American Horror Story 8: What to expect from the biggest season yet

Will showrunner Ryan Murphy’s big gamble of a Murder House meets Coven crossover pay off?

 

Clarisse Loughrey
Wednesday 22 August 2018 15:11
American Horror Story season 8 trailer

American Horror Story’s anthology concept has always brought its own conflicts, with fans trapped in endless, circular arguments over what constitutes the best and worst seasons – a state likely to remain until the actual apocalypse.

But, in-between all the yelling about whether Hotel is a living trash heap or a twisted gem of pure melodrama, showrunner Ryan Murphy is hoping that he can unite the divided and deliver a unifying hit with season 8.

The ingredients? Mix together the two most universally-liked seasons – Murder House and Coven – and a dash of the end of the world, just to raise the stakes.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse promises to be the most ambitious outing of an already wildly ambitious series, which begs the question: what exactly should we expect?

THE ANTICHRIST

One of the earliest hints Murphy dropped came long before the Apocalypse theme was announced, when he first teased the idea of a Murder House/Coven crossover, only later confirmed to be season 8.

He told Entertainment Weekly: “It’s a character from season 1 [Murder House] that will be thrust into the world that you are left with at the end of Coven [season 3], which is sort of like the male/female/witch academy."

"And then all of those characters will intertwine, which is confusing because some of them are from seasons 1 and 3. Like, Sarah Paulson will probably be playing 18 characters.”


A statement shrouded in mystery at the time, but now key to the season’s premise, after the identity of that season 1 character was finally unveiled: we’re talking Michael Langdon, better known to strangers and acquaintances as the Antichrist.

One of the largest unanswered storylines from Murder House concerned the child Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) gave birth to, whose father is revealed to be the ghost of Tate Langdon (Evan Peters).

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As Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) prophesied, “a child born of human and spirit will usher in the end of times”, and the season’s epilogue seemed to confirm Michael’s nature: a toddler in the care of his grandmother Constance (Jessica Lange), he’s already taken his first victim, murdering his nanny in cold blood.


Michael is set to be played by American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace star Cody Fern, which raises a few intriguing questions about Apocalypse’s time setting.

Murphy has said it will take place “18 months from today” back in April, at a pre-Emmy event, which doesn’t exactly fit with a 30-year-old Fern playing a child born in 2012. Then again, it’s a bit odd to expect a literal demon child to follow the standard aging process.

Of course, end of the world be damned, since fans are far more interested in Jessica Lange’s return to the series. It’s better to keep those hopes tempered, however, since her appearance as Constance Langdon is unlikely to last more than an episode of two; she’s so far been the only obstacle to Michael reigning hell on Earth, so expect to see what happens when she’s finally been taken care of and/or dispatched entirely.

THE COVEN

And if Constance were to no longer be in Michael’s way, who would protect us then? The witches? It would appear so, since it’s hard to draw out any other meaning from Murphy’s reference to, “a character from season 1 [Murder House] that will be thrust into the world that you are left with at the end of Coven.”

Furthermore, Murphy has confirmed the following will return: Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson), Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga), Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Misty Day (Lily Rabe), Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), and Stevie Nicks (uh, Stevie Nicks).


Of course, a good chunk of these witches are dead (with Queenie’s spirit supposedly trapped in the Hotel Cortez), which could mean a section of the season will take place in a flashback to 2014, around the time of the Seven Wonders, explaining Stevie's presence and Nan (Jamie Brewer)'s absence, since she'd been murdered by this point.

Then again, it’s American Horror Story. Being dead is neither a permanent state, nor an obstacle to getting things done.

THE END OF THE WORLD?

If Apocalypse really is an Antichrist vs coven face-off, how does the season’s new cast of characters fit in? Confirmed so far are few colourfully named individuals going by Venable (Sarah Paulson), Mrs. Meade (Kathy Bates), Dinah Stevens (Adina Porter), Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt (Leslie Grossman) and Mallory (Billie Lourd).

Evan Peters is also playing the hairdresser grandson of Joan Collins’s character, with Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Eichner, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Kyle Allen, and Billy Porter all cast as unspecified roles.

It’s sensible to assume these characters will all find themselves caught up in the grand, supernatural battle being waged, with leaked photos of dead bodies and burnt up wreckage serving an indicator we’ll be seeing the apocalypse play out before our eyes – whether that be a concrete event or, as many fans are suggesting, a premonition experienced by Cordelia.

Since American Horror Story has already been confirmed for season 9 and 10, it’s been largely assumed the coven will find some way to reverse Michael’s destruction. Or will that be American Horror Story’s trick up its sleeve? End the word – and then keep going?

American Horror Story: Apocalypse premieres on FX on 12 September. It will air in the UK on 27 September at 10pm on FOX.

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