American Horror Story: Roanoke “Chapter 9” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Here we go! Second finale of the season with one more to go!
- We see three twentysomethings, all wearing camping gear and GoPro cameras, hiking in to find the Roanoke House. They’re clearly huge fans, and on their way to the house to film there during the Blood Moon.
- They find the tree Flora’s hoodie was caught up in and start taking photos. Then a panicked, bleeding young woman stumbles out of the woods. They chase her through the woods and she leads them to…
- …the wreck of Dee’s car.
- She’s Dee.
- Back at the house, Dylan is PISSED. He’s been in a motel for days, and has no idea what’s happening. He’s got no idea what’s going on until Audrey cooks off and does the AHS version of the “Everyone’s dead Dave” speech from Red Dwarf.
Dylan takes it pretty well. Especially as, it it turns out, he’s a former SEAL. He’s confident they can get it done, and when they tell him the Polks have Monet, he sets off to rescue her. Reluctantly, he agrees to take them with him.
- Back at the other plot, the kids are being interviewed by the police. It turns out they run fan sites for the show and have very different reactions to what happened. Todd flips out about the fact they just saw both a dead person and their ghost. Milo and Sophie can only see the success that’s waiting for them. The detective doesn’t get it.
- Especially as, through bodycam footage, we see the police find the car but not the body…
- Back at the other plot, Dylan and the others arrive at the Polks. Dylan suggests they take the truck and get out of there. Lee volunteers Audrey and herself to search for Monet while Dylan steals the truck.
- Audrey searches the room where Lee was tortured and finds a gun and Monet in short order. Lee checks one of the other buildings and finds the camera.
- The truck starts. Outside we see blood spurt and Dylan gurgle as someone mutilates him.
- In the barn, Monet and Audrey are confronted by one of the Polks. Audrey gets him to say that he’s going to kill them on camera and then shoots him in the face.
- Outside, they face off with the other Polk over Dylan’s body. He flees when he sees the Butcher’s party approaching and they do the same thing, running off into the woods. Lee goes off in a different direction.
- They make it back to the house, and the camera Lee took from the Polks is there but she isn’t. Audrey is convinced this means she’s dead. Monet is less certain and watches the tape.
- They see Lee’s confession.
- Outside, Lee drags herself through the woods and is confronted by Scáthach. We see Lee take the same bargain as the Butcher did and suddenly we get a good idea of who’s getting out of this season alive…
- Back at the kids, they’re out in the Blood Moon and talking about how successful their videos already are on Twitter. They find what they think is the point where Mason was burnt and are interrupted by Lee. Todd goes to talk to her and is killed. The other two flee into the woods. They find the production trailer, with the bodies still outside and Dylan emerges from the woods. They barricade themselves in the trailer.
- They realise they’re in the control room and see Audrey and Monet in the house. The two plots are happening simultaneously. Then they see Lee walking slowly towards the house…
- Back at the control room, Milo and Sophie are trying to work out what to do. Sophie decides to stop Lee. Milo won’t do it. Sophie begs him to and he reluctantly agrees.
- Back at the house, Monet and Audrey are getting drunk. Monet wants to take the tape to the cops. Audrey’s convinced Lee’s dead. She’s about to find out how right she is. There’s a crash downstairs. They go to investigate and find Lee staring blankly at the ceiling. She looks at them and says, “You don’t belong here.” Monet gets up in her face as Audrey films them both. She pushes Monet through the stairs and impales her on the chandelier at the base of the stairs. Audrey flees and stabs Monet then flees.
- Sophie is still recording and Milo pleads with her to turn around because they’re lost. They see the house and arrive just as Audrey flees into the woods and hides in the root cellar. She’s on the ladder when Lee finds her, cleaves her in the shoulder and kicks her down the ladder, closing her in.
- Sophie and Milo make it to the house and hide near the woodpile outside. They see Lee and the Butcher’s people approach from different directions. The Butcher’s people have Dylan, who it turns out is still alive.
- At least until the Butcher disembowels him.
- Sophie and Milo turn to flee and… Lee’s waiting for them.
- We get a title card saying:
- WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WAS RECOVERED FROM AN ICLOUD ACCOUNT REGISTERED TO TODD ALLAN CONNORS.
- IT IS PRESENTED IN ITS RAW FORM.
- THE IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC, VIOLENT AND DEEPLY DISTURBING
- SENSITIVE VIEWERS SHOULD REFRAIN FROM WATCHING
- We’re seeing through Sophie’s GoPro as she and Milo are dragged into the circle of pilgrims. They’re thrown to the ground and Milo is impaled, from behind on a spike. Sophia happens next.
- Then they’re doused in petrol and burnt alive.
- Flash cut to the next morning. Police cars roll up to the house and find the burnt corpses of the two kids and Dylan’s body. We see bodycam footage of a cop going through the house, finding Monet, then Dominic and Shelby and the rest.
- And Lee, hysterical and panicked and with no memory of what happened. She wakes up and screams incoherently as the police tend to her and then they find Audrey who has dragged herself out of the cellar. She’s taken to the car and when she sees Lee, snarls with hatred, pulls a gun on her and is then gunned down by the cops.
- The episode finishes on her dead body, lying in the woods.
So this is the second finale the show’s had this season and structurally it’s pretty great. The introduction of Todd, Milo and Sophia jars until you realise they’re showing up at the exact same time as everything else and it gives the show welcome scope.
But it also takes screen time away from characters we’ve got to know in two different simultanteous versions of this story. We spend a lot of time with Milo shouting. We don’t spend enough time with Lee and we don’t see why she takes Scaáthach’s bargain, just that she does. Likewise, Dylan goes from being a welcome twist to a waste of time in the space of one episode. He has no arc at ALL. He’s there to start a truck and die, nothing more, nothing less.
Worse still is the fact that the kids are so obnoxious. For a show that’s prided itself on rising above cliché to inflict “Over analytical tumblr user”, “overweight cowardly film nerd” and “make up the numbers jock” on us at this stage is unforgivable. If all they exist to do is provide a different perspective, where the hell have they been for the last four episodes? And what was the point of them, or Dylan, showing up?
Worse still is the “Audrey’s alive/PSYCHE!” ending. This season has had problems with endings for a few episodes now but this one is the worst. Why is there a camera in the tree pointing straight down? Why go to all the trouble of showing Audrey seemingly falling to her death only to have that be reversed and then unreversed? This season has thrived on economy of script and efficiency of writing. This episode it falters.
It’s a real shame too as the transition to next episode (Hi other Sarah Paulson! We missed you!) is really smart. It makes perfect sense, in retrospect, for Lee to be both the survivor and Scáthach’s new disciple and we can’t wait to see what looks to be a full hour of Adina Porter and Sarah Paulson acting the hell out of their characters. It’s just a shame that after such a consistent run, the final step before this second jump off is a bit of a clunker.
- “in a post-racial world, which is of course a lie.” Sigh…yeah, Sophie. Yeah this week it definitely is.
- Audrey getting probable cause for self defence out of the idiot Polk before executing him was PERFECT
- Top marks to the stunt performer on Audrey’s fall. That looked NASTY.
- Good LORD Milo is AWFUL. Like, supernaturally awful. Sophie’s a little interesting, Todd is a cypher but Milo? Milo is a bad impersonation of Randy from Scream.
- “Hey. You get the feeling like dark shit’s happening all around us.” You cannot die quickly enough, Milo
- If all this footage has been recovered, then why isn’t Lee EXTREMELY in prison? I guess we need to tune in next week and find out? Is that still a thing, tuning? Let’s say yes.
- Why the Hell do the cops show up hours after the call?
- What was the point of Dylan?
- The Polks, even in an episode where another is murdered, are still very awful.
And The Random:
- Taissa Farmiga, here playing Sophie, is of course an AHS alumni since the Murder House days. She can also be seen in The Final Girls, The Bling Ring and others.
- Jacob Artist, who plays Todd, is best known for his work as Jake Puckerman on Glee and as Brendan Fletcher in Quantico.
- Jon Bass who plays Milo was Bree Dorrit on The Newsroom and will be seen next year in the new Baywatch movie.
- Name a show you like. Odds are Tim Minear has written for it or produced it. Pretty much everything he’s involved in is worth your time but we’d recommend starting with Angel.
- Alexis O Korycinski does great work this episode, especially with the scenes with Dee. This was her first TV work and it won’t be her last. A major new director, she’s a talent to watch and her website is worth a look.