After much speculation the theme of season six of American Horror Story has finally been revealed. This season will focus on Roanoke, also known as The Lost Colony. If you're not already aware, the short version is that Roanoke is a colony of settlers that 'disappeared' with no concrete answer as to what happened to them. There are plenty of logical explanations as to what might of happened, but this will obviously be American Horror Story's version of what they think happened. If you are curious there is plenty of information on the internet about the real colony and theories of what might have happened to them.
Keeping the theme a secret until the first episode aired was not the only thing new this season. The format in which the story is told has also changed. This season is being presented as a pseudo-documentary that is similar to those true crime shows we've all seen, complete with reenactments. It is sort of a show within a show and each detail is handled so that it feels like a documentary.
It comes complete with it's own title credits. The show within a show is titled ...
We're introduced to Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt (Andre Holland), a happily married couple (the kind that make other people jealous) who are expecting their first child. The two go out to celebrate a promotion Matt gets at work (and the fact that Shelby is newly pregnant). They are accosted by a group of gang members who, as part of an initiation, knock Matt out with a punch. The tension, stress, and worry proves too much for Shelby who miscarries as a result.
We're introduced to the reenactment part of this season with them showing us the attack on Matt. The 'actors' playing 'Shelby' and 'Matt' in the reenactments are Sarah Paulson (as 'Shelby') and Cuba Gooding Jr (as 'Matt'). Cool concept and one that they have never done before. The casting is rather inspired as well. Side note - it was a little jarring to see 'Marcia Clark' and 'OJ Simpson' from American Crime Story being a couple, but it really worked. I bought into them as a couple by the end of the episode without question.
After Matt's scare, and the loss of the baby they decide to move out of Los Angeles as it did not feel safe anymore. They decide to move to North Carolina, hoping it would offer a more relaxing environment for them.
They stumble upon a farmhouse that was built in 1792 and needed more than a bit of cleaning. They figure they could never afford such a large house that comes with so much land (that they can't build on). They end up taking part in some kind of auction that is basically just them and another group of locals who attempt to warn them away from the house. They figure that it just them trying to scare them away from buying the house. A bidding war starts but quickly ends when Cuba Gooding Jr decides to show them the money and bids forty thousand dollars which the locals cannot afford to match. 'It totally turned me on when he did that' Shelby admits during the interview portion of the 'documentary'. Shelby admits that she loved the house but instantly felt danger there too.
|How cute are they?!|
The new home owners settle in and start the process of cleaning out the house, and repainting. They also partake in some sexytimes that is interrupted by some loud banging on the door and weird noises. Matt goes to check it out (horror movies have taught us never to do this) and discovers the trash cans all torn apart and tossed everywhere. Matt immediately suspects that it might be the locals who lost the auction. He figures they are racists who don't approve of them being an interracial couple. They, however, refuse to be scared away again.
A couple days later while Lily is alone, and just waking up from a nap, she hears what sounds like hail outside and goes to investigate (again, why would you do this?) and discovers that it is in fact not hailing but raining TEETH. Very human looking TEETH. This is about when I would be packing up and running. Forty thousand dollars or no.
I mean... actual teeth falling from the sky. Noooope.
She calls Matt, and Matt tells her it's hail. He drove through hail on his drive. Of course all of the teeth have disappeared and Shelby looks crazy. I believe it though.
Matt's job requires him to travel a lot. That leaves Shelby alone as he has to go away for business. At first it felt normal because that was their routine. Matt would leave on business, come back and repeat. It helped at first because it was familiar. Shelby cooked, drank wine, and jumped at every little noise (so she's basically me).
|in which Shelby is basically me|
These may in fact be the most normal characters we've seen on the show since season one and the Harmons.
As Shelby is walking through the house she notices two women randomly walking across the hall. They disappear as fast as she sees them and after she investigates decides she was seeing things and decides to go out into the hot tub (because this is a good idea, obviously). Shelby does get bonus points for drinking wine in the hot tub, but I question the rest of her decision making. She attempts to relax and closes her eyes only to be pushed under the water and held there by some unknown assailant (or assailants). This is why you don't go in the hot tub. Bad things happen.
She calls Matt who, like a good husband, comes rushing home. The cops take one look at the wine and determine Shelby was drunk and that nothing happened. He found her description of attackers with pitchforks and torches to be less than convincing. Matt is convinced it's the locals from the auction and tells the cop as much. The cop tells them he'll look into it and recommends they get a gun (which is not great advice). Shelby clues us in (via interview) that she was done with living there. She wanted to move away.
Later that night Matt hears a noise that sounds like the squeal of a pig. He goes to investigate and finds a dead pig in front of their house. I still don't understand why they are not moving.
Matt's reaction to all this is to install security cameras and call his sister Lee (Adina Porter) to come and stay with Shelby while he's away. Lee is portrayed by Angela Bassett in the reenactments. Fun fact - Angela Bassett played Cuba Gooding Jr's MOTHER in 1991's Boyz In The Hood. She now, in 2016, plays his sister. What voodoo is this, Angela? Because sign me up. Lee also happens to have the best lines (such as informing us that she hates assholes). Lee and Shelby don't like each other much. Lee doesn't think much of yoga or anything else Shelby does, and Shelby knows it.
Lee comes with her own sad backstory. She used to be a cop until she became addicted to pain meds after being shot on the job. Her addiction ended her marriage, got her fired, and limited visitation with her kid. Sad stuff all around.
Of course Lee being there doesn't prevent spooky things from happening. Shelby is cooking dinner one night when things start to move from the place she left them. Most glaringly is the knife she left on the counter that is now stuck inside the meat she is cooking. Shelby assumes it was Lee and Lee assumes that Shelby is just a 'jumpy bitch'. She figures Shelby is just trying to get Matt to move back to LA. Having asked Shelby to not drink in the house while she's there (because she's newly sober), Lee is furious when she figures Shelby is taunting her by rolling a wine bottle into her room. Shelby says she didn't do it.
In the meantime, the ladies have heard noises in the basement and decide to go investigate. Bad life decisions for everyone it appears. They discover a creepy video (including a voice that sounds sort of like Evan Peters) that includes some kind of pigman. While they are watching this video the people with pitchforks and torches took the time to decorate their house Blair Witch style. They find about a million little twig figures strung up around the house. Again, why are you not just LEAVING THE HOUSE AND DRIVING AWAY?!
Matt arrives home and discovers the police came already and have chalked it up to vandalism. They tell Matt about the video and he goes to watch it. It is just as unsettling the second around. Matt is convinced it is the locals trying to scare them away (either for the house or because they are racists). Shelby finally admits she wants to leave because she doesn't feel safe and doesn't trust that the cops will do anything. Shelby does the first smart thing anyone has done on this show - she runs. She gets in her car and drives away as fast she can and drives right into Kathy Bates in very old fashioned clothes. After hitting Kathy Bates (whose character currently does not have a name on the show) Shelby stops and gets out of the car to make sure she's okay. Kathy Bates is already walking into the woods so Shelby FOLLOWS HER. Naturally, this is going to end well for Shelby.
She chases Kathy Bates through the woods until she becomes lost. She ends up discovering a bunch of those twig figures that were in the house hung up in the woods as well. In a panic she runs away only to fall down and discover that the forest floor is undulating. She gets up from the moving ground and discovers a guy with a missing scalp running out of the woods. She also discovers, who I assume is, Wes Bentley all decked out in a beard and carrying a torch. Bets on him being part of the group who tried to drown her? Odds are high I wager.
|That you, Wes Bentley?|
An unsettling start to a new season of American Horror Story that was seriously lacking in hotties. This already has a very season one feel to it, which I am sure will thrill many fans. Kathy Bates and Wes Bentley are, most likely, members of the Roanoke colony. The question is why they are still roaming around the forest and causing havoc in present day.
I am a big fan of this new documentary style story format, at least for this season, and kind of love that two actors are playing the same characters. I am not entirely sold that Lily Rabe and Andre Holland are the 'real' Shelby and Matt though. We're supposed to think that, but what if the Cuba Gooding Jr and Sarah Paulson parts are real, and Lily Rabe and Andre Holland are the 'actors' telling the story after the fact? Not entirely sold on this, but it would be a fun twist.
Until next week ... be sure to avoid the woods, and no drinking wine in hot tubs