Six years ago, AHS fans fell in love with the deliciously campy Coven and its catty group of in-fighting witches. Now they're back, riding out the end times in Season 8's Apocalypse. But as fabulous as that season was, there's no shame in needing a reminder of what happened in AHS: Coven, exactly. Since Season 3, viewers have been witness to traveling freak shows, haunted hotels, bloody reality shows, and murderous cults. That's a lot of horror to digest, and it's understandable if some of the finer details of Coven have since escaped your mind.
First, some broad strokes you'll probably remember: Season 3 largely took place in Miss Robichaux's Academy, a boarding school for young witches located in the fabulously atmospheric New Orleans. In the past, the witches of Miss Robichaux's frequently clashed with the town's native voodoo sect, although a tentative truce had temporarily put a stop to the fighting, if not the tension. Meanwhile, both witches and voodoo practitioners live in hiding, out of fear of being slaughtered by witch hunters, humans determined to stamp out sorcery for good.
Coven begins with a new arrival at Miss Robichaux's, and things quickly spiral out of control from there. Here's how it all went down:
The viewer's entry into the world of Coven is Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), who finds out she's a witch when the loss of her virginity causes her boyfriend to have a brain hemorrhage. Shipped off to Miss Robichaux's, she meets its eclectic inhabitants: Madison (Emma Roberts), a former child star with the power of telekinesis; Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), a human voodoo doll; Nan (Jamie Brewer), a telepath; their butler, the mute Spalding (Denis O'Hare); their teacher Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), adept at potions; and Cordelia's mother, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), the reigning Supreme who is determined to hold onto her title at all costs.
Digging Up The Past
The tensions between the Miss Robichaux's clan and the voodoo witches led by Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) are reignited when Nan's ability discovers the long-hidden body of Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), an 1830s New Orleans socialite who enjoyed torturing and killing her slaves. When she killed Marie's lover Bastien, the voodoo priestess punished Delphine by making her drink an elixir of immortality... and then burying her alive. (She then revived Bastien as the fearful Minotaur.) Forced to act as Queenie's servant, Queenie turns Delphine over to Marie in exchange for joining her clan; and then Marie punishes Delphine again by decapitating her and sending her still-talking head back to Miss Robichaux's in a box.
I Wanna Be Forever Young
Fiona became Supreme by murdering her predecessor, and the aging witch (who's also dying of cancer) is desperate to regain her youth and remain Supreme forever — so she murders again, this time killing her presumed successor, Madison Montgomery. Fiona frames Witches' Council member Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) for the murder, and Myrtle is promptly burned at the stake for the crime... but Madison is resurrected by necromancer Misty Day (Lily Rabe). Eventually, in the face of the threat of the encroaching witch hunters, Fiona reluctantly teams up with Marie Laveau to take them down.
Things don't end well for many of Coven's characters. Zoe murders Spalding after he admits that Fiona killed Madison and he covered it up. Nan is drowned by Fiona and Marie as an offering to the demonic Papa Legba. Marie — who has remained immortal thanks to a pact with Papa Legba — is banished to hell when she can't maintain her end of their bargain. Queenie also murders Delphine, and Delphine and Marie are condemned to live out eternity torturing each other. Fiona realizes she can't regain her youth by killing the next Supreme, because the next Supreme turns out to be... her own daughter, Cordelia (more on that in a moment). So Fiona succumbs to her cancer and is forced to live out her own personal hell: a boringly domestic life with her former lover, the Axeman of New Orleans.
Even Queenie, who survived the events of Season 3, was murdered two years later when she checked into the Hotel Cortez in Season 5.
I'm Coming Out
In order to truly determine the identity of the next Supreme, the students of Miss Robichaux's engage in a deadly trial known as the Seven Wonders. Not all of them survive. Misty dies when she can't escape her own personal hell before sunrise, her body crumbling into ash. Zoe dies when her teleportation test goes awry, impaling herself on the school's wrought iron fence. Madison dies when she refuses to use her power to bring Zoe back to life, Zoe's furious zombie boyfriend Kyle strangling her in retaliation.
Eventually, Cordelia — who gained the power of Second Sight when she was blinded by acid; only to lose it when she was given her eyes back by Myrtle; only to regain it again when she blinded herself with garden shears — proves herself to be the next Supreme. She passes the test, brings Zoe back to life, reforms the Witches' Council with Zoe and Queenie at her side... and "comes out," announcing the existence of witches to the wider world.
With so many of Coven's characters dead, how will they return in Season 8? Watch the premiere of Apocalypse on Wednesday Sept. 12 to find out.