‘American Horror Story’ Returns to Its Roots With ‘Apocalypse’

Ryan Murphy has announced the return of Jessica Lange, Gabourey Sibide, and White Witch Stevie Nicks.
Jessica Lang As Constance Langdon

Ryan Murphy has announced the return of Jessica Lange, Gabourey Sibide, and White Witch Stevie Nicks.

News of American Horror Storys return has been known for some time now, but rumors have been swirling as to whom audiences will see and to what story will be followed. It seems fans are in luck, as a number of AHS regulars have been added to the cast list for the show’s eighth installment, Apocalypse.

Perhaps even more worthy of anticipation is the revisiting of the original season, Murder House, which kicked off all the fantastical displays of blood, guts, and gore to follow.

The show’s creator and executive producer, Ryan Murphy, tweeted the latest casting news this week, stating he’s “so thrilled the family is together again!” And so he should be. The roster so far confirmed is one hell of a crazy-talented acting family.

Jessica Lange is perhaps the most notorious of AHS veterans having been the standout matriarch in the first four seasons of the show. From 2011 to 2015, Lange excelled in her roles as Constance Langdon (Murder House), Sister Jude (Asylum), Fiona Goode (Coven), and Elsa Mars (Freak Show), winning a Golden Globe for her part in Murder House. Her absence from the anthology since has been duly missed. Carrying an enigma ranging from the baddest witch in the entire coven to a broken-down, deranged nun set her apart from the others and reinstated her as the star of the show.

Her embodiment of what AHS originally was — cutting, cold, cool, and at times, a little bit freakish — was what gave the first four seasons the edge that the latest additions to the anthology just haven’t been able to replicate. Arguably the returnee that fans have been most excited about, Lange needn’t feel pressure upon her shoulders about reprising her role of Constance Langdon in Apocalypse. Each scene she’s in practically revolves around the spirit she exudes, and with the other cast members announced, the elements of Lange’s performance should only be elevated.

The narrative of Apocalypse is to be informed by previous happenings throughout the anthology. Set to be a crossover of Season 1 (Murder House) and Season 3 (Coven), Apocalypse will see the dysfunctional Langdon family again taking center stage. As always, trailers in the run-up to the season’s release are anticipated by audiences, and this time was no exception. A skin-crawling 45-second teaser released this week hints towards the appearance of gruesome Tate Langdon’s (Evan Peters) son Michael Langdon, who was the result of rape upon Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton). Lange will play Tate’s mother and so Michael’s grandmother, while also slipping into the role of a coven witch.

Apocalyptic aspects are also explored in the teaser, with imagery of nuclear blasts and gas masks something relatively new to the world of AHS. At a recent TCA panel, Apocalypse executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall commented on the season’s name. “The story begins with the end of the world, and then our world begins,” she said. With the first two episodes having been named, this seems certainly the truth — episode one is titled “The End” with episode two called “The Morning After.”

Old and New Additions to the Cast

The surrounding cast takes from every season of the show thus far. Standout regulars Sarah PaulsonKathy Bates, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sibide, Lily Rabe, and Frances Conroy will undoubtedly have a hand in the coven side of things. Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Eichner, and Leslie Grossman have all frequented AHS scenes before and will do so again for Apocalypse, Deadline reports.

There are two confirmed newcomers to the cast. Michael Langdon is to be played by Cody Fern, who broke out this year in the Murphy-produced Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. British actress Joan Collins will also play a part that is sure to be impressive. A powerhouse collective of Lange, Bates, and Collins might just be stunning.

The ultimate star power, however, is reserved for the one and only Stevie Nicks, whose almost magical arrival in Coven while singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders” is perhaps one of AHS’s most iconic moments. Alongside Lange’s intoxicating Lana Del Rey cover in Freak Show, could Apocalypse hold a place for another unsettling yet incredible musical number?

While it may seem like Murphy has simply called up the entire previous AHS cast list for Apocalypse, some missing names stand out. Prior AHS stars Angela Bassett, Zachary Quinto, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Andre Holland would all be striking additions to the cast. Fingers crossed that Murphy isn’t done with his announcements just yet, although it does seem like the news of Nicks’ addition was the icing on the cake.

American Horror Story has already been renewed for ninth and 10th seasons. Where earlier seasons generated mass buzz, the most recent lackluster attempts of Cult and Roanoke to emulate what was there before have fallen short. It seems the hope of Apocalypse, with Jessica Lange, to break this spell. The return of key cast members and the revisiting of earlier narratives signal this as a clear decision.

The first episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse is set to air on September 12th on FX.   

Anya Hudson: