American Horror Story: Roanoke has reached its climactic conclusion and pulled a surprise ending we probably didn’t see coming. After witnessing what we believed would be the last of the Roanoke home, one thing brought it all back into the fold -- but, first, let’s go back a little.
Recap: "Chapter 10"
After seeing the scene conclude, we find out we were watching the progression of Lee’s story through yet another reality series entitled <emCrack’d, detailing behind the scenes details of Lee’s court case. The next introduction brought back possibly my favorite AHS character (or at least top three), journalist and Asylum survivor Lana Winters. Cue the next show transition, the Lana Winters special with a cheesy title card, bringing the ultimate survivor out of retirement for an interview with Lee (who declined every other journalist and network) for the simple reason that they both have been through significant trauma and devastating horror. Lee acknowledges that Lana had killed her own child, Bloody Face, but Lana becomes tense and says he was a psychotic murderer more than anything else and she did what she had to for survival.
After getting past a few uncomfortable instances, Lana gets into the harder questions and informs Lee her daughter went missing an hour before their current live interview. Lana wants to know if Lee is responsible, but the news makes Lee grow fearful for her daughter, and, as panic sets in, gunfire is heard down the hallway. At that moment, the last member of the Polk family barges into the interview -- with the cameras capturing every moment. Lana stands in between Lee and the Polk, trying her best to talk him off the ledge and relate to his pain. It’s a nice note to remind us how Lana had evolved from the beginning of Asylum to this appearance for My Roanoke Nightmare. Despite her coming close to possibly changing his mind, he strikes Lana with his gun and knocks her unconscious before being shot by police, just before he could finish his attempted murder of Lee.
Next up, we are cutting to a different series entitled Spirit Chasers (similar to Ghost Hunters) who undergo a hokey exploration for the supernatural (also noting the parallels to Asylum). The ghost hunters find a few truths out of the Roanoke story, but, most shockingly, it’s on a blood moon and Lee enters, scaring the team. At this point, you realize it’s two weeks after the Lana Winters special, and Lee had a gut instinct to return to the home where her daughter could be held captive. She tries to warn them to flee, but they are more hyped on the idea of getting footage as the attacks commence once more. The Chans, pig-headed killer, nurses, Butcher and more come out to play -- killing nearly all of the “spirit chasers”, except for one who yells to arriving police to run for their lives. To their poor luck, a barrage of arrows is sent flying, killing them as well.
Lee (who has stayed inside the house) waits for Flora to come out, and she finally decides to show herself to her mother. Before we can see what plays out next, we are shown several news segments discussing a standoff with Lee and the police overnight, eventually letting us see “national treasure” Lana Winters is alive and recovering -- giving herself and Lee credit for fighting relentlessly for their cause, which, in her case, was surviving the asylum and taking down Briarcliff. Lee’s goal? Save her daughter at any cost. Later into the day, Flora tells her mother she has been staying in the woods with Priscilla and felt safer with the ghost girl due to watching her mother kill her own father. Lee admits she hasn’t lived up to her idealistic traits as a good mother, but, more than anything, her love for Flora has been the most evident thing this season, and, unfortunately, Flora doesn’t seem to accept that. Flora tells Lee that she won’t leave and will become a spirit herself to save Priscilla from the butcher, and that’s when Lee decides her best gift to her daughter is to take that job on so Flora will survive and have a shot at living. As we get to the final moments of the episode, we see Flora leaving the home and an explosion in the background, annihilating the property. We also catch a glimpse at Lee’s final moments, deciding to let Priscilla end her life with the hopes her daughter can eventually understand or forgive her. In the end, the series offered its “sole survivor” -- who wasn’t who we were expecting but the product of a strong woman who had overcome hell for the sake of her daughter, for whom she had unconditional love.
Overall Grade: 8/10
This most definitely wasn’t the happy-ish finale I was hoping for from AHS Roanoke, but it can’t be said that it wasn’t full of surprises. It was a hard pill to swallow that the one survivor was a character who felt extremely naïve to what was going on around her. Flora wasn’t someone I felt I could truly sympathize with or root for, as opposed to her mother’s poignant story of survival -- my only true frustration with the season’s conclusion. At least it could be stated that she felt she accomplished her mission of giving her daughter what she wanted, even if it was another slight reason for me to dislike the daughter. Lana Winters was certainly a star in AHS Asylum, and, of all the potential crossovers, it was the most enjoyable to catch up with and stay aware of what made her such an evolved character to begin with -- thank you Lana Winters for being the standout inclusion of the AHS finale.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed the initial reality tv transition that presented an unfiltered horror appearance, concurrently pushing a powerful impact that deviates from traditional techniques.
If I had to rank the season finales, I would say (beginning with the strongest): Asylum, Coven, Hotel, Murder House, Roanoke, Freak Show
I was saddened to see Lee end her life in a situation that felt it could be avoided, but I understand the message behind the act itself.
Sarah Paulson really had her work cut out for her this season as Shelby, Audrey and Lana in the span of 10 episodes.