Well, it happened. The long awaited season six finale that had been hyped up since the season began. Opening up with a PaleyFest panel hosted by none other than Trixie Mattel, the audience is full of people dressed in Roanoke costumes and the excitement is palpable. They loved My Roanoke Nightmare and now they are über excited about a second season. It was good fun to see the actors mug for the camera and unapologetically beg for love from the fans and, apparently, you can interact with the stars as PaleyFest. If this is true, I’m going to the next AHS panel and I’m getting a hug from Denis O'Hare and Wes Bentley.
After commercial break, we are treated to some YouTube videos. One is from a PaleyFest super fan and she’s not pleased with the second season of Roanoke. This is followed up by a video from the last remaining Polk family member and he has vengeance on his mind. They took his babies, killed his brothers and they killed his ma. He has clearly been indulging in the Polk family drugs and he has nothing to lose, but he does have a semi automatic weapon. ‘Merica, y’all!
We now move on to Crack’d. I’m assuming this is a nod to Snapped. If you are unfamiliar with Snapped, it’s a true crime show that focuses specifically on female murderers. Crack’d is profiling the now infamous Lee Harris, her fairytale life with Mason and Flora and her fall from grace. This is where we learn that Lee was put on trial for the murders she committed at Roanoke, became a celebrity and then walked free because the strain of marijuana from the Polk farm had hallucinogenic properties. O.K. Whatever.
Unsurprisingly, the D.A. is pissed about Lee going free, so he goes after her for Mason’s murder. In a real dick move, they put Flora on the stand who describes watching her mother kill her father with a rock. Not to be outdone, Lee throws Flora under the bus. Little Flora is now forced to admit that she was hiding in the woods with Priscilla. Essentially, Lee and her attorney say that Flora’s imagination made up the whole thing: Priscilla the ghost, the murder and her story of watching it happen. Consequently, Lee walks free. Again.
Coming back from commercial break we join yet another television show. The Lana Winters Special. Lana Winters, whom you might remember from Asylum, is a journalist famous for killing her own son. Sure, her son was the serial killer known as Bloody Face, but he was still her son. Lana has scored the Lee Harris interview when Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters couldn’t. Why? Because Lee thought Lana was the only one who would understand killing someone in order to save yourself. Ms. Winters does not seem to care for being put in the same company as Lee, but she came out of retirement for this interview, so she’s going to roll with it.
Just after Lana pulls a fast one on Lee and reveals that Flora has been missing for an hour, Lot Polk bursts in with his gun. After far too much talking between Lot and Lana, Lot is gunned down by police. Paulson did a great job acting like a super serious journalist who’s really just trading in schlock gossip, but haven’t we seen a Lana Winters interview interrupted by a crazy person before? Are we really supposed to believe that after murdering her own son after he burst in on an interview, she wouldn’t have better security?
Hope you weren’t enjoying the Lana Winters Special too much because we are now going to join the last episode of Spirit Chasers. After much consideration, the network has decided to air the controversial November 18th episode where they investigate the Roanoke house. If Supernatural didn’t already have it’s own satirical take on Ghost Adventures, this might have been funny, but Ghostfacers did it first and did it better. As the two token douchey guys explain why the Roanoke house is so creepy, they introduce special guest Ashley Gilbert. I’ve never been so excited to see Leslie Jordan. Jordan is Ashley Gilbert who played Cricket in My Roanoke Nightmare and the sight of him running up, waving and saying, “Y'all ready to catch some ghosts?” was HILARIOUS. As they explore the house, Lee shows up. Wow. Crazy. I’m so shocked by this. Conveniently the Pigman, the Butcher, the Chens and the nurses show up. It’s a real blood moon family reunion and they make quick work of killing everyone except Lee.
Returning from commercial break, we are now watching live news coverage of a “hostage crisis”. Lee and Flora are reunited, but it’s being treated as a kidnapping. As they wait out the situation, the news channels interview anyone they can. Denis O’Hare shows up and says that he only met Lee once and she smelled like Shalimar. He also explains that he was asked to return to the second season of Roanoke and has the email chain to prove it. This was a wonderful jab at the Real Housewives and I loved it. Next, we are graced by Lana Winters and she is doing her best Joan Crawford. Speaking from the luxuriousness of her bed, she reminds us that this is about Flora and it always has been.
After a 14 hour standoff, Lee and Flora finally come to an agreement. Flora wants to protect Priscilla even if it means becoming just like her. So, Lee offers to take Flora’s place. It’s a win-win. Flora gets to grow up, visit whenever she pleases, know that Priscilla will be safe from the Butcher and Lee hopes that, in time, Flora will understand why she did the things that she did and forgive her. The music swells to an emotional level and the season ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
Before this season started, Murphy and company were very vocal about how they had really shook things up and they promised a truly unique season. With a slimmed down ten episodes that were broken up into three separate entities, this was definitely a change from what we had become accustomed to. Some of us really loved the first five episodes that worked as a true crime docu-series. Some viewers didn’t care for that, but really enjoyed episodes six through nine which played out like a reality television version of an extreme found footage horror movie. The finale proved to be taxing for most viewers. There are so many shows within the show that simply calling it meta doesn’t even cover it. We need a new word for this smug ten hour commentary on the very people who pay Murphy’s bills.
They weren’t just making fun of various reality platforms, they were indicting all of us for the way we consume and comment on our entertainment. Do audiences really behave that way at PaleyFest and ComicCon or is that how the creators of AHS see them? Do they actually care about what any random on YouTube has to say about them and their show? Do they actually like the horror genre because after episodes six through nine, I’m really questioning that as well.
Yes, we currently live in a culture that gorges on crap reality television, but that’s only because the world is going straight down the toilet and we don’t seem to have enough energy or wherewithal to do anything about it. Horror has always been the most political genre and Murphy definitely loves to be topical, but this entire season felt more accusatory than anything. More often than not, it felt as though they were looking down their noses at us. How dare we have the nerve to take an interest in the personal lives of actors, or have opinions on our entertainment. Hey you, the one who spends more time at work than at home, probably at a job that you don’t care for, how dare you find escape in your television programming. Don’t you know that you should only crave television that has a message, a purpose, a reason? This was my main takeaway from the season. Had it been executed better, I would have gladly taken my lashes for making some dubious choices in my tv viewing, but it was an overblown jumble of, “Look at me, look how deviously clever I am!”
As promised, there were some connections made between this season and previous ones. It was pretty cool to find out that Gaga is the original Supreme, but using a Lana Winters Special to connect to Asylum was tenuous. Cricket and Rhett Snow also seemed to be directly connected to Coven and learning the history of the Mott family was a nice connection to Freakshow. Billie Dean Howard told the story of Croatoan in Murder House and she also had an appearance in Hotel. Most notably, the Pig Man who featured so prominently this season had an appearance in Murder House. In fact, there are quite a few connections to be made between Roanoke and Murder House if you really wanted to, but I have other dumbed down things to do with my time.
Scrapping the opening credit sequence and giving Evan Peters scarce screen time seems to be the most egregious choices made this season. Personally, I was fine with these things, but most people definitely were not. Indeed, if there is anything to be taken away from Roanoke it’s that you do not mess with the Evan Peters fanbase. They are not to be trifled with.
As we have come to expect wth every season of AHS, some episodes stood out more than others and this can come down to the writing and/or the director. Jennifer Lynch and Michael Goi, specifically, seem to be especially in tune with the AHS universe and they always bring a really lovely and unique vision to their episodes. Ultimately, American Horror Story is always a grab bag of various horror tropes and each season resonates differently with every viewer. It always ends up feeling as though they are simply trying to cram too much story into one season, but would we like it as much if they gave us a truly streamlined, measured season? Is part of the allure of AHS the very mishegas that we love to complain about? I’ve said it a thousand time before, but Nip/Tuck is the reason I will follow Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuk to the very depths of television hell and that was one wacked out tv show, but it’s early seasons were consistent and didn’t have a million and one storylines to follow. It had a formula and it worked brilliantly. Like any show, it faltered in it’s later seasons, but it was, mostly, forgivable. After watching the awesomeness that was The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, it’s even harder to accept the brazenly uneven season of Roanoke. I appreciate and understand what they were going for this season, but I just didn’t love it. You know what I do love? This unique and wonderful universe that Ryan Murphy has created. I love the actors who keep coming back every season and I love the pool of directors that he works with. For better or worse, American Horror Story is compulsively watchable because it’s always pushing boundaries and trying new things and that is exactly why I will continue to watch it.
Rupaul’s Dragrace infiltrating AHS? YASSS QUEEN!
Lana’s old age makeup is amazing.
Lee’s wig is EVERYTHING.
I’d rather be watching Ghostfacers.
I just want to put Leslie Jordan in my pocket.
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont
Image: popcrush.com, IMDb & tvline.com