her find out what happened to Madison, but he wants something in return. Zoe grants this, and his spirit is released. He begins a romantic relationship with Fiona, who desires one more fling before the cancer kills her. Madison is revived by Misty and finds out that Fiona was responsible for her death. She bonds with Kyle, who is now living at the mansion, over being undead, and Zoe walks in on them having sex. After Madison tells her that she will not kill Kyle with her power because he is already dead, they have a threesome.
After getting closer with Queenie, the Delphine tells her she will never be accepted for the powers she truly has because she is black. Marie Laveau captures and imprisons the Delphine, eventually chopping off her head. She sends it to the school in a box which Fiona opens. Fiona offers an alliance to Marie Laveau, who must accept due to the witch hunter’s recent focus on Voodoo practitioners. Hank’s past is revealed, including how he tricked his way into Cordelia’s heart. Myrtle, who has returned to the school fleeing from a witch hunter, tells Cordelia that she did not harm her, which Cordelia already knows, as she had always been a mother to her. Myrtle seeks revenge on the Council, and removes an eye from each to restore Cordelia’s vision.
Queenie, at Laveau’s salon, continues to attempt to teach Delphine about her racism, seeming to make some progress. After leaving her and going downstairs, she and Marie Laveau are attacked by Hank, who Queenie kills by shooting herself in the mouth. Marie and Fiona form an alliance.
Nan develops the ability to change people’s thoughts, believing that she too could be the next Supreme. Fiona summons Papa Legba, the same Voodoo spirit that gave Marie eternal life in exchange for a yearly infant sacrifice. She offers her soul in exchange for eternal youth, but he counters and tells her she has no soul to give him. Losing all hope, she decides to murder the entire coven since she cannot be sure of who the next Supreme really is. She offers Papa Legba the soul of Nan instead, drowning her in a bathtub. Queenie also returns, angry, believing herself to also be the new Supreme. Cordelia blinds herself with garden shears to regain her second sight and save the coven.
Delphine murders a black gardener and buries his body, and Spaulding ghost returns to encourage her to kill Marie Laveau. He gives her a package of Benadryl to give to Marie. The men from the Delphi Trust (the witch hunters group) meet with Fiona and Marie to create a truce. However, the Axeman, at Fiona’s request, kills the men. Delphine gives a Benadryl cocktail to Marie and attempts to kill her. Spaulding suggests that Delphine bury Marie in a way she can never escape, the way she was buried.
Zoe and Kyle leave for Ontario, enraging a jealous Madison. Fiona tries to make amends with Cordelia as her cancer gets worse and worse. Cordelia, using her second sight, sees the terrible future of the coven and shares her visions with the Axeman, who kills Fiona after discovering she was going to leave him. The women are finally able to work together as a coven with divisive Fiona dead. Queenie discovers a new talent, that she is able to visit her version of hell (a chicken shack where she once worked). Through Queenie’s intervention, she convinces Papa Legba to terminate both Marie and Delphine’s immortality. They are sent to their own personal hell: Delphine’s daughter tortured eternally by Marie while she watches.
In the last episode, Madison, Zoe, Queenie, and Misty all compete to see who is the rightful next Supreme. They must complete the test called the Seven Wonders, where they display seven different powers. All four pass the tests of Telekinesis and and mind control, but Lily is unable to complete the third task, going to and returning from personal hell. Lily is trapped forever dissecting a frog in a high school science class. The remaining three pass the next test of teleportation, but Zoe and the girls playfully engage in a game of teleporting tag, which results in the death of Zoe when she accidentally impales herself. Queenie attempts to resurrect her, but fails, thus eliminating her from being the next Supreme. Madison refuses to try to save Madison, instead reviving a dead fly to prove her power.
Myrtle tells Cordelia that because she is of royal blood, she should also attempt the Seven Wonders. She is able to complete them all, including divination, which Madison fails. An enraged Madison threatens to expose the coven to the press, but is killed by Kyle, in revenge for refusing to save Zoe. As her last task, Cordelia resurrects Zoe and faints. When she awakes, her vision has returned, and she is declared the new Supreme.
Myrtle tells Cordelia that justice must be served, and that Cordelia must sentence her for killing the Council. Reluctantly, Cordelia agrees and Myrtle is burned at the stake a second time. Attempting a new start, Cordelia comes out as a witch publicly, and does media interviews about her powers and the school, and Queenie and Zoe become the new Council. It is revealed that Fiona is still alive, having implanted a memory into the Axeman’s brain, convincing him that he had killed her. Fiona tells Cordelia to put her out of her misery once and for all, but she refuses, telling her she needs to let go on her own, and Fiona dies in her embrace. Fiona awakes to her own personal hell in one of my favorite scenes in AHS history: inside the rustic rural home of the Axeman, who is still madly in love with her, where she must live with him forever. She looks around at the walls and screams in horror at the décor: “Knotty pine?!”
The new students from far and wide meet Cordelia who is introduced as the new Supreme. She declares that the purpose of the coven is not to simply survive anymore, but to thrive.
Phew! I’m telling you, these seasons are hard to recap. They are just so complicated! I certainly had to leave a lot out, but I think I covered the important stuff. How the crossover will work, I don’t think anyone can really guess. With so many different actors playing two different roles in two different seasons, it seems like a complicated mess. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s Ryan Murphy’s team. Hopefully, you feel a little more prepared for the season eight premiere, for the coming Apocalypse.