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American Horror Story: Coven approaches

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first two seasons of American Horror Story.

October is just around the corner, and with it will come the premiere of the much-anticipated third season of FX’s American Horror Story.

American Horror Story is a miniseries, meaning that each season has a plot line independent of previous seasons. For this reason, little is known about what to expect in the third season, but here’s what we know.

FX recently announced via the official American Horror Story Facebook page that the new season, titled American Horror Story: Coven, will premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m. EST. The 13-episode miniseries will revolve around a coven of witches who are mysteriously attacked 300 years after the Salem witch trials and who come into contact with voodoo priestesses; it will take place in both the 1830s and in the present, according to The Latin Times.

Series veteran Jessica Lange will be a part of the coven as Fiona, the Supreme Witch, says FX via Facebook. Fiona will teach young witches to protect themselves from the mysterious attacks at a witch academy. Lange has played standout characters in previous seasons: youth-obsessed neighbor Constance Langdon in the first season and discipline-crazy Sister Jude in the second season. Her insecurities in both seasons made her characters relatable, yet her actions also made her unlikable. In the first season, Lange’s character was ashamed of her daughter and her own wrinkled face, and in the second season, her character was overwhelmed with guilt about the death of a young girl.

FX also revealed on the American Horror Story Facebook page that actress Taissa Farmiga, who played Violet Harmon during the first season, will now play a young witch named Zoe, one of Fiona’s pupils. Sarah Paulson — Lana Winters in American Horror Story: Asylum — announced at the Television Critics Association fall previews in August that she will play Fiona’s daughter, Cordelia, according to TV Guide. Other returning cast members confirmed by FX include Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, and Kathy Bates. New cast members include Gabourey Sidibe, Patti LuPone, Emma Roberts, Alexander Dreymon, and Angela Bassett.

Bassett will play real-life figure Marie Laveau, a Voodoo practitioner known throughout New Orleans in the 1800s, while Bates will play Delphine LaLaurie, a historic serial killer known for murdering slaves, according to TV Guide.

Absent from the cast of returning characters is Zachary Quinto, whose presence will be sorely missed. Quinto appeared in both previous seasons, but had an integral role in the second season as a psychiatrist with a dark side. Quinto delivered a truly disturbing performance in the second season, providing periods of unnerving calm in tense situations and releases of anger that were sure to make viewers tremble with horrified pleasure.

Beginning Aug. 29, FX released a series of teaser trailers for Coven. The first trailer, “Detention,” depicts women floating in the air pressed against various walls of a white room and hanging in the recesses of a blackened fireplace. Other teaser trailers depict witches burning on stakes, a mysterious person punctured by pins like a voodoo doll, and a woman buried alive but calmly moving about beneath the ground. The teasers are snappy and hint at what will hopefully be another visually stunning season. The first season provided intense images for the viewer to cling to, such as the black-suited “Rubber Man” and a white-walled bathroom with its white bathtub, while the second season was more atmospheric with its elaborate set pieces including the laboratory of Dr. Arthur Arden and the cells of the asylum’s patients.

Sarah Paulson claimed that the show will have a lighter tone than previous seasons, according to The Today Show. However, the teasers hint otherwise.

The first season successfully incorporated lighthearted elements into its disturbing plot, which revolved around a haunted house with murderers and baby-stealing ghosts. For example, mother Vivien Harmon, played by actress Connie Britton, joined a bus tour led by an eccentric guide that passed by her new home — dubbed the “Murder House” — in order to learn about its past. The characters were also provided escape from their horrors through various normal locales, such as homely kitchens and family-friendly neighborhood streets.

The series is most intriguing, however, when its characters are subjected to elements of classic horror. While the first season was scary, the second season raised the bar by placing its characters within an asylum, with no reprieve from the horrors that confronted them. Moments of humor were replaced by mad scientists, possessed nuns, and monstrous experimental creations.

The atmosphere of the second season was more effective at creating a truly terrifying experience for the viewer, and this relentlessness is something that the creators of the series would be wise to continue throughout season three.

The latest season of American Horror Story is shaping up to be a promising installment in the anthology-like miniseries from the minds of creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, with what will hopefully be a strong set of scares from an all-star cast.