[tw for creepy images and discussion of sexual assault]
Pigs! Feral children! Andy Warhol-haired psychics! Murder! Kidnapping! This was a busy 40 minutes of television, y’all, and it left me worn out. Let’s dive in…
The episode opens with the manhunt for little Flora. The cops and FBI are on the case, but Lee, as a former cop herself, knows the odds of finding Flora alive diminish every hour she’s missing. Everyone gets assigned a search grid, but they’re alone, which is weird because I always thought searches used the buddy system.
Anyway Shelby (I think) finds Flora’s doll, and she calls Matt and Lee. The doll has been dismembered, and some of its parts have been replaced with pig bits. Ugh.
The doll is near an abandoned farmhouse. They go to investigate and find rotted food and other nasty stuff, but no people. Then they hear a pig.
In the barn they find two young boys nursing from a sow in some twisted Romulus and Remus send up. The boys are practically feral, filthy and largely unable to speak. The cops get them to a hospital, but all they’ll say is “Croatoan.”
Mason, Lee’s ex, shows up and he’s MAD. Back at the house he accuses Lee of hiding Flora and staging the whole disappearance thing, and when Lee protests her innocence, Mason shoves her and storms out of the house. Later, Matt is awakened by his phone: the cops have discovered a body.
Lee, Shelby, and Matt all go to see it. It’s burnt beyond recognition, though clearly too large to be a child, and tied to one of those creepy Blair Witch effigy things. One of the cops hands Lee a ring. It’s Mason’s! Someone burned Mason alive!
Back at home, Matt shows Shelby some video on his laptop. Lee left the house shortly after Mason and returned 4 hours later. It looks like, from that circumstantial evidence, that she’s the culprit, but I don’t care how perfectly sculpted Angela Bassett’s arms are: there’s no way she lifted Charles Malik Whitfield onto that effigy thingie all by her onesies.
They’re all standing around talking about it when Leslie Jordan, in an Andy Warhol wig, black suit, and silver-capped walking stick, comes strolling in. He claims to be a psychic from New Orleans (NOT a warlock, like in Coven) who has helped the FBI recover many missing children.
His creds are legit, apparently, and while everyone is skeptical, he quickly proves his bonafides by pointing to the attic space where Flora was hiding the other day and mentioning Priscilla. He says Priscilla died in the 16th century, and they need to contact her to find Flora.
They hold a seance, and Kathy Bates appears. Only Cricket can see or hear her. She calls herself “The Butcher” and says she’s the guardian of these lands. She’ll kill anyone who trespasses, but she claims she doesn’t have Flora. Priscilla has her somewhere beyond the Butcher’s reach. The living room windows blow out as the seance ends, and Cricket tells Matt, Shelby, and Lee that “evil spirits” have Flora and she’s in grave danger (a lie), and for $25k he’ll find her for them.
They’re pissed, obviously, and Matt kicks him out of the house. The next day Lee goes to see him, and he tells her about Roanoke. She says they’re 100 miles away from Roanoke, which is interesting. I guess they’re not at the beach after all. So just. Eastern NC then. Sucks for them.
A flashback shows us Kathy Bates, name Thomasin White (a shoutout to The Witch?), John White’s wife. When White went back to England on his beer run, he left her in charge. Which seems weird. I mean, yeah, Elizabeth I was kickin’ ass back in England, but the colony’s men weren’t exactly thrilled to have a woman in charge.
The men want to move inland, but Thomasin insists they stay. They lock her head in this weird cage thing and throw her out into the woods. Luckily a wild Lady Gaga appears!
Gaga kills a pig and has Thomasin eat the heart in some sort of weird blood pact. The cage falls off and Thomasin returns to the colony and kills two of the dudes who locked her up. Her son, Wes Bentley, begs for forgiveness and gets it. Then she announces they’re all moving inland…which is how they ended up on Matt and Shelby’s land.
Back in the present, Lee, Shelby, Matt, and Cricket go a-huntin’ in the middle of the night. Cricket summons the Butcher/Thomasin/Kathy Bates. He swears that if she returns Flora unharmed, they’ll leave the land and never come back. Lee says they’ll burn down the house. Shelby is pissed, but Lee says Matt agreed to it. When Shelby turns to confront him about it, he’s gone.
Shelby goes to look for him, and what she finds is wild. Matt and Lady Gaga are gettin’ it on while two of the hillbilly folks watch. Andre/Matt claims he has no memory of leaving the group, and certainly no memory of sex with Gaga.
When they get back to the house the cops are there. Shelby tells Matt what she saw, but he has no idea what she’s talking about. Meanwhile, the cops arrest Lee. When Matt asks Shelby what she did, she says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” in echo of his earlier denials.
Wow, okay. First lemme say that ever since I read Hannibal I really dislike pigs. Any time they wanna stop with the pig imagery would be a-okay by me. Gross pigs.
Welp. We made it almost 3 full episodes without a sexual assault, but we should’ve known that couldn’t last. Since Matt was obviously in some sort of fugue/blackout state, there’s no way he could consent to sex with Gaga. So, yeah, feral forest chick raped Matt while the hillbilly guys watched. Sigh.
I’m concerned about this Gaga character over all. First of all, she’s white. Obviously. And since the Roanoke colony was the first European settlement in the New World, that’s…a problem. Of course it seems like the Vikings had settlements well before the English, but they were all the way in Canada, so I doubt she’s meant to be a long-lost Viking lass gone wild.
This episode was…I don’t know. A little creepy. A little gory. But overall kind of underwhelming. I liked, of course, learning more about the history of things. We don’t know who the hell Gaga is, or what happened to Matt or Mason. If Matt was truly in a fugue state when he wandered off from the others, then I guess it’s possible Lee did kill Mason, in a similar state, and has no memory of it. Lee didn’t address the topic at all, except to say she didn’t like her family accusing her of things, and they never confronted her about leaving the house.
There’s a lot of buzz about episode 6, since apparently the season’s “big twist” will take place then. I’ve read some speculation that each of these first 5 episodes it meant to be a throwback to an earlier season: episode 1 had the couple moving into the creepy Murder House; episode 2 had the murderous nurses, a la Asylum; episode 3 had Leslie Jones performing creepy rituals like in Coven. If that’s true, then obviously episode 6 would correspond to season 6, and it might finally show us what the hell we’re doing here.
In the meantime I don’t want to be treading water for the next few episodes. If Flora’s kidnapping turns into a “Sophia in the barn” situation I won’t be pleased. Kathy Bates said she was safe with Priscilla, and she didn’t have much reason to lie, I guess. Fingers crossed.
Also can I just say Kathy Bates looks amazing this season? I don’t know if it’s the wig or the colonial garb. Maybe she had some work done?? I don’t know, but she looks fantastic. I love that Ryan Murphy isn’t afraid to cast women over 50.
Images courtesy of FX