We did it! I’d just like to congratulate everyone for making it through the first part of this season of American Horror Story: Roanoke, a five part story that really seemed like it could have been told in maybe three parts. Whereas the complaint with most seasons of this show is that Ryan Murphy throws too much crap at the wall, it seems like — for the first part of this season, at least — he didn’t throw quite enough crap at the wall. Of course, that is probably about to change, as co-creator Brad Falchuk previously stated, “It’s like [episodes] 1-5, 6-9, and 10 is its own thing.”
Previous gripes aside, “Chapter Five” managed to wrap up the story at hand in a mostly satisfying way, by welcoming back some familiar faces in new characters. Starting with…
Evan Peters Is Dandy Mott’s Ancestor!
After being listed in the opening credits for the first four episodes, Evan Peters finally made his debut last night — not as the pig-headed man, as widely speculated — but as Edward Philippe Mott, the builder and original owner of the house, and great-great-great-grandfather to Freak Show’s Dandy Mott. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference in last week’s episode, Dr. Cunningham (Denis O’Hare) mentioned when revealing the history of the house that it had been built by Mott in 1792, and this week we got to meet him.
In the present, real-life historian Doris Kearns Goodwin explains that Edward Mott was a wealthy art collector from Philadelphia who — due to his social anxiety — moved to North Carolina to be alone with his paintings. (And, with his male lover, since it wouldn’t be a proper Ryan Murphy affair without at least one steamy gay sex scene shoehorned in.) Edward didn’t last very long at the estate, however, because two days after he got there, the blood moon rose and the Butcher ran a giant stake through his heart, and then burned him alive (since the stake incredibly didn’t immediately kill him).
The Hillbillies Are Back!
For the first four episodes of this season, Shelby and Matt infuriatingly continued to insist that the hillbilly family was behind all of the weird occurrences in their home, ignoring literally every piece of evidence around them. But in an interesting twist, it turns out that the hillbillies were actually involved! Sort of! After escaping their seized house through an underground tunnel with help from Edward’s ghost (side note: the special effects to Evan Peters’ face in that scene were a nice touch), the couple along with their niece Flora are captured and taken back to that creepy farm where the feral children were discovered, that we now know is owned by the Polk family.
As if the hillbilly men weren’t intimidating enough, this time our intrepid heroes meet Mama Polk, played by Frances Conroy. (I have to say that I literally screamed in joy to see Conroy onscreen, since the actress appeared in every season of American Horror Story except for last season’s Hotel. Welcome back, lady!) Mama Polk explains to Shelby and Matt that her family made a deal with the Butcher to both keep people off her land and offer her blood sacrifices in exchange for leaving them alone.
Also, we found out what happened to Dr. Cunningham, who as it turns out was not a ghost after all. The Polks discovered his riddled-with-arrows, but still very much alive body in the woods and brought him back to amputate his limbs to turn into jerky, while continuing to keep him alive for some reason. But then they smashed his face in with a hammer for being bad meat, so it looks like this may be the last we’ll see of Denis O’Hare this season.
What’s Next From Here
The episode wraps up with Shelby and Matt eventually making it to safety despite doing everything in their power to get themselves killed, like not grabbing the Chaz Bono’s gun after they manage to derail being taken back to the Butcher and then hiding like, three feet into the woods to get re-caught. Lucky for them, however, following centuries of killings, the Butcher’s son decides enough is enough and pushes her into the fire. And so brings to a conclusion Shelby and Matt’s story.
Or does it? The preview for next week’s sixth episode, which is supposedly going to contain the season’s big twist, shows Cheyenne Jackson as the producer of the “reality show” saying to the cameraman, “the camera never stops,” ostensibly on their way back to the Roanoke house. Theories are already swirling that Shelby and Matt lied about how they escaped from the Butcher, since it goes without saying that the part about the Butcher’s son helping them escape seemed flimsy at best, and that the couple are actually nefariously attempting to lure the film crew back to the property.
Obvious? Maybe. But that seemed like far too tidy of a conclusion for American Horror Story, where if characters do survive, it’s usually not without a bit of blood on their hands.