American Horror Story: Roanoke—Season Finale, “Chapter 10”

We’re at the finale of American Horror Story’s 6th incarnation, Roanoke. I know when last we spoke, I was giving this season the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that I haven’t cared for previous seasons of the show, but it was starting to feel … run of the mill. Showrunner Ryan Murphy’s tendency to do as much as (in)humanly possible was getting me down, and as I mentioned at the conclusion of last season, I wasn’t sure if I’d be continuing my viewership.

I would like to take a moment and declare that Roanoke, by far, is my favorite season of the six we’ve seen. I didn't know what to expect when the Miller’s story ran out—whether they were going to emulate the documentary shows by presenting a second story or by mixing it up—but a meta, tongue-in-cheek paranormal experience melodrama was not on my docket. 

In all fairness, I wasn’t sure I’d like the twist of My Roanoke Nightmare having an in-series spin-off, but I found myself once again looking forward to Wednesday night—a feeling I haven’t had since Coven. In the aftermath and success of My Roanoke Nightmare, producer Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson) decides it’ll be great to bring everyone—original cast and their real-life counter parts—back together, shove them in the Roanoke home for three days during the blood moon, and scare the daylights out of everyone. 

As you can imagine, this ends very badly for all involved. What was great was how the “actors” were developed into real people. Rory (Evan Peters), who played Edward Phillipe Mott, is married to Audrey (Sarah Paulson), who played Shelby Miller. The Butcher (Kathy Bates) is Agnes Mary Winstead, a woman who let her role go to her head. She is not invited back to film, and you can bet that was a poor choice for everyone. 

Living has gone poorly for the “real” Millers, Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt (Andre Holland). They separated after Shelby had an affair with Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr), who played her husband on the show. Lee (Adina Porter) has people convinced she murdered her husband thanks to Monet’s (Angela Bassett) depiction. Shelby wants Matt back, and the last thing any of them want is to return to the house that tried to kill them. 

I’ll admit I had a moment of worry toward the start of the season. A friend asked me if the show lost some of it power because we knew the Millers were safe. Well, they’re not safe any more.

Roanoke has delivered. We tied in the evil nurses completing their favorite word (R is for Rory, after all), the true haunting of the Butcher and Agnes’s utter devotion to her, the restless spirits of the colonists, crazy creepy Polk family, Matt’s infidelity with Scathach (Lady Gaga), and Shelby’s subsequently violent reaction. It’s a bloodbath, and Lee surprised me by coming out as the Final Girl.

I’m also impressed by how much agency the women of this season had. After all, our Final Three were Lee, Audrey, and Monet. And they fought back. Lee was even granted the opportunity to become the monster, which she accepted. Veteran actor Tassia Farminga came back as Sophie, an urban explorer and fan of My Roanoke Nightmare who got far more than she bargained for. The found-footage rounded out the Blair Witch vibes nicely (and was, incidentally, more interesting that the infamous film.)

The “Crack’d” parody of Oxygen’s Snapped was great. That’s another show I’ve binge-watched in real life, and I think its inclusion was a fantastic addition.

Now, if you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know I’m not the biggest fan of the “all the seasons are connected” thing. Rumors of Lana Winters’s return likely meant Audrey’s demise, though I thought having Sarah Paulson in conversation with herself would have been interesting. Given a shared history of “doing what needs to be done,” Lana and Lee were perfectly paired. And just when I thought things were getting too serious…

Guys. Guys. The Spirit Chasers. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Asylum nod. The return of Cricket. I’ve never laughed so hard. And Lee reappears, searching for her daughter, which was a perfect touch. Also, have I mentioned how much I hate creepy children? Oh, I do. Then, the levity passes and we’re returned to our regularly scheduled massacre. 

Soon, we switch over the news broadcast of Lee allegedly holding her daughter hostage in the Roanoke home. In the end, it turned out to be a love story. Lee sacrificed herself for her daughter, destroying the house in the process. 

At the end of the road, Roanoke is absolutely my favorite season. I think the limited run of episodes and the smaller cast have benefitted American Horror Story in innumerable ways. This was the first season (aside from the Murder House) that felt conclusive in a way that satisfied every expectation I had. The only question I believe wasn’t addressed was what happened to Lee’s first daughter, Emily. 

The bar’s been raised, Ryan Murphy. You’ve restored my faith in your writing ability and in American Horror Story as an overall concept. Season 7 has a lot to live up to, and I hope you manage it. I really, really do. 

Still, I have one concern: if Murphy’s connecting Season 6 to Season 2, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the aliens return. 

Please, Ryan Murphy, forget about the aliens. Please.

See also: American Horror Story: Roanoke—Season Premiere, “Chapter 1”

 


Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at ExquisitelyOdd.com.

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