What We Learned From Last Night’s ‘American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare’

Now that we know that the theme this season of American Horror Story is My Roanoke Nightmare after last week’s big reveal, we still have a whole season to get through, so the test will be whether or not it can hold up to the hype. So far my two main thoughts to that point are: I still miss the opening credits, and this whole “reality investigation series” gimmick is already wearing thin. This week’s episode picked right back up on the premiere’s cliffhanger, when Sarah Paulson’s Shelby foolishly chased dead Kathy Bates into the woods, where she found herself surrounded by a bunch more super scary and super dead pilgrims.

Good news! She was able to run away just as Lady Gaga scalped a guy, but somehow ended up circling back just in time to witness the apparent human sacrifice of a pig head-wearing deserter of the colony who was accused of making off with their “ghost” provisions. (What provisions do ghosts even need?) After stepping on a stick and alerting them to her presence, Shelby once again luckily managed to escape, running out right in front of Matt’s car, which also luckily managed not to hit her. Unfortunately, that was all that we saw of Bates, Gaga, Wes Bently, and the rest of the pilgrims last night. Because in true American Horror Story form, the rest of the episode was pretty much all over the place. Let’s dig in.

They Have More Than Just The Pilgrims To Worry About

This season is already starting to feel really Murder House-y, because in addition to the original evil that lies on the property — ostensibly the colony, but who even knows at this point — our protagonists also have to deal with past inhabitants of the house. Which apparently includes two sadistic sister nurses who turned the house into an assisted living facility for unwanted old people for the sole purpose of brutally killing them. They even made a fun little game out of it, by using patient names to spell out the word “murder” on the wall, which is honestly kind of cliché if you ask me. Unfortunately, whatever evil in the house seemingly stopped them before they could complete their mission, leaving them with an “R” to fill. (Foreshadowing??)

But Also There’s Still Pilgrims, Who Leave A Thoughtful Housewarming Gift

While investigating some errant, uh, squealing in the middle of the night, Shelby and Matt run into the woods (why, always the woods?) and happen upon a larger version of the Blair Witch-style stick figures they found in their home last week, only this time topped with another actual pig’s head and a fire going underneath, which Matt makes a well meaning, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to put out by hitting it with a baseball bat. At least this time the police believe that someone (or something!) is screwing with them, and agree to give them 24-hour police protection.

Dr. Elias Cunningham: Crazy Person Or Giant Crazy Person?

When Shelby spots a creepy lady standing around near their house, she and Matt investigate and find a cellar door to the underground lair of Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), who was last seen in the videotape getting chased by a pig man last week. Through another one of Cunningham’s tapes left behind, in which he states that whatever malevolent forces reside in the house intends to kill him, the couple learns that he came to the house in 1997 to write his book about the murderous nurses. In doing so Cunningham reveals that the nurses, who Matt previously came across in the middle of the night, were indeed real. Cunningham’s tape ends with him going to confront whatever it is that lives in the house, which cuts off just as this figure flashes on screen. Kathy Bates?

Aww, Flora Made A Friend

Lee’s daughter Flora comes to stay with her at the house, despite it being at best terrorized by hill people and at worst, terrorized by malevolent spirits, and she promptly makes friends with an invisible pilgrim child named Priscilla, who declares that their whole family is going to be killed, saving her for last. Priscilla, so far, does not seem like the greatest friend. Flora’s dad is understandably not thrilled to hear this murder stuff coming out of his daughter, so he drives off with her after threatening to take her away for good. Figuring that a haunted murder house is better for her daughter than the relative safety of her father, Lee kidnaps Flora and brings her back to the house. Eventually she comes to her senses that this isn’t a great plan, but ha ha too late! Priscilla has already re-kidnapped Flora, and her sweatshirt floating at the top of a tree is the only trace left behind.

Seriously, How Dumb Are These People

At the end of the episode, Shelby, Matt, and Lee are still convinced hillbillies are terrorizing them. Here is a list of just some of the things that have happened to them so far:

  • Teeth falling from the sky
  • House invaded by pilgrims who leave behind creepy stick figure things
  • Human sacrifice in the woods
  • Phone call from ghostly voice from phone that’s not plugged in
  • Actual visions of nurses murdering an old lady
  • Ghostly figure beckoning them to a cellar door
  • Video of a crazy man actually telling them the property is haunted
  • Murder nurse story corroborated by crazy guy’s videotape
  • Physical evidence murder nurses left behind on the wall
  • Found footage of both pig man and terrifying female apparition

But no, they’re right. It’s probably just elaborate hillbilly intimidation. Better not move, or the hillbillies win. And about that: in the premiere episode, they buy the house for $40,000, supposedly their life savings. They just moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles. $40,000 is like, barely a year’s rent in most parts of Los Angeles. How can they not afford to even stay at a motel or something for a few weeks until they get this business with the house sorted out? I know horror films are dependent on the characters making really stupid decisions, but they’ve got to keep this up for 10 more episodes or so.

Anyway, next week: More bad decisions, probably. Maybe we’ll finally see Evan Peters, though?