American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy recently announced that season four will have a carnival theme. This is exciting news, especially for fans who circulated the rumor during Coven, based on clues they found in the finale, and throughout the rest of season three. Because each season stands alone like an entire series, the show-runners are known for putting clues in one season that hints at the theme for the following season. For example, there are many hints to what lies ahead in the first season, known as Murder House. Moira acts as the angel of death in the first season when she unplugs her terminal mother’s oxygen machine, and becomes the literal angel of death in the second season, kissing characters goodbye and whisking them away to heaven. Leah talks about the devil being real. Hayden remarks to Ben at one point that he can “get back to Saint Vivien”. Vivien even dresses as a witch for Halloween, which might have been a hint for the plot of season three. When I heard the news that the fourth installment in the series would take place at a carnival, I started to wonder what clues exist in the past that have foretold the future of American Horror Story. After revisiting some of the previous seasons, I found a few moments that stood out. Read on to see what clues I discovered, and what could possibly be in store for us fans in the upcoming season!
Season One – Murder House:
1. Several references to people being crazy.
At times, it seems that the first season of American Horror Story holds just as many nods to insanity as season two. The word “crazy” is probably mentioned on at least ten different occasions. Vivien accuses Ben of acting crazy when Moira complains about his making advances, Ben asks “Is everybody crazy?” at one point, Billie Dean Howard tells Violet that when you’re chosen, “you either get with the program, or you go crazy”, and poor Vivien even goes to an asylum after her husband and daughter begin to doubt her sanity. All of these indications point to the main theme of the following season, Asylum, where the main setting was at Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution.
2. “I’m not your priest, Tate” – Ben Harmon to Tate Langdon
In the twelfth episode of season one, Ben and Tate have their final reconciliations. Tate tries to win back his old shrink’s friendship, with little in the way of success. Ben explains to Tate that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness for his many crimes, when he can’t even admit to committing them in the first place. Tate then lists his ill deeds, hoping to gain some mercy. Sadly, for Tate, Ben passively responds “I’m not your priest, Tate. I can’t absolve you for any of this.” Despite Tate’s losses, the fans of the show gained a big clue, since Asylum carries such a heavy religious theme.
Season Two – Asylum:
3. “You expect me to stand by as some witch doctor comes in here–” -Dr. Thredson
When a desperate family brings their disturbed son to Briarcliff Manor, the story they tell convinces Sister Jude and the Monsignor that their boy needs an exorcism. Apparently, the boy has not only killed the family’s cow, but eaten its heart, and spoke in a strange language the family had never heard before. Skeptical, Dr. Thredson pleads with the Monsignor to reconsider a medical solution instead: “You expect me to stand by as some witch doctor comes in here–” but before he can finish, the Monsignor cuts him off, and the procedure is suddenly underway. The fact that one of the characters actually mentions the word “witch” is obviously a big hint for the future of American Horror Story.
Despite its gloomy realistic setting, Asylum contains several instances of telekinesis. When the Monsignor, Dr. Thredson, and the priest are performing the exorcism in episode two, “Tricks and Treats”, the boy possessed by the devil sends the priest and his wheelchair flying across the room. Later, after the devil has entered Sister Eunice, she uses her telekinetic powers to shoot Dr. Arden into the wall after he strikes her. Telekinesis has long been associated with witchcraft, thought of by some as a product of darker powers manifested from Satan. In the next season, many of the witches display telekinesis, and are eventually tested for this ability as one of the seven wonders.
5. “Cremation is a Pagan process.” – Monsignor to Dr. Arden about Sister Eunice
After Sister Eunice’s untimely death, Dr. Arden is coming apart at the seams. Arden always cared for Sister Eunice, but was unable to express himself articulately, probably because he is such a withdrawn, introverted man. Or, it could be because he’s a sociopathic ex war criminal, but I’ll let the viewers decide. As Dr. Arden and the Monsignor discuss their plans for the body, Timothy is shocked to hear that Arden is choosing cremation over a burial to commemorate the late nun’s life. “Cremation is a Pagan process” the Monsignor commented, taken aback. This moment was not only powerful in an emotional way, but it hinted at the Pagan practices that lie ahead in season three.
Season Three – Coven:
6. Papa Legba
To be accurate, Papa Legba existed long before American Horror Story was ever created. A mythical creature in Haitian voodoo, he serves as a sort of gate keeper between worlds, allowing or denying humans the right to speak with spirits. However, when Papa Legba arrived on Coven, quite a few fans took it as a big clue that there would be a circus theme for the fourth season. After all, with his top hat and strange attire, it’s not that hard to picture this eerie character under the big top.
7. “I’m going back to Hollywood where people are normal!” – Madison Montgomery
There are a few subtle references to Hollywood and stardom in the third season, including Madison’s dramatic statement, “I’m going back to Hollywood, where people are normal!” It could just be that there are many plus for movie stars because Madison is a celebrity herself, it’s also probable that there will be an inclusion of fame in the upcoming season. Perhaps one of the carnival’s main attractions dreams of making it big one day in film.
8. Myrtle yells out “Balenciaga!” when burned at the stake.
When Myrtle burned at the stake (for the second time), fans everywhere were stunned to hear her last words were “Balenciaga!” No one really knew what it meant, and everyone wondered if it was a suggestion of things to come in the fourth season. It turns out, there actually might be a connection that makes sense for the few rumors that Ryan Murphy has already confirmed. A German woman named Brigitte Hoss who lived during the 1950s had a father named Rudolf Hoss, who was a commander at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. In the 1950s, Brigitte left Germany, and and took up modeling at the Balenciaga fashion house in Madrid. Since Ryan Murphy has stated in recent interviews that Jessica Lange is practicing her German accent for the new season, and its going to take place in the 1950s, it’s possible that Lange will be playing Brigitte, or perhaps Brigitte’s mother, with Sarah Paulson playing Brigitte, since it would be more age appropriate.
9. Myrtle plays the theremin.
At one point, while Cordelia is working in the greenhouse, Myrtle stands alongside her and plays the theremin. She explains to Cordelia that the theremin is an old instrument that was used in horror movies in the 1950s, adding to my suspicion that Hollywood will be included in some way in the fourth season, especially because Ryan Murphy said that the main time period will be the 1950s.
10. The Red Scare
Mentioned in scene with Marie Laveau, Fiona Goode and the witch hunters, the Red Scare was an event that occurred during the Cold War, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. After World War II ended in 1945, Americans feared that the Soviet Union would use their nuclear weapon to bomb the U.S. at any given moment. This paranoia is part of what led McCarthy to campaign against the spread of communism, and those he claimed were spies for Russia. Several famous actors were blacklisted during McCarthy’s reign, and even if they were found innocent, their name had already been dragged through the mud so badly that their career was demolished. This reference to McCarthyism could be a metaphorical comparison because of the actual witch hunt in Coven, but it could also be a clue for season four, especially with the time period, and the other references to Hollywood throughout season three.
I didn’t find any hints for this, but I’m wondering if the writers will bring up the Hartford Circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut. It occurs in 1944, which is only a few years prior to the announced setting, the 1950s, and they usually have more than one time period in a season. No matter what they decide, one thing’s for sure: they have more than enough historical information to pick and choose from. What clues did y’all find this past season? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to leave your own guesses, too!