Fact vs. Fiction
You’ll recall that last week I mentioned that “Roanoke’s” biggest sin so far was that it was boring. The good news is that “Chapter 4” brings some of the old “American Horror Story” magic. The bad news is that a key ingredient of the old “American Horror Story” magic is that the show is kind of a mess. Matt and Shelby hear about 900 origins stories this episode, but at least the show doesn’t linger on any of them long enough to slow down.
The biggest bummer, as always, are the talking heads segments, which are still useless and a big drain on the drama. The episode ends on a cliffhanger: Will The Butcher kill Matt and Shelby? Well, no, they’re telling us this whole story, so they’re fine. Unless they’ve been dead the whole time and the docu-series is some sort of ironic hell punishment or some new take on purgatory. Which certainly sounds dumb, but something has to happen with this format, right?
The documentary bright spot is when the re-enactment of Cricket’s horrible death is interrupted by a quick interview with Cricket’s Uber driver. It makes sense that the producers would want to talk to anyone connected to these spooky events, but the Uber driver’s only contribution is “He ran off and eventually I left. I just prayed that everyone was okay.” Cut to Cricket getting disemboweled in this season’s most grisly murder yet. It’s an unexpected chuckle.
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We not only get a graphic killing, we also get the show’s first genuine jump scare this season, as Shelby finds a damn knife-wielding Pig Man in her shower. Hey, remember when Eric Stonestreet was afraid of the Piggy Man way back in Season 1? Another fun connection for you “AHS” obsessives.
The Pig Man manages to corner Matt and Shelby until Elias Cunningham, the guy from the videos in “Chapter 2,” shows up in the flesh to drive an ax in the Pig Man’s back, “Shining”-style. Elias gets the first of this episode’s many exposition dumps, giving Matt and Shelby a rundown of the many people that lived and died in the house, and most importantly, letting them know that as of that night, a six-day period begins where the ghosts can interact with the physical world, i.e. actually kill you. Okay, time to go! What, they have to find Flora first? Good thing Elias knows where Priscilla hangs out.
They find Flora, alive, playing with a bunch of the ghosts. Then the Roanokans show up and shoot Elias full of arrows. And that’s what happens when you try to save an innocent girl from pilgrim ghosts. Matt and Shelby get away, but Priscilla escapes with Flora in another direction.
Shelby Is The Worst
No Lee this episode, so it’s Shelby’s time to shine. After a funny bit where Elias explains that Matt and Shelby were only able to buy the house at auction because Elias couldn’t pay a hefty property tax bill, Real Shelby interviews that she didn’t trust him, since maybe he wanted the house back. WHO WOULD WANT THIS TERRIBLE HOUSE IT IS A NEXUS OF EVIL AND YOU KNOW IT.
Supernatural Origin Roundup
- Priscilla was killed by The Butcher as a human sacrifice to keep Roanoke’s crop bountiful.
- The Butcher poisoned and murdered everyone in the town when they threatened to walk out on her, due to the whole “human sacrifice” thing.
- Witchy Gaga (her character still doesn’t have a name, so this is what I’m going with) was an English girl descended from druids, who stowed away on a ship to America. She was discovered and accused of witchcraft, but she slaughtered all of the guards and skipped off into the woods to worship her old gods.
Bring On The Bonkers
Cricket is back at the house when Matt and Shelby return after Elias’s death, and he gets some answers about who’s running this show. He not only meets Witchy Gaga, but learns her weakness: She’s horny as hell. Turns out that while the Roanokans are interested in murder, Witchy Gaga is interested in banging Matt. Late in the episode, she lures him to the cellar, where she’s set up a romantic hideaway, complete with candlelight and a makeshift buckskin love nest. It’s both hilarious and kind of sweet. An immortal evil that just wants to get laid is exactly the kind of thing that made “American Horror Story” appointment television in the first place. Hopefully things just ramp up from here.