And I was underwhelmed. I guess that was inevitable, considering all the hype and fan theories. At this point there wasn’t much they could do that hadn’t been guessed already, but this was really pedestrian on a scale of “Who’s the next Supreme?” to “Violet’s been dead practically this whole time.”
This episode was 40 minutes, a little longer than the last few weeks, and they packed a lot in. Let’s get started…
Our show within a show has a new name! Apparently “My Roanoke Nightmare” was a runaway success, so now the producer is pitching a new idea: both the reenactment cast and their real-life counterparts head back to the Roanoke house for the 3 days of the blood moon. One of the tv execs likened it to Big Brother, and that’s basically what it is: cameras everywhere, shooting 24/7. People are gonna stop being polite, and start getting Real. (okay I mixed up my reality shows there, but I’ve never watched Big Brother)
We’re introduced to the reenactment cast as their actor selves. Sarah Paulson is Audrey, Cuba is Dominic, Angela Bassett is Monet, Evan Peters is Rory, and Kathy Bates is Mary Agnes Winstead. Mary Agnes got a little too Method with her character…think Jared Leto’s Joker on steroids, and had to be hospitalized after she ran down Hollywood Blvd in full costume swinging a butcher knife at people.
Also apparently real Shelby had a weekend fling with fake Matt/Cuba/Dominic, and it was all over the tabloids. She only agrees to do the show if Dominic won’t be there, because she’s hoping 3 days in the wilderness will give her and Matt a chance to reconnect.
Of course the sleaze ball producer has already signed Dominic, but he lies to Shelby anyway because what’s the show without Shelby?
Back at the house, the crew shows off some effects they built in: exploding shelves in the kitchen, rattling faucet, even exploding windows. Cheyenne Jackson (the producer, Sidney) does an amazing Leslie Jones impression, but the other producer wonders why, if they’re trying to capture “reality,” they’re building in all these cheesy fake effects. He tells her not to worry her pretty little head about it.
Outside a crew member waves them over to find a circle of fetal pigs arranged behind a tree. No one claims responsibility, so Sidney believes Mary Agnes is responsible and serves her with a restraining order. Which, of course, is all part of his game: it’ll be that much more exciting when Mary Agnes shows up on set in character to cause a fuss.
Sidney and Diana return to set to find out that a crew member has accidentally cut his own head off with a chainsaw (ew). Despite how shaken everyone is, Sidney makes the call to keep rolling; he only has the three days of the blood moon, after all, and he’s not gonna quit now.
Diana, being of sound mind and body, calls him on his bullshit and gets the hell out of there. There’s a dashcam in her car, and as she’s driving she sees a possible ghost ahead of her.
Girlfriend is the smartest person on the whole damn show, so of course she doesn’t stop to say hey, but keeps on driving. Suddenly Pig Man is in her backseat! He grabs her, her car flips, and the last image on the dashcam is her all broken and bloody in her smashed up car. So much for the smartest person on the show.
Everyone starts to arrive at the house, and we learn that Audrey and Rory were married shortly after production ended. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are cute together, but Audrey has several monologues about her age like she’s 80 or something. I guess in Hollywood years, 40 is kinda like 80.
Lee and Matt get there, and we learn that since the show, Lee’s mother-in-law has sued for custody of Flora, Lee’s gotten a book deal, and everyone thinks Lee killed Mason. Which is stupid imo because there’s no way she could’ve gotten a grown man up on that effigy. But nobody asked me. Also Monet is an alcoholic, and she totally blames Lee for it.
We get a quick glimpse of burned-up Mason walking the halls, stalking Lee. It’s gross and creepy. Also it’s Lance Reddick, who would be a little easier for Lee to lift than Charles Malik Whitfield, but he’s awfully angular, so maybe not.
Audrey, Monet, and Rory are making light of the house’s reputation. Matt asks them when they filmed the show, and they tell him mid-summer. He points outside, where a nearly full blood moon is rising, but they aren’t impressed.
Audrey and Rory head to the hot tub for some newlywed time, while Shelby attempts to talk to Matt. He tells her they were crazy to come back to that house, and people are gonna die. Makes you wonder why they came back, doesn’t it?
Just then Dominic arrives, and Matt takes the opportunity to kick his ass. Rory comes running from the hot tub to help break up the fight, and Shelby screams at Sidney through one of the hanging cameras. Draaaamaaaaa.
Ohhh, I forgot. At some point in here we’re told that the new show was never aired, and everything we’re going to see was assembled from found footage. How very Blair Witch.
Anyway, Audrey’s in the shower, and when she gets out the Pig Man is in the bathroom. She screams and runs downstairs, and while everyone takes her into the kitchen to comfort her, Rory goes upstairs alone to search for the intruder. Sigh. Horror Movie 101: Don’t Split Up!
He doesn’t find the Pig Man, but the nurses find him. R, my friends, is for Rory, and their murder mural is at last complete.
Oh geez. Okay, the first 20 minutes of this episode honestly felt like Ryan Murphy fellating himself. Sidney went on and on about how stellar the ratings for “My Roanoke Nightmare” were, and how it was this huge cultural phenomenon. I know: show-within-a-show; but it just felt a little too meta to me, like, “Look at this AHS empire I have created! Bow before me!” Especially considering the insane ratings “Roanoke” has been getting this season.
There was also the interview with Kathy Bates talking about how amazing a character the Butcher was, one of the top two characters in American theatre canon. Yes, she was obsessive and unwell, but STILL. It was a little much for me.
Like I said in the opener, I was underwhelmed by the “huge twist.” I mean, it’s kinda neat that the actors and the actual people will be interacting in the house, but overall it’s mostly like big whoop. We as viewers know the Butcher & co. are “real,” so it’s not like it’s revealing anything amazing to US. These poor people are gonna be trapped in this house for 3 days where they’ll be tortured and murdered in various ways.
I really don’t get why Matt, Shelby, and Lee would come back. I guess Shelby thinks it’ll give her and Matt a second chance, and maybe Lee thinks she can possibly clear her name…but why Matt? What’s in it for him? He knows what the house is like, and he apparently has no interest in reconnecting with Shelby. The one person they didn’t interview pre-show was Matt, so his motives are murky.
I keep seeing a lot of Shelby hate out there. People are like, “I don’t care who dies, as long as Shelby is one of them!” Huh? Why? Because she screamed a lot? Y’all, that was Audrey-as-Shelby, not actual Shelby. And honestly I’d scream a lot too. One time a bat got in my house and I couldn’t stop screaming as it swooped around my room. Point is, I understand hysterics. Don’t hate Shelby; hate the evil torture ghosts.
The whole premise of this second show is weird. Sidney clearly doesn’t believe in any of the ghosts, but he’s setting the whole thing up…counting on the ghosts, at least in part. Yeah, he built in the cheesy effects and such, but he’s still hoping for actual paranormal phenomena.
I guess my point is the whole thing is thin. Super thin. There are several large plot holes and a bunch of shit that requires major suspension of disbelief on my part. I’m not sold on season 6, act 2 just yet, but I guess I’m strapped in for the duration. We’ll see what happens from here.
Images curtesy of FX