American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare S06E04 “Chapter 4” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Welcome back to the darkest season of DIY SOS ever!
- We pick up right where we left off. Real Matt talks about how Shelby had lost it having seen Matt have sex with the mystery woman. He also claime he has no memory of that happening.
- In the re-enactment, Matt breaks down, sobbing that he doesn’t remember and Shelby says she believes him. Real Shelby explains that she knows what she saw but that she could see Matt was telling the truth.
- Shelby goes to take a shower and PIG MONSTER!
- Well dude in a pig head and a stabby attitude. All seems lost and then…
- Elias looks WAY less crazy and far better dressed now. He banishes the pig monster by yelling “Croatoan”.
- He explains that Croatoan is a word of dark power and blood magic, left as a message by the lost colonists.
- He, chirpily, explains that he owned the for years as a means of protecting people from buying the house and the evil beneath it. A slight financial “problem” led to him losing it, hence Matt and Shelby buying it.
- Matt attempts to throw Elias out but he’s stopped by Shelby when he mentions the pig man who Shelby saw in the woods.
- Elias shows them the research he’s done. We see the ’70s owners, a Chinese family called the Chens. They’re terrorised by the evil and the pig man shoves one daughter down the stairs. The Chens prayed to their ancestors but it didn’t work. The pilgrims arrived and butchered them.
- He’s also got details on the evil nurses. Who, it turns out, were terrified just like everyone else. He also cheerfully recounts how they told him the circumstances of their deaths. Which started with one sister getting her arms torn off and finished with the other being beheaded.
- Worse still, Elias reveals that every murder in the house’s bloodstained history takes place during one lunar phase in October. A phase that begins tonight. They have to go. Now.
- Matt and Shelby refuse to leave without Flora and tell Elias she was taken by Priscilla. He knows where Priscilla plays and takes them there.
- Elias, who is just super perky, explains Priscilla hangs out on the edge of the property and like the Butcher’s other victims, her ghost is trapped there.
- They hear whispering in the forest and Elias tells them to ignore it. They see Gaga leaning against a tree and, to her eternal credit, Shelby goes for her. However, she soon disappears and Shelby finds herself alone in a clearing.
- Aside from the three hunters with missing sections of their heads of course.
- Elias collects her and they race back to Matt. Who is watching, in horror, as Flora plays with Priscilla, the pig man, the evil nurses and the Chens. Elias tries to reason with her and it seems to be going okay.
- Then the noise becomes more strident, Elias is skewered by three arrows, the pilgrims emerge from the woods and Matt and Shelby run back to the house.
- Where Cricket is waiting.
- The tiny medium reiterates that Flora’s alive. He also says he tried to reason with the Butcher but she wasn’t interested because of the moon phase. Cricket tells them he needs to understand their foes and heads back out to try and discover more.
- He’s out all night. And when he comes back he’s dazed and horrified. He mutters, “I met her, and lived to tell the tale but there were moments where I felt my survival was in doubt.”
- In flashback, we see Gaga appear, blind him with dust and attack him. Cricket tells her he knows her needs rise with her strength.
- And offers her sex with Matt.
- Shelby and Matt are UNTHRILLED.
- In return for this offer, Gaga takes Cricket back in time and shows him the truth; the house is the site of the true lost colony of Roanoke. They were never lost, they came to this land and were as he puts it, “living in the horn of plenty”.
- All they had to do was kill a child for the Witch.
- Matt and Shelby are horrified but Cricket reveals that Ambrose, the Butcher’s son, led a rebellion. We see him try to reason with her. When it doesn’t work, he leads the colony back to the coast to wait for ships from England and to go home.
- The Witch shows the Butcher how to use the blood moon to bind the pilgrims to her forever.
- Later, the Butcher throws a meal where she claims to repent and is welcomed back to the fold.
- Ambrose, who we can only assume is distracted by how much his accent keeps changing, allows her to hand out “special fruit” as a means of marking the new days ahead.
- The fruit’s poisoned; the Butcher starts ranting about betrayal aaaaaaand CLEAVER TIME!
- She screams that the blood will tether them to the ground forever and waits. The Witch appears, the Butcher kneels, presents the cleaver to her and is killed.
- Cricket explains that the Witch showed him a spell that will end the Butcher for good. He leaves to get some ingredients and is in the middle of flirting with his taxi driver when Flora runs out of the woods and is almost hit by the car
- Cricket climbs out of the car and pursues her into the woods.
- At the house, Matt and Shelby get increasingly worried. Matt assures Shelby he’ll stand watch and she falls asleep. Second later, Matt does too and when he wakes it’s night time. We see Real Matt talk about how he was losing track of time as we see re-enactment Matt hear something, then go outside with a gun.
- The lights are on in the root cellar and, clearly not full conscious, Matt is drawn to them. He goes into the cellar and finds the Witch there. She jumps him.
- We see Matt and the Witch make love. He explains that she opened her spirit to him and learned the truth. She was a stowaway on an early voyage, discovered and burnt at the stake as a witch.
- Real Matt is asked why he was shown this. He replies that she wanted someone to join her and that he would have.
- Shelby sees the pilgrims heading towards the house, with Flora. Her screams wake Matt from the trance and he sprints back to the house.
- There’s a standoff and Flora is about to be killed by the Butcher but is saved by Priscilla. Matt and Shelby snatch her away and race inside with her. Flora seems unharmed but is panicked and can only say, “The Man…”
- The Man, it turns out, was Cricket. Bloodied and the new sacrifice. The Butcher rips his chest open and Ambrose disembowels him. The Butcher holds her bloodied cleaver up and Real Matt says, “Her message was clear. We were next.”
Well, we had a good run there. The weird thing about this – which is by far the least interesting episode of the season so far – is that’s the problem certain isn’t lack of action. Elias comes back! Elias explains the plot! Elias dies! Cricket comes back! Cricket explains the plot! Cricket dies! Epic flashback-o-rama! Disembowelling! Piggy Man!
And yet it doesn’t work. Also, it’s the least functional episode as well as the least interesting.
A big part of that is the structure. The shock of Elias coming back is instantly offset by his death, and when you realise the entire episode is basically designed to keep the leads running in a circle, it goes from a surprise to an annoyance. They have no reason, whatsoever, to stay in the house other than the plot requiring them to. So, despite multiple attacks, the revelation that the ghosts can now ACTUALLY MURDER THEM and the loss of not one but two mentor figures, they stick around. Ostensibly it’s for Flora but they sure spend a lot of time sitting around the house.
Then there’s just how badly the other characters are served here. The pilgrims are getting progressively harder to take seriously the more Wes Bentley speaks; Cricket and Elias are horribly badly served here; and even the Witch becomes way less interesting. Last week she was the possible embodiment of the American countryside, a feral, intelligent and alien presence.
This week? She’s horny.
It’s not all bad though. O’Hare’s big fun as usual and given the elastic nature of death and reality in the house we’ll be seeing him again. Likewise the escalation of urgency, with the moon phase allowing the ghosts physical access to our world, raises the stakes nicely. Plus there are some interesting hints about the meta-plot; why do we get the Uber driver showing up as a talking head in the “real” part of the documentary? How much of the sex and violence actually happened? How the hell did Matt and Shelby get out of this? Did Flora? How does Lee get out of jail? The show still has a ton going on and there’s lots to hold your attention but this week it just feels like housekeeping and exposition. Still, dodgy accents and all, we’ll be back next week.
- DENNIS O’H… Oh, he’s dead.
- “The old magic and new world created something original.” That’s a brilliant, chilling idea that bakes the ideas of colonialism and cultural appropriation into the show. Hopefully we’ll get more exploration of it than, “Scáthach is REALLY horny!”
- The game being played by the various dead residents of the house is both very sweet and very unsettling. Also distinctly reminiscent of the idea in Hotel that if you died on the premises you “lived” there forever.
- “Not devil worship. There are older religions.” Such a great line that implies so much
- Shout out to the costume designers: Shelby’s Uggs, baggie cardigans and thick socks are note perfect Lulu lemon yoga lady chic.
- The gore. That end sequence is VERY nasty, anomalously so. We do wonder if that’s more to do with the re-enactment, though…
- The accents. Oh God, Wes, please, pick a lane. Ambrose is from Yorkshire, Lancashire, maybe Newcastle and a couple other places in the space of two scenes.
- The pacing. This entire episode is characters showing up to provide exposition and then being killed. The first time it happens, it’s shocking. By the time Cricket’s dragged out of the mob of undead pilgrims you’re just waiting for it to stop.
- SERIOUSLY, OH GOD, THE ACCENTS.
- So… Scáthach basically wants sex. That might be laudable and we’re sure we’ll get more details on her backstory but right now she looks very, very one note.
- “Are you familiar with the term gay for pay?” It was a cheap joke the first time. Going back to it makes it even less funny.
And The Random:
- So Gaga isn’t Croatoan then. Which implies she’s a conduit for whatever the old god in the land is. Her character is apparently called Scáthach by the way.
- The Uber driver is the first character who isn’t Matt, Shelby or Lee that we’ve seen in the “real world”. Is that significant? Are we seeing him again soon?
- WHERE IS EVAN PETERS?! Current fan speculation is he’s wearing the pig head. Piggy Man certainly seems to have the right physique.
- By the way, the theory that each episode leading up to episode six reflects a previous season just about holds up. The reference to the Mott family this week ties the show solidly to season four, “Freak Show”. Dandy Mott, played with monstrous glee by Finn Wittrock, was a highlight of that season. So if we get vampires next week, we know this is legit.
- Think of a US TV show you like. There’s about an 80% chance Marita Grabiak has directed for it. Her resume is huge, hugely impressive and crammed full of great hours of TV. Firefly’s “Jaynestown” and Battlestar Galactica’s “Water” are our favourites.
Review by Alasdair Stuart