By far one of the most intriguing and bizarre television series of 2011, American Horror Story captivated audiences week after week with a combination of no-holds-barred character drama and downright disturbing events.

Now, we’re getting word that two of the show’s most intriguing supporting players will return for American Horror Story‘s sophomore season – Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) and Jessica Lange (who won a Golden Globe Award for her role as Constance Langdon in the series). That said, with anything related to American Horror Story, things might not be exactly as they seem.

Given the relatively definitive ending to the show’s season one finale, many fans have been speculating where the series could go next – without undermining the integrity of the shocking twists and turns in the show’s first chapter.

While recent casting reports indicate that fans will enjoy some continuity be seeing Lange and Quinto treturn, the news also hints at a major change-up in the season two story – one that might mean the pair’s roles are markedly different this round.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Lange is set to return but as an entirely new character in season two. Of course, what exactly is meant by “new character” is certainly up for interpretation – especially in a narrative as strange as American Horror Story. Whether this means that Lange will play an entirely new “person” other than Constance Langdon (her role in season one) or a variation of the same namesake with an “opposite” personality (more on that in a minute) is anyone’s guess at this point. Either way, creator Ryan Murphy indicates that Lange will get promoted this round from a “supporting role” to one of season two’s lead characters:

“We have designed the second season of American Horror Story completely around her character. Last year Jessica came in with Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott. This will really be the Jessica Lange show so I’m very excited about it. We are designing this amazing new opposite of the Constance character for her. She and I have spoken about different things. She has a lot of ideas, and has a lot of input into her character. She told me some things she has always wanted to play as an actress. She’s a great collaborator and a great friend.”

News on Quinto is a little less specific, i.e. no confirmation as to whether or not he’ll be returning as Chad Warwick – baby-crazy former owner of the Harmon’s “Murder House.” Unlike Lange, who was a regular on the show, Quinto appeared in just four episodes – though that is set to change for season two. According to a second report, this time from The Wrap, Quinto’s role (whatever it is this round), will be significantly expanded as one of two male leads in season two. The promotion will also position Quinto as a regular nemesis to Lange’s “entirely different character.”

Like anything American Horror Story related, the news raises even more questions than answers. Considering the revelation that Quinto will return as one of two male leads that face-off against Lange, does that mean that we’ll also see the return of Teddy Sears (who played Quinto’s gay partner, Patrick, in season one)?

Also, given prior reports that American Horror Story season two would feature familiar faces as well as new characters coupled with news of alterations to Lange’s role in the series (especially given that “opposite” personality comment), could the show’s sophomore chapter feature parallel variations of established characters, such as happily coupled versions of Patrick and Chad or a markedly different version of Constance – one that would basically make her an entirely different character (in spite of her name and likeness). Alternate versions of established characters would also open the door to resurrect previously deceased players – allowing the creators to play-off already established dynamics in new and intriguing ways.

That said, any speculation here is just that, speculation, at this point. As a result, we’ll just have to wait until we hear something official from Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk.

American Horror Story season 2 is scheduled for a Fall 2012 premiere.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.

Source: Entertainment Weekly & The Wrap