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Well, we won't be doing much sleeping after that! This week's American Horror Story: Roanoke continued to cause heads to scratch as we butcher our way towards the "big twist" in the next episode. And, as we have seemingly closed the book on the first chapter of Season 6, just where does American Horror Story go now?
WARNING: Bloody spoilers ahead for American Horror Story "Chapter 5"
This week heralded the return of the presumed-dead Elias, Evan Peters's seminal debut as Edward Philippe Mott, and the #horror ended as our hapless family hauled up in a Motel 6. Now, to clarify, I don't think we have seen the last of the Mott house, or Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, and Sarah Paulson. Arguably the cream of the #AHS crop lie in that acting troupe, so there is no way Ryan Murphy would toss them aside at the halfway point. Despite Shelby's recurring nightmare of the Butcher coming for her, the end was all a bit too happy - not at all in keeping with Horror Story lore.
If the past five seasons have taught us anything: "It ain't over till the fat lady sings," and sorry, but I didn't see Kathy Bates doing much singing this week. Remember in Season 2's Asylum, when we saw investigative reporter Lana Winters seemingly escape the horrors of the show, only to find herself in an exquisitely furnished nipple-lamp house? Guess what, that happened in Episode 5 too!
'Next week on American Horror Story.'
The promo for "Chapter 6" remained typically sparse, however it did confirm the news that next week the curtain on the mockumentary comes down. After a jittery start (possibly found footage), we hear Cheyenne Jackson's character cautiously warn:
"The camera never stops, no matter what anybody says, even if I tell you to stop, you keep rolling."
Coupled with the ominous John Carpenter-esque score, it looks like things are about to go wrong on the set of My Roanoke Nightmare. We will have to tune in next week to find out what is really going on, but it seems that a role reversal is on the cards. Jackson's promo aside, it is a far cry from what social media for the show would have you believe. The AHS Twitter posted their own promo that promises the horror is over — but I'm not buying it!
The promo for next week seems to be picking up the found footage formula which has peaked in the horror genre. Fans of the show will know that we already used found footage at the tail end of Season 2 for the Lana Winters exposé on Briarcliff Manor. Bad news for those who suffer with motion sickness, but hopefully it won't be an hour every week of watching Shelby scream "Maaaaaaaat" and ripping off Blair Witch. So far I have found the talking heads segment to be dull at best, but undoubtedly Ryan Murphy has something up his sleeve.
Losing the Plot
If the cast are returning to the scene of the crime, then what else is left to explore? If you are going to take the season's promotional trailers literally (and I am), we still have a way to go.
For me, the trailer that stuck out the most was the one in which we witness a woman being drowned by a creature in the swap. It harked back to Wes Craven's Swamp Thing and B-Roll horror films. Clearly this alludes to the whole reenactment storyline and Cheyenne's behind the camera role. He could be taking his crew to the very scene of the crime to get some authentic footage and bag himself a nice big director's prize.
However, the main reason for returning to the Mott manor is the amount of actors who haven't truly fleshed their talents yet this year: Gaga, Bassett, Peters, and where the holy Horror Story is Matt Bomer.
- Rumors are swirling that we will explore Matt's bunker bonking, and possibly knocking up Gaga's Wicked Witch of the West, therefore fulfilling the crib promo.
- We have already briefly met the cannibals, which ties to the meathooks promo, but surely Frances Conroy can't be reduced to a one-episode cameo?
- "Chapter 5" also introduced another ghost-like creature similar to the girl from The Grudge — one promo for Season 6 had a similar monster crawling along some railway tracks. That teaser led to one American Horror Story: Mist. Thankfully it wasn't used, but I'm not sure Roanoke is much better!
The other promo which really struck a cord was the one of teeth. We may have had the hailstorm of teeth and briefly touched on cannibals, but there has to be more than just a brief homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As the 2001 film Hannibal will tell you, pigs are notoriously good eaters, tearing through bone and flesh. However, they will tend to leave the teeth. When Frances Conroy's 'Momma' told her hillbilly sons to smash out Elias's teeth, was he heading for the pig sty?
Back on the Farm
Don't even get me started on Piggy Man. This week fully debunked the theory that Peters would be playing the porky pursuer, however we are yet to see the origin of the man behind the pig mask. We are only just "pork scratching" the surface of the horror at the Roanoke house, and the theme of pigs is still running wild in the series. Perhaps the whole Butcher storyline could be at an end, and to be honest, I would be OK with that. Kathy Bates has had her shot, and I don't really see where else the tribe story could go. The promise of real horror comes with a new threat of actual human danger. This week may have given us a glimpse of the Hillbilly Polk family (and glorious return of Conroy), and I sense their story isn't over yet.
The AHS Twitter post ended with a brief shot of the feral pig boys we met back in Episode 3. Why remind us of such a fact if it wasn't important? When we left the pig boys they were in the custody of the inept local cops, simply repeating the word CROATOAN over and over again.
The world of real-life and reenactment are about to merge, and if we do head back to the house, it will be lambs to the slaughterhouse for the Millers and Cheyenne Jackson's production team. As long as all the actors get a slice of pie, I am happy for the ensuing bloodbath.