‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’ Recap: Twist and Shouts

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This recap of the “Chapter 6” episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke contains spoilers.

Surprise parties are great, even when you know they’re coming. For example, maybe Doug let slip something about balloons while he was mopping the hallway, or perhaps you saw Kathy stealing a roll of streamers from the nurse’s station, or maybe you overheard Skinny Carl blabbering about an ice cream cake during morning meds. Even if your surprise party was thoroughly spoiled, you know you’ll still be touched and elated when you enter the community rec room to all your friends’ shouts and yammerings. Today is YOUR day, and not even the State can take that away. In other words, surprises don’t have to be surprising as long as they get the job done.

This week Roanoke FINALLY let the other shoe drop. (Why do shoes drop, who is dropping shoes?) And, yes, as we more or less assumed from the start, this entire season was leading toward the actors and their “real-life” counterparts sharing screen space. That’s because it turned out those first five episodes were a standalone “TV series,” and it was such a hit that the public demanded a second, Big Brother-style season in which everyone returned to the haunted house during the blood moon. Yes, that means Evan Peters’s character is now a hot ginger, and, yes, Sarah Paulson’s character now sports a wild accent. And you’ll just have to see Angela Bassett’s wig to believe it.

But that’s why “Chapter 6” was so incredible: It gave us all the fun, meta goodness of a behind-the-scenes Hollywood tale while also remaining a totally effective, frightening found-footage exercise. Let’s talk about it!

First of all, hey, new title card! Because this is the sequel season, it has a colon in the name … RETURN TO ROANOKE: THREE DAYS IN HELL. Except, as we’ll later learn via titles, this season never aired because EVERYONE DIED. Except one person. So there is one survivor. Who will it be? Anyway, this was a hell of a spoiler to say the least. Also, for an unproduced season of TV it sure was expertly edited and had professional-looking title cards. Some poor intern must’ve put it together in his spare time?

We began with confirmation that the disembodied voice we’d heard leading the interviews during the first five episodes did indeed belong to Cheyenne Jackson. He’s Sidney, the Svengali behind this entire operation, and we first saw him riding high through the FX offices (I’m guessing) very stoked about his idea for how to follow up the biggest hit series of 2015. (I guess Empire doesn’t exist in this world; this is more the kind of world where a ghost reenactment show is the No. 1 series.)

Anyway, his idea was to gather together all the “real” people from the original haunting as well as the actors who’d played them and force them to have their lives taped so they can see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. But this was going to be complicated by the fact that fame had CHANGED THEM. For example, the “real” Shelby had f***ed Cuba Gooding Jr. and it made TMZ!

That was definitely a hell of a way for her to cheat on Matt. As you might imagine, he had left her because of it. So that’s why she agreed to go back to the worst house she’d ever lived in: because it might help her get back together with Matt! Fair enough.

Shannon Lucio (Lindsay from The O.C., duh) played another producer who, if we’re being quite honest, did NOT like this idea at all. Her main thing was constantly pointing out to Sidney that maybe rigging an actual haunted house with fake traps and scares and then inviting actors to fall off their wagons together was a recipe for disaster. But Sidney did not listen to her warnings. He could taste those sweet, sweet ratings. Classic Sidney.

Within hours of the production crew’s readying the actual house for filming, they began finding nasty treats in the yard. Like this ring of pig fetuses, for example. Sure they LOOKED delicious, but remember that they had probably been sitting in the sun for a minute or two. No me gusta!

I loved when we met the actress who’d played the Butcher and she seemed like a nice lady at first, and even in her casting tapes she was the most talented of the bunch. Well, I may have still preferred this lady:

But then we found out that Kathy Bates’s character had gotten TOO INTO playing the Butcher and later had a mental breakdown on Hollywood Boulevard, where she chased tourists around with a butcher knife!

The thing is, that’s how Hollywood Boulevard usually is, so I’m not sure why everyone freaked out about it. But, yeah, this actress ended up going to a facility for a while and was now perfectly medicated and ready to reprise her role as the Butcher. Whoops! She was not invited! Sidney had only shown up to interview her so that he could serve her a restraining order on camera! This did not make her very happy.

So, even within the meta twist, we still had a crazy woman just begging to murder everyone. So good.

The next time Sidney returned to the house, he was chagrined to discover that a crew member had calmly and quietly turned on a chain saw and SAWED HIS OWN HEAD OFF. That is something you don’t see every day, but according to a union representative, it was a reasonable accident and everyone could probably just take the rest of the day off, no big deal. Accidental self-decapitations by chain saw or not, the show must go on!

The other producer had HAD IT with this foolishness and decided to quit the production. But according to her cellphone footage, minutes later a Pig-Man appeared in her backseat and forced her to crash! That is the worst kind of backseat driver, if you ask me. So now the most reasonable character of the entire season was extremely dead. Rest in peace, voice of reason.

I don’t know about you, but I DEFINITELY ship these two. First of all, you need to know that Sarah Paulson’s character is an actress named Audrey Tindall and she had a real hilarious “English accent.” By which I mean she spoke like she had a grave speech impediment. But she was fun and cute, and look at who her husband was: GINGER EVAN PETERS. In a quick behind-the-scenes clip from the original reenactments, we saw them fall in love on set and later get married (by Chaz Bono!) in front of the cast. Just a true love story for the ages.

It wasn’t long before everyone began moving into the house. The actors arrived first, along with Shelby. Then Lee and Matt arrived and did not seem happy to be there. Lee, of course, was looking to prove to the world that she hadn’t crucified her ex-husband and set him on fire. Matt, meanwhile … I’m not sure why he was here. A paycheck was involved, I’m guessing. But this reunion wasn’t the chummy, mutual appreciation like you’d see at a PaleyFest panel or something. These people did NOT care for each other at all.

I loved when Angela Bassett’s character (named Monae and wearing the best wig possible) taped their bickering on her cellphone camera (which they were all assigned for even better footage). She wasn’t here for drama, but she was here for drama.

Also, just FYI, the cameras that had been installed all over the house were really expensive and nice ones, the kinds that can film GHOSTS. Because look at this burnt guy completely photo-bombing Lee! That is some rude dude ‘tude.

Matt refused to sleep in Shelby’s bed, decideding to sleep in the basement instead, an excellent idea in any haunted house scenario. But she still wanted to make amends for having banged his onscreen doppelgänger, and for a minute it seemed like maybe he might be able to take her back. But then the doorbell rang.

And it was Cuba Gooding Jr.! A tussle immediately broke out.

Fortunately it caused Ginger Evan Peters to get out of the hot tub and intervene while wet. Total hero move. Total wet hero move.

Things got even more stressful when Audrey Tindall took a shower and then had a steamy encounter with Pig-Man. You’ll just have to trust me on this: She did not enjoy meeting him! She ran downstairs and found comfort in her fellow cast members’ arms. Unfortunately, Ginger Evan Peters went to investigate, and instead of Pig-Man he found a pair of nurses with a fondness for malpractice!

And that sound of millions of hearts breaking in unison came from the fact that Ginger Evan Peters was MURDERED so quickly after the twist. Are you telling me we have six more episodes of this season and that’s all we’ll get of Evan Peters?? Dirty trick, show.

But there was a reason for his death. His name had been Rory, thus completing the nurses’ murderous word puzzle. As it turns out, they hadn’t simply misspelled the French word for ‘sh*t’ — they just needed a houseguest with an ‘R’ name. Poor Ginger Evan Peters!

This shocking murder concluded the episode, but “Chapter 6” wasn’t finished unleashing surprises…

I SCREAMED. Angela Bassett does it all! I know she’s directed episodes before, but I love that Ryan Murphy gave her the season’s biggest episode, and she completely nailed it. If Angela Bassett isn’t directing, like, Marvel movies soon, then we should take to the streets. Truly incredible woman.

“Chapter 6” was exactly the refreshing, fun, and terrifying twist episode we’d been waiting for. It not only validated our restlessness but paid off plot lines and setups that in retrospect seem even smarter. Yes, we’ve seen meta-Hollywood narratives before, and we’ve definitely seen found footage before, but this one gets to riff on the phenomena of horror TV AND American Horror Story itself. The cast remains a pleasure to behold, and the scares are as inventive and revolting as ever. What a fun and special season this is turning out to be. Can’t say I’m surprised.

What did you think of “Chapter 6”?

American Horror Story: Roanoke airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.