After Lee's daughter went missing on last week's episode of AHS: Roanoke, we pick up with police and volunteers combing the woods for any sign of Flora. Lee acknowledges that, after 36 hours, the odds would decrease tremendously -- and she refused to let Flora be one of those heartbreaking incidents. Late into the search, Lee discovers a torn-up doll belonging to her daughter with parts laid out that include a pig head and other various pig pieces. They explore further and find an old rundown property that appears to be unlivable; however, there are young men who are shown in a barn covered in dirt and feeding from a pig (oh yeah, and they make pig noises too).
They call the police and the boys are taken in, learning that they were left behind to fend for themselves. A social worker hoped to get them to speak (and hopefully have answers about Flora), but the only word they would scream at her was "Croatoan". (For those of you who don't remember, it was used to banish spirits as said in AHS: Murder House.) The search for Flora continues, but, unfortunately, the crucial timeframe passes, and Lee's ex husband begins to blame her for Flora's "disappearance." That night, they are awaken by a call from police and drive to a nearby area where a man burns to death in a ritualistic way -- and is confirmed to be her former husband.
While arguing about their safety and Lee's guilty-looking appearance, a medium with a major reputation at aiding searches for lost children arrives to the property. He is drawn to the small hideaway closet where Flora had hid, finding a bonnet that belonged to the ghostly apparition who befriended her and showed Matt and Shelby the tapes. Now, knowing Priscilla is an actual spirit, he deduces that Flora is alive -- kicking off a seance to communicate with present apparitions. The first to come through is Kathy Bates' character, now known as the "butcher" who strikes fear in the medium and splits a candle right down the center to show her presence to Lee and the others. The murderous butcher says that she owns the area and would have killed the girl if she found her -- but she does say that Priscilla has Flora, referring to Priscilla as the "bad seed" of their former colony. When she shatters windows to show her intensity, he shouts "Croatoan!" to repel the spirit like Billie Dean referred to during Season 1.
After shocking them that he used the same phrase, the psychic says he'll explain -- but for a cost of $25,000. At that point, they all believe he is either awful for requiring such a high amount or a complete scam artist, so Matt kicks him out -- but not before he could whisper something to Lee. Now, here's where things get interesting ... We learn that Lee lost a daughter when she was a very young mother (went missing but presumed dead), so the topic makes her emotional, and she requests that the cameras are turned off. For a moment, we see the behind-the-scenes production of the docu-series, as a producer helps Lee until the confessional style interview returns (there are suspicions around breaking the 4th Wall at the season's mid-point). Lee admits that it makes her sound guilty, but she was perfectly fine paying the 25k, so how could she have anything to do with her daughters' disappearances?
The medium tells Lee (now in private) the backstory of the colony involved in her and her family's lives, where we see the infamous butcher sentenced to exile in the forest for not conforming (even left behind by her own son, played by Wes Bentley). While nearing death, she comes across a witch (at least, that's what I'd refer to her as) or possible demonic being that gives her another shot for her soul -- making the butcher return to her former colony and murder any who wronged her. Cut to the search in the woods where the psychic takes them to make a deal with the spirits. He tells the butcher and her comrades that they will burn the house down and make sure nobody comes to steal their property as long as they insure the safety of Flora and reunite her with her mother. While the bargaining commences, Shelby is angered by the deal made that included Matt and notices he has vanished from the area. His wife wanders a bit and locates two of the hillbilly family members masturbating to the sight of her husband Matt having sex with the woodland witch creature played by Gaga. (Never saw that coming!) A furious Shelby returns home and, eventually, Matt and Lee head back with no recollection of what he had been doing. Shelby doesn't easily believe his words and feels cheated on, and the police at the home that proceed to handcuff Lee. Matt asks what Shelby has done, but she plays dumb to mock what she believes her husband is doing to her.
Overall Grade: 8/10
The episode wasn't necessarily stronger than the previous chapter, but it did shed some light on the lost colony the current narrative is centered on. The introduction of Gaga's character was one of the more interesting contributions to the episode and possibly confirmed a now popular theory (that AHS will use each of the first five episodes to reflect the former seasons and introduce something entirely different as hinted by Ryan Murphy).
Aedan's Final Thoughts:
- Breaking the 4th wall could be a slight possibility for an exploration of these real life actors and people they are meant to portray, as if it were a TV show inside of a TV show.
- I'm hoping we get our main credits on Episode 6. They can't remove such an iconic opening!
- This is one of the most ambiguous seasons yet with plenty of room for copious amounts of speculation.