If a four-letter word didn’t immediately pop into your mind when this episode finished up one story and the look-ahead preview introduced the next, congrats. You’ve somehow managed to keep your mental vocab out of the gutter despite getting all the way to the sixth season of American Horror Story‘s delightful despicable madness because holy [bleep], this is getting bananas.
Ryan Murphy warned EW that Roanoke would buck his own tradition and that we should expect something big and twisty to this way come via episode six, so here’s what tonight taught us about what’s about to happen to us all.
Introducing Edward Philippe Mott
Ahh, ripples and connections. Evan Peters, one of AHS‘ most prized character chameleons, has come back bearing the gift of backstory. His character, Edward Philippe Mott, was the ancestor of Freak Show‘s Gloria and Dandy, and despite his gobs of wealth and authority (and an, erm, proper wig), he chose the wrong location to plant his roots and construct the very mansion that’s causing everyone such headache right now.
Mott, who was in a relationship with his male servant Guinness, decided that he wanted to escape the burden of societal judgment and tuck into a castle in the woods with his prized paintings and live out his days enjoying the company (and “velvet tongue”) of his boyfriend. Too bad the Butcher Thomasin’s already laid claim to the place because he and Guinness had a pretty good thing going for themselves until the ghosts started taunting them.
They made it just a week in the new abode before all hell broke loose, and the ghastly destruction — excuse me, “murder” — of his prized paintings revealed the fury that so often exists in Peters’ AHS personalities. He accuses and abuses his staff, locks them in a cellar, and then reminds his boytoy that he, too, is extremely low on the social ladder.
This is where we see the inevitable AHS: Hotel reference. Thanks to the ~*internet*~ fans have now figured out that each of the show’s first episodes (titled “Chapters”) have neatly corresponded with the respective themes of the previous seasons. So, since this is Chapter 5, we’ve got Hotel to think about. And the connection’s not hard to make. In Hotel, Peters’ character Mr. March was also a wealthy landowner who designed his new palace with sneaky hallways and tunnels no one else knew about. Granted, it was probably for a different reason this time around, but it still happened.
He also had to live with the victims of his hand in Hotel, and dying on this site seems to have a similar undead roamer effect as the Hotel Cortez did. Only, instead of delighting in the bustling misery of the souls that surround him like March, Mott’s not so happy about all the death… probably especially from all those poor people he locked away in the cellar for something they didn’t do. (Also, every time he passes a torch across his face, we get a skeleton flashback to his Season 1 costume, no?)
NEXT: Off with her… leg?
While Lee was still at the station being questioned by the cops about Flora’s disappearance, Matt and Shelby managed to retrieve her to the safety of their home. But it’s not the safest space for her there either because not only are ghosts running around grabbing the girl (oh hey, little Chen!) but the Butcher’s assembled another one of her frequent slaughter mobs to consecrate the land with the Miller family’s blood.
Mott tries to be helpful to them, he really does. He leads them through one of his underground passageways out to the freedom of the woods, where they can escape, in theory. But like bugs, they’re drawn to the light of a neighbor’s home and zap! They’re snatched up by those pesky hillbillies, the Polks.
Turns out, the Polks are cannibals. Not that we should’ve been too surprised or anything, but Mama Polk (Frances Conroy in rare form) has managed to keep poor Elias alive long enough to make jerky of his leg as he lays there begging for the mercy of death. Ayup. It’s straight up Texas Chainsaw Massacre status, y’all. And what’s worse is they’ve got a score to settle with the nosy Millers, who called the law on ’em and got their babies taken away. Hee-haw and such.
After a lengthy amount of time spent intimidating the Millers into submission — they’re willing to sign over the deed tomorrow just to walk away, natch — Mama reveals that she was never really interested in the house. She just wanted to keep it empty as part of her deal with Thomasin. That deal entails her helping to set up some of those human sacraments on occasion in exchange for the Polk fam being off-limits. A fair trade for country folk, apparently. The only reason Mama doesn’t slaughter Shelby and Matt herself, then, is that they’ve already been promised to the Butcher.
The Polks load the Millers and Flora into the bed of their honky tonky pick-up and hit the surprisingly paved road to deliver their charges. Matt tries to steal one son’s gun (and blasts the face off another Polk in the process), but Mama takes a sledgehammer to Shelby’s leg as payback for their insolent escape attempt. Tsk tsk. Even the Butcher seems peeved by the insult and decides to take out Flora first, much to Priscilla’s chagrin.
While we didn’t *exactly* know Flora would walk away from this situation unscathed, since she wasn’t one of the interviewees involved in telling this story, the fact that all three of the adults involved participated was kind of a big clue that the most innocent among them wouldn’t be roasted before their eyes like that and then they’d go talking to people about it.
What is surprising, though, is who comes in with the save. Ambrose (Wes Bentley’s character) was all for the sacrifice in Mott’s day, but he’s grown weary of the tradition just in the nick of time to save Flora. He drags Butcher into the fire, which buys Mott enough time to cut the Millers’ binds. Pigman tries to go for Flora, who’s all tied up and helpless, but Lee manages to run him down before any damage can be done, and they finally, FINALLY hit the road and get the heck out of there for good.
They might all be left broke, homeless, and riddled with nightmares after this thing — plus limping, in Shelby’s case — but at least they’re not in the Butcher’s clutches anymore … and they’ve unequivocally confirmed that they won’t be going back there, no matter what this filmographer that’s dramatizing all this is up to. Speaking of which…
This season has dropped a lot of hints that the Millers’ Murder House experience wasn’t going to be the sum of the world-building involved in Roanoke. The appearance of the historian who details the creepy backstory no one seemed to know or tell about the mansion with Edward Mott also indicates that whoever’s taping these interviews is interested in more than just story time.
Indeed, the preview for episode six shows Cheyenne Jackson walking around with his own little crew, and he seems totally in charge of this thing in the sneak peek. Is this guy about to lead a team into the haunted mansion and create the most effed up found footage film of all time? Or is that too obvious? Worlds could collide here and turn the second act of season 6 into some kind of Paranormal Activity meets The Conjuring meets Blair Witch kind of crazypants bonanza. We’ll have to wait and see, but folks, things definitely just got more interesting.
(Article edited to correct an error which stated that Finn Wittrock appeared in the preview.)