31 Days of Horror 2016: American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter Four”


A lot has happened on “American Horror Story” while I was away on vacation, but we did get to learn who The Butcher is and why Priscilla is hiding little Flora, thanks to a strange psychic called Cricket. Shelby not only thinks Lee is responsible for Mason’s death, but that Matt was unfaithful. Tonight we learn the connection the Motts have with Roanoke.


Words are powerful. Once they leave our lips, they can act as a salve to heal wounds, or cut us like a sword. The word Croatoan was meant as a message to Captain White on the new location of the colonists, but with the colony missing; Croatoan has taken on a new meaning… a dark message for all who dare to live on the land.


Shelby is having a hard time forgiving Matt of being unfaithful when he can’t even remember the incident, but everything changes when Mr. Piggy, ax in hand, jumps out of the shower and chases Shelby and Matt through the house. They are saved by the crazed man from the video.

I was wondering when we would see Denis O’Hare again as Dr. Elias Cunningham. Elias saves the day and the Millers, but it’s only temporary. It seems that the home in which Shelby and Matt live in was owned by Elias. He was trying to keep the house out of the hands of innocent homebuyers, but the house was auctioned off when he couldn’t pay his taxes. The list of deaths in that home is long and we learn how the homeowners were killed, including the innocent Chen family and the murderous Jane sisters. We also learn about the original owner and builder of the farm house and this is where we get to tie ends with season four.


Who can ever forget the Motts from Freak Show? Dandy (Finn Wittrock) and Gloria (Frances Conroy) were a special kind of crazy… and there was a lot of crazy going on in Freak Show. According to Elias, Edward Phillipe Mott built the home in 1792. If Edward Mott knew the history of the land, we don’t know. We are left to assume that before he vanished, he had enough time to begin the dynasty of inbred Motts.

Armed with the information that everyone who ever lived in the house has either died or disappeared, we are given an important clue. It isn’t the house that is haunted, but the land. Because the farm sits on the original site of the Roanoke colony, the Butcher has the power to kill during certain times of the year, especially when there is a blood moon.


I’ve been involved in several investigations where it wasn’t the house that was haunted, but the land. There could be several reasons for the land to be haunted as it is in the Roanoke story: the land is a burial site; occult activity or human sacrifice was performed on the land; nature itself has energized the land due to underground streams, certain minerals, or the Earth’s gravitational pull. Land hauntings are harder to handle because the spirits attached to the land do not give credence to the buildings or to the people who live in them. In places where blood flowed freely because of war, Gettysburg is a good example of this kind of haunting, the land remembers the deaths that occurred there. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to cleanse the land of this memory.

Elias assures the Millers that he can find Priscilla and Flora, but on the way through the woods, we catch glimpse of Flora playing a game with the Chen family, killer nurses, Mr. Piggy and Priscilla. In the ruckus, Elias is killed and Flora and her new playmates disappear. Somehow, we learn the Priscilla was one of the Roanoke children offered up as human sacrifice by Thomasin.


With Elias dead, the Millers are forced to listen to Cricket’s story and it’s a real doozy. The Butcher is angry because Matt did not keep his promise to move out of the home and, we learn that Cricket is responsible for Matt’s rape by the Wood Witch. I love Lady Gaga, but her character, although interesting, hasn’t impressed me so far and maybe it’s because this whole episode seemed so rushed. Lady Gaga’s character is some type of sex starved druid witch that draws on the power from the old and new world.


It was the nameless Wood Witch who persuaded Thomasin into selling her soul. The fact that Thomasin, her head encased inside a barbaric metal cage, was left to die in the woods by her own people, does explain her becoming the murderous Butcher… but the story is weak and does no justice for Kathy Bates character. We feel no pity for this monster.


“Chapter Four” was a bit of a disappointment for me for several reasons; the most blaring offenders were the killing off of two very interesting characters. Cricket, played by the enchanting Leslie Jordan, was a psychic who knew how to protect himself. If he was a true professional as he claimed, he would have been better prepared for any encounters with the dead.


I loved that Cricket used an Uber to get back and forth to the farm and I loved how he took command of a scene, especially the weakly written ones. Instead of allowing us to learn more about Cricket, or to enjoy his special weirdness, he is killed in one of the goriest deaths AHS has ever served us. Cricket’s time on the series was too short to make us feel his loss. I know he’ll be back as one of the Roanoke ghosts, but it isn’t the same.

The quick kill off of Denis O’Hare’s Elias Cunningham was also unsettling especially because his study of the Roanoke colony and his knowledge of The Butcher would have made him a valuable player in keeping this story believable. Instead of Elias being a part of the documentary and giving his professional input of the historic account of the Roanoke spirits, what we got was a senseless death.

The missing Roanoke colony is a true mystery that is still unsolved. Did the colony move to another site? This would explain why no material traces were found. But if they did not relocate, then maybe the Indian Nations that lived nearby captured them and took their possessions. There is a simpler theory; cannibalism. This theory would have made a better reason for Thomasin, a God fearing woman, to go homicidal.


But, for now, we fans of AHS are left with sexual romps, disemboweling, and too many unanswered questions. Why weren’t the police more interested in the backstory of the little boys found in the woods? Why weren’t there police posted around the clock at the Miller’s home? Roanoke works well as a ghost story, but for us to care about the story; we need to care about the characters. Right now, the only people I am worried about are those two little boys, Flora, and Priscilla. What about you?

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