More Grist For The Mill
We’re down to perilously few cast members, but there’s a whole episode to fill, so you know what that means: millennials! Taissa Farmiga, not seen since “Coven,” plays Sophie, who runs a “My Roanoke Nightmare” fan site. She and her friends Milo (the geeky one) and Todd (the one who dies first) are searching for the house, hoping to get some footage that will go viral. And if there’s one thing the back half of “Roanoke” has made abundantly clear: If you actively seek fame, you will be killed in the worst way possible.
The kids all have GoPros and are prone to running around and yelling, so the main visual theme of this episode is jerky, swaying camera movements. If the goal was to replicate the sea-sickness inducing footage of “The Blair Witch Project,” then mission accomplished. There’s not a lot to “Chapter 9,” but if you’re looking for plenty of wildly swaying cameras as characters dash from one location to the next, it delivers in spades.
Sophie and her friends get their own little storyline where they find the dead assistant from “Chapter 6,” talk to the cops (who don’t believe them), then head back to the house, where they meet their inevitable grisly fate. Aside from reinforcing the “beware the pitfalls of fame” theme, the storyline is the definition of expendable.
Speaking of expendable, Wes Bentley’s Dylan shows up, gets a cursory war veteran backstory, and is promptly stabbed repeatedly. He’s not quite dead, though, so The Butcher eviscerates him and pulls all his guts out. Great contribution, dude. Actually, hold on. It actually is worth it for the cutaway gag of Wes Bentley, dressed as the Pig Man, taking an Uber to the murder house. The driver’s even the one the producers interviewed back in “Chapter 4!”
Fact vs. Fiction
The question of who exactly is airing “Return to Roanoke” rears its head again, as we get a disclaimer towards the end of the episode warning that Milo and Sophie’s deaths are particularly graphic. And yeah, they’re pretty nasty (impaled on stakes and lit on fire), but Dylan got up-close eviscerated literally right before the disclaimer, so who exactly decides to advise viewer discretion? “We’ve showed like 10 people get killed for real, but this time it’s a little bit grosser, so maybe a disclaimer will reduce our liability.” Last week it was intriguing, this week it’s just confusing.
There’s a good bit where Audrey, who is looking for the footage from the Polks’ compound to exonerate her in her murder of Mama Polk, faces off with one of the Polk sons. She films the Polk threatening to kill her, then asks him to repeat it. When he does, she shoots him point blank in the face. No jury would convict her! The camera never lies! She took Lee’s lesson about controlling the narrative to its logically bleak conclusion.
Oh, and at one point the kids find the production truck with all the live footage from the house, and yell at the people like they’re characters in a horror movie. (Seeing Monet drinking: “No, you need a clear head!”) There’ s almost an idea there, but it just winds up feeling like a warmed-over bit from one of the “Scream” movies.
Lee Is The Worst
Silly me, I didn’t think Lee could get any worse after she confessed that she really did kill her husband, but nope, she gets separated from the others and winds up becoming Real Witchy Gaga’s Butcher 2.0. Soon Lee’s scarfing down pig hearts and wailing about how the land needs to be cleansed. When she heads back to the house, she throws Monet through the balcony, impaling her on the crashed chandelier, then chases Aubrey to the cellar, cleaving her and dropping her to the floor below. Then she oversees the horrible executions of Sophie and Milo. Apparently Real Witchy Gaga wants a servant who’s a little more corporeal.
When the cops arrive the next morning and discover the carnage, Lee is found outside, seemingly traumatized, but probably faking it (because she’s the worst). As Lee is being put in a police car, Audrey climbs out of the cellar, injured but alive. When she sees Lee she snaps, stealing a cop’s gun and pointing it at Lee. Of course, the other cops light her up before she can pull the trigger, so Lee is free to wreak whatever havoc she has in store next episode. Apparently it involves going on an interview show hosted by Sarah Paulson in yet another role. Hey, what happens to people who seek fame again?