‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’ Chapter 3 Review: Nightmares Become Reality

American Horror Story: Roanoke, Chapter 3

Are we finally starting to understand more about what American Horror Story: Roanoke is all about? Not likely, but it’s sure been fun getting to continue speculating this far into the season. Last week’s episode ended on a pretty major cliffhanger (depending on how you view the stakes), so let’s see that resolution and more in this week’s new episode, “Chapter 3.”

The episode opens once again, with a return to My Roanoke Nightmare, bringing us back to the moment that Flora’s jacket was found at the top of a tree outside the house. As before, the local police just don’t seem to care about what’s going on at the house, and it’s up to a search party to find the child. It takes a while, but Lee eventually comes across a horrific display of a bloody doll with a pig head, and she clarifies that the doll belonged to her daughter. About the length of a football field away, Lee, Shelby, and Matt find a seemingly abandoned house (complete with the rest of the doll outside) that they think may be where the girl is. All that the house contains is rot and mold, but a scream from outside (and more and more dead pigs) guides them to a barn where they find a terrible scene with kids and a pig that I don’t even want to talk about more specifically. The thing that this scene does really well, though, is show that even a “dramatic re-enactment” can contain real horror, and keeping us in My Roanoke Nightmare, while decreasing the narrative stakes, can still deliver a great experience for the audience.

It turns out that the children were abandoned by the locals that seemed to harass Shelby and Matt in the season premiere, but they’re so mentally damaged that they can’t help find Flora at all. After she’s been missing for over three days, tensions are extremely high in the house. In particular, Lee’s ex-husband is full of rage since he knows that Flora wouldn’t have even been in this situation had Lee not taken her away from school like she did. The family receives a call about the body in the middle of the night, but the ritualized scene that they come across turns out to be Mason, Flora’s father. Matt investigates his cameras the next morning, and there’s a little evidence that suggests Lee may know more than she thought. The three think about leaving town, but they’re surprised by the arrival of a medium (played in the re-enactment by the always wonderful Leslie Jordan) who has come to help find the little girl. While everyone is skeptical at first, the medium, Cricket, proves his ability and is given permission to help.

The four hold a seance to try and reach Priscilla, the spirit that took Flora, but they instead come across Kathy Baker’s “The Butcher,” who reveals that she’ll do anything to “save this colony,” giving us our first (I think) outright reference to the Roanoke colony in the season. To send the spirit away, Cricket screams the work “CROATOAN,” directly calling back to the first season of American Horror StoryMurder House, when Violet Harmon tried to do the same after being instructed by (Sarah Paulson’s) Billie Dean Howard. Something that you may want to remember, though, is that it didn’t work when Violet tried the same thing. Anyway, Cricket tells them that he can take Lee to her daughter for the low low price of $25,000 (he takes Visa), but they are done with him under the belief that he’s a con artist. Before leaving, though, Cricket warns that Lee will invite him back, whispering that “Emily says hello.” It turns out that Lee actually had a daughter before Flora that was named Emily, and the child disappeared soon after its birth when Lee was 17 (briefly, I also want to mention that this sequence gave us the very first shot this season that wasn’t part of My Roanoke Nightmare, and it reinforces my theory that the show will come out of the re-enactment and into the “real” world as the season goes on).

American Horror Story: Roanoke, Chapter 3

The next day, Lee visits Cricket and learns the history of the Butcher and the colonists of Roanoke (we learn that Wes Bentley is playing her son in the re-enactment). In Cricket’s story of the colony, the Butcher is banished from Roanoke with Ambrose, her son, delivering the final metaphorical knife in her back. The Butcher lay dying of hunger and thirst in the woods days later when she’s approached by Lady Gaga’s mystery character with a heart to eat. The Butcher does (while Gaga smiles and delivers a better performance than she did all of last season, tbh), and she returns to the colony to exact her revenge on those who sent her away. She allowed Ambrose to live, though, and mother and son moved the colony of Roanoke to the land on which Matt and Shelby’s house now stands. Lee finally starts to believe in Cricket’s gift, and the four of them go out into the woods at night to contact Priscilla. As expected, they come across the Butcher and Ambrose instead, but Cricket manages to convince the spirit to help them get Flora back under the condition that they leave afterward. At some point during the conversation, Matt slipped away from the group, and Shelby ends up finding him off to the side having sex with Lady Gaga’s mysterious character as the locals look on. Matt doesn’t at all remember this happening once he gets back to the house, and Shelby, in her anger, has Lee arrested.

“Chapter 3” was a huge episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke, finally beginning to answer some of the questions that we all have about the season. We still have more, but this episode went a long way at peeling back layers. In addition, we got glimpses into what the “twist” in episode 6 may end up being (in the scene of Adina Porter as “real” Lee outside of My Roanoke Nightmare), and we were able to spend some time with actors and actresses that have been sorely missed so far this season.

What did you think about this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke? What do you think is going to happen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

[Photo Credit: FX]

American Horror Story: Roanoke Chapter 3 Review
4.1

Summary

The biggest episode yet, “Chapter 3” dives in completely and starts answering the questions that we’ve all been asking about this season.

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