A young girl, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), 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 (Jessica Lange), the most powerful witch of their generation, returns to town, reigniting old rivalries with the Coven's deadly enemies, the Voodoo.
During her house party in New Orleans, Madame Delphine LaLaurie introduces her three daughters to potential suitors, but her youngest daughter Pauline makes everyone uncomfortable when she speaks suggestively about her "talent". After the party, Delphine performs her nightly ritual of brushing blood on her face to tighten her skin when her husband Louis alerts her that Pauline was caught with a slave. Delphine sends the slave to her torture chamber in the attic and has a hollowed bull head placed on his head. She gushes about her love for Greek mythology, and with her favorite character being a Minotaur, she is delighted to finally have one of her own.
Zoe Benson's boyfriend Charlie sneaks into the house while her mother is away, and the couple plan to sleep together for the first time. While they have sex, Charlie begins to bleed heavily. He convulses and quickly dies while Zoe screams. Later, the doctors blamed his death on a strange and unexpected aneurysm. Zoe's mother privately tells her that it is Zoe's power, with Zoe and her mother's side of the family being descendants of the Salem witches. Since Zoe is the latest person in the family tree to show signs of magical powers, Zoe's mother informs her that she must be taken to a special boarding school in New Orleans. Seconds later, Myrtle Snow and her albino menservants escort Zoe away. At Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, Zoe is welcomed by three hooded figures who scare her but turn out to be the only three students in the Academy. Zoe recognizes one of the three as Madison Montgomery, a movie star, while the other two introduce themselves as Queenie and Nan. Cordelia Foxx, the headmistress, walks in and explains the history of the Academy, and how the name is actually just a cover-up for a safe haven for witches. When asked, Cordelia also explains that the "Supreme witch" is the witch who is the only one among her generation who can embody most or all powers. She explains that their survival is important because of the dwindling population of witches, as well as the dangers of getting caught like a witch named Misty Day, who had the power of resurgence and brought a dead bird back to life in front of Cajun Pentecostal worshipers, and was burned to death before Cordelia could find her.
Fiona Goode visits the research facility of her late husband in Los Angeles for an experimental serum that would make her young again. Despite her demands, the scientist, Dr. David Zhong, refuses to give it to her in the next two years, and she bribes him so she can have it soon. Five days later, he visits her penthouse and she insults him because the drug hasn't taken effect, leading him to resign, insulting her age in the process. She telekinetically tosses him around the room and then kisses him to drain his life from him. She appears to have gotten younger by doing this but slowly becomes more wrinkled after a while.
During dinner served by Spalding, the girls discuss their powers. Madison recalls the time when she killed her director by telekinetically unscrewing lighting equipment, making it land on his skull all because he was repeatedly telling her off. Queenie and Madison fight and Queenie reveals her Voodoo Doll powers by stabbing herself on the hand with a fork and sending the wound to Madison and threatening to slit Madison's throat, but Clairvoyant Nan calms her. Madison declares Zoe to be her new best friend since she is the "most normal" one there, and tells her they will go to a frat party later. Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, Cordelia is brewing plants, and she is surprised by her mother Fiona's sudden appearance. Cordelia is cold to her mother, the current Supreme, for her abandonment to both her own daughter and the Coven, while Fiona is disappointed in Cordelia's lack of ambition since, as the daughter of the Supreme, she could have had anything she wanted if she tried. Fiona tells her that she plans to stay here and teach the girls how to survive since she thinks Cordelia isn't doing a good enough job.
College student and fraternity member Kyle Spencer arrives at a party with his frat brothers in a private bus. Madison catches everyone's attention, including Archie, one of Kyle's frat brothers, and is pulled away by other party-goers, leaving Zoe behind. Kyle and Zoe meet and are immediately smitten with each other, but Zoe tells him that she cannot be with him, not wanting him to experience Charle's fate as well. Meanwhile, Madison is tricked by Kyle's frat brother into using a spiked matchstick for her cigarette, making her high and light-headed. He drags her into a room with the other frat brothers and they gang-rape her. Kyle catches them while helping Zoe look for Madison, and they all run to the bus, leaving her on the bed. Kyle attempts to make them stay, but is knocked unconscious. Zoe finds Madison and attempts to run after the bus, but fails. Madison comes outside and causes the bus to flip, crushing it.
The next day, news reports reveal that two frat brothers survived, but their identities are not disclosed. Zoe is hoping Kyle survived and is upset that Madison feels no remorse for her actions. Fiona meets the four students at breakfast and scolds Madison not because she killed people, but because she was sloppy and could raise suspicion. They walk around New Orleans, but Nan hears voices, and they end up taking a detour touring the LaLaurie House. They learn from the tour guide that Marie Laveau, a black voodoo witch, tricked Delphine into drinking a vial that was supposedly a love potion to help Delphine with her husband's infidelity but lead to Delphine's apparent death. Outside, Nan tells Fiona that she hears Delphine under the stone patio.
Meanwhile, Zoe slips away from the group and goes to the hospital to see if Kyle is one of the two surviving frat brothers on the bus. Sees that the only two are a black frat brother, and Archie, the frat brother who initiated Madison's gang rape. Zoe realizes that even if there are threats to witches in the world, she is a danger to others more than others are to her, and finally accepts the powers she has. She then proceeds to rape him while he is unconscious, killing him with her black widow power.
After settling her belongings in the academy, Fiona hypnotizes two men to dig out a heavily-chained box. She opens it and finds the gagged-and-bound but alive body of Delphine.
Dr. David ZhongDr. David Zhong is a biochemist who is making great strides towards a cell regenerating serum dubbed RM47. As his research is funded by grants from her late husband, Fiona Goode demands that he give her the untested drug. He refuses, saying it would take two more years to make the drug fit for human consumption, so she bribes him. Five days later, she sends for him after the drug still has no effect and her anger at its failure to revive her youth results in Dr. Zhong's decision to resign. In a fit of anger, Fiona telekinetically seals her hotel room and flings Dr. Zhong against a wall after he tries to attack her. She seals his fate with a kiss that drains him of his life force.
Charles TaylorCharles "Charlie" Taylor was the late boyfriend of Zoe Benson. Whilst having sex with Zoe, Charlie mysteriously dies of a brain aneurysm, later revealed to be caused by Zoe's latent witch abilities.
Nora BensonNora Benson is the mother of Zoe Benson. After Zoe accidentally causes the death of her boyfriend whilst having sex, Nora reveals to her daughter that she is a witch with lineage dating back to the time of Salem. Deciding that it is too dangerous to keep Zoe with her, Nora allows Myrtle Snow to take Zoe to Miss Robichaux's Academy, a boarding school for young witches in New Orleans. As she watches Zoe being taken away by the Coven's bodyguards, Nora asks Myrtle if she can at least drive her daughter to the station, but the latter affirms that Zoe is now under their care.
Archie BrenerArchie Brener is a frat brother of Kyle Spencer who attended a party that was attended by Zoe Benson and Madison Montgomery. He used a spiked matchstick to light Madison's cigarette and drags her to a room while she is light-headed and dizzy. He gang-rapes her with his other frat brothers until Kyle enters and stops it. They all run to the bus, and when Kyle tries to stop them, he punches Kyle to knock him unconscious. He leads the brothers back to their bus and plots to delete videos and any evidence that they drugged and raped her, but Madison uses her telekinesis to flip the bus over. He was one of the two surviving brothers, but Zoe later visited him at the hospital and bitterly mounted him, killing him with her black widow power.
- Delphine LaLaurie: "Bonsoir, my pets. Did y'all miss me?"
- Misty Day: "It's you that will end in flames! I swear it!"
- Madison Montgomery: "It's too hot. My frickin' vagina is sweating."
- Delphine LaLaurie: "My great literacy began with Greek mythology, I used to sit in Daddy's lap and he would read me those histories full of their vengeful gods and wondrous miraculous creatures. But the Minotaur was always my favorite. Half man, half bull. And now, I have one of my very own."
- Entertainment Weekly's InsideTV: 'Coven' is most-watched 'American Horror Story' premiere ever (2013-10-10).
- During the field trip, Fiona mentions Mary Oneida Toups, considered to be the most well-known Witch Queen of New Orleans since Marie Laveau. She founded The Religious Order of Witchcraft in 1972, officially recognized as a church by the state of Louisiana. With her lover "Boots" Toups she opened the Witches' Workshop, a store catering to those studying the path of traditional, Old Style witchcraft.
- The title of the episode is a play on the words "bitch" and "witchcraft".
- During a conversation with the new witches, when asked if she is a Supreme, Cordelia replies no. It is ironic, considering that later she will be revealed to be Fiona's successor.
- Salem Witch Trials
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Harry Potter
- Nicolas Cage
- The Wizard of Oz
- Ed Hardy
- Mary Todd Lincoln
- ↑ Official Synopsis Released for American Horror Story: Coven Episode 3.01 – Bitchcraft (2013-09-11).
- ↑ Listings – AMERICAN HORROR STORY on FX
- ↑ Episode: Boy Parts
- ↑ THERE ONCE WAS A BEAUTIFUL WITCH QUEEN IN OLD NEW ORLEANS:THE STORY OF MARY ONEIDA TOUPS