American Horror Story: Roanoke recap: Season 6, Episode 4
A series of grisly deaths and helpful flashbacks paint a bloody picture of the sacred Roanoke ground
Disney may be making a live-action Lion King, but there’s already a live-action Pumbaa creeping through the unkempt grounds of Roanoke over on FX.
In the first three minutes of this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Pig in the City, Shelby comes face-to-face with the season’s featured creature, the Pig Man, or as Dr. Elias Cunningham later calls him, Mr. Piggy. (Canon, or term of endearment?) Shelby’s apparently quickly forgiven Matt for artpopping Lady Gaga’s Witchy Wood Nymph in the forest last week, just in time to get attacked in the shower by a lithe Pig Man who comes after her with a knife and a squeal.
Fortunately, she and Matt are rescued by the sudden return of Elias, who says “Croatoan!” and makes Mr. Piggy disappear. Shelby’s, unsurprisingly, less interested in the surprise appearance of the man who went crazy on a series of VHS tapes in their basement; she’s more interested in finding out more about “Croatoan,” which she’s now heard thrice (and as we know, nothing registers with Shelby until it happens three or more times). All Elias offers is that Croatoan — the message left at Roanoke for other wayward colonists looking to find the relocated grounds — is now a word of dark power and blood magic.
Elias then shares some intel about the house’s paranormal history: Over the years, everyone who lived there either went missing or died. He tells the tale of an immigrant Taiwanese family terrorized and killed by the colony; the two sister nurses, who were horrifyingly de-limbed; and Edward Phillipe Mott, who built the house in 1792 and was the first to go missing. (Mott… as in, Dandy Mott, as in, the inbred serial killer of Freak Show, whose origin story Ryan Murphy has said will be explored this season, meaning we definitely haven’t heard the last of Edward Mott).
And so, given the history, Elias bought the house and kept the deed for decades so others wouldn’t move in. Which explains why the Butcher’s colony is now so bloodthirsty for the new, fresh intruders. It turns out they’re harmless during the year, but it just so happens that all the murders and disappearances happen during a six-day blood moon lunar cycle in October, which — convenient! — starts TONIGHT.
Not that that would make any difference in the world to Shelby and Matt, who are the “watched pot never boils” of common sense. But still, they follow Elias into the woods to see what he can do to help them.
(Meanwhile, they also realize that, oh shoot, maybe we should go save Lee from being falsely imprisoned after Shelby accused her of murdering her husband, but nope! A chore for another Monday!)
NEXT: Into the woods to grandmother’s blood sacrifice
Into the woods, into the woods, into the woods the Millers go, following Elias until they encounter the Lady Gaga Wood Nymph Witch Spirit, whose name I still do not know. In a fit of rage, Shelby runs after her, but she loses the woman (who almost definitely gave Matt some sort of wood-based transmitted infection, or at the very least a splinter). Instead, Shelby encounters a bunch of hunters with exposed brains. She yells “Croatoan,” signifying that she actually is capable of learning, but it doesn’t work — the blood moon has already begun.
They escape, and then encounter their Flora, playing a game with a circle of Known Deads: Priscilla the Bonnet Girl, the nuclear Chen family, the re-limbed murder nurses, and Pig Man the Pig Man. In as much time as it takes for Elias to approach Flora, a sudden battle horn and subsequent stream of arrows kill him on the spot as the Roanokers descend.
So, Matt and Shelby make a run for it back to the house, where they meet up with Cricket, and it’s a whole other game of exposition.
What does Cricket reveal? 1. The Butcher’s extra pissed because he said they’d leave, and they didn’t. 2. He finally met the Gaga Forest Nymph Queen Pigpen Wench, whom he calls “the bitch with the real power,” and he conveniently offered up Matt’s gooding jr. as a gift to appease her. 3. The house is on the site of the lost colony of Roanoke.
In flashbacks, we learn that once again, the Roanokers had grown mutinous over the Butcher’s hateful reign. They threaten to leave after witnessing her kill Priscilla as a sacrifice to the old gods. Once the Gaga Tree Sorceress Windex Demon tells the Butcher that their death will bind their souls to her forever, the Butcher decides to throw a dinner party and kill everyone — including her son, Ambrose — and then take her own life. It’s such a massacre that it consecrates the land and bonds them all to the grounds, weeds and all.
“But we can’t just pack up and leave!” Shelby cries, even though, yeah, girl, you CAN. Nevertheless, Cricket vows to put an end to it and says he’ll return after a quick stop at his hotel for “spell supplies.”
NEXT: One-star Uber rating for everyone
Cricket, sadly, does not come back. During his Uber ride back to his hotel, the car almost hits Flora, who seems to have escaped her captors and runs into the woods (instead of, as logic would suggest, into the car with real humans who could get her out of there stat).
Cricket goes after her, and we get a very bizarre new interviewee: Rhett Snow, an impossibly attractive Uber driver who gives a My Roanoke Nightmare interview that literally exists for no reason other than to show off a new addition to the AHS white male jawline gallery.
But back at the house, Matt and Shelby are alone and asleep. Matt wakes when he hears noises and takes a gun to follow the noises outside, as if he’s going to discover the noise belongs to something other than the colonial ghosts who are after him. As it so happens, the whispers lure him down into Elias’ old bunker, where the Gaga Grimy Terra Firma Occultist Casanova is waiting for him.
She’s decorated the place like a sex palace, and soon enough, he’s nymphing her and connecting to her spirit. This time, he remembers everything, including her backstory: She was an English girl, raped and imprisoned in the New World and due to be burned at the stake. She was able to seduce a guard and escape, where the combination of old magic and the New World created something new. K.
Naturally, Shelby has also woken up and decided to stumble outside shouting “Matt.” When she sees the Butcher, the colonists, and little Flora approach the house, she screams even louder, and he miraculously wakes from his trance and runs upstairs to join her.
The Butcher brandishes a knife across Flora, announcing “It’s time for the land to be reclaimed and consecrated with fresh blood,” but she’s easily foisted by a quick bump on the noggin from Priscilla. Matt, Flora, and Shelby escape into the house, where they look through the window and see the result of their insubordination: Cricket, who had been captured by the Roanokers, gets butchered and disemboweled.
Dis. Em. Bow. Eled.
And with that, American Horror Story has a new all-time worst death to top in future seasons. Or, hell, let’s be honest, next week.
Episode Grade: B
American Horror Story
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.