‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’: The Fop Ghost and the Hillbilly Cannibals

Warning: This recap of the “Chapter 5” episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke contains spoilers.

They say good things come to those who wait — ripened fruit, fresh-baked cookies, those slimy pulsating eggs you found in your spaceship’s cargo hold — but sometimes? Sometimes good things come before you even expect them!

Here we were, openly anticipating Episode 6 of My Roanoke Nightmare, the one where we would finally learn what the heck the season’s twist was going to be… But then Episode 5 swooped in and it was really, really wonderful. Terrifying and disgusting, plus it contained Evan Peters playing both a fop AND a gay, and to top it all off? Frances Conroy walked in with stringy hair and a tray of human jerky. Not only did “Chapter 5” wrap up the reenactment phase of this season, it was among the most frightening and effective hours in this series’ history. Let’s talk about it!

We began with a real-life, very respected historian possibly jeopardizing her career!

Just kidding, I’m sure Doris Kearns Goodwin will be forever proud of having been involved in this very strong season of American Horror Story. You are probably wondering, “Why did this show suddenly introduce an IRL public figure to suddenly become a talking head during the FIFTH episode of this thing?” Well, first of all, relax. The world is a mysterious place, try to embrace it. But the answer to that question is, we needed some important backstory for this particular Roanoke hellscape, and it involved EVAN PETERS FINALLY.

Yes, the dashing fop in the Madonna-“Vogue”-VMA performance wig was none other than Edward Mott, the original builder of the accursed home where Shelby and Matt had been having a heck of a time lately. And if you recognize that last name, it’s because you watched AHS: Freak Show… this guy was the ancestor of Dandy Mott himself!

Edward Mott was (1) an art collector, and also (2) a homosensual who enjoyed doing sex with his No. 1 servant-slave. But on Night 2 of living in his new home, a bunch of ghosts broke in and destroyed all his paintings! So he had no choice but to throw a fit and slap a maid and lock all the rest of his servants in the storm cellar without clothes or anything to eat but an apple core. In other words, Edward Mott was a real jerk!

For that reason, it was hard to feel bad when Kathy Bates and her posse showed up and stabbed him through the heart with a log. But speaking of jerks, maybe his grieving servant-lover should have tipped someone off to the servants locked in the cellar? Next time we saw them they were just a bunch of bones. Whatever, welcome to the season, Evan Peters! (Seriously, in only 10 minutes his performance and plot line made the entire wait worth it.)

Back in modern times, Kathy Bates and her mob were still washing their hands following Cricket’s disemboweling and the frightened mortals upstairs were weighing their options.

Matt proposed they simply run outside to the car, which was not a great idea in that the house was surrounded by ghosts, and also those ghosts were setting the car on fire at the moment. But they decided they couldn’t just stick around in the house, as they were suddenly under attack by Japanese ghosts!

If I’m being honest, I am pretty sure the Asian family who’d been murdered in this house was not Japanese, and in my opinion these ghosts were supposed to look like the Ju-On ghosts? Am I wrong here? Can somebody educate me on the different kinds of Asian ghosts? Because otherwise I am getting the feeling that AHS did that “they all look the same” thing, which is rude and offensive if true. Anyway! Asian ghosts were now skittering around on all fours and Flora was not super into it.

Then they were set upon by Pig Man and also those messy hunters with partial faces. Fortunately Matt, Shelby, and Flora were whisked into a secret passageway by the ghost of Edward Mott!

As it turned out, most of the ghosts that Kathy Bates had murdered were not big fans of hers, and were really only helping her because they were afraid of her. I think? But Mott was still very spooky, especially because the shadow of his torch kept giving his face a CGI Jack Skellington vibe. Also he led them into the woods where they were immediately captured by cannibal hillbillies!

Shelby, Matt, and Flora suddenly found themselves in a barn alongside Denis O’Hare, who had survived his bow and arrow attack only to find that his limbs had been removed and turned into jerky.

That’s when we finally met MOMMA aka FRANCES CONROY. She was the mother of the three yokels we met in the premiere (including Chaz Bono) and I guess the grandmother of those two feral boys Matt had rescued a few episodes back. And yes, they were cannibals, and no, they were not friendly. Just ask Denis O’Hare:

Unfortunately for him, it had been hammer time.

Meanwhile, Lee was attempting to defend herself against charges she’d murdered her ex, and at some point the sheriff realized that he didn’t exactly have a solid case against her, and he let her go. But after Lee got Matt’s texts about finding Flora, she begged the sheriff for a ride. Something was UP and she needed to return to that damn house!

The cannibal hillbillies intended to hand the trio back to Kathy Bates due to some longstanding agreement they’d all shared for a few centuries. But halfway through the trip, Matt grabbed Chaz Bono’s shotgun and blew the head off the driver!

Matt, Shelby, and Flora attempted to escape on foot, but once again they were captured. Frances Conroy even took a sledgehammer to Shelby’s ankle for good measure. It was very Misery and did not look fun at all.

But just when it looked like they were all dunzo, guess what happened?

Wes Bentley bopped Kathy Bates on the head and dragged her into the fire!

Apparently all the ghosts had grown tired of Kathy Bates’s bloodthirsty shenanigans and really gave her the what-for!

At this point Lee had arrived and all the living humans were able to escape in the cop car. I loved when a flaming Kathy Bates jumped up out of the fire and ran after the car. If I had a nickel for every time I’d personally seen this happen, I’d be counting diamonds in Monaco!

Unfortunately, Shelby was so shaken by her trauma in Roanoke that even a chill night at a motel and some delicious pizza couldn’t prevent her from having visions of Kathy Bates murdering her with a cleaver.

This was just a nightmare dream sequence to really goose us on the way out, but don’t worry, it wasn’t real. Shelby did not get cleavered in the forehead. But according to the talking heads, this concluded the entirety of the reenactments. The family had escaped! Kind of weird that this season was only 5 episodes, but oh well. See you next year!


OK fine, there is a twist next week, and according to the teaser, it will definitely be a breaking-the-fourth-wall type thing, which, duh. But after a stunningly terrifying and revolting episode like this one, the new premise will have to really work overtime to keep the momentum going. Honestly so excited about this season overall, and I’m very curious about what next week holds. Truly what a show.

What did YOU think of “Chapter 5”?

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