SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Chapter 2” of “American Horror Story” Season 6.
If there was any doubt that past seasons of “American Horror Story” would be connected to Season 6, that’s over: Shelby and Matt are literally living in a Murder House, a la Season 1. “Chapter 2” gave us the terrifying backstory of their residence, and finally inspired the couple to move out. But first, let’s break down the rest of the episode.
“Chapter 2” picks up exactly where the season premiere left off: with the horrified Shelby stumbling across a cult-like ritual. Say hi to Lady Gaga! In a blink-and-you-missed it guest appearance, the Countess herself chants next to Kathy Bates, who seems to be the leader of the cult (if you can imagine Gaga cosplaying as the Enchantress from “Suicide Squad,” that’s basically what it looks like). A man is being punished, and with a pig’s head over his own, as he’s lowered into a fire, doomed to being burned alive.
Shelby, shocked, runs away, only to be found by Lee in the woods. At the hospital, she gives the police her account of the events. Though it sounds like another crazy story from the kooks in the farmhouse, once she tells authorities of a human sacrifice, she can’t be ignored. One might think that’s enough to drive the couple out of the house, but Shelby vows to stay and fight what they think are the hillbillies, for a couple of reasons. One: they’ve devoted every cent they have into the estate. Two: it’s easier to believe mountain men are terrorizing them than the alternative.
Back at home, Shelby’s woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of pig noises. She grabs a bat and goes outside to investigate, which may not be the best idea, considering she just witnessed a sacrifice involving a pig. Regardless, Matt accompanies her, where they see yet another horror: a large stick figure, topped with a pig’s head, over a fire. To top it all off, innards of — well, someone, be it pig or human — are pinned to the figure. Yikes. Wisely, Matt and Shelby call the police, who, after being verbally demolished by Shelby, promise them 24-hour surveillance, which finally grants them some relaxation.
Meanwhile, Lee is trying to reconnect with her daughter, Flora. She brings her to the Roanoke house, which she admits wasn’t the greatest idea. Best case scenario: they’re being terrorized by savage hillbillies. Worst: the house is being haunted by ghosts, or something even more sinister. Regardless, Lee wants to get some bonding time in. She’s taken aback when she finds Flora talking into the cellar, saying that her friend, Priscilla, would give her a bonnet. Just after that, a window breaks in another room, and Lee finds a bonnet laying among the shattered glass. But that’s far from the worst of Priscilla.
When Lee’s former husband, Mason, comes to collect Flora, they find her hiding in a closet. Flora wasn’t just playing hide-and-seek, as her parents thought; she was conversing with her new friend Priscilla. She tells Lee that she’s negotiating to trade her doll to Priscilla, and when Lee asks her why, she responds, “So she wouldn’t kill us. She’s gonna kill us all and save me for last.”
And that would be a good sign that it’s time to go. Mason gets the hint, and quickly grabs Flora and makes a break for it. While it’s heartbreaking to see Lee protest, not even given the opportunity to say goodbye, it’s hard to blame Mason for wanting to take his daughter out of a clearly dangerous situation.
After Matt, in what he thinks was a dream, sees two nurses brutally murder an old woman, Shelby and Matt embark on an investigation to find out why the house they invested their life savings into is so dangerous. They find a video tape, and on it is a crazed professor, played excellently by “AHS” vet Denis O’Hare. The professor took up residence in the house to look into a mysterious incident in the ’80s, curiously revolving around two nurses (who almost bear resemblance to the spooky twins in “The Shining”).
The professor, who claims his sanity despite his appearance, describes the house’s backstory as such: two very close sisters were drawn to the building due to its mysterious history, and started an assisted living home there. They took in their elderly patients based on how badly their families wanted to get rid of them, and the first letter of the patients’ names. This opens up to a disturbing display of senior abuse, to say the least. They killed five patients, each one with a name that starts with a letter of their favorite word: “Murder” (R.I.P. Margaret, Roger, Eunice, etc.). They painted each letter on the wall in blood, but were unable to finish the deed, leaving only “MURDE” on the wall. The professor believes something even more evil stopped them, and he vows to investigate. They watch the professor venture into the cellar, in “Blair Witch”-esque night vision, but it seems he met a terrible fate.
Validated by the professor’s story, Matt tears down the wallpaper in the next room, and lo and behold, there’s “MURDE,” written in blood. While they’re distracted by this revelation, Lee is busy falling off the wagon. She gets drunk in the kitchen, and Matt and Shelby find several knifes stuck in the ceiling above her. As she denies responsibility, Matt drags her to bed to sleep it off. When they see a figure outside, Matt and Shelby rush out, leaving Lee alone. By herself, she sees a couple of troubling things: bloody, squirming figures pinned to the wall, and a man wearing nothing but a pig’s head dancing in the house.
After viewing the video, Matt and Shelby are finally ready to leave. They urge a rep from the bank to take the house back, threatening legal action over failing to inform them of its history. The rep tells them there’s nothing they can do, even though it’s clear there’s more to the story. Matt says he doesn’t think it can get any worse, but it’s “American Horror Story,” and it’s only the second episode — of course it’s going to get worse.
Enter: Lee and Flora. Lee has essentially kidnapped Flora and brought her back into the house, and Matt and Shelby immediately jump on her case. As Shelby calms down Mason on the phone, Matt talks some sense into his sister. Lee agrees to take Flora back to Mason, but when they go to get her, she’s nowhere to be found in the house.
Understandably panicked, they go to look for her in the woods, and the episode leaves us on a terrifying cliffhanger. Lee finds Flora’s yellow hoodie at the top of probably one of the tallest tress in the forest, and screams out in horror.
Not to advise doing deals with the devil, but maybe Flora should have traded over her doll after all.