This year's version of American Horror Story ditches the witches and moves onto the "freaks" of 1952 Jupiter, Florida with American Horror Story: Freak Show. The hit FX anthology series' fourth season premieres tonight and we've got a mostly spoiler-free look at what you can expect from Ryan Murphy's macabre creation when the Freak Show opens.

1. Stellar acting all around.

Everyone knows that AHS is Jessica Lange's show, and that couldn't be more true in Freak Show. She is the star of the show and knocks it out of the park as Elsa Mars in the season premiere. That being said, Freak Show's standout performance comes courtesy of series veteran Sarah Paulson playing both Bette and Dot Tattler. The conjoined twins couldn't be more dissimilar and the way Paulson handles their differences is fantastic.

Kathy Bates, following her scene-stealing performance in American Horror Story: Coven, is great as the Bearded Lady, and Evan Peters continues to evolve as an actor. The coolest surprise in Freak Show, however, is the appearance of real people with real-life special abilities, such as the world's smallest woman, Jyoti Amge, in some of the show's key roles.

2. A show-stopping musical performance.

A little more than midway through the season premiere, titled "Monsters Among Us," comes a musical performance that will surely end up being the moment that everyone talks about around the virtual watercooler come Thursday morning. We won't spoil what the song is, or who sings it, but suffice to say that it gives American Horror Story: Asylum's "The Name Game" a run for its money. It's extraordinary and makes us hope we'll see more musical performances during the rest of the season.

3. Ryan Murphy exploring his usual themes of identity.

Just as he has done with previous series like Nip/Tuck, Glee, and even previous seasons of American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy is focused squarely on the theme of identity in Freak Show. Many of the "freaks," or human oddities, collected in Elsa Mars' show are just normal, everyday people with the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. They just happen to have something unique about them physically. They're finding their identity and place in the world just like you and me, and that comes across in Freak Show's first episode. Who these people are and why they act the way they do will likely be one of the many questions answered this season.

4. Fantastic atmosphere.

There are definitely some major plot points and mysterious storylines that start to take hold in the season premiere, but consistent plotting and story has never been AHS' strong point. From Murder House to Asylum and Coven, these shows have always been about atmosphere, and that's apparent in Freak Show as well. No one in TV creates a creeptastic atmosphere as well Ryan Murphy and crew and the sticky Jupiter, Florida setting should make for some great fodder for the season. Freak Show is weird and creepy and cool and almost instantly recognizable as AHS. That, especially for fans, is a great thing.

5. The creepiest clown you've ever seen in your life.

If you're afraid of clowns, we're going to suggest that you might want to pass on American Horror Story: Freak Show altogether. Twisty the Clown is that scary. We're not even close to kidding about this. He puts Pennywise from It to shame and will probably haunt your nightmares for the rest of your life. If that's not frightening enough for you, we should probably tell you that Twisty is a major part of the season premiere and, most likely, the whole season. It looks like he's going to be pushing the plot along and you're going to see a lot of the twisted, grotesque guy. If that description is enough to make you want to hole up in the corner of your room, rocking back and forth, you may want to tune out. Leave the freaks to us horror junkies!

American Horror Story: Freak Show premieres on October 8 on FX at 10 PM ET.

(All photos: FX)

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