“Chapter 4” is the fastest, densest, episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke yet. A lot of stuff happens quickly… Even before the opening credits roll.
Matt confronts Shelby… Did she just call the cops on Lee? [yes]
How can Shelby trust Matt? He was conspiring with Lee behind Shelby’s back, wasn’t he? [he was]
And… Wasn’t Matt ucking-fay a strange woman in the woods? [again, he was]
Matt can’t remember, even though it was just a few moments earlier; Shelby looks into his eyes and determines he was not “culpable”.
For some reason (!?!) Matt and Shelby continue to live in the haunted house. Popping off her fuzzy socks in anticipation of bathing, Shelby is assaulted in the shower by a shirtless, pig-headed, man with a knife. She dashes out of the bathroom but is attacked again in the hallway. Matt sees the pig-headed man and tackles him from behind. Whew! For a moment it seemed like this attack could have all been in Shelby’s mind.
Our harrowed homeowners are in wicked trouble, waving a blade ineffectually as they back away from the oncoming pig-headed marauder. Then he gets axed in the back! Dr. Elias Cunningham, the crazy professor dude from Chapter 2’s found footage video saves them. Because this is American Horror Story, an axe to the back is not enough to stop Mr Piggy, though. The professor banishes him by proclaiming CROATOAN!
According to Elias, the mysterious word “Croatoan” is one of “dark power and blood magic”, associated with the original Roanoke colony.
Elias informs our homeowners that within months of taking possession, everyone who ever owned the house (but him) died or disappeared. He only actually lived in the house for six months, but kept ownership to prevent anyone else from owning it (and dying). Unfortunately Elias missed a tax payment, resulting in Matt and Shelby buying the house at auction.
Elias walks us through the history of the house and its paranormal activity, including the demises various of an Asian-American Chen family, the sadistic nurse-sisters from Matt’s dream, and three hunters who mysteriously killed each other right outside. While the spirits are always annoying and scary, there is a six-day period every October where the spirits can actually kill (and of course “Chapter 4” is the first day of this year’s October cycle).
Elias is gloomy about the missing Flora as he assumes she was killed by the Butcher, but knows where Priscilla likes to play, and takes them there.
Shelby, for her part, feels horrible about calling the cops on Lee (for Mason’s death) and Matt realizes the only way they can clear Lee’s name at this point is to find Flora. As viewers of My Roanoke Nightmare, we know that Lee got out all right… But the Butcher’s arc and past villainy is still quite compelling.
The group do find Flora (briefly) playing with an eclectic group including not just Priscilla, but the Chens and the pig-headed man!
Before they can rescue Flora, Elias is filled with arrows by oncoming Roanoke colonists. Matt and Shelby retreat back to the house; where they find a waiting Cricket.
Cricket reveals that the house is the true lost colony of Roanoke, and tells the full history of the Butcher after meeting “the bitch with the real power” (Lady GaGa). The Butcher bound the Roanoke colonists to the land in a massive human sacrifice, forcing them into servitude for all time… Before being herself sacrificed by GaGa’s woods witch.
Anyway, Cricket feels like he can banish any and all evil spirits (after offering Matt to the woods witch as a sex partner), and calls an Uber. The Uber nearly runs over a fleeing Flora. Cricket follows her into the woods… And (off-camera) both are captured by the Butcher and company.
That night, Matt leaves a sleeping Shelby to be seduced in the root cellar by the woods witch. He learns she was once an English girl, but a follower of the Druids and the religions of ancient Rome. Matt expresses great intimacy with her and “would have joined her” but for Shelby’s screaming.
In the climactic scene, thanks to an assist from Priscilla’s ghost, Matt and Shelby are able to reacquire Flora and run back into the house, but can only look on in helpless horror as Cricket is disemboweled. I mean really. Disemboweled. On national tv. What is clear by the Butcher’s evil gestures, though, is that they are next.