First off, let’s make it clear: Congratulations are in order for Ryan Murphy. After six seasons, he and his American Horror Story team should be proud of the stunningly scary and ever-surprising cycle that is Roanoke, or My Roanoke Nightmare, or Three Days In Hell: Return to Roanoke, or Two Guys Nine Girls and a Virginia Place or whatever we’re calling it. Love it or hate it, Roanoke was one hell of an entertaining ride from its surprise mic-drop start to tonight’s grand finale.
And oh, how grand it was. Not just talking about Lana Winters’ bouffant and bedspread, though we’ll get to that in due time.
Last week, as you know, it seemed we were all done with that old twee mansion in rural North Carolina. Lee Harris (Adina Porter, the breakout star of this naughty nightmare) turned out to be the sole survivor after the Agatha Christie pick-off led us to the riveting penultimate shoot-out from, by, and through several internal organs of Audrey Tindall.
Kudos to Paulson, too, for the strongest comic character work of the season — always hysterically funny, but always delivered with the gravest seriousness. If that weren’t enough, though, Paulson had one more up her sleeve for the finale, playing her third (!) character of the year: Season 2’s rogue asylum reporter, Lana Winters. You’ll recall that Lana is a bigwig in the media world now, having made her name in journalism after escaping from Briarcliff and telling all in the late ‘70s. Now this Barbara Walters is out of retirement and back in action, covering Lee — the world’s most beloved and most hated Roanoke mega-star, who went on to write a best-seller and tour the country speaking after her escape from the sophomore slump.
Lee’s become a provocative, polarizing figure since, yes, Three Days in Hell did in fact premiere — shockingly. The world still doesn’t know whether it’s all real or fake, but they do know that Lee is on trial for basically all the dead bodies that wound up there. Trashy tabloid shows — like the all-too-real newsmag fodder, Crack’d — do the typical curtain-lifting on Lee’s humble past, her early marriage to Mason and the birth of Flora, and then the scandalous sh-tshow that is My Roanoke Nightmare and Three Days in Hell.
In its wake, she faces lawsuits for all the folks she killed in season 2 (including the Polks, Audrey, and Monet, whose sister sits in court every day) but miraculously manages to get off, aided by the media circus, a jury sympathetic with her extreme duress and various cannibal-related stresses, and the defense team’s brilliant albeit ridiculous hallucinogenic marijuana angle. The prosecution then attempts to get Lee indicted for the charges from season 1: The murder of her husband, Mason. Despite her video confessional and other circumstantial evidence, there’s no proof, but for eyewitness Flora, who testifies that she saw Lee kill Mason in the woods. Lee then allows her attorney to malign Flora’s character by making her bring up Friendly Ghost Girl™ Priscilla and, in turn, sound crazy enough to invalidate her testimony. So Lee gets off, again.
NEXT: Lana goes bananas