“Why yes, that was Cuba Gooding Jr. banging Lady Gaga in the woods, thank you for asking!”
That sentence now exists after tonight, and it’s a real thing you can say at parties to show you’re the most well-versed pop-culture expert in a room that would rather have you talk about any other topic than the star of Radio having sex in a forest with an actress who made her TV debut on The Sopranos in 2001 as “Girl at Swimming Pool #2” (uncredited).
American Horror Story: Pig Year returns in its third week with, finally, some explanation of the colonial mythos that’s been haunting the Roanoke farmhouse where Shelby, Matt, and Lee have been terrorized. So far: Shelby’s been manhandled in a hot tub, Matt’s witnessed two dead nurses murder an elderly woman, the house and surrounding farmland has all but been turned into a crafts room on the last day of sleepaway camp, and Lee’s daughter has been abducted by the ghost of a prepubescent colonial troublemaker.
It’s that last crime that takes the main focus this week. Thankfully, Flora is not dead, despite the grim omen of her marigold sweater being plucked from the top of a tall tree covered in blood. But she is indeed missing, and the police continue to be either horribly inept, woefully racist, or all of the above. Just guess which answer is accurate.
So Lee, an ex-cop, takes it upon herself to pick up where a search party essentially leaves off after three days. In the forest, the gang stumbles onto Flora’s doll — only now it’s dismembered, de-stuffed, surrounded by a circle of blood, and sporting pig-body parts in place of its manufactured doll limbs. If we’re talking about more accurate body representation in Barbies, then great, it’s a win for society; but in this case, it’s another sign to Lee that Flora’s no more.
Next, they find an abandoned farm. Inside the house there’s — you guessed it — more pig crap and maggots (the title of my memoir), but it’s what’s inside the barn that bears a greater gift: Two mud-covered young boys in a pig sty, suckling at the teat of a giant sow. Like the responsible adults they are, the trio brings the boys to the authorities, where they’re cleaned up and interrogated by a social worker. But because they’re thoroughly inbred — like, deep, deep inbred — they can only say one word: “Croatoan!” (Which, as we know, is the sole word carved into the tree at the site of the lost colony of Roanoke.)
In the same scene, Lee’s husband Mason has also arrived, and he’s fuming because — remember — Flora only went missing because Lee straight-up abducted her from school. Naturally, he blames her, and things even get physical. After striking Lee one night, he storms out of the house to go to the police; 15 minutes later, Lee seemingly follows. Matt’s security footage captures her returning to the house four hours later, which wouldn’t be a big deal were it not for the phone call Matt gets from the cops: They found Mason’s body in the woods, burnt to a crisp and hung up inside that same straw-man sacrificial circle the teens have been doing everywhere.
So, did Lee kill Mason? Shelby’s suspicious, Matt’s undecided, and Lee says absolutely not. I personally would opt to believe Lee, if only because in my experience there’s no way you can burn a man AND build a sacrificial ring of dried grain in less than four hours. Six, maybe.
NEXT: Medium rising