Spoiler warning for those yet to watch American Horror Story: Roanoke's eighth episode.
Since the onset of that narrative explosion of a twist a couple of episodes back, American Horror Story: Roanoke has been speeding forward towards its as-yet-unpredictable conclusion, and tonight's "Chapter 8" not only put a few more characters to rest in brutal ways and made some jaw-dropping revelations, but it also dropped a last-second surprise on viewers that...well, I honestly don't know what it does. I fell like I don't know anything anymore. Let's unpack the events surrounding the episode's three biggest elements.
Lee and the Polks
Last week's episode was not afraid to kill characters off left and right, and tonight's episode kicked off right where things left off, with Shelby and Dominic stuck in the house and Audrey and Monet held captive by the cannibal Polks. Our first big surprise comes when it's revealed Lee actually survived having her flesh sliced off her body to eventually feed to the other two women. Second big surprise? Lee actually DID kill her husband, despite repeatedly denying it and claiming on My Roanoke Nightmare that his death was the fault of the ghosts. This has potentially big implications.
One of the main reasons producer Sidney wanted to make this Return to Roanoke special, beyond all the dollar signs, was to somehow get Lee to trip up and confess the murder on film. The fact that she actually did it, and as early as "Chapter 8," makes me suspicious that there's something else at play here. I didn't quite expect Sidney to pop out of a closet and say, "I knew it!" while holding his prop innards, but I have to wonder if there will be another layer peeled back on this story in some way.
Was Return to Roanoke supposed to be a big fake ordeal set up specifically to finger a killer? Sidney clearly didn't believe any of the paranormal business, and it's pretty likely that he thought he could force things to go his way, with the Polk family as one mode of operation. Perhaps he contacted the real hillbillies out there, or perhaps some of the people we see are actually just actors. I mean, the fact that they actually did hurt Lee and take Audrey's tooth goes beyond a normal performance, but who's to say the actors weren't influenced by other means? Because seriously, in whose world would a pair of pliers break when trying to pull out someone's teeth? That shit could not be real. Nor the chair Monet was in.
The Surprise Guest
By the end of the episode, Shelby and Dominic were both dead, with Monet on the lam, and Audrey and Lee were rising from a weed-and-stress-induced slumber. After talking about just how ruined they would be if the outside world got a hold of the cameras inside the Polks' compound - which showed both of them murdering Polks in cold blood, not to mention Lee's confession - they formulated the completely ridiculous plan to go BACK to destroy all the cameras. They didn't get a chance to do it, though, because when they opened the door, Piggy Man was there. AHHHHH!
But no, it wasn't the Ghost Piggy Man or the real life version that the Polks liked to play pretend with. This was actually a mask being donned by Wes Bentley's Dylan, the actor who played Ambrose White in the My Roanoke Nightmare dramatization. What the hell? He didn't get to state his purpose for being there at that exact moment, although viewers can assume that he was either late to the Return to Roanoke party, or this was a more strategic arrival tying back to Sidney. The one thing we know almost for sure is that he will eventually be murdered by the real Ambrose White.
All That Repetition
"Chapter 8" also made abundantly clear another wrinkle in Roanoke's events, which is that a surprising number of events seem to be mirrored moments of things that have already happened. Shelby comments on this in the opening minutes, as she and Dominic had just witnessed Agnes being killed by The Butcher in a similar way to how Shelby and Matt watched Cricket get killed in the dramatization. Last week, three characters went into the house's secret passage and came across the real ghost of Edward Phillippe Mott, and tonight Shelby and Dominic went in there and came across a ceiling-crawling member of the Chen family. (That was spooky shit, too.)
There were other moments, as well. In the dramatization, Mama Polk broke Shelby's leg, and while Audrey is being held hostage by the real Mama Polk, a plethora of the show's ghouls assail the house, and real Shelby hurts her leg. Matt got his head bashed in by Shelby, and then Dominic got his head bashed in by Piggy Man, while Audrey bludgeoned Mama Polk's head. (Shelby slicing her own throat was new, at least.) I'm sure there were other instances that I either missed or forgot about as I wrote this. Any way it goes, I'm still confused.
American Horror Story: Roanoke only has two episodes left to bring this steamroller of a narrative to a halt, with presumably just one character left able to get the fuck out of that place and meet up with Lana Winters. Find it on FX on Wednesday nights. To see what else is coming to the small screen this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.