The long-awaited eighth season of FX’s “American Horror Story” anthology premieres Wednesday, Sept. 12, but creator Ryan Murphy and members of his cast and producing team have let a few hints about what to expect from the show slip here and there.
Ahead of the premiere, Variety has compiled the cryptic clues and character details to preview what audiences can expect from the upcoming “Apocalypse” season.
The title is literal
“The story begins with the end of the world and then our world begins,” executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall said of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” at the Television Critics Assn. press tour panel earlier this month.
While the eighth season will start in the real world in a “very tangible and familiar place” — which Murphy confirmed was “18 months in the future from today” — Woodall continued, she admits that “if we’re still here, the world didn’t totally end.”
The important question will be, “What’s the fantasy of what happens next?”
Episode titles for the first four episodes have been released, with the series premiere being called “The End,” denoting that actual apocalyptic events will take place in the episode. It is followed by “The Morning After,” which sounds self-explanatory enough, “Forbidden Fruit” and “Could it be…Satan?”
The official trailer for the season further depicts the catastrophic events that lead to the end of the world. It opens with ominous voice-over over a burnt out street: “No need for the rules anymore. The chaos has won.” Leslie Grossman’s character Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt is trying to make a speedy getaway out of a panicking Los Angeles, but when she gets on the private plane alongside Billie Lourd, Evan Peters and Joan Collins, it is revealed there is no one flying the plane.
Once the dust settles, people in hazmat suits are led into a compound and greeted by Sarah Paulson’s new Venable character announcing that they have arrived at “Outpost 3,” and must stay inside due to radiation contamination. Venable says that “it’s our world now to remold as we see fit.” Revealed are glimpses of new cast member Kyle Allen, witches, monsters, the New Orleans coven, snakes, the Rubber Man, a grown up Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) and Kathy Bates’ Miss Meade saying, “Hail, Satan.”
Two previous seasons collide
“Apocalypse” will be a crossover between the “AHS” seasons “Murder House” and “Coven,” which were the first and third seasons of the anthology, respectively. An early teaser for the season depicted an unborn child, likely Michael Langdon, the devil offspring of sadistic teen Tate Langdon (Peters) and his rape victim Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) from Season 1. At the end of the first season, Michael was shown as a young child being raised by Tate’s mother Constance (Jessica Lange).
The two different seasons ended in drastically different ways, with “Murder House” concluding with the Antichrist still early in his life, while “Coven” ended with the witch school happily opening itself to the public. How the two seasons will collide in the new installment remains to be seen, although it may focus on one of two themes.
In July 2017, Murphy posted an Instagram photo that revealed each season of “AHS” corresponds with one of Dante’s nine circles of hell. With the previous seven already revealed (e.g. “Murder House” represents “limbo,” while “Coven” was “treachery”), there are two spots left: “lust” and “violence,” so “Apocalypse” is likely to focus on one of the two.
It’s Paulson’s world, we’re just living in it
Paulson, who has appeared in every “AHS” season, will be playing not one, but three characters. Besides reprising Billie Dean Howard from “Murder House” and “Coven’s” Supreme witch Cordelia Foxx, she is also portraying a mysterious character simply named Venable.
In a short Twitter video released Aug. 22, Paulson utters the ominous words: “Now is your chance to be one of the few remaining. This is your chance to survive. We’ll find you soon.” It also links to a site only displaying the words: “Time has run out” with the “Apocalypse” logo.
Audiences will see Cordelia at her best in the beginning, but her fate throughout the season is uncertain.
“In the beginning of our story, [the supreme] is the title she still holds. I don’t know how long that’s going to last,” Paulson said. “Enjoyment is not possible at his particular juncture at the story. She’s not running around snorting cocaine like her mother and throwing young riches against the wall, though she may like to be doing that.”
Paulson will also direct the sixth episode of the season.
Jessica Lange will reprise her role as the grieving mother — now grandmother — Constance from “Murder House,” a role that earned her a Golden Globe. She will appear in the sixth episode.
Murphy tweeted a picture of Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott with “Director Supreme Paulson,” confirming that the two “Murder House” alums will also appear in the sixth episode as their original characters, Vivien Harmon and Ben Harmon.
In another Instagram post, Murphy also confirmed that Peters will reprise his “Murder House” character of high school shooter and ghost Tate on “Apocalypse,” in addition to his new role as a “hairdresser.”
Peters will also direct an episode, but production has not yet revealed which one.
Other returning alums are Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy and Stevie Nicks. On Twitter, Murphy captioned a photo of the group with “The Coven Returns,” confirming they will reprise their third season roles. However, Farmiga will be playing both her “Coven” character Zoe, as well as Violet Harmon from “Murder House.”
Murphy also posted an Instagram photo of Farmiga and Peters with the caption, “Tate and Violet. Together forever?”, sparking fans to speculate whether the two characters, who tearfully broke up in “Murder House,” will get back together this season.
Emma Roberts was confirmed to be playing “Coven’s” Madison Montgomery again this season. She posted a first look at the return to the character on her Instagram account, posing the question of whether or not “the bitch [survives] the apocalypse.” Roberts also previously said that she was asked to play the role “bitchier” than in her original season, which she didn’t think was possible for the already snarky character.
Other returning “AHS” actors including Bates, Adina Porter, Lourd and Grossman are in new roles this season. Thus far only their character names have been revealed: Bates is playing Ms. Meade, Porter is Dina Stevens, Lourd is Mallory and Grossman is Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt.
New additions to the cast
Famed actress Collins (“Dynasty”) is joining the season as Peters’ character’s grandmother, she tweeted back in April.
Additional recurring and/or guest stars include Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (“unREAL”), Allen (“The Path”), and Ash Santos (“The Landlord”).
Alums from other Murphy projects are joining the “AHS” world, like Billy Porter (“Pose”), Lesley Fera (“Nip/Tuck”), and of course, Fern (“American Crime Story”) as the grown-up child of “Murder House” characters, Tate and Vivienne, Michael Langdon. Woodall teased his role by saying, “The devil doesn’t really do anything good.”
“There is a specific mystery to the show that is better unfolded — it is better experienced,” she said. “This season is different, and it’s better experienced.”