Ryan Murphy on 'American Horror Story': The seasons are all connected
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST EPISODE OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW.]
American Horror Story: Freak Show‘s two-part Halloween episode came to a conclusion with two major deaths: Patti LaBelle’s devoted maid Dora and fan favorite Twisty the Clown. But are they really gone for good? Plus, what does it mean that Lily Rabe is returning as Sister Mary Eunice? If you’re an AHS fan, you’ll want to read this interview with co-creator Ryan Murphy.
EW: The Elsa back story was very dark. Was Jessica afraid of tackling that at all?
RYAN MURPHY: No. She is a big photographer and she collects photography, and she’s had an interest in photography of that time. So she’s very familiar with what that was. You know she loves a good flashback, Jessica Lange. She was very brave with that stuff. I thought she would be a little more squeamish because she doesn’t like a lot of blood, as everyone knows. It was a two part thing: the tragedy of the snuff film, but then in future episodes we find out who actually made her those perfect legs. So she liked that.
Is the person that makes her legs her love story?
She has a lot of love stories. That’s one of them, yes.
Will Elsa have someone like The Axeman for Fiona?
She does, but I told Jessica very early on that this season her love interest is her career. That sort of woman who wants to be a star at all costs. Show business is the great paramour of her life. We do dribs and dabs, but it’s not an Axeman/Fiona love story, no.
Will the romantic tension between Dot and Bette and Maggie and Jimmy intensify?
Yes. We’re doing like a weird five-way thing. Jimmy is cleaelry in love with Maggie. Dot is in love with Jimmy. But Dandy is in love with the twins so what the f*** is going to happen? So all of that’s in the water. The next two episodes we really get into the Dandy of it all.
We got the backstories for a lot of the freaks. Will we get them for Del and Desiree?
Yes they have big backstories in the next episode. You find out about Desiree’s childhood. You find out about Dell and where he came from and why he’s with Desiree and all that stuff. That’s very much on the table.
Dandy is clearly on a murderous path. We don’t see Gloria in this last episode. How is she going to handle all of this?
Well, she’s very upset. When I was researching this, I read a lot about Jeffrey Dahmer, because Jeffrey Dahmer’s father wrote a book. Being the parent of a sociopath is a hard road! What do you do? You love this child, but you have to do right by the law and by society, and that’s Gloria’s dilemma. She talks in the next episode about the history of rich people covering up crimes and inbreeding in wealthy people, which was fascinating to learn as well. She’s not down with the murdering. She’s trying to save him but she’s a very sheltered cockatoo so she’s struggling with trying to do right by her son and right by the victims.
Twisty’s death was a surprise. Was this always planned, to kill him so early?
Yes. But Twisty is not over, and neither is Edward Mordrake. They both make triumphant returns. I was shocked to read so many of these “RIP Twisty” websites and blogs have sprung up. People love Twisty. I think that’s due to the power of John as an actor. I think he’s just so mesmerizing and sympathetic. We talked a lot about that. He didn’t just want to be a killer clown. He wanted an ideology and a backstory, and I think that clown’s backstory is so fascinating and bizarre. We’re talking on Halloween day and I’ve already seen three Twistys, so he apparently hit a nerve. I love him. I loved his performance. He will return.
I’ve seen next week’s episode already, and Matt Bomer appears in a pretty phenomenal but incredibly disturbing sequence.
It is disturbing. I keep saying this, but I guess I keep topping it in my mind—but I think it’s the most disturbing thing we’ve done because it’s so real and so based on fact. It’s a true horror sequence and Matt is a good friend and we’ve collaborated many times. He was very challenged by it. It’s a very gothic, weird sequence. It’s very odd to see the two boys from Normal Heart in a sequence like that, but c’est la vie. Everyone was freaked out when we did it. Matt thought it was a real acting challenge, so that’s why he did it. I think episode five ups the horror quotient in a real way on our show.
Can you say anything about Lily Rabe coming back?
I don’t want to say much about it but obviously she’s playing Sister Mary Eunice. The interesting thing about doing a show like this is every season is incredibly its own story and its own beginning, middle and end. Its own journey. But we have always from the very beginning in the intertwining mythologies and how things connect. This is the first year where we begin to tell you that season two is connected to season four which is connected to season one. People have started to write articles about that. A lot of their hypotheses have been completely right on. That’s the fun of the show. Hopefully by the end of the run, be it 10 years or 15 years, people will be able to stand back and be able to say, “Oh that was connected to x.”
There’s definitely a rhyme or a reason and a connectedness to all of these seasons, but in the same way, they’re standalones, which is the fun of it. But it is a puzzle. And Lily coming back and dealing with Pepper is sort of the first unveiling of that connectedness. She’s so great in that role, Lily. I understood she wanted to go off and do her own show. But I was thrilled she was able to come back and give us a couple days and show how Sister Mary Eunice and Pepper are connected and how it’s all connected. I’m glad she’s back in the habit!
So you’re saying that season four is connected to season one?
They’re all connected. We’re just beginning to tell you how they’re connected. They’re all very separate but there’s clues every season that we’re now telling you how the different worlds are intertwined.
Oh, I thought that was fan fiction!
Part of the fun of the show is the Rubik’s cube design of it, but, yes, there are purposeful connections, character connections, and similarities and things that connect that we’ll continue to connect moving forward.
There’s that scene where Maggie is handed a cup of coffee by the cop and there’s a close up of a top hat on the cup. Is that a clue?
That is a big season five clue! It’s an arcane clue, but it’s very purposeful, and it illuminates something that you’ll be like, “Oh! You dirty b******!”
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.