Kirsty Capes reviews the ninth episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke season 6…
And so we reach AHS: Roanoke’s climactic moments, and while a lot of promises are fulfilled in this episode, a whole load of questions are left unanswered, too.
Episode 9 is much of the same of the previous episode – some great jumpy moments, plenty of blood and gore and some unexpected twists thrown in for good measure. Last episode ended with Wes Bentley’s character, Dylan, showing up on the doorstep of the Roanoke mansion dressed as a pig, still part of the fictional reality show put together by the now-dead Sidney. Dylan, Audrey and Lee end up heading back to the Polks’ farm to retrieve the footage of them murdering Mama Polk and her family, and rescue Monet. Unknown to the others, Lee also has her hidden agenda of retrieving her taped confession, in which she tells her daughter Flora that she murdered Mason. In usual AHS fashion, this journey is not a simple one and it involves plenty of violence and death. Wes Bentley’s short-lived appearance in season 6 comes to a rather abrupt end, begging the question of what he was doing here in the first place apart from serving as a gratuitous cliffhanger moment for the end of episode 8. His character’s motivations are unclear too: he describes himself as a dedicated actor, committed to his craft, but then also speaks of his history in the military and his code of honor, which at odds with his persona as an actor.
Meanwhile, one of the most-anticipated appearances of the series manifests itself, as Taissa Farmiga makes her entrance as Sophie, a Roanoke super-fan attempting to get some sneaky footage of the house for her Instagram fan account. Once again, she doesn’t last long in Roanoke and she and her two companions meet bloody ends at the hands of the Butcher and Lee who is possessed by the witch of the woods. It seems that in the introduction of yet another story-within-a-story facet to this series, Taissa and her friends represent a commentary on the nature of fame and so-called reality television, something which has been a running theme throughout the series. Despite this important thematic commentary, the depiction of Sophie and her friends as a vapid millennial, only concerned with Instagram likes and ‘going viral’, is so far away from an accurate portrayal of 2016 teens, that it is almost laughable. In addition, some of Farmiga’s dialogue is poorly shoehorned to make additional and rather vain social commentary on what Roanoke is trying to say about today’s society. Sophie talks about the original first season, My Roanoke Nightmare, being a mouthpiece for anti-patriarchal sentiments and ‘post-racial’ society. I think it is an attempt to continue to deepen the layered meta-show behemoth that Roanoke has become with its many different angles of reality, but instead it comes across rather embarrassingly as some grandiose self-analysis, putting words into the mouths and pens of the many critics and media studies students around the world watching the series. The most criminal of all is the utter under-utilisation of Farmiga’s talent, she who was easily the best thing about both AHS Murder House and AHS Coven, but has now been reduced by Ryan Murphy to a one-episode cameo and a prop.
On Murphy, I was surprised that he killed off his favourite, Sarah Paulson (Audrey) this episode, as she is usually an AHS survivor. Then next week’s teaser showed that Lara Winters (Sarah Paulson’s protagonist of AHS Asylum) will make an appearance in an exclusive interview with Lee. This, besides Pepper’s appearance in both Asylum and Freak Show, is the first solid proof we have that all AHS seasons, or at least some of them, exist within the same universe.
Props also have to be given to Adina Porter, whose acting this episode and throughout the season has been simply incredible. She had some of the most torturous scenes of the entire cast and she pulled them off so convincingly that at times I had to look away. I’m intrigued that Lee was the survivor that was promised in episode 6. What I’m unsure about is Lee’s arc and how her journey fits into this denouement. The Lana Winters special will certainly reveal some of the things we have been questioning, but ultimately I don’t it will be able to polish what has been a rather sloppy, albeit gruesome, season of AHS.