"American Horror Story" returns tonight -- which means you can spend all day quivering with anticipation, and all night screaming in abject terror. This year's installment, "American Horror Story: Freak Show," promises all the creepy, campy shenanigans we've come to know and love over the past three years, with a few added twists that might just make it the best season yet. But if you still need a good reason to tune in, one of these should do the trick.
1. Jessica Lange is going to look, and be, amazeballs.
Whether she's playing a Supreme witch, a supreme bitch, or a nun with a secret past and a penchant for red lingerie, the grande dame of "American Horror Story" never fails to look completely fabulous. And since this is her last season on the show, you know that Ryan Murphy will have spared nothing when it comes to giving her as many amazing things to wear (and as much scenery to chew) as she can handle.
2. Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe are back, too.
These ladies elevated the last season of "American Horror Story" to a whole new level -- especially Bates, who seemed to be really relishing her screen time as Madame Delphine LaLaurie. This season, she'll be one of the show's collection of "unusuals". We hear she's wearing a beard!
3. And let's not forget the rest of the remarkable cast.
The last time a sideshow this diverse and incredible was assembled onscreen, it was for the 1932 film "Freaks." We've already met a few of the show's collection of physically extraordinary performers -- Mat Fraser, Jyoti Amange, Erika Ervin, and Rose Siggins -- and we can't wait to see them in action.
4. Plus, Pepper!
If you've been missing the peculiar (and peculiarly endearing) Pepper ever since "American Horror Story: Asylum," then gird your loins: she's back!
5. It's the scariest setting yet.
A haunted house, a derelict asylum, a school for wayward witches: these things are scary, yes, but they don't hold a candle to striped tents, funhouse mirrors, and creepy calliope music.
6. And it's a gold mine for AHS's history obsession.
One of the great delights of "American Horror Story" is the way it weaves historical events and personages into its contemporary plotlines. In "Murder House," we got a peek at the dark underbelly of Hollywood and a cameo from the Black Dahlia; in "Asylum," Anne Frank made an appearance; and in "Coven," the plot centered on the sordid histories of real-life New Orleans natives Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie. "Freak Show," set during the height of the post-WWII Red Scare and starring Jessica Lange as a German expat, has plenty of historical intrigue to sink its teeth into.
7. Finally, this season's villain is legit, actual nightmare material.
Over the years, Ryan Murphy's love for camp has sometimes resulted in AHS antagonists who, though highly entertaining, are ultimately more funny than frightening. This is, um, not one of those times.