‘American Horror Story’ Spoilers: Sarah Paulson Returns To A Season That May Be Related To A Centuries-Old Poem

Well we still don’t know the theme of Season 6 of American Horror Story. Ryan Murphy remains tight-lipped on that subject. But we did just learn that another favorite is returning – Sarah Paulson. And if a popular fan theory is true, we may be able to at least figure out what topic Season 6 will explore, if not the actual theme of the season.

TV Line has reported that Paulson herself confirmed that she will return to American Horror Story, but she didn’t give any details about either her role or the season’s theme. Roles Sarah played in previous seasons include psychic Billie Dean Howard in the Murder House season, journalist Lana Winters in the Asylum season, a witch named Cordeila Foxx in Coven, conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler in Freak Show, and junkie Sally McKenna in Hotel. In recent months, Paulson has received an Emmy nomination for her work outside of American Horror Story – her role as Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson.

This brings the list of actors confirmed as returning to the yet-unnamed sixth season of American Horror Story to four. Lady Gaga, Angela Bassett, and Cheyenne Jackson were previously revealed as cast members in the next installment of the horror anthology. Paulson’s revelation came at the Television Critics Association summer tour. FX Networks CEO John Landgraf was also in attendance. Of course, someone had to ask about the theme. He didn’t spill the beans, in fact, he added more confusion to speculation about American Horror Story Season 6, saying that the marketing team, “went out and created many more trailers than you’ve actually seen for hypothetical seasons of American Horror Story, in different genres, different places. One of them is accurate, and the others are all misdirects.”

Great, John. Thanks.

If you haven’t seen them yet, here are the teasers that have been released so far.

There is no obvious coherent theme suggested in those teasers, but TMZ recently leaked some photos from the American Horror Story set that provides a big clue. The photos include one of a tree with the word “CROATOAN” written on it. This is a reference to a real-life mystery from the late 1590s in which over 100 North Carolina colonists disappeared. The word “CROATOAN” was written on a nearby tree. Croatoan was the name of a Native American tribe that lived in the area.

So will Season 6 of American Horror Story revolve around the mysterious colony? Who knows. Do any of the teasers appear to tie into that? No. But given what Landgraf said, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Although Ryan Murphy remains tight-lipped about the theme, accoridng to Movie Pilot, he has said that all seasons of American Horror Story are connected in some way.

“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.”

A theory among some AHS fans is that the connection involves Dante’s poem, Divine Inferno, with each season of American Horror Story representing each of the nine circles of Hell through which the poet travels in his story. It’s a theory that seems to hold true so far. So does that provide any clues? Maybe. Here’s what the theory says.

In Divine Inferno, Dante travels through nine circles of Hell with Virgil as his guide. Each circle represents a sin – limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The first five seasons of American Horror Story can be aligned with some of those circles.

Season 1’s Murder House was full of lustful relationships as well as characters who were in limbo, not living but not quite dead either. Season 2, American Horror Story: Asylum was rife with fraud – staff members pretending to care and telling patients they are sick. The witches of Season 3’s Coven were full of anger that led to deceit and treachery as each tried to rise to the top. With Freak Show, American Horror Story gave us lots of greed in Dandy and Elsa. Then last year’s Season 5 with its Hotel theme was about gluttony as characters indulged themselves in a variety of addictions.

So what’s left? If this theory is true, what circles of Hell haven’t yet been explored by American Horror Story? We’re left with heresy and violence. So could Season 6 deal with the North Carolina colonists and one of these two sins? There are only two. Would that mean there are only two seasons of AHS left?

Every time we try to figure out what may be around the corner in American Horror Story, we end up making things more complicated and raising more questions. Well done, AHS. Well done.

American Horror Story returns to FX on September 14 at 10 p.m. ET.

[Image via FX]