For the sake of time (and sanity), let’s just skip past the obvious joke about America being an actual horror story after last night’s election results, shall we?
We were promised one survivor would emerge from the trenches of the horror house at Roanoke, and lo, that person has been revealed in tonight’s penultimate chapter of American Horror Story: Roanoke. It’s…not who you thought it would be. And I say that because while it is a person we’ve come to know and care about throughout the course of this on-par gory season, on the outside at least, you can take the girl out of Roanoke but you can’t take the Roanoke out of the girl.
The episode opens with a trio of new faces, clad with GoPros, hiking helmets, selfie sticks, a hellish disregard for danger, the works. The ringleader is played by Taissa Farmiga, and these three kids run a fansite dedicated to the original run of My Roanoke Nightmare, as one does nowadays. Since reaching viral status is the millennial dream, apparently, they’re convinced it’s just a dandy idea to traipse into the woods and visit the house themselves during the blood moon.
(Side note: I know I said we weren’t going to talk politics tonight, but it seems especially relevant these kids are having side discussions about the patriarchy and the perils of a “post-racial society” right now, no? Anyway.)
These Blair Witch Project wannabes aren’t the only newcomers joining the fold at this maniacal mansion: Wes Bentley’s just arrived to do his small bidding for the season as Dylan, who’s been instructed to put on a pig mask (’cause there’s not enough of those running around right now) to help spice things up a bit on set. He doesn’t have a car, of course, and instead arrived via Uber (we meet again, Rhett Snow). Having a car would be too easy-peasy for the girls’ escape plans, wouldn’t it? What’s worse is for some inexplicable reason, he doesn’t have a cell phone on hand, either.
What he does have to offer to the recent Polk refugees, Audrey and Lee, is a gung-ho demeanor about springing poor Monet from the clutches of the Confederate-Flag-waving hillbillies because of his “no man left behind” militaristic mantra. Let’s be honest here: He’s easy pickins from the word go, and everybody knows it.
NEXT: A bitter return to Polk place
He offers to go by himself, reassuring the women “everything’s going to be fine” — Randy Meeks from Scream just rolled over in his grave — but they remind him he has no idea who he’s dealing with, where he’s going, or what the French toast is actually happening right now. They’ll go with, though we all know Lee’s secondary motivation here is to snag that tape of her confessing to her ex’s murder. She wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in the Butcher’s dominion of keeping custody of Flora if it leaked.
Meanwhile, the kids are still brazenly confident about their chances of scooping something cool as they meander through the nefarious woods outside the house, but that sense of confidence slips a bit once they encounter Sydney’s other assistant in rare form — that is, dead woman walking — as she looks for the car in which she drew her last breath. They try to fill in the police on the situation, but their skepticism meter is at full-blast right now thanks to a host of other wolf-criers who’ve wasted their time on this property. So, the kids pull a total Jack Shepherd on Lost and declare, in so many words, “We have to go back.” Ruh roh.
Dylan, meanwhile, has quickly gotten wise to the situation at hand and is ready to skedaddle outta there, but Lee’s still on her mission to retrieve the damning footage file and won’t give in. Audrey has bought into the whole “We might be blamed for killing these sick eff words if we don’t pull the tapes” line of logic Lee’s been feeding her — and, besides, she’s still down for trying to rescue Monet from the clutches of cannibalism, if it’s possible.
Dylan pays for the decision first when he runs into Cletus No. 1, but with the impending arrival of the actual Butcher and her lantern-wielding minions looming large, they all seem pretty screwed, to be honest.
Somehow, Audrey and Monet land themselves back at ground zero where all the fun began, and Audrey, in particular, is pretty miffed about the shoddy relocation effort. This isn’t some safe haven where they can escape the demons lurking around the property — this is smack-dab in the middle of their target zone.
Our YouTubers, on the other hand, are still blissfully ignorant of the maelstrom that’s about to befall them as they engage in a cheeky conversation about how the blood moon relates to women’s reproductive cycles. “This is such a good idea,” one of them actually chants. “God, I can’t wait to get into that house.” Face, meet palm! Didn’t these three literally just see a ghost? They should know better.
NEXT: That escalated quickly…
It doesn’t take long for all that optimism to meet its terrible end as Lee emerges from whence she’s been hiding and slashes Idiot No. 3 (a.k.a. Todd) to pieces right in front of his pals. That’s when they start making astute observations such as “This is bad; this is all bad” and running for shelter. The first place they find, of course, is Sydney’s observation trailer, where they’re welcomed by a yard full of mangled corpses to further confirm the excrement has officially hit the fan. To their credit, they do try to call it into authorities once they see Lee coming after Audrey and Monet in the house monitors — but as predicted, the police aren’t buying their story just yet, and care not to waste precious county resources on a false call out to the boonies. Pity.
That’s when Sophie and Milo (yes, they have names) decide to “vigilante up” for the people they’ve shown so much digital regard for on their fansite and head to the mansion to stop Lee themselves. At this point, we’re thinking we have some kind of scoop on them, because Lee only killed third-wheel Todd out of perceived self-defense, right? WRONG.
Turns out, Lee’s lingered in the woods just long enough to absorb the crazy that encumbered Agnes Mary Winstead. She has become, for all intents and purposes, the de facto Butcher of the day.
Lee manages to infiltrate the murder house (sorry, couldn’t resist) and gets taunted by Monet over her confessional, which the girls have now screened. In retaliation for the tacit threat of them knowing what she’s done — or maybe as an act of possession by Butcher, it doesn’t really matter — she pushes Monet off the banister to her death and thrusts poor Audrey into the cellar, where she immediately starts to choke on the fumes from rotting corpses of the original abandoned house staff.
It’s then she fully adopts the spirit of her crackbrained parasite and presents the woebegone website duo for the blood-moon slaughter, fit with impalement by giant stick and being burnt alive as an offering to make it extra nasty. After seeing the entire scene unfold in live-streaming format, the police are finally convinced something is amiss at the Roanoke House. They show up to find an earless-but-unbroken Lee in the grass and an alive Audrey. But wait, that’s two survivors. We can’t have that.
Audrey, knowing full well who Lee is (and who she isn’t) makes the grave mistake of drawing a nearby officer’s gun at Lee…and gets mowed down by a barrage of bullets as a consequence.
So, here we are. Lee walks away as Not-Lee. But there’s still an episode to come, you say?! Indeed. From the looks of the preview, Lee is going to get yet another run at the spotlight with an exclusive one-on-one world interview with…drum roll, please…Lana Winters. Which means — yay! — more Sarah Paulson, but also… Are we about to witness another pack of televised lies eaten up by the public again? What a world.
Episode grade: B
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