Friday, October 21, 2016

American Horror Story: Roanoke - Chapter 6

This was teased as the episode in which everything changes. The episode with the big twist that turned what you thought you were watching into something else. Most people thought we were going behind the camera and in a way we were, and also were not.

The big twist? We're getting a glimpse at the behind the scenes stuff, but it is also so much more.

Before I get to recapping one of the stand out episodes of American Horror Story, I need to provide a cast list of sorts. We're meeting the actors who played Shelby, Matt, Lee, etc in the 'documentary' and it could make for a complicated recap. Having a cast list will ensure anyone reading this can reference who is who at anytime.

The Cast

Shelby Miller  -- Lily Rabe
Matt Miller -- Andre Holland
Lee Harris  -- Adina Porter
Audrey Tindall (who played Shelby in the show) -- Sarah Paulson
Dominic Banks (who played Matt in the show) -- Cuba Gooding Jr
Monet Tumusiime (who played Lee in the show) -- Angela Bassett
Agnes Mary Winstead (who played The Butcher in show) -- Kathy Bates
Rory Monahan (who played Edward Mott in the show) -- Evan Peters

Okay, with that handy cast list out of the way, let's dive into what I felt was the most ambitious episode of American Horror Story to date.

After finishing up Matt and Shelby's tale of horror last week I knew the show would be going into a different direction. 

We open with a text screen (black screen with white wording) letting us know that 'My Roanoke Nightmare' was a hit show. It beat out all the competition (including The Walking Dead) and the network was eager for a follow up series.

With this news, we meet the producer behind the camera. None other than Cheyenne Jackson who is playing Sidney James. Sidney is sick, morally questionable and kind of slimy (and by kind of I mean waaaaay slimy).

He is walking through the network office to a business meeting and tells his camera people to keep filming no matter what anyone says (including himself). The executives are less than thrilled to see the camera but Sidney is not backing down. He pitches his new idea - he wants to take the real people (aka Matt, Shelby, Lee) and the actors who played them back to the Roanoke house calling it 'Return To Roanoke: Three Days In Hell' as it'll be over the period of the blood moon. This whole pitch is a little meta with Sidney talking about the hit ratings, multiple Entertainment Weekly covers, and all the success the show has had. They could be talking about American Horror Story itself.

Naturally the executives are skeptical about him wanting to capture ghosts on camera. Sidney scoffs and says he wants to capture the cast's reaction to what they believe are ghosts. The executives also express concerns about the fact that a large part of the audience was not satisfied that Mason's murder was never solved, and many of them feel Lee got away with murder. They inquire if the house can even be obtained to shoot on location, to which Sidney replies that he owns it now. He purchased it from Matt and Shelby to shoot the reenactments. They also, smartly, question if Matt, Shelby and Lee will want to go back. Sidney obviously tells them what they want to hear because next thing we know he's walking out and telling his assistant that he has a 13 episode deal. She hisses that he'll have to give them back because Shelby is not interested.

Turns out Shelby is willing  to meet though and agrees to an interview. Her and Matt have separated. One of the biggest reasons was reliving everything they went through again for the show. Another reason is that Shelby had an affair with Dominic Banks (the actor who played Matt in the show ... aka Cuba Gooding Jr).

Her and Dominic were caught together by a tabloid type show and Matt was, understandably, not happy. I think that is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black though because Matt did have sex with Scathach. As soon as the affair (or in Shelby's words a 'stupid weekend') is brought up Shelby wants to end the interview. She admits that she was lonely, and Matt was ignoring her so she settled for the cheap imitation. She agrees to do the show if Matt comes too. So she's legit doing this for her marriage and that's all. Good to know because I was wondering why she would go back there. She wants to be able to talk to Matt and work things out, and they can do that if they are locked up together in the house. Sidney tells her that the fans just want her and Matt to have a happy ending. Before she agrees to be on the show again she makes him promise that Dominic will not be there. Sidney promises but is obviously a lying liar because we find out that Dominic is already signed.

Set up has begun on the house and we see that Sidney is not taking anything to chance. He's had his team set up 'fake' scares (exploding sinks, windows that explode, cabinets that open by themselves, and a fireplace that ignites on its own). Sidney's assistant, Diana, is less than impressed with this. She calls Sidney out on his fake scare nonsense and stresses that the first season was so popular because it felt real. Sidney does not care about real. He cares about getting Lee to admit she killed Mason. He figures if there is enough stress and pressure that she'll confess.

Sidney has a fit when the production trailers arrive because he wants nothing to interfere with the setting but his tantrum is interrupted by another crew member who calls him to come see something. The 'something' is a bunch of baby pigs left in a circle and covered in blood. Charming. They, at first, think it is the Polks but nobody has seen them, and nobody on the crew put the piglets there. *shudder*

We cut to Sidney interviewing Agnes (who played The Butcher in the show) about her life since the show has ended. Agnes seems lovely, and very sweet at first. It's revealed, however, that she had a mental breakdown after the show finished shooting. She chased people around downtown Hollywood with a cleaver as if she was really The Butcher (she also stole props from the show, including the pig's head). She claims she has gotten help and is on medication now. Sidney, however, wants none of it as he thinks she left the piglets for them. He serves her with a restraining order and tells her to stay away from the set. He explains that they only want 'real people' this time, prompting Agnes to quip "I am real". Sidney firmly tells her again that she'll never be on the show and leaves. Agnes immediately reacts by chasing them out and screaming at them in the accent she used as The Butcher. Diana asks if Sidney thinks the retraining order will keep her away to which Sidney quips that he hopes not. You are slimy, Sidney (but I love it).

Lee, being interviewed by ENews, admits she is doing to the show to clear her name. She knows what everyone is saying but she never killed her husband. Sidney happens to be watching the interview and inquires if they can be held responsible if Lee kills anyone else since they know she's guilty. He is assured by a lawyer that the liability clause on the contracts covers them. The lawyer is more concerned about Monet Tumusiime (who played Lee in the show). She is an alcoholic who has been in and out of rehab. This fact has been made clear to all involved in the show and therefore they cannot give her anything to drink. That would be worse for them than if Lee kills everyone, apparently. Sidney is not happy because 'alcohol is the secret sauce of reality shows' but the lawyer assures him that if Monet is an alcoholic she'll find something to drink without their help.

While this is going on they get a call that something bad has happened on the set. They rush over to find that one of the crew has decapitated themselves with a chainsaw. How does that even work? Gross. Gross. Gross. The incident is ruled an accident and it is left up to Sidney if they stop production (even just for the day for the crew) or if they continue. Sidney says they are going to proceed as if nothing has happened. Seriously, Sidney is pretty awful. Diana has had enough of this, and she's convinced this is the start of bad things happening on the set. She is obviously a believer and decides to take off. She quits basically. She speeds out of there in her car and uses her cell phone to make her own video before Sidney can make her look like 'a crazy bitch'. Diana sees what looks like the real Butcher (aka not Agnes) but decides she doesn't care to stop to find out who she is. Diana is smart. Sadly for Diana, however, just as she begins to drive away again the pigman grabs her from the backseat of the car. We're told by on screen text that the camera phone footage was found three months later, but Diana's body has never been found. Rest in peace, Diana. You were the voice of reason.

Next, we're introduced to Audrey Tindle who played Shelby on the show. She's British and lovely. We see that her and Rory (who played Edward Mott on the show) fell in love. There was a cute scene of him flirting with her and her being all flummoxed because he was flirting with her. Super cute. They also have a big announcement to make ...

THEY GOT MARRIED!! They are all kinds of adorable. I ship it.

Rory, it turns out, is a bit of an obnoxious frat boy type. Audrey does not seem to mind though. She's landed herself a hot, younger man who she cannot keep her hands off of (and he cannot keep his hands off her). The subtext that she puts up with his annoyingness because of said hotness and the good sex is definitely there. You go, Audrey. Get it, girl. During one of their makeout sessions Rory gets a call do to a screen test back in Hollywood. Audrey express that she has no doubts and trusts Rory to be on set for months at a time without her (with her expression obviously expressing doubts that he'll remain faithful). They go down to wait for Sidney so Rory can tell him that he's leaving. Rory catches something walking by the window (he's recording everything on his cell phone). They realize it is Agnes who smashes the window with her cleaver. In the commotion Shelby and Monet arrive. Audrey explains that Agnes has been torturing her in particular because she wants to steal the Saturn Award that Audrey won.

Sidney comes in telling them that he searched the grounds with no sign of Agnes. Audrey immediately clutches Rory and says she doesn't want to stay. He calms her and Shelby looks at them wistfully. She congratulates them on their marriage. This is when Matt and Lee arrive to the house. Neither are happy to see Shelby and there is a lot of tension.

Sidney confiscates their phones and gives them special phones that only allow for the camera to work. He wants them to film everything they see and do for the next three days (which will please Rory who does that already). He tells them that the fans want to see their side of things as they fell in love with the characters on the show.

Rory is quick to point out that they fell in love with Edward, too. Haha.

Sidney tries to assign bedroom assignments. He attempts to put Shelby and Matt in a room together and Matt is like 'I'll sleep in the basement, thanks'. Lee snaps and goes off on Shelby. Lee calls her out on calling the police, and everything just spirals from there. Lee, Shelby and Matt storm out and the actors treat it all like a big joke. Laughing and making jokes about it all (including the story the Miller's told of their time at the house).

Matt walks in as they are discussing this and asks when they came to do the reenactments. They admit it was summer. Matt tells them to look outside the window and points out that the blood moon is coming (aka, shit is about to get real).

Rory being Rory has to make a joke even as Matt is extremely serious. These actors have no clue what is coming for them.

At this point we're let in on the real twist of the season. The big reveal and it changes EVERYTHING about this season and what we're going to be watching for the next 4 episodes.

EXCEPT FOR ONE?! AHHHH! So we're going to be attempting to figure out the lone survivor for the next few episodes. This adds higher stakes than we've previously had. This also tells us that we're not watching current events unfold like I initially thought. We're watching the footage that was found as the show never actually aired.

Audrey and Rory are making out in the hot tub (with Rory filming as always) and she decides to go in to have a shower. Rory tells her that he'll join her in a minute.

Meanwhile we see Monet take a bottle of vodka out of her suitcase and begin drinking. No surprise there. It appears Monet and Lee have lots in common. Lee walks from her room to the kitchen and we see a burnt man walk by the camera behind her! She goes in the kitchen to cook and while she's distracted Shelby sneaks downstairs to talk to Matt. She attempts to convince him to leave the house with her. She wants to take off together, especially when he professes concerns about being back there. She almost convinces him until Dominic shows up at the door. Matt gets angry and attacks Dominic. All the noise from their fight brings Rory inside who breaks up the fight with the girls (and allows Evan Peters fangirls to be thankful for the shirtless scene and overall heroics their favourite gets to display). Shelby is pissed that Sidney lied. 'Fuck you, Sidney' is uttered by more than one character during this episode so that should tell you everything.

While all this is going on, Audrey gets out of the tub only to see the pigman in the bathroom mirror. She screams which sends Rory running. Audrey thinks it is someone Sidney hired to scare them and Rory is not having it. He passes his girl off to Dominic to take care of while he runs upstairs to catch the guy. He searches everywhere in the room and finds nobody. He is about to leave the room when he is attacked by the 'real' serial killer nurse sisters. They stab him multiple times and we have our first victim from the group. Poor fans of Evan Peters. They got him for two episodes before he died. I have a theory though that murder house rules apply and we'll be seeing Rory again.

Downstairs, Matt realizes something is different now. The word 'Murde' is no longer missing a letter.

because 'R is for Rory' as Matt points out to the group. The murder sisters have now finished their macabre tableau.

We end our episode here with plenty of excitement for next week. I have heard that both Finn Wittrock and Taissa Farmiga will be appearing on the show. My guess? Finn is playing the 'real' Edward Mott and Tassia is playing the real Scathach because we have not seen the real counterparts to either of those characters and I anticipate we will. Matt Bomer is also set to make an appearance and I'll place my bets on him being the 'real' Ambrose.

Ryan Murphy also revealed that Scathach is the first supreme. This is exciting because it ties this series to Coven BUT annoys me too. PUT IT IN THE SHOW, Ryan. If it is not in cannon than it never happened. Hopefully it is addressed on the show at some point.

This was an ambitious, twisty, fun episode of American Horror Story. One that made my investment in this season even stronger. I am delighted by both Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters' performances and cannot wait to see who the last one standing is. Anyone else totally okay if Sidney bites it?

Until next week .... don't make jokes about the blood moon. It leads to bad things. Ask Rory. 

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