Here’s Why ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’ Fans Are Freaking Out About the Finale’s ‘Asylum’ Surprise (Lana Winters?!)

The season finale of American Horror Story: Roanoke is finally almost here, and fans of the FX series might already have their best reason ever to freak out: Thanks to a teaser dropped at the end of the November 9 episode, we know that Sarah Paulson will be returning for chapter 10 in the guise of a blast from the past.

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Lana Winters, the heroine of American Horror Story: Asylum, will be front and center in the Wednesday, November 16, finale as the interrogator of confessed murderess Lee Harris (Adina Porter) in a must-watch prime-time TV interview. That’s a huge reveal for a fandom obsessed with unpacking the complex web of connections between each AHS season. But if you’re not entirely clear on just why it’s a big deal, we’ve got you covered.

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Who is Lana Winters?

Let’s start with the basics: Four seasons ago, American Horror Story: Asylum concluded much in the same way as Roanoke, with just one tenacious character having survived a hellish ordeal in a building full of evil spirits. That character? Lana Winters, who made it through false imprisonment, the death of her lover, a horrific “corrective” therapy to cure her homosexuality and a run-in with the skin-peeling pervert Bloody Face to become a world-class investigative journalist … one who is apparently still going strong in the time of American Horror Story: Roanoke.

Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters in ‘American Horror Story: Asylum.’

Where are we in the AHS timeline?

The introduction of Lana Winters extends an existing line of continuity between the various American Horror Story seasons: Lana was imprisoned at Briarcliff Manor in the 1960s, where she met two important repeat characters: Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), and fan favorite Pepper (Naomi Grossman), the microcephalic former star of the freak show featured in season 4. 

Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson as Shelby in ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke.’

Now it turns out that season 2 of AHS is a central hub connecting Freak Show to Roanoke; Lana’s appearance confirms that these seasons take place within a linear timeline, albeit out of order. (If you’re wondering why Lana looks so fabulous and ageless in the year 2016, don’t forget that she’s got a talented dermatologist and a discreet plastic surgeon on speed dial, as revealed in the final episode of Asylum.)

Are all the seasons officially interconnected?

Ryan Murphy has already said as much, but in a word? Yep. Lana’s Roanoke appearance is the final thread in a complex mythology that ties every last season of American Horror Story together. Remember: Freak Show and Asylum share characters, as do Coven and Hotel, as do Hotel and Murder House.

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So with Paulson’s investigative journalist forming a connection between seasons 6 and 2, and the sexually voracious wood witch confirmed to be the first Supreme of the sorceress line featured in season 3, we officially have crossovers across the board. All that’s left is to flesh ’em out — which, of course, will be happening down the road, in future installments of AHS.

American Horror Story: Roanoke airs on FX Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET. 

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