American Horror Story: Roanoke has really hit a hockey stick curve in terms of grisly violence and gratuitous torture porn over the past couple of episodes. We started with a really interesting “play within a play” format (and even “play within a play within a play” when considering stuff like the Butcher or anything Cricket retold)… Now we’ve delved into a combination of The Blair Witch Project and Saw. Last week boasted maybe only two or three murders (one barely on-camera)… Chapter 7 corrects that substantially and savagely.
Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 reverse a fundamental point of the first five episodes. We knew most of the cast — Matt, Shelby, Lee… anyone who was talking to the cameras — was essentially “safe”. Now we know that most of them are not. The fun thing is trying to figure out the one person who lives! My money is on the IRL Shelby.
For simplicity’s sake I’m going to call fake-Matt Cuba (for Cuba Gooding Jr), fake-Lee Angela, and so on. I mean the fact that Cuba Gooding Jr played Matt is more useful to us than that he plays Dominic Banks who played Matt. Right? Right 🙂
As this was an episode of AW SHIT moment after AW SHIT moment, we’ll use that format for ye olde recap.
The Top 8 Jaw-Dropping Moments of American Horror Story: Roanoke Chapter 7:
VIII. “The Butcher” butchers the production staff
At the end of last week’s episode I was wondering if the “one survivor” referred only to the cast of Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell. The opening scene answers that question as the Kathy Bates version of the Butcher does a hatchet job on everyone in the production trailer. Cheyenne Jackson’s Sidney Aaron James dies so suddenly I jumped out of my seat even on second viewing.
VII. Real Woods Witch, and VI. Real Butcher
One of the things I liked best about this episode was the contrast between the “tv” versions of the Butcher (Bates) and Scathach the woods witch (Lady Gaga) and the “real” versions from Chapter 7’s found footage.
Kathy’s performances have been awesome and Gaga was exciting both as a villainous power source and her carnal role with Matt… But once you see the “real” Butcher and Scathach the My Roanoke Nightmare versions just look like women in reenactment costumes. Bates acted grim; the real Butcher is grim. Gaga might not have been at her Hotel pinnacle, but she was still sexy; the new-look Scathach looks filthy and hideous… You can barely tell where her hair ends and the twigs begin.
American Horror Story: Roanoke is a mesmerizing television show. The multiple “shows within shows” format has me often wondering what is “real”. As much as I hate the “found footage” style in general, it is hugely effective here, at least for contrast.
V. The Butcher butchers “the Butcher”
After her attacks on the crew (and Shelby) I figured Bates’s Agnes Mary Winstead might join the ranks of the true Butcher happily. I guess the Butcher proper has no interest in sharing the nickname.
She just wanted to be on tv 🙁
IV. Cuba (Dominic, whatever) is a total sociopath
I loved the “diary room” session where Cuba spoke frankly about wanting to be the show’s villain. I can’t imagine he will be able to pull that off with the likes of the Butcher and the Polk family sharing screen time with him.
There are moments where Cuba seems like a good guy… He saved Shelby after all. But besides his unapologetic willingness to ruin every other cast member’s life, he was mad manipulative to the grieving Shelby after, well, you know.
III. Bates reminds us why she won the Oscar
I found Bates to be unbelievable as the Butcher in her appearances in the My Roanoke Nightmare episodes. But in Chapter 7 she shows a rare level of versatility. Bates flits from a mad version of the Butcher to moments of whimpering lucidity. Every version of Bates, or Agnes, is cray cray… But they’re all different kinds of cray (and she does a great job with at least three different stripes of them).
II. Shelby murders Matt!
So one of the burning questions posed by every cast member of Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell who didn’t actually live the events of My Roanoke Nightmare is why any of the Millers would possibly have returned… Especially during the Blood Moon.
Shelby wants to be with Matt. Lee wants to clear her name (and make like a million). But what is Matt doing there? It turns out he is in love with Scathach, and had been waiting for her to show up. Shelby shows remarkable courage, confronting the woods witch and getting her off her husband… It’s pretty cool to see she can exert some will over one of the local ghosts, especially the power source.
Of course when she finds out Matt’s agenda, Shelby shows more of that same decisiveness. Also gross.
I. Lee tenderizes her own sweet meat (and everything after)
I didn’t think we’d have a bigger jaw-dropper than Shelby killing her beloved husband… Until the girls get captured by the Polks. The real Polks are similarly grimier than the actor-portrayed versions; the cannabis plants were a nice touch.
So where there are Polks… We know there is going to be cannibalism. I’m not really sure why they like to eat still-living people, but Lee gets the same treatment that Elias Cunningham did. The whole thing is just revolting. They untie one of Lee’s hands so she can rub peanut oil into her own leg, then season her, then plunge a fork into her thigh, still attached.
That’s not the grossest part, though. “Guests” Sarah Paulson and Angela Bassett are compelled to take a bite.