As tends to be the habit of AHS, episode 6 is usually a game changer and this was the biggest one yet.
My Roanoke Nightmare was the television success story of 2015. With minimal promotion, the show garnered 23 million viewers by it’s finale, topping that week’s airing of Sunday night football, Empire and The Walking Dead. Eager to capitalize on the success, the network asked the producer to create a follow-up series.
Enter Cheyenne Jackson as Sidney James. He is the super slimy reality show producer behind all of this, he is a despicable human being and I love him. Jackson is clearly having a great time playing this character and it’s a joy to watch. Return to Roanoke:Three Days in Hell is the show that Sidney is creating: he wants to bring back the real life survivors and the actors to all live in the house together. Kind of like a super fucked up version of The Real World. He will add hidden cameras to record everything because, “The drama is reality.” They will live in the house over the period of the blood moon despite the fact that some people think this might be a bad idea. “Reality is what we make of it,” he says after explaining that it will be fun to see the reactions of everyone when the Butcher or the Chens show up. Of course, he doesn’t actually believe these spirits will show up, but he does think the people in the house will believe it. Conveniently, Sidney also bought the house and we all know that was a piss poor idea. Now all he has to do is convince all of the real life players to return to the house.
Shelby doesn't want to come back, but it’s the only way she will be able to see Matt again. See, after doing the show, their relationship imploded and, in her loneliness, Shelby slept with Dominic Banks; dude who played Matt in the re-enactments.
Lee is willing to return to the house because she wants to clear her name. Accused of killing her ex-husband Mason, she wants to prove to the American public that she is innocent. Monet Tumusilme (Angela Bassett who also directed this episode) claims that playing Lee has caused her to suffer from alcoholism and Sidney is specifically told that they cannot knowingly supply her with alcohol. (Knowingly is the key word here.) Despite Sidney explaining that, “alcohol is the secret sauce to reality shows,” he agrees and suggests that they double the liability insurance. Lee and Monet have a surly relationship because they each blame one another for their problems and it will be interesting to see how this hurts or harms their fight to survive in the coming days.
Agnes Mary Winstead (Bates) wants nothing more than to return to Roanoke, but that will be a bit more difficult than she anticipated. Agnes claims that the Butcher is the role of a lifetime and she felt a connection with her the moment she auditioned. Agnes doesn’t see the Butcher as a villain and this is when Sidney goes for the jugular and brings up her psychotic breakdown. Kathy Bates further proves why she’s a TV Queen by playing Agnes as a sweet, soft spoken woman who quickly turns into a homicidal maniac. Sidney slaps her with a restraining order to stay away from the set because he knows this simply guarantees that not only will she show up, but she’ll show up and cause mayhem.
Back from commercial, we meet Audrey and Rory. Playing Shelby and Edward, respectively, they met and fell in love on set. Newlyweds, they’re treating this return to the house like a whacked out honeymoon of sorts. These two are insufferable actors who think far too highly of themselves.
The house has been rigged with various types of surprises to make the house seem legitimately haunted and when Sidney impersonates Cricket it was uber hilarious, but also pointed to just how disgusting this guy is. As he’s pulled aside by Diana who asks if they can talk off camera, he guffaws and says, “Yeah, that’s never gonna happen.” He then explains to her that he isn’t interested in doing another horror show. He’s interested in using horror to find justice. Sidney wants to be the guy who gets Lee Harris to admit what she did. As the crew is setting up the house, they find a grouping of fetal pigs. They know the Polks didn’t leave them because no one has seen them for weeks, so, who was it? Was it the same person who killed a crew member with a chainsaw? Sidney decides to keep going after this crew worker dies and Diana has a crisis of conscience and drives off of set. Unfortunately, she sees Priscilla in the road and then the Pig Man pops up in her backset and it’s a really effective jump scare. This is when we learn that this footage was found three months after Diana went missing.
Now that all of our players are together, we can see the various relationships. Lee is overprotective of her brother Matt, Matt is a damaged man, Audrey and Rory are total Hollywood assholes, Monet is angry and back on the sauce, Shelby is emotionally unstable and Dominic is a hipster doofuss. Matt is the only person who truly had no reason to return to the house and he never explains why he did
The actors don’t believe the stories about the house because when they were filming in the house for eight weeks they didn’t see or experience anything supernatural. “No ghosts, pilgrims or people jerking.” Matt happens to walk into the middle of this conversation and points out to them that when they stayed at the house, it wasn’t during the blood moon. While this is true, we already learned that the ghosts are free to terrorize any day of the year, but can only kill during the blood moon. So…why didn’t they terrorize the actors? Well, the blood moon is on it’s way and over the next three days, they will become believers because every participant in this series died under mysterious circumstances.
Except for one.
The show that Sidney planned never aired and what we are about to witness is the footage left behind. So, we are watching a found footage-reality-horror show. I think. AHS has definitely delivered on their promise to completely change everything with this episode. We are now watching a group of people, who have myriad reasons to be antagonistic towards one another, live in a house that wants to kill them. We know that they’re going to die, but we don’t know who the lone survivor is. We do know, however, that Rory is the first casualty. R is for Rory and now MURDER is complete. Don’t worry Evan Peters fans: Rory died on the land, so I’m sure he will pop back up again before the season is over.
While I’m still not completely convinced that this was the brilliant change up that some people are heralding it as, I do find it very timely. They did manage to do this transition seamlessly and, in fact, Ms. Bassett did a truly great job of balancing all of the different things that were taking place in this episode. She also delivered two of the finest scares so far: the Pig Man and the nurses. We know that the next three episodes will be Return to Roanoke:Three Days In Hell and the season finale is an episode separate, but connected, to everything previous. So, who is the lone survivor going to be?
The TMZ type footage was amusing, but a sad commentary on our gossip fueled society.
I loved when Sidney actually looked directly at the camera.
The audition tapes for the Butcher were hilarious.
I need one of those action figures of the Butcher.
That chainsaw looked like it was being held by someone else; that didn’t look like an accident at all.
I had no idea that was Chaz Bono playing one of the Polks, but that was Chaz officiating the wedding ceremony.
Where did the Polks disappear to and why is Sidney so confident that they aren’t around?