American Horror Story returned to TV screens on Tuesday night with their new asonason, Cult, centered on the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election. Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Cheyenne Jackson were back once again in new roles for the seventh season and were joined by even newer cast members Alison Pill and Billie Lourd in the opening episode 'Election Night'. However, there was one old face from American Horror Story past that has not changed, that of Twisty the Clown whose ominous presence will no doubt be felt throughout the series.
John Carroll Lynch is featured as a guest star in AHS: Cult, reprising his terrifying Freak Show role as the mentally unstable clown with the deformed face and murderous temperament. Twisty was introduced in season four of Ryan Murphy's horror anthology series, as the clown who was forced out of his circus after some jealous performers started a rumor that he was molesting the children. Disgraced, Twisty continued to wear his costume and makeup, despite the fact he couldn't get work as a clown and ended up trying to commit suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun. His attempt failed and left him without a jaw and a frightful mouth that he covered with a makeshift mouth that looked just as horrifying as the real thing.
Throughout Freak Show he murdered people who slighted him and kidnapped children and young women in the deranged belief that he was entertaining them, but his story ended with him being killed by Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) so that he could join his freakish troupe of circus performers. In Cult, Twisty seems to have a far different involvement with the narrative if the first episode is anything to go by.
The clown is the main protagonist in a comic book series read by Ozzy, the son of Paulson and Pill's lesbian couple, Ally and Ivy Mayfair-Richards. We do see Carroll Lynch back in horrifying live-action form, dispatching with a young couple, but after he cuts the young lady's tongue out we see that the whole murderous scene is just a storyline from one of the Twisty the Clown Chronicles issues. Ally has extreme coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and is triggered by the comic after taking it from her son. This causes her other phobias to intensify and she begins to see killer clowns everywhere, though it seems that maybe they aren't altogether in her head.
It's strongly implied in the first episode that Evan Peters' Trump-loving, blue-haired character Kai Anderson is the ringleader of a group of killer clowns hoping to incite fear in the local residents, as well as murder a few too, but because only Ally and Ozzy have seen them, it's not clear if they are actually real or not. Ally first sees them in the grocery store then another one masturbating in her restaurant while Ivy is out of the room. No one believes that what she is seeing is real. Ozzy sees the same group of clowns jump out of an ice cream van opposite their house and "witnesses" them killing the Changs across the road. As we know very well, AHS likes to keep viewers guessing about ominous characters - making you wonder whether they dead or alive, real or imaginary - but as the mother and child have both seen the exact same clowns in frightening action it's unlikely that they are just figments of their imagination, though it doesn't mean they won't hallucinate Twisty.
We may see Ally's anxiety and fear cause her to dream up the deformed clown, and Ozzy could do the same, as children have active imaginations and he is already being darkly influenced by his new nanny (and Kai's sister), Winter Anderson (Lourd). However, according to journalists who have seen the first three episodes of Cult, Twisty's appearances are limited to comic book or night terror form, so we will probably see him pop up as hallucinations or in nightmares, however, it doesn't mean that the real Twisty the Clown didn't exist in the same reality as the protagonists.
In the movie Logan, Laura carries around an X-Men comic book, which is based on the exploits of Wolverine, Professor X and the "real" X-Men, so AHS may get meta too by making you think that Twisty is just a comic book character, when really the comic book was inspired by the "real life" clown from Jupiter, Fl. Historically speaking, the TV show has always had a supernatural element to it too, so even though Twisty was active during the Fifties he may well come back in ghost form to terrorize the living. Maybe Kai and his alt-right friends will try an summon him from the dead to leave their killer clown revolution, who knows?
What we can say for sure, is Twisty's presence will be felt throughout the seventh season, whether it's in Oz's comic books or through the clown cult scaring the people of Michigan, so you better be ready for the freaky experience that is American Horror Story: Cult.