Will Jessica Lange Return In 'American Horror Story: Hotel'? A Surprise Appearance Isn't Out Of The Question

What is American Horror Story without Jessica Lange? Fans of FX's anthology series may have to find out for the first time this year, as Season 5's AHS: Hotel is the first iteration of the Ryan Murphy show to not feature the two-time Academy Award-winning actress. ...Or is it? Just as viewers were learning to cope with the tragic news and get excited about the new season thanks to recently released plot details and cast pictures, Murphy drops a bombshell that changes everything: we may not have seen the last of Jessica Lange on American Horror Story after all.

The showrunner revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he's been having discussions with Lange to make a return appearance to the show she helped make a must-see event four years running. "I've been talking to her. It's always possible. I'm trying to deal with her play schedule," he said, referencing her starring role in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night — a production which Murphy himself is producing. "Jessica is always about the character. She’ll be back — she’s not gone forever. But that’s the fun and fresh thing about the show: sometimes somebody has to go away before you realize how much you miss them. She wants to come back we just have to come up with something."

After three years in a row of being the lead character of the show, it might be odd to see Lange pop up in what amounts to a glorified cameo — but I'd be willing to bet her fans would take whatever amount of screen time they could get from the actress. So just how could Murphy squeeze a role for Lange into the Hotel Cortez? Actually, he's already crafted himself a perfect entrance point for her into the season, if he ever decides to take advantage of it.

While previous conjectures on a hypothetical role for Lange have centered around her playing a guest or employee of the titular hotel, the character she ends up playing might look a lot more familiar to AHS audiences. It was previously reported that Hotel will connect directly to Season 1: not only does it take place in L.A. five years after the events of that season, Hotel will apparently travel to the Harmon's infamous Murder House for at least one episode. Christine Estabrook will be reprising her Season 1 role as unscrupulous real estate agent Marcy.

Now that both Estabrook and Lily Rabe have reprised roles from previous seasons, what's to stop Lange from doing the same? The last we saw her Constance Langdon, she was raising the surviving child of Vivian Harmon (fathered by Constance's ghost son Tate); in a creepy epilogue that took place three years after the main action of Murder House, Constance returned home to find her grandson had murdered his nanny. She looked down at him with what looked like pride and wondered aloud, "Now what am I going to do with you?"

It was an intriguingly open-ended conclusion to the season, and leaves open ample opportunity for revisiting Constance and her murderous child. Since Hotel takes place five years after Season 1, that child would now be a walking, talking terror — probably terrorizing and brutalizing his innocent preschool compatriots. (Depending on how supernaturally fast this budding sociopath has developed, could he even be the Ten Commandments Killer recently teased as one of Hotel's main villains?)

Previous seasons of AHS have hinted peripherally at connections, like Pepper's tragic story serving as the loose link between Asylum and Freak Show. But if Hotel is truly taking place in the same location and relative time period as Murder House, that would be the show's most direct connection to date... and it wouldn't make sense for Lange to return as anyone other than Constance. I certainly hope this is what happens; it would be supremely satisfying to see the actress return to the role that kickstarted her AHS career. While Lange delivered consistently amazing performances over the course of four years, her first role on the show as Murder House's faded starlet will likely always remain her best.

American Horror Story: Hotel premieres on Oct. 7, 2015.

Images: Michele K. Short/FX; tvismylife, shoother (2)/tumblr