American Horror Story is back and we are promised new scares. We loyally traveled down the dark corridors of the last five seasons beginning with: Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, and finally, Hotel. But, until tonight, the theme for season six was kept more secret than Trump’s tax returns and medical records. Tonight showrunner Ryan Murphy finally revealed the season six theme with a vengeance.
My Roanoke Nightmare
I was right! I had guessed that the story would take place on a farm, but that’s all I’ve figured out so far as tonight’s episode, which is titled “Chapter One,” plays out like a frightumentary like some of those true crime shows on cable television. Now if you don’t know the legend of Roanoke, it’s quite interesting in a ghost story sort of way.
In 1584, the English set up a new colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, but due to harsh weather and a lack of supplies, the village was abandoned. Three years later, a second colony was set up, but they faced the same harsh conditions. When their Captain returned from England with the needed supplies, the colony had vanished without a trace. The only clue was the words ‘Cro’ and ‘Croatoan’ carved into some trees. The Croatoans were a friendly Native tribe that lived on the nearby Hatteras Island.
Lily Rabe and Andre Holland play an interracial couple, Shelby and Matt Miller, living in Los Angeles when they are attacked by gang members. Shelby loses her baby and Matt is severely injured forcing them to move to North Carolina to regain their sense of safety. But my little monsters we know there is no such thing as a safe place in the world of American Horror Story.
Matt and Shelby’s story is featured on a show called My Roanoke Nightmare. The actors playing their parts in this reenactment are Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. This is exciting for two reasons, one being that I think Cuba Gooding Jr. is one hell of an actor and I’m happy to see him in one of my favorite shows. This is the second time that Paulson and Gooding are staring in a series together since The People vs. O.J. Simpson American Crime Story
It isn’t long before the scares begin to build up starting with the couple buying this huge farmhouse that looks more like a mansion than any farmhouse I’ve ever seen. The story is told through Shelby’s and Matt’s voice as we watch the reenactment play out. Although Matt is immediately smitten with the huge farmhouse, Shelby is never quite at ease in her new home. Strange things begin to happen.
We watch as the real Shelby talks about a hailstorm of teeth hitting the home during a storm while watching the actors recreate the scene on the documentary. Is Shelby hallucinating or is she making up these events to move back to the west coast? Shelby is usually alone when the ghosts are active.
Matt and Shelby are frightened by strange howling sounds and dead pigs left on their doorsteps. Matt thinks it could be the work of the Hillbilly neighbors who lost the bid on the farm, but we know better. I hadn’t realized at first that it was Chaz Bono playing one of the neighbors. On one of Matt’s business trips, Shelby is almost drowned in her hot tub. The scares, when they come, are fast and they keep you on the edge before quickly reminding you over and over, that you are supposedly watching a reenactment.
When Matt has to leave Shelby to go on another business trip, he calls in his sister. Lee played by Adina Porter tells her experiences on the farm via Angela Bassett playing her in the documentary. Lee is an ex-cop with an addiction problem and a gun. We get a flashback to her chasing a serial rapist only to have him commit suicide rather than get caught. Drugs are found in her squad car during the investigation. Lee’s in a bad place; her husband left her after she was fired and she lost custody of her daughter. Now, she’s stuck on a farm with her sister-in-law. Shelby and Lee don’t like each other, but they love Matt and try to play nice while Matt is away.
I’m not sure where Ryan Murphy is going with season six, but after the ratings took a nosedive on season five, I was worried about the fate of American Horror Story. “Chapter One” was written by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk and directed by Bradley Buecker. For now, it looks like this season will revolve around the mysterious disappearance of the Roanoke Colony and Shelby and Matt.
If Lee was suspicious of Shelby’s wild claims, she’s soon dragged into the horror when she and Shelby are locked in the basement where a video, playing on an old television, shows a frightened man running from a man wearing a pig’s head. Matt calls the police after witnessing, via security cameras, people with torches and pitchforks heading towards the home. When Shelby and Lee escape the basement, they are shocked to see dozens of stick figures hanging from the ceiling in some sort of a Blair Witch tribute.
If we were worried about AHS’ survival, we can relax. Ryan Murphy has taken my favorite anthology back to the farm and it is deliciously frightening with a good old fashion ghost story. The show ends with Shelby taking the car and running away. She doesn’t get too far before she hits a woman dressed in period clothing. We only get a glimpse of the marvelous Kathy Bates before she takes off into the woods. The man (Wes Bentley) walking towards Shelby with the top of his head missing guarantees that I’ll be anticipating next week’s episode.