American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy just announced that Kathy Bates will return to the long-running horror anthology for season 8, which is expected to premiere this September on FX.
Bates bowed out of last year's installment in order to focus on the ill-fated stoner comedy Disjointed. Now that the poorly-received Chuck Lorre production has officially been canceled by Netflix, the veteran actress is free to return to the freaky FX franchise. Murphy promises that the upcoming season includes a particularly meaty role for Bates, which should be a welcome relief to fans after her absence from the show in season 7.
"Kathy and Sarah Paulson have a lot of great stuff to do," Murphy tells Entertainment Weekly. “So, with Evan Peters, the three of them are the leads this year.” Since Bates' debut on American Horror Story's witched-out third season Coven, she's been an integral part of the show's success as she's expertly shape-shifted through a bevy of juicy characters: the sadistic serial killer Delphine LaLaurie; the bearded lady in the carnivalesque Freak Show season; the nefarious manager Iris in the vampiric Hotel installment; and the certifiably horrific Butcher, who proved to be the central baddie in Roanoke. Last season's Cult marked the first American Horror Story season not to feature Bates since 2013.
Little to nothing has been revealed about American Horror Story season 8 thus far. In January, Murphy threw a morsel to fans when he hinted that the new episodes could be set in the (very near) future, which could really mean anything. If a recent trademark filing is to be believed, season 8 might center around an apocalyptic dystopia. Last week, it was revealed that 20th Century Fox had trademarked the title American Horror Story: Radioactive, so it's possible the show will take place before, during, or after some sort of nuclear fallout. Will the previous season's Trump theme continue in these new episodes, culminating in Kim Jong-un retaliating against the "old, lunatic human reject" by blithely dropping a missile on America?
Only time will tell. In keeping with the show's tradition, it's unlikely any definitive clues about the season will surface until this summer, when Murphy will start dropping those cryptic little teasers that arrive like clockwork in the months leading up to American Horror Story season 8's premiere. Meanwhile, everyone can pass the time wondering exactly how Murphy plans to tie in the Murder House and Coven installments for season 9's long-promised crossover conundrum.
American Horror Story season 8 premieres on FX in 2018, most likely in the fall.